Over the past couple years, I have debated in my head, in forums and other outlets how much I thought it would be great to see Syracuse University add another team to it's athletic department. The guys over at Saltine Warrior did a great job here http://thesaltinewarriors.blogspot.com/2009/03/five-reasons-why-syracuse-university.html pointing out exactly why baseball, or for that matter any other sport, would be too costly for the Orange to develop. But we see alumni like Carmelo Anthony donating enough to build new facilities and you have to ask yourself, will there come a point where we can explore another possibility and what will it be?
I love baseball and am excited as heck for tomorrow when opening day begins and the ump yells, "Play Ball" one more time. I played eight years of baseball when I was a young lad and I loved it, though I am sure my parents could tell you a few stories about how I had to play softball at first to get used to someone throwing a ball at me haha. I still look back to those days though with a great overwhelming fondness and look past some of the story lines that covers our media today because I love the purity of the game. I smell cut grass or drive past a baseball field watching kids practice and I smile knowing this tradition is still in good hands. I live 10-15 minutes from minor league team (the Kannapolis Intimidators, Single A Affiliate of the Chicago White Sox) and every chance I get, I go to their games and do my best to win tickets anyway I can even though the cost is only $4 general admission or $7 reserved (layoffs and down time at work will cause that to be a bit expensive I guess). So I guess it is only natural that I pine for a day when I can support an Orange baseball team as well.
In the summer of 1989, I moved to a suburb of Pittsburgh named Plum and over time, learned to love and appreciate the game of hockey. Sure, occasionally in the winter when the lake and pond in Bridgeport froze over, we would lay loosely on the ice using sticks and crushed cans as a puck but it's nothing like the dedication the people in that area showed to the game. Not only was the street hockey fun and the passionate sports talk about the Penguins enjoyable but it was on a whole other level with the rinks and school teams that I knew little about growing up in Brideport, going to Cicero-North Syracuse. I now know more about it and enjoy it as well when I get a chance to view their games. Again, I think it's a natural impulse to think that a town like Syracuse that is as well known for their wintry mix would invest in hockey, which in fact they did by establishing a women's team.
So what is the future of forming a men's baseball or men's hockey team at Syracuse University? And which option is the most likely? Both sports offer minor league team options that could pose some competition in the area that if you have the chance to enjoy, is a great time out for you and the family with the Crunch and Chiefs respectively. Both would need a coach with rebuilding and recruiting experience (or at least the skills to demonstrate they can do it) to help build the program from nothing into a competitor in order to get fans to support it. Either option would require under Title IX that the university establish a women's team in some sport to match it and they already have great women athletic programs within their department. Both would need game and practice facilities whether it be new or time within someone else's schedule.
So it would seem to me that both would have the same uphill climb to get started. I guess the answer would lie in who came forward with the right money and game plan/staff to establish the best program as well as help fund the other scholarships/staff to help meet the Title IX rule plus ensure there was enough talent to help keep it running. For instance, you can't just throw a women's football team or women's wrestling team together when neither have much on the high school level to scout or recruit from, let alone get competition for games. And unless Cal Ripken Jr. or Bret Hull are looking for a way to start their ideal programs on a college level, finding the right person and funding is not as simple as you would hope just because the name Syracuse is attached to it.
The truth is, I don't have the answer but is there one out there somewhere. Is there a big enough fan base to help keep them going if it started? I would like to think those who bleed Orange like us and the alumni would support the school even if they started a puppet racing team but we will probably never know since this remains simply a dream in many fan's hearts. So what do you think? Hockey or baseball? And how could it possibly happen either way? I am not holding my breath but I have waited for years for the day when I can buy an Orange baseball jersey and wear it with pride during the spring/summer season.
UPDATE: As soon as I post this, I find an article about women's professional football leagues which you can read here http://www.charlotteobserver.com/279/story/641658.html. One has to wonder, could these lead to a mini college league of sorts and a trend?