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Does NCAA Have Anti-Western Bias? - Well Duh!


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Welcome to Dirtbags Baseball blog! I was introduced to Long Beach State baseball in 2002 when my nephew, Neil Jamison, joined the team (and university) as a freshman. I started the blog in March of 2004, and generally discuss the team, current players and those that have moved on to professional baseball - as Neil has done in the San Diego Padres organization. Living in San Diego County, and with Neil moving to the next level, I won't be attending as many Dirtbags games. But, mostly from a distance, I'll remain a Dirtbags fan. I welcome tips on stories and information concerning the Dirtbags (current, past and future). I can be contacted at


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Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Does NCAA Have Anti-Western Bias? - Well Duh!

Great column by Bob Keisser in the Long Beach Press-Telegram yesterday (find it here):

"The NCAA didn't do any favors this week for one particular college baseball power in California.

Nationally ranked all season while playing a tough schedule featuring several ranked teams and a rigorous conference slate, this team finds itself in the same NCAA sub-regional as one of the most dangerous teams in the nation.

No sir, the NCAA didn't treat Stanford well at all.

Dirtbags fans may be bent that their favorite team once again is paired in the postseason with Pac- 10 power Stanford, for the fourth straight time, but no one stopped to ask the Cardinal whether they're a bit vexed by the bracket.

The Cardinal and Texas flip- flopped in the No. 1 spot all season, yet the NCAA seeded Stanford only fifth of the eight national seeds for the 64-team tournament that begins this week, a decision which makes one wonder if the AA in NCAA stands for something to do with alcohol.

Then the NCAA sent it the Dirtbags a team that was in the top 10 much of the season, is ranked No. 18, has one of the best pitching staffs and arguably the best pitcher in the nation, has won before on Stanford's field, and will arrive hungry for success because of recent developments.

"It's interesting,' Dirtbags coach Mike Weathers said. "Everyone's saying we got screwed being sent to Stanford, but no one has asked if (Stanford coach) Mark Marquess is happy to see us come to town.

"We heard that from Stanford last year when we met in the super-regional (despite the fact they were both conference champions and higher ranked than other super-regional pairings).'

The Dirtbags may have lost their last seven games, but this is still the same team that was playing at a .750 clip at 36-12 and ranked eighth in the nation before their series against blood rival Fullerton and No. 3-ranked Miami.

There's no shame in losing to those teams, any time, any where, any how, and the games themselves did not reflect a team that was suddenly overwhelmed or ready to quit. Quite the opposite.

Jered Weaver was one pitch away from winning the first game of the Fullerton series, Cesar Ramos took a no-hitter into the sixth in Game 2, and Miami used late rallies against the bullpen in two wins last week. In the other two losses, the Dirtbags rallied from large deficits before losing.

"We're no less of a good team because of the losses,' Weathers said. "We were in every game, and the kids know that. We're the same team that had a great year going until the last seven games. I don't feel any differently about it today than I did last month.

"It's disappointing to lose, but we're not down. I might be worried if we had quit, played poorly or were blown out, but we didn't. No matter how hard each loss was, we played well the very next game.'

Forgotten in the hubris about hosting a regional is the Dirtbags' roots. This is a team that's gone to the College World Series four times without ever playing a home game. The 1998 Road Warriors won their CWS trip on Stanford's field.

"We've all heard of it,' first baseman Mike Hofius said about the legacy. "It's part of what the program is all about. We still believe in ourselves, regardless of what happened the last two weeks.'

Weathers said one plus is that families, friends and fans can find their way to Stanford easier than if they had been shipped out to Notre Dame or Oklahoma.

That doesn't get the NCAA off the hook, however. The NCAA is nothing if not consistent in its bias against the West.

Based on its national seeding, the No. 2 seed in Stanford's regional should be a school on the fringe of the Top 25, like around 27 or 28, and not a team ranked No. 18. It would have been logical in the name of balance to send any of these six No. 2 seeds UC Irvine, Clemson, Tennessee, Texas Tech, Texas A&M or North Carolina State to Stanford.

Meanwhile, they put Arizona State, a top 10 team all year and the No. 7 national seed, in the same region as Big West champ Fullerton, the hottest team in the nation the last two months. This too is a specious West Coast rematch of a super-regional from last year.

The West can't argue about the number of teams that made the field (10) because no one else had a captivating record. But it can complain that six of those 10 teams are jammed in the only two regionals in the West (Stanford, Fullerton).

The maximum number of teams from the West advancing that can advance to the super-regionals is five, and that presumes UCLA (a No. 3 seed at Oklahoma) and either Irvine or Arizona (at Notre Dame) can post upsets.

Meanwhile, the SEC received nine bids to the tournament, six No. 1 seeds, and will host five regionals. All nine teams can advance to the super-regionals, and as many as seven could advance to the College World Series.

But as the man said, there's no bias in college baseball. Maybe the NCAA should just drop the pretense and call it the SEC Invitational.

"I don't try to figure it out anymore,' Weathers said, "and I doubt we ever will.'

Said an NCAA spokesman to Baseball America: "You have to balance the brackets. It's not perfect, as I'm sure you'll tell us.'

Yes we will, from Irvine to Malibu (Pepperdine), Tucson to Fullerton, Seattle to Las Vegas, Palo Alto to Long Beach, and all points in between."

posted on 6/02/2004 by Jeff Agnew

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