Passion Shows In College Coverage




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It's an exceedingly busy time on the sports calendar, what with the NBA Finals, the Stanley Cup Finals and the Gold Cup all going on at the same time.

OK, I confess that I don't really know what the Gold Cup is. I think it has something to do with soccer. But really, it's no more or less relevant to my life right now than either of the other two events, which occupy a much more prominent place in the sports firmament.

Because at the beginning of June, we at Baseball America are occupied with much more important things: namely, the college baseball postseason and a little thing called the draft.

The growth of our college coverage over the last decade has been just as notable, though perhaps less noted, as the growth of our draft coverage. In both cases, you had a corner of the baseball world that got attention but probably not enough of it, and most significantly, you had two areas of interest that were perfectly suited to the burgeoning online world.

Filling A Need

I have written many times about how the Internet helped us liberate draft information, and it's a wonderful thing indeed that seeing draft picks as they happen is now the expectation of every player and fan.

Seeing the draft on television is a more recent dream fulfilled, and though the broadcast on MLB Network could still use a few more tweaks—and a few more players in attendance—it's good to see MLB putting forth the effort. Just as the online coverage of the draft is now a quantum leap ahead of what it once was, the television coverage will make huge strides in the coming years as MLB Network gets more comfortable with it and gets a better idea of how to best present the stories of the draft.

It has been perhaps less obvious how much our college coverage has grown over the years. In print, for the most part, our coverage doesn't look a whole lot different than it has for years. In the "old days," we had a college notebook, followed by College East and College West, which focused on players from those parts of the country. Now we have On Campus, which pulls in elements of those previous sections, and the column of John Manuel, which more often than not focuses on the college game.

But if you go online, you see a huge difference. We often say that college baseball is the only thing we cover where we care who wins the games, and our coverage reflects that: blog posts, chats, recurring weekly features like Three Strikes and the Top 25 Tracker. The coverage is both voluminous and authoritative, thanks to the man who leads it, Aaron Fitt.

He follows in the footsteps of his able predecessors on the modern college beat, Manuel and Will Kimmey. Manuel had to fill the big shoes of Jim Callis, who established BA as a college baseball authority, and he was our first college beat writer who had to look out into the vast wilderness of the Internet.

John saw that it was good, and he began filling that wilderness with words. His expansive Weekend Previews established a new era of BA college coverage. Perhaps for the first time, BA was able to participate in the daily coverage of a beat, rather than just checking in on it every couple of weeks.

And the Web proved a perfect fit from the other end as well, as college baseball fans seemed to prefer following the game online to following it in print. Whether that's because the fans are younger, more closely connected to college, or they were just early adopters of Web coverage because they had never been able to find coverage anywhere else, college fans instantly latched on to as much online coverage as they could find. And befitting the ties to their schools, they were passionate about it.

Fortunately for us, we have always had writers covering the college game who were just as passionate. I think that fact jumps off the screen when you read our coverage, and it continues all the way through Omaha, right until the final dogpile.