My brother made a curious decision in the mid-to-late eighties. He decided that regionalism was a foolish reason for determining sports loyalties. While he never took to hating the Chicago teams he once enjoyed, he picked one squad from each of the four major sports leagues. He chose the Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Indians, Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Through thick and thin, those are his teams. With teams he has committed to, he is a valid resource for me when I need help with any league.
As you likely know, different articles float my baseball boat than most people. I have about zero interest in which Cubs starter should open the season against the Cardinals. However, if someone would write a proper long-form article on the best available player on the DFA wire, I’d be all over it. That is news I don’t presently possess.
On occasion, I’ll read a really well-written long-form piece. Sources. Quotes. Precedents. The whole ball of wax. Be it baseball or civics, and suddenly, I feel like a much more intelligent person. And better writer. Or citizen. Or whatever.
I get to the bottom of this gem of a work that likely took five hours-to-three weeks to write. In the comments section. Nada. Or, “You mis-spelled (a town in rural Mozambique).”
A guy busted his professional chops, got a highly-informative article out, and the ennui is staggering.
A few days ago, Al wrote an article on the Cubs sitting 27th and 30th in the MLB Draft come June. As this is the type of piece that brings interesting commentary for me, I checked in on it. (Rarely do I, anymore. I do my own writing, on minor topics, at my own blog, thezygote50.com. I’m also active on Twitter at @tim815 despite what Twitter seems to be becoming. More on that later.)
I almost sent Al a FB IM a couple of times shortly after. Before I got around to it, he sent me one. He wanted me to write some Draft Prep pieces, leading up to June.
It took me a few days to respond, as my response was a rather loaded and lengthy one. The short of it was, I didn’t want to write a lecture series on college baseball, to a bunch of readers that, frankly, have less interest in college baseball that the mating habits of hippopotami, or Russian disco dancing in the 1990s.
I’ve done it before. It was rather a waste of my time, and likely yours. If you read them.
After lengthy thought, I told Al I’d give him one article. And maybe more. But the Draft Prep series can’t be a Presbyterian minister rambling non-stop for twenty minutes about a text in Luke or Leviticus, then everyone goes home. And says “Great sermon!” to the pastor on the way out. Just to have it not make a difference.
If I’m going to spend time on a Draft Prep series, I want it to be a learning experience. For you. For me. For that poster you wish would just stifle, or move to a different site. Draft Prep only works if people care about college baseball. Because the draft only really matters if you care about college baseball.
Like Josh’s nightly Minor League Wraps only matter if you have ownership of the players in the pipeline.
Ownership is what makes sports worth arguing over. It makes it worth looking a fool if you ask a dumb question.
(There are dumb questions. I’ve asked plenty of them.)
For Draft Prep to work, and for this series to continue, some of you need to make this a worthwhile segment. Al already knows this. I want you (the person reading this) to take a college baseball team.
Select one. There are, what, 200?
Take one, and commit to do fifteen minutes of homework, per week, on that team until the MLB Draft in June.
No, I don’t command you to listen to the UNC Wilmington vs. George Mason game on February 17th. (Which might not even be streamed.) However, whichever side you take, I’ll give you a little bit of homework each time.
Fifteen minutes a week, maximum.
This time around, pick the school you’re following. Tell me who your team is, and who your head coach is. Who do you open against? Which of your players have been named pre-season all-conference?
It could be your alma mater, or one near your current residence. I’ve been told all Cubs fans like Notre Dame. That’s rubbish, but they have three intriguing starting pitchers. (Irish RHP Peter Solomon is the cover boy today.)
Do you want the champs? Coastal Carolina runs a really good program, and many from that school have done well in the Cubs system. Particularly as people, even in the face of some bad events.
Want to cheer for the best player in college ball? Seth Beer goes to Clemson. He’s worth tanking over.
Vanderbilt is always a solid squad. They’ll have a hitter and pitcher in the top ten this time around, maybe.
Or, you can be like my brother, and choose based on..... he wasn’t doing micro-brews back then. (Actually, most of them made sense at the time.)
Northern Illinois has a rather middling team in a mid-range northern conference. However, go Huskies, if that’s how you want to go.
Do you like garish green? Go Ducks. (Oregon Ducks, as in.)
If you’re going out to Mesa, that is Arizona State territory. Bradley (Peoria, Illinois) has a better team than you might think.
If twenty of you play along, you’ll learn far more than you though you might. And you can holler at me in capital letters if my homework takes more than fifteen minutes a week.
Needless to say, without participation, this is a worthless exercise. And that’s why I want to do it.
Will twenty of you take me up on it? I have no idea. Hence, I will learn something. This might be a “first of a one-part series.” Or, this could segue you into a mild appreciation for a rather maddening sport.
I’d like it to work. I’d like participation. However, if it rolls into the dustbin of “What was he thinking?” ideas, so be it.
I’ll still take your Twitter questions at @tim815. I’ll still run my site, with my adjunct at “The Zygote 50” on Facebook.
I have no interest in summarizing or plagiarizing myself. I’ll still post prospect updates at #CubsProspectProfile and draft pieces at #2017CubsDraft regardless.
If you guys and gals aren’t interested in a little bit of ownership regarding the college game, I entirely understand why. However, if you keep looking at box scores into late March, don’t be surprised if you ask a really good question.
“My Friday night guy has a better ERA and WHIP that the guy from (insert team here), and the strikeouts are similar. Why is his guy a better prospect?”
Then, I will have succeeded.
I will have gotten you to think on your own, and ask a very good question.
D1 Baseball, Perfect Game, and Baseball America are good sources for college news. However, a bunch of their better stuff costs. (Don’t worry. You don’t have to pay to do the weekly homework.) PG came out with their list of top ten senior collegiates.
2016 Cubs Draft picks Trey Cobb (Oklahoma State) and Parker Dunshee (Wake Forest) were ranked fifth and seventh respectively.
If ten of you select different schools, I’ll play along and share my homework. If less than three of you play, this it probably it for Draft Prep. If over twenty of you stick around through June, some of you might have Cubs draft choices you’ve been following since February.
Which would be really cool. And, whoever he is, he’d completely dig it on Twitter.
Thanks for reading. Let me know if you need help picking a team. Them being any good isn’t a requirement. Following a 24-40 squad would teach you quite a bit about what makes other schools good.
Either way, enjoy.
And, as I close my articles on the blog.
Be nice to others.