West Virginia’s Randy Mazey beating drum for summertime baseball
To Randy Mazey, it only makes sense: Baseball was meant to played in the summertime. Or, at least, college baseball, which is the sport that matters most to West Virginia’s coach.
Four years ago, Mazey was advocating moving the college season from its late winter/spring season to later spring/summer. Baseball America reported last month that in 2015 there was support from 85 percent of the coaches for such a proposal.
Catching up with Mazey on Tuesday at PNC Park — where his nationally ranked Mountaineers (No. 19, according to Baseball America) — defeated Pitt, 9-4, Mazey was sorry to report there has been “absolutely, positively zero traction” on moving the season.
Mazey said, however, that simple economics dictate that a move is necessary.
“West Virginia (baseball) operates at a tremendous deficit, like most programs,” he said. “We have to find a way to generate revenue in our sport.
“And I’m convinced, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the way to do it is to play in the summertime.
”I remember one year we played the Backyard Brawl at Pitt. It was March 25. I was coaching third base when the first pitch was thrown. There were 18 people in the stands.
“That doesn’t even constitute a brawl. There aren’t enough people to make up a brawl. But if we played Pitt on July 4 weekend, we’d have to build bigger stadiums. Michigan vs. Ohio State baseball weekend on July 4, you’re talking about tens of thousands of people.”
More paying customers across the nation would translate into additional revenue. Then, perhaps, measures such as the one to add a third (full-time) assistant would be approved by the NCAA. Last month, the proposal was defeated by a vote of the Division I council of athletic directors.
“It’s a real shame. College baseball is the single-most underfunded sport in all the NCAA,” Mazey said. “We have one of the lowest coach-to-player ratios of any sport (1:12, according to Baseball America) in the NCAA.
“Since I’ve been involved in college baseball, scholarships have been cut from 13 to 11.7. Games have been cut. Rosters have been limited and now, nationally, we tried to do something for the benefit of college baseball and it got defeated and rightfully so.”
Actually, Mazey understands why the proposal was defeated.
”Very few teams make money playing college baseball,” he said. “Until we start making revenue, as a sport, then I don’t blame anybody for not wanting to add more expenses. You’d be crazy to add more expenses to a program that’s already losing a ton of money.
”We’re never going to make progress in this sport until we do something drastic.”
That would be summertime baseball, he said.
“The majority of our games in March and April are in the 30s and 40s (temperature),” Mazey said. “Why would you come to a baseball game when it’s 38 degrees and spitting rain at 3 o’clock on a Wednesday? I wouldn’t go if I didn’t have to.”
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .