Win and you’re in.
That’s the way it’s always been in college sports. Win your conference and head to the postseason.
A quick lesson for those that may not be familiar with the way most college postseason tournaments work:
There are two types of bids that teams can receive, automatic and at-large.
Automatic bids are just that, automatic. Teams that win their conference are guaranteed a spot in the postseason tournament.
At-large bids are a bit more complicated. There is traditionally a committee that takes a deeper look at the teams that did not receive automatic bids. Usually using a Rating Percentage Index (RPI), the committee looks at teams wins and losses as well as strength of schedule. That would be how good or bad the teams they played throughout the season were.
This is the way it usually is. Every sport, at both the four-year and community college levels.
Until this year.
As of July 1, 2016, winning conference does not guarantee a postseason berth for California Community College Athletic Association baseball. If a team wins conference but has a record below .500 (more losses than wins), they do not receive an automatic bid.
This completely changes the way a coach would, or at least should, approach non-conference games.
There was a time when those games would be used to work out kinks in the lineup and pitching rotation, as well as give playtime to some players that might not see the field in important games.
So now not only are coaches forced to rethink their strategies, but some kids are cheated out of their opportunities to play and improve. A few at-bats across the season could do wonders for an 18 year old’s confidence heading into the next season where he might be relied on more heavily. College is a time for development, and a rule change like this can only hurt a player.
The Brahmas sit in first place, but must win their final three game to ensure a spot in the postseason.
To make the situation worse, head coach Bill Picketts was unaware of the rule change until last week when he was informed by email.
Regardless of communication, the rule is a massive shift from tradition. Conference was what mattered, it’s about bragging rights and is where teams would hang their hat.