first_imgThe mercy rule is one of the great policy innovations in American history. Up there with the likes of the 13th Amendment and the Interstate Highway Act, the mercy rule has defined what it means to be a citizen of this country by preventing Little League baseball games from going on way too long.Unfortunately, the rule could not make it to the NCAA in time for this weekend’s home opener for the USC baseball team against Towson. It could have made a lot of peoples lives a lot easier and everybody’s weekend a little bit better had it been in place.As a baseball fan, I’m always conflicted when my favorite team is winning an absolute blowout. It’s always great to see a big rally or have your team bat through the line up in one half inning. But even for my beloved St. Louis Cardinals, I start to become a little impatient when the lead gets past about six runs. I have to draw a fine line somewhere between, “Wow, this is such a fun game to watch!” and, “Wow, I’m ready to get this thing over with,” and I start to secretly hope for my favorite players to ground out to the short  stop on their first pitch.But it was so great to see the Trojan baseball team open up its season with a 17–1 win over Towson. Granted, I was only following Twitter updates of the game and not watching it live. Instead, I was at the men’s volleyball game against BYU, which proved to be much more interesting — though the Trojans fell short in four sets. Nonetheless, the victory for Trojan baseball kicked off a great weekend for USC sports and for the team’s season.The 17-1 win was followed by a 10-0 win the next day. The final score doesn’t look as crooked, but a bagel on the scoreboard for your opponent looks just as good. Towson actually made a game out of the series finale, only losing 8-6. But it just goes to show that even in the MLB, the best teams usually call it a successful weekend when they take two out of three games. The last game wasn’t as pretty as the other two, but nonetheless, to start the season with a sweep is impressive.USC baseball is actually one of the strongest programs historically in all of Trojan athletics. The Trojans have won more national champions than any other program with 12 — in fact, no other program has more than half of that. But the Trojans have struggled recently, missing the NCAA tournament every year since 2005. But like fellow columnist Regan Estes predicted last week, this year might be the year the Trojans finally break their slump and make the postseason.USC baseball is at a unique disadvantage in the Pac-12. USC is one of only two teams in the conference that is hails from a private university rather than a state school; the other is Stanford. Therefore, USC has higher tuition for baseball players than the average conference opponent. For football, athletic departments are allocated enough scholarships to cover the tuition of all signed players on the roster; there are only a limited number of scholarships allotted to baseball teams. Like other nonrevenue sports, baseball can only cover a fraction of tuition for players with scholarships. But unlike recruits for other nonrevenue sports, the top baseball prospects have the option of turning pro right out of high school. With the size of contracts for those picked early in the MLB draft, these decisions about college recruitment become very financial. The best of the best, who get drafted in early rounds out of high school, might sign right away, but many prospects will wait to develop for a few years in college. If they could develop into a top pick, they could sign million-dollar signing bonuses as part of their first professional contracts. Because of the expected payout from the sport, it might not be worthwhile for a player to spend extra on a private school’s tuition if it doesn’t marginally improve one’s draft stock or ultimate signing bonus.California is a hotbed of baseball talent in the country, but most of that talent has recently been going to UCLA. As much as it pains me to say it, the Bruins have totally had our number in baseball recently. In the last five years, the Bruins have brought two Pac-12 titles, one College World Series runner-up and one national championship back to Westwood. The 2011 MLB draft also comes to mind when thinking about UCLA baseball, when Bruins Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer were picked first and third overall in the draft.While USC is one of the best academic institutions in the world, the education might not be the primary concern of baseball players who are confident that they will be drafted into the MLB. But for players who value their education more and also want to play competitive baseball, it’s hard to compete against Stanford. The Cardinal’s recent success is evident both from the results of the team and from the number of high draft picks from the school. The Cardinal made the playoffs two of the last three years and have produced some of the best MLB prospects, such as Mark Appel of the Houston Astros’ system and Austin Wilson of the Seattle Mariners franchise.While recruiting some of the best players might seem like a challenge, USC also has a ton of resources available, and recruiting should be easier. The McKay Center was only unveiled a couple of years ago, and more interested athletes will see that the school really does take care of athletes.But more importantly, the Trojans have a capable commander in manager Dan Hubbs. In only his third full year at the helm, I expect the Trojans to continue to build on the success they had last year. Baseball America ranked USC’s incoming recruiting class for this season No. 25 in the country — this is the fourth year in a row that USC has had a Top 25 class. Baseball recruiting is a challenge, as coaches want to get the best players without signing prospects who are too good and will end up going to the MLB draft. Hubbs has demonstrated his ability to find that balance during his brief time at USC, and the benefits will start to show more this year. This season, expect this strong draft class to catapult the Trojans into the playoffs.Luke Holthouse is sophomore majoring in policy, planning and development and broadcast and digital journalism. His column, “Holthouse Party,” runs on Wednesdays.last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *