Mazey Continues Push For Baseball Schedule Change
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The paint was not yet dry on the pretty picture that was West Virginia’s 9-4 victory over Backyard Brawl rival Pitt at PNC Park on Tuesday when the man who had painted it, coach Randy Mazey, pulled out another canvas and began smearing paint everywhere.
This was not nearly as pretty a picture even though the celebration of Nick Snyder’s 11-strikeout, three-hit performance over the first seven innings had barely begun, yet alone ended.
Not wanting to take away from the recent heroics of his team that included five victories in the last six games, Mazey probably didn’t want to address the question that was asked in his post-game media session, but the question hit him as if he had bitten on a piece of ice while suffering from a toothache.
The question had to do with the state of college baseball, and while it is fine these days in Morgantown, it isn’t quite that way everywhere, something those involved in the game were reminded of recently when an effort to get approval for a third paid assistant coach was turned down by a vote of baseball schools.
Now Mazey understood the situation completely and couldn’t argue with the decision, but he has long advocated a radical change in college baseball, one that makes too much sense to ever really be taken seriously by the powers that be.
Mazey believes “The Boys of Summer” should play in the summer… and it all has to do with finances.
“College baseball is the most underfunded sport in the NCAA,” Mazey began, noting that the game’s ratio of players to coaches is out of whack with other sports.
What’s more, he stressed, scholarships have been cut from 13 to 11.7, the number of games played have been cut, rosters have been limited.
He admits those moves were only right because “very few teams make money playing college baseball” and “it would be crazy to add expenses to a program already losing money.”
Mazey acknowledged that even the sport has become popular at WVU in recent years, “we still operate at a tremendous deficit.”
Mazey is pushing to change that.
“We have to find a way to generate money to our sport and I’m convinced the way to do that is to play in the summer,” he said.
‘Why’ is the obvious question.
Mazey offers an anecdote to make his point.
“A few years back we played the Backyard Brawl at Pitt,” he began “I remember I was coaching third base and there were 18 people in the stands.”
That’s two fewer than were playing the game, considering they use the designated hitter.
“That’s not enough people for a brawl,” Mazey joked. “Now, if we played Pitt on the July 4 weekend we’d have to build bigger stadiums. I’m talking about across the board. If you had Ohio State playing Michigan on the Fourth of July weekend there would be tens of thousands of people.
“In our current state of college baseball, we’re not making revenue and we will never make revenue in this sport until we do something drastic.”
Mazey said they should take the denial of adding a third paid assistant as “a slap in the face.”
“Everyone in the sport is upset about it but we can’t look at it objectively. Why should you invest money with zero chance to get a return on your investment? You see it in Morgantown. In the summer, the Black Bears outdraw us in our park.
“But why should people come to a baseball game when it’s 38 degrees and spitting rain on a Wednesday afternoon? I wouldn’t come if I didn’t have to.”
Certainly, playing in the summer isn’t a cure all and the southern schools stand strongly against it, considering that schools like WVU are at such a disadvantage early having to play most of their early season games on the road.
And, because of the weather they also are granted a huge recruiting advantage.
But, in the end, playing in the summer time probably serves the sport better and could elevate it to the level which baseball deserves to be on.