Archive for Thursday, January 23, 1992

BASEBALL SEASON TO OPEN MONDAY

January 23, 1992

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Approximately 50 Kansas baseball supporters have hit the streets of Lawrence and Overland Park selling tickets for the upcoming season.

Lest you think it's too early to think about shelling out money for baseball ducats, think again.

KU's season-opening practice is Monday. Its first game is Valentine's Day at Arkansas-Little Rock. It's first home game is Feb. 26 against Sterling College. The regular season lasts until May 10.

"The Feb. 26 game, you hope you get a chance to play. In the four years I've been here, we've always played that one," KU coach Dave Bingham said. "Today one of the kids from Arizona asked me how the weather would be here in April. I told him it could be cold and rainy. It could be nice. It's unpredictable."

PERHAPS NEXT year or the year after, baseball coaches won't have to worry as much about the weather.

Coaches recently voted 106-30 to push the season back. Now they must convince the NCAA to go ahead and start it in March or April and conclude it in July or August.

There are many reasons why moving the season back seems logical.

No. 1 is the weather. Baseball should not be played in the winter. No. 2 is the fact baseball, if it is ever to become a revenue-producing sport, needs to start after basketball season.

Last year, for example, KU was well into its Big Eight baseball schedule when the Jayhawk cagers were competing in the Final Four.

"I'm really for summer baseball, the reason being in Lawrence, Kan., with our great basketball program, the press is occupied 30 games into our season," Bingham said. "Baseball starts in the heart of basketball season. It's impossible for the press to give attention and coverage."

COVERAGE MAY be necessary to build fan interest in college ball, he said.

"Perhaps the most important part of the proposal," Bingham said, "is the kids would have less conflict with classes. No. 2, to make baseball a revenue-generating sport. In the summer, after basketball, things die down a bit. We would get a lot of attention."

Moving the season back next year might really create a boon for Big Eight baseball, because the conference has made an attractive scheduling change starting in 1993.

Teams next year will play five games against their six conference foes: a three-game weekend series on one campus and a two-game weekday set on the other. Currently, teams play four-game weekend series against selected teams.

This year, only Kansas State, Oklahoma and Missouri will visit Lawrence. OSU, Nebraska and Iowa State won't appear here. In 1993, all Big Eight teams will play at KU.

"WHEN ROBIN Ventura played at Oklahoma State, people here saw him play one year," Bingham siad. "He was the Big Eight player of the decade. Now, a player like that will be seen every year. I think it'll help develop rivalries."

Three-game weekend series are much more attractive than pitching-depleting four-game sets.

"It makes for better competition," Bingham said. "Our Friday night games have been very good. Last year against Oklahoma State, on a Friday night, it was 3-2. The crowd we had stayed all night. Usually, in a four-game series, one of the games is 15-13. Nobody likes that."

Bingham likes change when it involves college baseball.

"The time is right, now more than ever, to make the move," he said of pushing back the season. "Coaches will join together in force to try to get it accomplished. In the past, 30 to 40 southern climate schools have dominated. The programs in the Midwest can be strong, also."

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