RIP: College World Series home runs

Posted on: June 18,2014

It seems somehow appropriate the biggest Ole Miss hit of this College World Series traveled about 120 feet, barely reaching the outfield grass.
This is not a knock on senior John Gatlin’s game-winning, pinch-hit single in Tuesday’s Ole Miss victory over Texas Tech in an elimination game. Gatlin, playing with a heavy heart, fought of a nasty slider and flicked the ball just beyond a draw-in infield. It was a great piece of hitting. It was clutch.
And it is typical of how college baseball runs are scored these days.
By hook or crook.
Last home run hit in the College World Series? Hunter Renfroe. Mississippi State. Last year.
We’ve played eight games in this year’s CWS and there have been no home runs. There’s only been a couple close.
So, let’s flash back to 1998, 16 years ago at the old Rosenblatt Stadium. LSU hit eight home runs in its first game, six more in the second. Most of those taters cleared not only the fence but the stadium. Southern Cal beat Arizona State 21-14 in a hail of home runs in the championship game.
We called it Gorilla Ball. It was not baseball.
That was what has led to this.
College baseball has scaled back the bats, and they’ve gone too far.
No, we don’t want Gorilla Ball. But we don’t want wiffle ball either.
A physics professor could explain. It all has something to do with bat-ball coefficient of restitution, a complex formula that uses the mass and inbound and rebound speeds of the ball.
I won’t bore you with the details but what it means is this: With these bats, the ball doesn’t fly very far, rendering warning tracks as more or less window dressing.
At least, college baseball knows it has gone too far. Next year, the sport will change from raised-seamed to flat-seamed balls. A physics professor could probably explain why the flat-seamed balls will go farther.
I don’t care about the physics. I just want to see a home run. Just one.

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