MAC players attack MLBWritten by Ryan Fowler | | firstname.lastname@example.org
We are going to begin this week’s column with a pop quiz.
Please take out your No. 2 Ticonderoga pencils and put all books, folders and cheat sheets under your desk. There will also be no math. So, you can also stash your TI-83 calculators, with the formulas saved, in your book bag.
First question: What college did Colts quarterback Peyton Manning attend?
Second question: What college did retired NBA great Michael Jordan attend?
Third question: What college did Phillies slugger Ryan Howard attend?
Chances are most sports fans knew the first two questions without sweating it like Shaquille O’Neal at the foul line.
There is a silent competition amongst most die-hard sports connoisseurs to know where every player on every team went to college. It’s part of a trash-talking arsenal fanatics carry in their back pocket when catching a game with their buddies.
The funny thing is, collegiate questions rarely apply when talking baseball. Now it may have something to do with the fact that many ballplayers are either foreign and didn’t attend college before entering the league or the player was drafted out of high school and never attended college.
The argument with baseball is that fans are more interested in the numbers — the wins, the losses, the homerun totals — than they are about what the player’s major was in college.
So that got me to thinking. So much attention is paid to the power conferences: The Big 10, Pac-10 and SEC, why not give some love to a mid-major that’s boasting major league talent. And the Mid-American Conference has the numbers to back it up.
The saying goes Kent Read, Kent Write, Kent State, but it seems the school isn’t a golden flash in the pan when it comes to baseball. Three former players are on major league rosters.
Minnesota Twins pitcher Matt Guerrier has four wins on the season. His win total matches the likes of White Sox starter Jose Contreras and Tampa Bay’s Scott Kazmir. He’s also raking in a salary of $1.475 million.
Another former Golden Flash is Tampa Bay’s Andy Sonnanstine. The righty has won six games this season, keeping him in the company of Boston’s Brad Penny and the Angels’ John Lackey.
Bowling Green State University is also represented in the big leagues this season.
Perrysburg native and former Falcon Burke Badenhop has secured himself a spot in the Florida Marlins bullpen. At press time, he owned an earned run average under four and five wins with the fish.
Burke’s one-time teammate with the Falcons, Nolan Reimold, has made a big splash with the Baltimore Orioles in his rookie season. Reimold has been raking since a call up back in mid-May.
He’s hitting .269 with nine homers and 26 runs batted in.
Not to be outdone, the University of Toledo also has big league talent in Royals’ outfielder Mitch Maier. In a utility role since his call up at the beginning of the season, Maier has knocked in nine runs.
There are also Redhawks, Broncos and Bobcats littering 40-man rosters at the moment.
The point I’m trying to make is the MAC can hang with the all the BCS schools up in MLB.
Ryan Howard was a diamond in the rough while attending Missouri State. Now look at him. The 29-year-old is the big stick in Philadelphia’s lineup, raking in $15 million in 2009.
So, all you high school baseball players out there who have the privilege and opportunity to play at the next level, don’t worry if Rice, LSU or Cal State Fullerton forgets to come calling.
There’s nothing wrong with the MAC when it comes to America’s pastime.
Orel Hersheiser (BGSU), Bob Welch (Eastern Michigan) and Roger McDowell (BGSU) all took the chance and they have World Series rings.
With the names I mentioned earlier, maybe we’re witnessing a return of the MAC.
Ryan Fowler is the weekend sports anchor at NBC 24 and can be reached at email@example.com.