A fair playing field: how MSU baseball competes against warm-weather teams

Apr 26, 2017

EAST LANSING, Mich. – When baseball season kicks off, it is a sign of the warmer weather to come. Baseball is best played on sunny days, and not flooded fields. In recent weeks we have seen some stormy weather here in Michigan. This spring’s rainy weather forced the MSU baseball team to cancel games, and move games to different stadiums to accommodate the weather.

While MSU has no control over the weather, many schools in the South do not worry about weather as much. Clemson’s baseball team can practice all year outside, where as MSU has had multiple practices indoors. There are many obvious differences between practicing on a field and practicing on turf inside of a dome. The reps the players are taking are not the same. So when the Spartans do play a team like Clemson, some can say that they are at a disadvantage.

Credit Romero Hardy

Preparing for a game can be difficult, for not only the Spartans but for any team that plays in colder state. Tracking a pop fly inside a dome versus tracking it outside on the field are two different situations.

Jake Boss Jr., head coach for the Spartans does not see this as a major issue. Players should be ready at all times, and a lot of these guys have played ball since they were kids. Boss does not have a problem playing schools in warmer states and sees no disadvantage to his team. Although, he did admit that the weather changes how they prepare for games early in the season.

“We will play anybody, anywhere at anytime, we beat Oregon St. two years ago in Oregon, we opened up the season this year against Abilene Christian in Texas and swept them. We recruit Midwest guys for a reason, those guys are used to preparing in these types of conditions,” Boss said.

Weather conditions also put schools like MSU at a disadvantage in their recruitment process. Most kids who are from Florida or California will not want to leave a state where they can play 7 days a week outside for 365 days a year. More than likely the kid will choose a school in state or one that can offer the similar weather element  they are used too. A school like South Carolina can tend to have higher baseball talent on their team because they have the kids who grew all year playing the sport.

When you look at the roster for the Spartans it is predominately filled with guys from the Midwest, there is also one player from California. This shows that it is tough to land those players from warmer schools.

This is an intentional act, Graham Sikes who is the assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, has said that it is all about finding the right guy. “When we go to the warm weather states, we have a certain guy in mind that we want, and with those guys it has not been an issue to get them here. This campus sells itself,” Sikes said. 

Credit Romero Hardy