Wait until the College World Series is over. Is that so hard? As if professional baseball isn’t so self-important already with its super-size 162 game season and its incessant whining about “tradition”. (Before inter-league play, precisely what was so interesting about playing the same 13 or 15 teams an average of 10+ times each? Why not cut that number in half so people can even think about caring about the importance of a single game?)
Now we have the baseball draft, where they begin picking the 17 year olds that they’ll send to southeastern Idaho for 4 years where they can stock groceries and hope they get moved up to AA ball eventually. The real problem is that, in case they haven’t noticed, some of the kids they’re drafting – the ones in college, haven’t finished their seasons yet. For most student-athletes, this doesn’t matter. They don’t have a chance of a career in the pros, but what of the ones that do? Just why should Vanderbilt’s Jeremy Sowers give 110% toward next weekend’s super-regional matchup with Texas when he’s already the number 6 pick in the draft? I’m not suggesting that he’ll throw in the towel, but he certainly doesn’t have the same motivation to put everything on the line. I know when I was in my final semester in college, it became much harder to care about classes once I’d locked down my post-graduation job.
These players and their teams should have an opportunity to focus on getting to and winning the College World Series, on doing and showing their best so that they can win games, and possibly improve their value in the draft. Instead, for the top prospects, the race has been run. Almost nothing they do now will affect their paycheck. Hopefully, pride is enough to motivate them, but why risk it? Drafting DURING these games harms the college game. Waiting would harm nothing. In just 3 weeks, a national champion will have been crowned. Colleges have already signed their recruits for next year, and Spring training is still be 8 months away. The NFL doesn’t draft during bowl season, the NBA doesn’t draft during March Madness. MLB’s choice to draft during the college post-season is a distraction, and a sample of the arrogance that has led to the league’s declining popularity.