Last Thursday night, the Oregon State Beavers defeated the Arkansas Razorbacks in the College World Series to claim the 2018 National Championship. This continues a long history of the Pac-12 excelling in baseball, a history the Colorado Buffaloes have never been a part of.
Oregon State’s national championship was their third in school history (all since 2006). It was also the 29th time a Pac-12 baseball team has been on top of the world. Of the Pac-12 programs, seven different schools have won a championship: USC (11), Arizona State (5), Arizona (4), Oregon State (3), California (2) Stanford (2) and UCLA (2). The exceptions are explainable.
Washington have always had great teams, but they haven’t been able to come through with a championship — they’re like the Oregon football of baseball. Washington State is bad at baseball like they are at everything, but they still were runners-up in 1950. Oregon hasn’t won anything partially because they were without a team from 1981 until 2009, and even then they were great before and after that baseball hiatus, just without any hardware. Utah, meanwhile, wasn’t that successful in the Mountain West, but they have steadily improved since joining the Pac-12 in 2011.
The Pac-12 was so alluring for the Buffaloes partly because of the conference’s dominance in just about every non-football sport. Baseball is no exception. The hang-up is that Title IX rules were the reason Colorado baseball was disbanded in 1980, and those issues still persist. Maybe CU could solve this issue by adding a scholarship-heavy women’s sport, something like rowing, swimming or softball, any of which would be so much fun. Besides the benefit of having another women’s sport — which CU would absolutely dominate at — there are so many reasons why it would be great to CU to add baseball.
We start here with a simple map:
The Buffaloes would (presumably) play less than 30 miles from the Colorado Rockies. It’s ridiculous that the Buffs are this close to an MLB club — 9 hours by walking, if you’re like me and don’t know how to drive — yet they don’t have a Division I baseball team anywhere near them. As is, the Rockies are one of two MLB clubs that don’t have a Division I team within 50 miles of them. (The other is the Toronto Blue Jays, and they only apply here because Canada isn’t within the NCAA’s domain. Even then, the Buffalo Bulls are 99 miles — 33 hours by walking — from Rogers Centre.) The closest D-I team to the Rockies is Northern Colorado — I repeat, Northern Colorado. I’m not sure exactly what CU would gain from being the closest college team to the Rockies, but having MLB scouts right there would certainly motivate high school recruits with pro aspirations.
As you may have noticed with our recruiting coverage, Colorado isn’t usually a hotbed for high school recruits (except in skiing and cross country). But that’s actually not the case in baseball. Somewhat surprisingly, Colorado high schools pump out recruits that play for the blue bloods of college baseball. Kevin Gausman played ball at Grandview HS in Aurora and was recruited to pitch at LSU, where he developed into the 4th overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft. Marco Gonzales played at Rocky Mountain HS in Ft. Collins, went to Gonzaga and later became the 19th overall pick in 2013. Cole Winn played baseball at Silver Creek HS in Longmont (teammates with yours truly) and was the 15th overall pick in 2018. There’s talent in Colorado and the Buffs could certainly tap into it to compete in a historically great conference.
The Buffaloes would stand to have the additional benefit of 5,430-feet elevation, which would lead to the baseball style known as Moonball™. If you remember the Rockies before they installed a humidifier to dampen baseballs, the Buffs’ home games would be just like that, only with metal bats. More likely than not, CU would score at a ridiculous rate, something like 12 runs per game, which would be like the football team averaging 60 points. High scoring baseball would be a blast to watch, especially for California brodies sipping spiked slushies during afternoon games. If the Buffs filled their pitching staff with those MLB-quality prospects coming out of Colorado schools, CU would likely have one of the biggest home field advantages in college baseball. If they had some quality position players who were capable of hitting on the road (unlike the Rockies’ non-Arenado hitters), the Buffs could actually be good.
The Buffaloes do not currently have a baseball field, nor are there any local minor league or independent teams to rent a field from. Maybe they could revamp Scott Carpenter Park and make it suitable for college ball. Otherwise, the Buffs would have to build one themselves. The University of Colorado seems to be addicted to erecting new buildings — they’re building three massive buildings this very second! — so maybe this isn’t unrealistic, especially since there’s a ton of open space out by East Campus where the soccer team plays. And even if they didn’t find a place to build a stadium, I would gladly offer the park near my house. It’s large enough for baseball, it has healthy grass, and there’s a gorgeous view of Bear Peak. I would even offer it free of charge, because I just reallllllly want Colorado to have a baseball team.
Besides the obvious benefits — more TV money, another women’s sport, fans having more sports to buy tickets are merchandise for, CU selling itself to two-sport athletes, etc. — you, the person reading this, would benefit too. That’s because during the summer you would get to read about actual sports on this website instead of ridiculous pipe dreams from bored writers.