Lorenzo Elion attempts to tag a runner at 3rd base during Iowa baseball vs. Ohio State at Duane Banks Field on April 7, 2018. The Hawkeyes were defeated 2-1. (Megan Nagorzanski/The Daily Iowan)

Hensley: NCAA baseball should start later because of weather


Baseball and snow doesn’t make sense, and neither does starting the season in February.

By Adam Hensley


Much to everyone’s delight, it snowed on Sunday in Iowa City.

No, it wasn’t just a dusting. I’m talking big ol’ snowflakes.

Yet somewhere in this winter wonderland was a baseball game at Banks Field. Whoever was running the sound system began playing Christmas music when the snow began to fall — that was actually very funny, and I as well as others in the press box laughed.

But I think there’s a lesson to be learned here.

Baseball isn’t a winter sport, and while it’s rare (despite the bi-polar Iowa weather) for us to get snow in April, it still happened.

Head coach Rick Heller wasn’t ecstatic about playing in the snow, and rightfully so. After the game, he expressed his belief that the NCAA should push back the baseball schedule, and he’s right.

“You don’t make excuses because it is what it is,” Heller said. “At my age, at 31 years of playing in it, just to me, why are we playing in it? We should be playing in the summer. At this point in time, three-quarters of the country is dealing with it.”

As of now, the College World Series goes from June 16-28. Most teams begin their seasons in February, just as Iowa did when it traveled to Florida for the Diamond 9 Sunshine State Classic Series on Feb. 16.

The farther south teams play, the weather tends to be warmer, at least warmer than the freezing temperatures that plague areas such as Iowa City until mid-late March or later.

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But it’s an advantage for the teams located in states all over the South. Their seasons can start in February, and they don’t need to travel to play, unless they desire to.

Meanwhile, teams such as Iowa have no option but to hit the road and head south in order to play live-action baseball.

Heller made an excellent point after Iowa’s 2-1 win over Ohio State.

“I would like at some time in my career to be able to start the season in May and play through the summer, and we’d have 5, 6, 7,000 people here for [the Ohio State games],” he said. “It would be a different world, but until that changes, we’re going to have to deal with days like [Sunday].”

The biggest issue is getting everybody on board for the change.

Why not start the baseball season in April and conclude in August? It wouldn’t conflict with college football’s regular season, plus there would be warmer temperatures. As Heller said, Iowa could easily boast a crowd of 6,000, if not more, for a weekend series against a Big Ten foe.

But the teams in the South aren’t likely to budge.

“When you have advantages, it’s tough to give them up,” Heller said.

He said he still “holds hope” that at some point during his coaching career, he’ll see the day when college baseball picks up in late spring instead of late winter.

He noted that he heard rumors that the Big 12 held a straw vote on whether the teams felt as though the season should start later in the year, and according to him, only one team in the conference was against it.

Conferences such as the SEC and Pac 12 likely won’t be the ones pushing for a change, but those such as the Big 12 or Big Ten could be.

“We being in a Power Five [conference], we have to probably lead the charge and, hopefully someday, that’ll happen, where we could get some others on board,” Heller said.

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