Arizona State’s baseball team practiced for nearly three hours Tuesday. Ohio State couldn’t do that. It was 44 degrees with a threat of showers in Columbus.
Notre Dame didn’t have baseball weather. The mid-day temperature was 37 degrees.
And forget about the University of Minnesota. The wind-chill factor there was 23 degrees.
Try hitting a fastball when it’s that cold. Your hands will sting until August.
The disparity in climate always has been an advantage for warm-weather schools like ASU. They can start practice sooner and play more games.
But that won’t be the case beginning in 2007.
The NCAA Division I board of directors passed legislation Monday that prohibits schools from practicing until Feb. 1 next year. The season won’t start until late February.
The measure will have a profound impact on the Sun Devils. Practice this year, for example, began on Jan. 3. ASU’s first game is Jan. 27, and it will play 16 games in the months of January and February.
Fewer practices and fewer games means more mistakes, and that makes for a cranky coach.
"It’s a travesty we’re cutting games," ASU coach Pat Murphy said. "It will hurt our program and hurt our income. It’s going to hurt us with pro baseball. . . .
"This is a game you have to play. The way it stands now, softball can start before us and play more games than us."
Murphy understands the NCAA’s reasoning. West Coast and southern schools have dominated the baseball landscape; no cold-weather team has won the College World Series since Wichita State in 1989.
But he believes the NCAA is fooling itself if it thinks a later starting date — like reducing scholarships or regionalizing the playoffs, other measures designed to create parity — will help coldweather schools close the gap.
"You have 35 or 40 teams that have great facilities and a great commitment from the university, and those same teams are going to win," he said. "It’s just like the regionals. You had a few teams slip into (the College World Series), but who wins every year?
"I don’t want to come off as a belly-acher. I believe in parity. There’s some validity to trying to help the northern schools but not at the expense of the southern schools."
Murphy is not bothered as much by the later starting date as he is the proposed reduction in games, from 56 to 52.
University of Hartford president Walter Harrison told the Los Angeles Times a slimmed-down schedule will help players stay on course academically.
That elicited a laugh from Murphy, who wishes the presidents would get out of their offices and into a dugout.
Trying to play 52 games in a condensed time period will force teams to schedule more mid-week contests, when they presumably would be studying, Murphy said. Say nothing for the added stress it will put on pitchers’ arms. Murphy’s solution? Go ahead and start the season later in February, but move the College World Series back to the July 4th weekend. Currently, the CWS is played in mid-June.
"People making these decisions don’t want to be committed to baseball," Murphy said. "There’s not a committed baseball program in the country voting to reduce games. It’s ludicrous."