Baseball

CCM baseball swings for the fences with new renovations

BY BRETT FRIEDENSOHN
Sports Editor

The County College of Morris baseball field is getting a facelift.

Renovations began as the first phase in a three-year capital plan to renovate the field. Fence construction began in late August and, as of Thursday, Sept. 29, finished save for a three-foot portion of the fence, according to Karen VanDerhoof, Vice President of Business and Finance. The job cost $66,628 that the college received from capital renovation funds from Morris County, according to VanDerhoof.

The college added new fencing around the entire field except for the backstop, according to VanDerhoof, who said that Business and Finance decided on applying the renovations after reviewing a request from athletic director Jack Sullivan.

“The fence was really, quite old,” VanDerhoof said. “We reviewed [Sullivan’s] request; we went down to the field; we saw that it was rusted and in bad shape, deteriorating, leaning, so it was justified that we needed to be replacing it.”

Sullivan cited safety concerns as reasoning for the new fencing, and said that the dugouts have acquired fencing when they did not have it before.

“First of all, you want it to be safe,” Sullivan said. “And it’s a little bit safer than the other situation was because now there’s fencing in front of the dugouts, so the line drives, any straight line drives won’t automatically go into the dugout and possibly hit a student athlete sitting on the bench, so it’s a safer environment and a safer playing field right now. And that’s first and foremost. Safety is first.”

Chris Pezzuti, exercise science major who plans to play his second season with CCM baseball in the spring, said that the new fencing looks better than the old one.

“I think it looks really good because our bullpens were on the field, but now they’re off the field behind the fence,” Pezzuti said. “And a lot of the field was open, but now with the fully enclosed ballpark, I think it looks much better than it used to.”

Pezzuti said that the new fencing should help with gameplay.

“It was really rusty,” Pezzuti said. “If you ran into it or something, you could cut yourself, and especially in front of the dugouts, there wasn’t a fence in front of the dugout before this year. So now, obviously, foul balls could hit somebody in the dugout, but now with the fence, everybody’s fully enclosed; so I like it a lot better.”

Baseball head coach Brian Eberly said that the new fencing should make the field safer.

“It’ll be nice to have the right side of the field inclosed, from a safety standpoint,” Eberly said. “Among the necessary upgrades out there was the fact that that right field corner kind of when into a swamp, so from a safety standpoint, it’ll protect that end of the field. It also results in some enclosed bullpens, which’ll increase safety in those areas as well. And the dugouts are protected now.”

Eberly said that the new home run fence might result in less home runs hit.

“The new fence is actually slightly taller, so it could even result in slightly fewer home runs,” Eberly said. “Although, it’s not a drastic change. The distance to the fence remained unchanged.”

The college will continue with its three-year capital plan to make renovations on parts of the field including the turf, scoreboard and bleachers, and will most likely continue construction for the capital plan in the summer of 2017, according to VanDerhoof, who said that these renovations will cost an estimated $650,000.

“Down the road, the baseball field is slotted for additional renovations because the turf is in bad shape, so we will be skinning the field of the existing turf in the infield, putting down new topsoil and new seed, different infield,” VanDerhoof said. “The infield is a little gravely and hard … The scoreboard is a little small for center field … So we’ll be replacing the scoreboard as well. It’s old. Remote controller for changing the score, et cetera, so down the road we’ll do that. We also need to look at the bleachers on that field as well because they’re not easily accessible.”

The team is set to unveil their new fencing during their home opener of the 2017 season against Rowan College at Burlington County Saturday, April 8.

Major League Baseball striking out with millennials

BY STEVEN DAVIES
Contributor

Preseason baseball is underway in the consistently warmer southern states, meaning that spring is soon approaching. However, Major League Baseball is facing a major crisis; baseball’s golden era is fading. The saying, “baseball is America’s pastime” is laughed at by most millennials. It seems that the sport of baseball is washing away from relevance. The once nationalized game is now facing a downward spiral in viewership.

Criticisms for the game include: it’s too slow, there’s too many games, not enough action, too many players, and others among a long list.

“It is just kind of boring to me,” said Kevin Hughes, a 20-year old without a favorite team. “I only watch the playoffs, and that is if nothing else is on.”

In 2004, the MLB World Series had 25.47 million viewers, according to Statista.com, and although there was a slight increase in 2015 from 2014, it was still only 14.7 million viewers in a little over 10 years.

Ideas as to why baseball is dying mount but salaries for teams appear to be unaffected. The top payroll to start the 2015 season was the Los Angeles Dodgers with a total of $272,789,040. The top payroll in 2000 belonged to the New York Yankees at just $92,538,260, according to the MLB. This can be attributed to new television deals that pay teams an astonishing amount of money to air games.

Some teams have even founded their own networks in order the hike up prices for providers such as Verizon and Time Warner. So, although viewership is down, salaries continue to climb.

Many young fans seen wearing baseball hats and jerseys might have a above average knowledge of the team and sport in general, but not significant enough to prove that baseball is expanding in any way. With 162 regular season games though, it is tough to place blame on them. Still, viewership is down from years past and is showing no evidence of being revived – at least not right now.

