It’s been a slow week for high school baseball and softball in Portsmouth. Three straight days of rain showers have kept fields wet and players off the diamond. But while we aren’t seeing much action on the field, local athletic directors are hitting the phones hard, trying to make up games as the playoffs near.
With just over a month to play a maximum of 27 games, high school baseball and softball schedules are already tight as it is. But playing a weather-sensitive sport in the most unpredictable weather season will inevitably throw a wrench into that schedule.
As teams gear up to play in the state tournament, most schools will still be struggling to schedule makeup games. But for Ohio high schools, it’s not a problem. Even after the state tournaments begin, teams are permitted to make up games from the regular season. In fact, teams can make up games until June 14, a full week after the state champion is crowned in Columbus.
If there is another rainy week like this one, or if forecasters are correct in predicting that May will be one of the wettest ever, you can bet that local teams will be playing regular season games well after their fate has been determined.
Some feel these worthless games are a waste of time. With nothing to play for, why even play at all? Your seeding has been determined, why waste everyone’s time?
The more important issue involves players on AAU teams and other traveling squads. According to OHSAA rules, a player cannot play for his high school team and his travel team at the same time. Do these meaningless “regular season” games keep athletes from having the chance to play meaningful games with another team?
The reality is, these extra regular season games do more good than harm, especially with teams that go deep into the tournament. Often times, these teams will find they have a week between tournament games. For example, teams have a full seven days to prepare between the state quarterfinals or the state semifinals. Coaches use these extra “regular season” matchups as scrimmages in order to prepare for the the next round of the tournament. Pitchers get to throw to keeping their arms loose, and batters get to see live pitches in a game environment.
In addition, AAU and summer baseball and softball leagues usually don’t get started until high schools let out. Most area schools let out around the week of June 7, meaning players would only miss at most a week of summer league baseball or softball.
Finally, more regular season games means more revenue for schools. Though baseball and softball get nowhere near the same draw that football and basketball games get, it still offers opportunities for school to make money. Though it may only mean a few more hot dogs sold at concession stands, area athletic directors will tell you that they will take any penny they can get.
They may seem like worthless and meaningless games, but tell that to the high school seniors who are playing in their final seasons. Wouldn’t they want every opportunity to don their school colors just one more time?
So cheer up, Portsmouth. Though rainy days may keep area teams off the diamond, they’ll be out there soon enough, whether they’re playing to win or just for pride.
Alex Hider can be reached at 353-3101, ext 294, or on Twitter @alexhider.