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An Open Letter to Sun Belt Baseball Coaches – From the Bird’s Nest

Dear Coaches,

First of all, let me say to those of you I’ve gotten to know, how much I’ve enjoyed our visits.  To those who are relatively new to the league, I look forward to meeting and getting to know you as well.

I have covered the Sun Belt Conference for more than two decades.  I have seen this baseball league, despite changes in membership, continue a standard of excellence that has earned the league the respect of those who know college baseball.  Sending four teams to the NCAA regionals a year ago is a testament to that fact.

But I have to tell you, I’m burdened today.  I feel this way every year.  And, each year it just gets worse. 

My question to you is this:

Why in the world is this league playing baseball on Easter Sunday?

I am not going to get into a long rant about the religious ramifications except to say nearly every one of your players has grown up with some background in Christianity.  And here, on one of the two most celebratory days in the Christian world, we are playing baseball.

I know it has been brought up many times.  I hope it is brought up again.  I have asked what justification has been used to playing on such a  holiday.  I would like to address the responses I’ve had.

BASEBALL WAS MADE TO BE PLAYED ON FRIDAY, SATURDAY AND SUNDAY—Okay, for the most part, I agree.  But let me ask you this:  If ESPN contacted the Sun Belt and wanted to showcase the league in a Thursday, Friday, Saturday format, would you agree to it?  Would you take the national exposure that nationally televised college baseball would offer?  Or would you continually say that baseball is supposed to be on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  I think we all know the answer to that one.  The SEC (Thursday) and the ACC (Monday) understand what television means.  My guess is, so do all of you.  That F-S-S doesn’t seem quite as sacred now (pun intended), does it.  There are scenarios where you’d be happy to change it.

I DON’T LIKE MOVING MY PITCHERS UP A DAY—Really?  For several years now, you’ve done exactly that during the last week of the season.  And, you’ve done it so your #1 guy will be ready to pitch in the conference tournament (when you move him up ANOTHER day.)  You are willing to do it because you believe it gives you an advantage.  You not liking it no longer comes into play.  In fact, once the tournament comes, many of you would have a pitcher throw 80-100 pitches on Wednesday and then bring that same pitcher back later in the tournament.  One coach, no longer in the league, had his #1 throw multiple times and over 200 pitches in a four day period.  So, I’m sorry, but I reject that argument of breaking a pitcher’s routine.  There are scenarios when you don’t think twice about doing it.

I DON’T LIKE DOUBLEHEADERS—Neither do I.  It makes for a long day at the park and can tax your bullpen.  I get that.  But doubleheaders are played all during the season because of weather or impending weather.  If you don’t like doubleheaders, why do you play them in order to make up games?  Why not just cancel those games and play a two game series?  Your pitching staff wouldn’t be as taxed.  More than once this year, we’ve seen teams move Sunday games to Saturday because of a weather forecast.  And, all of you have survived.  So have your teams.  I don’t know of anyone who needed Tommy John surgery because their team played a doubleheader or because they got five days rest instead of six.  Again, there are scenarios where you play doubleheaders…willingly.

Perhaps you have another reason I haven’t heard of.  But I think you’re starting to get my point.

I love the game dearly.  But there are things bigger than college baseball.  Easter Sunday is one of them.  Many leagues have realized that and gone to a Thursday, Friday, Saturday schedule on Easter week.  It isn’t like you all would be setting a precedent.

Not every player, trainer or manager would be able to spend Easter with his family because they perhaps are too far away.  But many of your players would have the opportunity to have a special time with family.  And  those who are inclined (which is probably the majority of them), have an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate what the day means in the Christian world.  Perhaps that would make them even better young men than they already are.

One of the things I respect about baseball coaches in our league is you are concerned with developing the entire student-athlete.  That includes academics and discipline.  You all have the desire to help to mold young men.  And, one of the ways you do that is to implore them to do the right thing.

I maintain it’s time for you to stand up and do the same.

Sincerely

Jay Walker

Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Radio Network

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