A few new rules have been added in the past off seasons in order the help speed the game along. For example, the batter can no longer step out of the batter’s box during an at-bat, unless a pitch is fouled out of play. This rule alone shaved an average of 6 minutes off games in 2015, according to CBS Sports.

“My dad is a huge fan so I grew up going to games,” said Anthony Galasso, a 23-year old New York Met fan. “I watch the playoffs too, especially since the Mets have been in it.”

Shortening the season is out of question. Not only would the player’s union vote against it for the fact of salary reduction, but also for the fact that the player’s statistics will decrease with it. With less games, records in every statistical category would be untouchable. For example: home runs, runs batted in, strikeouts, saves.

The argument for the game not being exciting is a personal opinion. A viewer either likes baseball or doesn’t. Just like a television show you might come across while flipping through channels; baseball either catches your eye, or you pass on by. In reality, more consistent pitchers have created tougher times for batters in the past decade.

There have been more no-hitters and perfect games in the last 5 years than the previous 10. There have been 31 no-hitters or perfect games since 2010. There were only 15 from 2000-2009, according to MLB.com.

“I don’t even watch 20 games a year,” said Matt Schiumo, a 20-year old New York Yankee fan. “I tune in more to the playoffs though.”

With 30 major league teams and a 40-man roster, there are approximately 1,200 major league players, not counting call-ups and injured reserve. Even following one team takes knowledge and memory. While a football team carries 53 men on the active roster, football is more popular on television and even still, an intermediate fan would not know all 53.

“Baseball needs a record chaser,” said Galasso. “They need someone close to a important record to attract people.”

Schiumo said cheaper tickets would help.

To be clear, baseball is not going anywhere. It will continue to be broadcast on television, highlighted on ESPN, and reviewed on the local news. The game itself just might need a push in the right direction. Although, don’t be fooled, baseball is still desired by some younger fans.

“I watch close to 100 games a year,” said Galasso. “I even go to about 20 games a year.”

Baseball has its niche though. From April to October, a game can be found at nearly any time from noon to midnight. Consistent scheduling helps draw in fans on some days. But how long will they watch, and are they coming back the next day?

“They have to speed it up,” said Hughes.

The MLB has its work cut out for them. They need to maintain the structure of the game of baseball, yet cater to a younger, less-intrigued generation. While baseball trends downward, solutions must start to be put into action.

CCM’s baseball team poised for promising season

BY JEREMY TSONTON
Contributor

The County College of Morris’ baseball team is excited to start their new season, after finishing their fall season a few weeks ago.

The team is in their winter workouts until their spring training begins.

Doug Olcese, a current Titan and business major, is excited for the season to begin.

“The outcome of our season looks really good, and we are hoping to get to the College World Series this year,” Olcese said.

The schedule is difficult at some points, but the team remains optimistic regarding the strength of the games.

“The schedule is nothing we can’t handle, and with our good pitching, we should be able to beat anyone,” Olcese said.

The two most difficult teams the Titans will face are Mercer and Lackawanna, who both swept the season series against the Titans team last year.

After last year’s unexpected playoff run, the team won’t be able to sneak up on teams like last year.

“The challenges we are going to face seems to be just eligibility,” Olcese said.  “If we can stay eligible then there’s nothing holding us back from advancing and winning in the playoffs.”

Another question mark going into the season is the decision of the starting nine.  The tension around the locker room is who is going to go out on opening day and be the first to see the field.

“The starters right now is a toss-up and entirely in the hands of Coach [Brian] Eberly,” Olcese said.  “I think no matter who is put out there we will compete and have a good chance of winning.”

Eberly said he is just as excited about the season as his team, and he is counting down the days until the first pitch of the spring season.

“I really like our team this year.  We brought in a real strong class of freshman.  Led by our captain, Joe Maugeri, we have as good a group of guys as I have had in my time here. ”

Eberly has enjoyed his teams of the past, but he has a good feeling about this year’s team.  The talent level for this year ranges with student athletes from across Morris County, which has a history of producing high-level athletes.

The team this year has more than double the students than last year trying out, making Eberly’s decision of roster cuts more difficult than usual.

“While we have a feel for who are starters will be in the spring, those spots are far from finalized,” Eberly said.  “Each player must earn everything with their academic performance, work in the weight room over the winter, and a solid spring preseason.”

Eberly is entering his sixth season coaching the team, and he brought along a few new faces to join him this year.

Adam Bonfiglio is a rookie assistant coach, along with coaches Jason Roberts and Mike Matera.  The new faces in the clubhouse is an attempt to bring a fresh start to the team in hopes of gaining better success this season.

The team didn’t only get new faces in the clubhouse, but they are also trying to get new faces in the stands.

Arielle Mautone, a nursing student at CCM, never watched the baseball team but heard some interesting promises about them this year.

“I don’t know anyone on the team, but I’ve heard from some of my friends that they might be fun to watch this year,” Mautone said.

The team usually has their dedicated fan base of players’ friends and family, but they are always looking to get more people in the seats.

“Baseball doesn’t interest me that much to watch on TV,” Mautone said.  “If someone were to take me to a game, even if it were county’s, I would definitely pay attention and cheer the school on.”