Well, that's a wrap on year three of the College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park. Here are a few not necessarily connected thoughts and/or interesting stats.
The UCLA Bruins won their first baseball national championship with pitching, defense and small ball. In the deciding game of the championship series they had six sacrifices (four of which were bunts) and in every inning in which they had one, they scored. UCLA's twelve sacrifice bunts during the entire CWS tied a record set in 1962 by Santa Clara.
Mississippi State stayed on the field to watch the UCLA celebration and subsequent trophy presentation – a classy move that was noted on Twitter by Creighton SID Rob Anderson:
Mississippi State just left field, 37 minutes after game ended. Very respectful group of runner-ups— Rob Anderson (@_robanderson) June 26, 2013
UCLA pitchers posted an insane 0.80 ERA throughout the CWS, giving up just four earned runs in five games. It's a good thing too, since they hit .227 as a team.
No extra inning games were played this year, for the first time since 2008.
If you like baseball drama, then this CWS was for you. Eight of the 14 games were decided by two runs or less.
Here's a crazy stat, teams that lead after eight innings are 38-0 in CWS play at TD Ameritrade Park and have won 53 straight games, dating back to 2009 at Rosenblatt Stadium.
For all the complaints about the lack of home runs (there were just three hit during the CWS – the lowest total since 1966), 341,483 people streamed through the gates and set a new all-time attendance record. Also, game two of the Championship Series drew 27,127 – the largest crowd in TD Ameritrade Park history.
So, let's talk about the lack of home runs for a minute. No doubt, the college game is out of balance at this point. But what can be done to fix it? For those who want to move in the fences, they need to answer the question - how far? The dimensions match those of Rosenblatt Stadium. Center field is 408 feet. If it were moved in to 398 feet, how many balls would have cleared the fence during this CWS? I can think of one.
I tend to think the college game needs to embrace the minor league ball as a better remedy. The seams on the college baseball are raised and presumably create too much drag. The minor league ball has flat seams and a harder core. Unfortunately, according to this AP article, no change could be made on the ball until the 2015 season. If that is true, fans will have to endure at least one more season of the dead bat, dead ball era – one that is even more exaggerated at TD Ameritrade Park.
Not to beat a dead horse, but teams hit a collective .237 during the 2013 CWS, while the collective ERA for the Series was 2.54. No team had an ERA worse than 3.34 (North Carolina, Oregon State).
I will repeat what others have said, including Indiana coach Tracy Smith (who is in favor of moving the fences in) – watching outfielders play more shallow than you'll see anywhere else changes the integrity of the game. It prevents bloopers and line drives from falling in that otherwise would. When the integrity of the game is compromised, change must occur.
More I watch the games at the CWS the more I believe they need to move the fences in. OF's play so shallow it changes integrity of the game.— Tracy Smith (@HoosierBaseball) June 21, 2013
I heard far fewer "left field sucks, right field sucks" chants this year, and that was a good thing in my opinion.
Johnny Rosenblatt's Infield at the Zoo opened to the public just before the CWS started. It drew large crowds during the CWS and will be a lasting memorial to the grand old park. If you would like to read more about it, I interviewed Johnny's son, Steve, for this article.
Finally, with UCLA and Mississippi State reaching the championship, that means every year since 2000, except one, at least one team that visited Children's Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha ended up competing in the national championship series. Both the Bruins and Bulldogs visited during the 2013 CWS. Here's a complete list.