We promise no hypocrisy among profiteers - the machinations of the Southeastern Conference's Wall Street mentality (the cool movie from the 1980s, not the failed economic institution of 2011) has in some way benefitted every fan, booster, corporate sponsors and yes, media member over the last two decades of unchecked growth. But at least most of the SEC's manuevers towards national dominance and fat paydays have shown some level of tact.
The shameless expansion of the SEC Baseball Tournament merits absolutely none of the acclaim of the SEC's previous ground breaking expansions - the football division / title game revision of 1992, this surely ain't.
The league announced Monday that the eight-team tournament field would expand to ten teams and add an additional day of play, likely under the unspoken auspices of new members Texas A&M and Missouri joining play in 2013. That's bunk - the conference, obviously aware of its out-and-out dominance of the sport, moved to add two more teams (two more fan bases, another full day of games, ticket revenues and broadcast rights) and justified the unnecessary bloating of an almost entirely meaningless event as a means to help more of their conference members get to the NCAA Tournament starting the following week:
"We’ve had on several occasions through the years under the current format where we sent nine teams to postseason play, where one team who did not advance to Hoover received a NCAA bid," [SEC spokesman Chuck] Dunlap said. " It’s become almost the norm for all teams in Hoover who are eligible to advance to NCAAs. Recently, however, we felt there have been years we could and should have placed 10 teams in the field given the strength of the league. This, I believe, solidifies the prospects of achieving that goal."
The SEC wants you to believe that an arbitrary tournament - stuck in dismal Hoover, Alabama forever as a direct result of home office nepotism - has the ability to punch a bubble team's ticket to the NCAA Tournament. The reality is that very little has changed in formatting, regardless of the addition of single elimination play (which in baseball just plain sucks). A borderline team that makes it to Hoover as the tenth seed would face playing six games in six days to earn an automatic bid.
Teams seeded in the mid-range (who usually end up as NCAA Tournament powerhouses, Regional hosts and national title dark horses) will have to play more meaningless baseball. In years past it's been common to see a team already comfortably secured of a NCAA bid shrug at a quick 1-2 or even 0-2 exit from Hoover, if only because less baseball now saves a pitching rotation's arms for later - when the games matter.
Again: We can't not acknowledge the nearly spotless record of rewards that SPEED COUNTRY'S ruthless capitalism has yielded. No one bleeds a amateur athletic stone quite like the boys in Birmingham, and for that, we'd have gladly given you a mulligan had you out and out admitted what this crap is - takin' that straight cash.