Weekend Roundup — February 23, 2016

For the first time in 2016, we saw action in all three divisions (even one game in right here in New England!). As a region, we’re off to a much quicker start than last season, especially in Division I, where several teams grabbed the headlines in their first weekend out on the field. More on that, and some D2/3 action, after the jump.

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On the Spring Season

In 2015, New England’s three collegiate summer baseball leagues drew a tick over 800,000 fans to the ballpark. It’s an impressive figure, especially when you consider the summer season lasts all of nine weeks. In fact, there’s no other place in the country where so many teams in so small a region brought so many fans to the park, and it wasn’t even close. The success that the Cape League, NECBL, and Futures League have had in selling collegiate baseball to New Englanders is simply remarkable.

And yet, when the NCAA season rolls around each spring, New England college baseball is an after thought. Every year, our 96 programs toil away in obscurity. The region’s not known for college sports fandom in the first place, and baseball gets even less attention than football, basketball, or hockey. There are plenty of reasons why this is the case. The weather is a big one, but even when things warm up in April and May, college baseball’s far from the summit of the New England sports scene. I could go into this more, but right now, I’d rather focus on a solution.

Not an end-all, be-all, turn-our-sport-into-the-Red-Sox-overnight kind of a solution, just a way of convincing those who don’t follow college baseball of something I sincerely believe to be true: you’re missing out on something special each spring. This year, in New England alone, thousands of coaches and players are spending countless hours in the classroom, at the gym, and on the field to bring us a sport that’s insanely fun to watch, and they deserve a heck of a lot more recognition than they get right now. That’s why I started this blog, and that’s why I’m writing this post.

Obviously, there’s only so much a blogger can do, but for some strange reason, a few thousand people follow me on twitter. For some even stranger reason, many of them aren’t college baseball diehards, just casual New England sports fans. I’d like to use the platform I’m blessed with to convince them to be more than that. I don’t know exactly how I’ll do that, but here are three ideas. (#3 is one I could use some help with.)

(1) Get the summer fans involved. If you’re the Chatham Anglers, Newport Gulls, Worcester Bravehearts, or a number of other summer franchises, you’re the proud owner of an amateur baseball brand that any college baseball coach in New England would kill for. Their fans are the first people we should be trying to reach, and to try and do that, I’ll be writing a series of “A {Insert Summer Team} Fan’s Guide to the Spring Season” posts about what their former and future players are doing this spring, and what teams are in their area to go see. Hopefully a few of them will head out to a ballpark to see what it’s all about.

(2) Appeal to every part of New England. The nice thing about having 96 teams in a pretty small region is that there’s college baseball around the corner of just about anywhere. I’ll try to take advantage of that in my weekend preview posts and highlight the biggest series all across the region. Whether you live in the Berkshires or Boston, southern Connecticut or northern Maine, you won’t have to travel far to see high-quality baseball this spring.

(3) Let you guys do the talking. As much as I’ll try to do things here and on twitter, the blogger’s eye view probably isn’t the best way to get people hooked on college baseball. For that, you’d be better off asking the players, coaches, parents, and fans who live and breathe it every day of the year. That’s exactly what I’m doing here. From now till the end of the season, my number one priority is sharing everything you love about this sport. Tweets, pictures, videos, emails, blog comments, whatever. If you want to write a piece that goes up here, I’m game. If you have other ideas about what we can do, I’m listening. It’s an incredible sport, and I’m here to do whatever I can to get the word out.

To sum up: No, it’s not Major League Baseball. But if you could find this, thisthisthis, this, or this in Major League Baseball, I would’t be so worried about telling you what you’re missing. Thanks for reading, and enjoy the season. It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Early Days

Hey everyone. I’m going to ignore this and basically just hope it goes away, permanently. (At least it’s too cold for snow?) There’s baseball being played somewhere, thankfully, so click on for a division-by-division rundown of the early days of 2016.

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