Big Thanks to Baseball America (Again)

"Sure he's good, but he's not GOOD good if you know what we mean." - Baseball America (probably)

Baseball America’s Preseason 2012 College All-Star Teams are out and guess who’s NOT on the First, Second, or Third teams?  That’s right – two time College World Series hero, 2011 National ERA leader (1.10), and post-season BA first-team All-American, Michael Roth.

Based on these opening sentences, you would think that we at TRC are miffed by this obvious omission.  Well, think again.  We follow BA pretty closely and think a lot of Aaron Fitt and their college baseball coverage.  We really do.  That said, we are thanking BA for yet again giving Roth and the Gamecock baseballers some motivation.

Sure, BA came up with an entirely new category of featured players call “Roth Stars,” headlined by none other than – you guessed it – Michael Roth.  These “Roth Stars” are guys BA considers great college baseball players but not “top propects.”

Well, there it is again.  While Roth is a “great” pitcher, he’s not a “top prospect” in the eyes of BA.  This line of thinking by BA is oh-so-familiar around here, and quite frankly just what the Doctor ordered.

I remember a couple of years ago when Blake Cooper was left off all of BA’s post season All-America teams while guys like Drew Pomeranz (First Team) and Gerrit Cole (Second Team)  were selected.  What happened next?  Well, I think we all remember Blake beating UCLA (with Cole on the mound, no less) on three days rest in Game 1 of the CWS Finals. (Oh, for good measure Cooper out dueled Pomeranz as the Gamecocks beat Ole Miss in a masterpiece earlier that season.)

That CWS performance, as well as the 2010 National Championship by the Gamecocks, were chalked up by BA as gritty overachievements by a team of only modest talent.  In 2011, there was more of the same from BA.  Sure, the Gamecocks were pretty good, but the talent at UVA, Vanderbilt, and Florida (whoa, those STUDS at Florida) was going to be too much.

Even UConn was considered by BA to be superior to the 2011 Gamecocks.  I remember listening to a BA Super Regional Preview podcast where Fitt and John Manuel couldn’t resist picking the uber-talented Huskies with future first-rounder George Springer and some 6-6 pitcher who threw something like 150 mph over the “good” but “at the end of the line” Gamecocks.  (Lest you guys forgot, the Cocks swept Springer and his mates).

In the 2011 CWS, BA continued to fawn over anyone not in a Gamecock uniform.  After all, UVA, with BA’s All-American Boy Danny Hultzen, was on our side of the bracket.  There was no way we were going to come out of it.

“Nice work Gamecocks, but here’s where you get off” was the attitude of the BA guys.   Of course, BA foresaw a UVA-Florida final since those teams (like UCLA the year before with Cole and ESPN Wunderkind Trevor “I’m the Greatest But I Never Pitched” Bauer) had all the “top prospects.”  Well, after disposing of UVA, the scrappy, David-like Gamecocks slew the Goliath-like Gators  in two games (including one with Mr. Less than Top Prospect Michael Roth on the mound).  So much for those BA prognostications.

We realize that the Gamecock baseball program has gotten some love.  Heck, BA featured Roth on the cover of its season preview magazine.  Thanks BA, but thanks also for continuing to devalue the Gamecocks on occasion.  This team seems to thrive on the notion that the establishment continues to doubt the ability of guys like Roth (there’s no mention of Matt Price either).

BA and others get all caught up in “measurables” and “draftability” when picking All-Star teams.  What writers sometimes overlook are the intangibles like desire, work ethic, and attitude that make a good player into a great player.  Remember that First-team BA All-American Mark Zunino sailed a key throw into center field last year in Game 1 of the CWS Finals.  Compare that to the stellar defense played by the “no names” on the Gamecock roster.  Guys like Wingo, Beary, and Williams.

So, thank you BA for lumping Roth in on the “Roth Stars”, while including some guy from Duke who won 3 games last year compared to Roth’s 12 on your AA team.  It’s ok.  It really is.  The Gamecock baseball team needs to remain anti-establishment as long as it can.  That’s our edge.  It’s what sets us apart.

Oh, and here’s hoping that Greg Maddux has a son one day who looks kind of scrawny and doesn’t throw too hard. Could be our future #1 starter.