Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Do Teams In Warm Weather States Play Better Ball?

This is a ongoing discussion that message boards from East Coast, West Coast and South Coast have been hotly debating for years. Alvin High School in the Greater Houston Area has already played 18 games. Contrast that to teams in the Northeast, Midwest and even Kentucky that haven't played a single game yet. Many of our Top Twenty teams in California, Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Nevada and Georgia have played at least 10 games thus far. Does that give them an advantage over their cold weather counterparts? We give a lot of credit to St. Johns College Prep of D.C and Calvert Hall of Maryland to put that theory to the test at two of the toughest tournaments Southern California has to offer in the Anderson Bat Classic and the prestigious Phil Nevin Classic.

Our money is on the Capitol Boys of St. Johns to do some damage at the Nevin. We aren't convinced that weather has any thing to do with the fact that they have 9 players committed to D-I's on this team. College recruiters didn't single these guys out because the pickings were slim. They signed them because they can play...all nine of them. They may have less games under their belt and may not be as "season ready", but playing in the SoCal warmth is a huge incentive to players that don't get a daily dose of this climate 12 months of the year.

And, that brings us to another point. Warm weather ballplayers aren't better all round athletes. They are just more seasoned. There may be just as good or better potential talent in Midland, Michigan...just not the ample time to play the game enough to be as good as many warm weather players that play year round. But, that's even changing. There are indoor facilities popping up everywhere. New Jersey could hold the record for the most indoor hitting facilities per capita. There seems to be a batting cage on every corner. Jersey does love it's baseball...as does Virginia, Maryland, New York, Indiana, Michigan and other states that have something to prove to the rest of America that they too can play ball. Who would have thought that the University of Missouri would be ranked in the Top 10? Look at their roster...Mostly local kids. It just so happens courtesy of one of our corespondents in the Midwest, that Kansas City, St. Louis and other cities around the state of Missouri have tons of indoor batting cages to keep them in the "swing" of things.

There are other schools such as Ohio State that have entire indoor fields to practice on. As baseball becomes more of a revenue generating sport, we may just see more and more frost belt states investing in more indoor facilities and increasing the competitiveness of the players and their ability to compete over their sunbelt competitors. The question is...if you build it will they come? Can todays youth be excited to play and practice indoors if there is a foot of snow on the ground? Do the passions run as deep as they do in SoCal, where a player can play outdoors 365 days a year? It seems that in places like Missouri and Jersey...that they do. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the future.

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