If you don't follow me on Twitter, I'm a huge baseball fan. It was my first true love and I have devoted my last two summers to minor league baseball. That being said, the news of Syracuse adding baseball as a full fledged member of the athletic department has been something of a dream for me. The move to the ACC reopened a door that has been wiggling free since the program was canned in 1972. (Just think, the Pirates and Royals have each won a World Series since Syracuse had baseball.)
As with all things with the NCAA, adding a new sport to an athletic program is anything but simple. Due to Title IX laws, the athletic program must compensate the addition of 25+ male athletes and scholarships with an equal number of female scholarships/athletes. After the paperwork is completed there is still the whole matter of where to practice/play games. The softball team is able to hit in a makeshift cage in Manley, however on field practices would have to be at a new facility on campus or a deal made with another local field.
This however is already known. We've all talked about it in the comments on several posts and agree that adding this team would be nice, but it's not something that should be done overnight and other sports, such as hockey, should be higher in the food chain. I'm here to say that if Syracuse does add a sport, it should be baseball.
I'm going to ignore the whole "we're moving to the ACC so we should have baseball" argument because that's essentially peer pressure and I was told in the second grade that peer pressure is wrong. Instead, let's look at how baseball will positively affect the University's athletic program.
First and foremost, New York is a baseball hotbed. The New York Yankees and Mets each have strong fanbases with ties to CNY, but that doesn't translate into butts in the seats, just ask the Chiefs. However, the University has a different pull than professional teams just as the collegiate game is different than the pro game. While colleges will more than likely phase out aluminum bats within the next 15 years, as of now the games are high scoring affairs with the promise of seeing dominant players almost every game. Don't forget, the baseball Hall of Fame is just down the road in Cooperstown. Between that and the MLB tie ins, Dr. Gross will have so many opportunities to shove New York's College Baseball Team all across the state.
Understandably, there's nothing to suggest Syracuse baseball would even be average in a stacked ACC. However, we've seen previously dead programs come alive under Gross' tenure and baseball would be no different. There's a strong stigma against northern schools being unable to produce the same number of quality baseball prospects as the south, both in high school and college. To an extent, the stigma is true, however as Bill James did write in one of his original publications, the north is under scouted and certain programs have attracted just as much attention as southern ones. UConn has built the peak Northern baseball program and has had 24 players drafted over the last 5 years. Bottom line: if done correctly, Syracuse could just as easily become a consistently strong baseball team.
Better yet, Syracuse has a strong baseball tradition. Thanks to Jared for steering me in the direction of SyracuseFan.com, which posted a great piece on the history of SU Baseball in terms of MLB alumni from the program. Like noted above, with improved technology and teaching, top notch baseball facilities can be built anywhere.
I understand there are a lot of details to be ironed out that have been mentioned that don't challenge other sports such as men's ice hockey. The venue, title IX balancing as well as the whole challenge of turning a current club team into a D-1 program ready to compete in one of the most difficult conferences. However, it's been done. There are potential deals to be made to provide at least a rental of top notch facilities. (Also, got an email last night that SU Athletics received a million dollar donation they made official last night. Sooooooooo there's a start.)
We'll see where this goes. For me it's pretty simple: New York and baseball go together very well. SU is now in a top notch baseball conference. There is no doubt in my mind SU could have a top notch baseball program with backing from alumni. Let's make it happen.