Boston College will open up its 2014 ACC baseball schedule home slate this weekend when they "host" the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. That's all fine and dandy, and I was actually in the process of writing up the review of the Virginia weekend with a preview of the Wake weekend.
And then this came.
Shea Field is unplayable due to the winter and cold weather conditions, so the Eagles had to make arrangements. What kind of arrangements, you ask? On Friday, they'll play a doubleheader at Northeastern's Parsons Field beginning at 11 AM. They'll then move Sunday's game up to Saturday with a 1 PM start down at Bryant University's Conaty Park in Smithfield, Rhode Island. This comes a few days after BC baseball had to postpone its home opener against Holy Cross until a date to be determined for the same reasons.
I get it - there's no way to predict the weather, especially in New England and even more especially in New England in March. The severe cold did a number on baseball fields, and a grass baseball field is under even more duress. And I understand that no two fields respond the same way in terms of drainage or preparation. Shea Field is grass outside of Boston; Parsons Field at Northeastern is artificial turf, and Conaty Park is grass but is located in Rhode Island, which had substantially easier of a winter than the Greater Boston area.
But there's still something about having to move fields when you're a Division I ACC program that bites at me. I've been a major proponent of BC and the non-excuses brigade when it comes to your field. I don't believe the field has anything to do with how you do as a team because there's so much more to baseball than that. I don't believe the weather has an ongoing impact other than on scheduling. And in terms of the program's growth on the field, I'm right on board with Mike Gambino's thoughts earlier this year that playing within these elements toughen you up.
That said, having to move fields is right in line with giving a basis for the arguments that go against the BC program. Anyone who says this is proof BC needs to immediately invest in its baseball program is absolutely right. Anyone who says this is proof that Boston College is a subpar baseball team and should drop the program gets a leg to stand on. And anyone who denies that as proof is wrong in their assessment. It's just one of those things that this is going to do - give credence to one side of the argument.
I also know, though, that there are more pressing issues facing the BC athletic department this week, and the frustration coming with this is overflow after watching men's ice hockey lose to Notre Dame, women's ice hockey lost to Clarkson, and basketball go down the tubes. After the six-day process to fire Steve Donahue and the associated anger coming with it, there's a purveying attitude of negativity that will take some time to lift. This is just another one piled on the top of it, for me at least.
But I'll come back and revisit a couple of points from earlier this year. I talked about alternative home sites for the Eagles because Shea Field is growing increasingly obsolete. This furthers that argument. Of those sites, I omitted Parsons Field as an option but mentioned some spots - namely the UMass Boston baseball field being constructed and the "Field of Dreams" being built in Malden, among others. This might provide the perfect opportunity to revisit that argument and talk about what BC can do. I know the team is committed to playing on campus. But if that's not going to work for these early home games, then what? And besides, the travel aspect of having to go 45 minutes off campus becomes null and void when they have to host at Bryant, over an hour away and out of the whole state.
From a recruiting standpoint, Gambino's been able to bring in talent despite the facilities argument. He readily acknowledges it but is quick to point out that athletes at BC have the essentials they need to do well. There's no frills, and it's something the team accepts. I admire that of the Birdballers. But I can't help but admit that this is something that absolutely cannot be a positive for the team's recruiting, not unless they go out in this face and pummel the Deacons.
Still, this weekend now carries with it a storm cloud. After getting swept by Virginia (as expected by most), they returned home with the chance to knock off a Holy Cross team at home before playing Wake Forest within friendly confines. Now, instead, they'll have to do it without the opportunity for a bounce back game to right the ship, and they'll do it by playing three games on two sites located off campus in two days.
Is the sky falling? No. Is this the reason BC will lose or win? Absolutely not. But it's a black mark in the court of public opinion. It looks bad. All we can hope for is that the team goes out and does what it has to do and takes games from Wake Forest. That'd be the best way to ram this argument down anyone's throat.