College ball lacks a flurry of action

first_img Crossword puzzle. Trail mix and water. Cell phone to maintain contact with the outside world. Laptop computer. Even though it has only three hours of battery life, we can get a start on that screenplay. College baseball already is tedious. And to play two? Not even Ernie Banks would have advocated that. “Doubleheaders,” Cal State San Bernardino coach Don Parnell said with a sigh. “Players don’t like to play them, umps don’t like to work ’em, fans don’t want to watch. So why play them?” He answered his own question. “Because they’re administratively advantageous. There’s some cost savings, I guess.” Big-league doubleheaders have disappeared for a reason. Because owners don’t like selling two games for the price of one. But also because fans don’t have the attention spans to stay with two games in one sitting. College ball, especially at the Division II and III levels, still schedules twinbills with numbing frequency. Take the Coyotes’ pair with Cal State Monterey Bay on Saturday at Arrowhead Credit Union Park. Please. About the time it takes to drive from the Inland Empire to Las Vegas – and back. “It’s a full day,” Cal State outfielder Justin Roberson agreed, smiling. “You play nine, you get that half-hour off, then you’ve got to psyche yourself back up to go out and play seven more. And try not to spend too much time on Cloud 9 out there in the outfield.” Luckily, the second game is only seven innings. Luckily, the Coyotes and Otters played fairly crisp, low-scoring games, certainly by college standards, San Bernardino earning a 6-4, 9-3 sweep. Game times: 2:48 for Game 1, 2:05 for Game 2. College ball can be painfully drawn out. Too many cheap hits with those metal bats. Too many walks from pitchers afraid to throw strikes. Too many errors, too many pitching changes. Next thing you know you’re on the high side of three hours – as San Bernardino was in its first six nine-inning games this season. Actually, we’re impressed college guys still want to be part of all this. What with growing up in a microwaveable, text-messaging, instant- gratification world. Everything stodgy ol’ baseball is not. “We love the game that much,” Roberson said. “It does seem kind of slow, at times,” Coyotes pitcher Toph Grenfell said. “But if you enjoy the competition …” Ask the Coyotes and Otters how they spent their Presidents Day weekend, and they’ll say, “Well, I played baseball.” Nine innings Friday. Sixteen on Saturday. Nine more today. Played at the college-game crawl. Cal State’s players were at the ballpark at 8:15 a.m. Saturday. Game 2 ended at 4:31 p.m., with the lights on. “I’m gonna get something to eat and go sleep,” Roberson said. Because he has to be on the field at 9:45 a.m. today for a noon game with Monterey. Many (most?) modern ballplayers concede they prefer other sports to baseball. Roberson likes basketball better. If he were 6-foot-8? “I’d be outta here,” he said with a smile. Grenfell prefers football; he played safety for two years at Chaffey College and two more at Montana State. “Not as much sitting around,” he said. But baseball still has its attractions. The nuances. The strategy. Even though it requires enormous time commitments. Three-hour practices several days a week. Three-hour-plus games three days a week. Fifty-six games in a season. More, if you make the playoffs. And remember, you have to go to class, too, to play “college” baseball. “If you’re a good student, well organized, you can do it,” Parnell said. “If you’re young and trying to figure it out, classes can be an issue.” It’s a miracle any of these guys stay eligible. Not to mention awake during the slow parts of a doubleheader on a warm Saturday afternoon. “Their dedication and attention span is the same now as when I started here, 16 years ago,” Parnell said. “They can keep their concentration through the down time.” Which is good. Because Cal State will be playing two again on March 3. And on March 10, 17, 24 … Bring plenty of sunflower seeds. A thermos of strong coffee. Maybe the iPod. And a Russian novel … Paul Oberjuerge check out his blog at sbsun.com/sports. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!center_img SAN BERNARDINO – Our college baseball doubleheader survival kit: Reading material. last_img read more

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