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Rough in the Diamond

B.S. on Sports

By Bill Scheft

It seems the more you like sports, the more times you have to suffer with teams that just miss out, games that are just lost on fluke plays, and coaches that just shake their heads and wonder, "Why me, God?"

I don't know about you guys, but I'm sick of waiting for next year.

And the funny thing is that it's nobody's fault. It's not one play in one game or anything like that. It's a combination of things that are so intangible all you can do is look back and wonder "Why the heck aren't we celebrating tonight?"

This place shouldn't be called Harvard. Rather Hard-luck University. Just check the stats on this year alone:

A defending champion football team that rolled over its first three opponents and looked on its way to a third straight Ivy League crown gets beaten virtually under water in the fourth game of the season when a Cornell punter runs for a 78-yard touchdown.

Outclassed

A hockey squad that defeated the eventual national champion and thoroughly outclassed a formidable field in the Beanpot doesn't even qualify for the ECAC tournament.

A group of young lacrosse players, who last year found themselves rated 15th in the country and this year added quality freshmen to an already outstanding nucleus, now lie four games under .500 and have no chance for the NCAA playoffs.

But let me tell you, nothing, absolutely nothing, compares with the way the Harvard baseball team has been gypped out of an ECAC tournament berth this year.

The big shots down at ECAC headquarters in Centerville, Mass., told me yesterday that only two teams from the Eastern Intercollegiate Baseball League are allowed in postseason play. Those two will probably be Columbia and Cornell, who tied for the EIBL championship and will play off for the title sometime this week. If Harvard sweeps the doubleheader with Dartmouth on Thursday it will finish in third place in the EIBL with an 8-4 record.

So why am I mad? 8-4 ain't so hot.

The point, my friends, is that four teams make it into the District One playoffs of the ECAC (the winner of the EIBL gets an automatic bye into the NCAA Eastern Regionals). The ECAC has already chosen Maine, UConn, and Fairfield for the tournament. No argument there, those three teams all have fine records and are generally regarded as the class of New England.

Now the ECAC is debating on the fourth team for the District One playoffs. It will either be UMass or Boston College.

That's right, you heard me, it will either be a team with a record barely over .500 in the ECAC or a squad that can't even win the Greater Boston League (B.C. tied with Harvard for second place) and which boasts a 13-7 record in the ECAC vs. Harvard's 13-5 slate.

A glance at the last New England Baseball poll, voted on by ECAC coaches, will further tell you that something is definitely botched here. The poll has Harvard in third place behind Maine and UConn, and ahead of such notables as Fairfield, Boston College and UMass.

And, for the record, let's not forget the 11-2 slaughter of B.C. in early April.

The hockey team wins the big ECAC games but its record isn't good enough to make the playoffs. The baseball team doesn't necessarily win the big EIBL games but still boasts the best record in the East and we don't see them get the invitation for post season play.

Meanwhile, Brandeis beat Harvard yesterday to raise its record to 19-2 and that team is going to (get this) the Division THREE playoffs. Pardon me while I swallow my wad of chewing tobacco. . .

But let's not cry over split doubleheaders. Two things need be said; first, the ECAC must abolish the EIBL and set up two leagues, one for all the New England Division One teams and another for those teams in New York, New Jersey, and Maryland. Both leagues would play their seasons independent of each other and would meet only after the regular season in a tournament involving the top four teams from each league.

And finally, let's not overlook the 360-degree turn Harvard baseball made this season on account of some pig-headed athletic intellectuals down on the Cape. Guess we'll just have to go get 'em next year--Ugh, I said it again.

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