Opinion: ASU is a baseball school and always has been

Sun Devil baseball is one of the most storied programs in the country

Despite ASU's men's basketball team's success this past season, the University is a "baseball school" and always has been.

The overall success of the baseball program far outweighs that of any other sports program at ASU. 

"I think ASU is a baseball school because of all the names that have come through this program – Barry Bonds, Reggie Jackson, Kole Calhoun, Jason Kipnis," said Joe Jacquez, ASU baseball beat reporter for The State Press. "There’s a wall outside of the gates at Phoenix (Municipal Stadium) that shows draft picks and College World Series appearances, and it goes on and on. ASU has set the precedent for sports at ASU and college baseball in general."

If there were a Mount Rushmore for college baseball programs, it's difficult to argue against ASU having a spot on that mountain.

Five national championships and five second-place finishes, 22 College World Series appearances, 39 NCAA tournament appearances and 131 former players who have spent time on an MLB team are accomplishments that fill out an impressive resume. 

Recent performance hasn't been on par with how the team usually plays, but it shouldn't take away from the overall perception of the program. Plus, the future is bright due to the plethora of young, talented players on the current roster.

The basketball team, while it had a solid season and garnered a lot of attention, has a lot of work to do if it wants to be on the same level as ASU baseball.

ASU basketball's 12-0 start to the season grabbed national attention and got the school a lot of publicity throughout the year. Basketball and football tend to be the most popular college sports, so this year's success only fueled the fire among ASU fans. 

That's fantastic for the University, but other, more successful programs can be subject to overshadowing and are at the mercy of what the fans want to see and what is popular. When basketball and football teams are good, they get a lot of promotion, and, in turn, more people notice them.

"The University could do a better job marketing the team and getting people to come out to games," Jacquez said. "I don’t think enough students pay attention to the baseball team. If the basketball program puts together several good seasons in a row, students are still going to pay more attention to the basketball team (even if the baseball team plays just as well)."

A good sign for the baseball team was the crowd at the home game against UA on March 13. Jacquez said there was a noticeable student section, which typically doesn't form at baseball games. 

In essence, it's going to take a lot of underwhelming play and consistent ineptitude to threaten ASU baseball's reputation as an upper-echelon college baseball school. The Sun Devil name is well-known around the country and should keep its place among the game's best in the coming years.

Reach the columnist at Steven.Slobodzian@asu.edu or follow @PSlobodzianASU on Twitter.

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Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors. 

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