The private school state baseball tournament is in desperate need of a makeover to put it on par with the playoffs in the city’s other high school leagues.
It’s the only baseball tournament in the five boroughs that does not include a best of three or double elimination portion. Nor does it have a premier neutral site to host the annual games. Currently, the eight-team field plays three single-elimination games over four days. They are all held at home sites until the final at Manhattanville, a Division II college in Purchase, which has no bleachers.
Poly Prep coach Matt Roventini and Berkeley Carroll headman Walter Paller, who proposed the tournament back in 1999, agree that the players need a better experience.
“If I say it’s wrong, then obviously there is something wrong with it,” said Roventini, whose teams have won five of the last seven crowns. “I could say, ‘Oh it’s great. I love it,’ but I’m not going to. It’s not the right way.”
Roventini and Paller have tinkered with different ideas on how to improve the tournament, but have yet to bring a formal plan to the tournament’s governing body.
In the meantime, here is the plan I would put forth for approval:
• Spread the tournament over seven days.
• The opening round starts at the higher seeds’ home fields on Thursday to reward them for regular season success.
• Use a double elimination format starting with the semifinals, which is played Saturday and Sunday at a neutral site.
• The winners of Saturday’s first two games advance.
• The losers play immediately after to see who joins them.
• On Sunday, Saturday’s two winners play for a spot in the final.
• The loser of Sunday’s first contest then takes on the winner of Saturday’s final game for the other spot in the final.
• The championship round starts Tuesday.
This reworking of the tournament would reward teams with depth. One loss won’t end the season of the final four teams. The kids would get a chance to fight and redeem themselves.
“[It would] pretty much show the true champion,” Paller said.
Getting MCU Park or another premier neutral site is key. The Public School Athletic League plays its final at MCU, while the Catholic League’s tournament uses St. John’s and Fordham Universities. Using MCU would not only give fans and players one place to watch the tournament, it will put it on par with the other leagues.
Playing at MCU would give players a chance to play at primer venue and make the experience more memorable.
Changes like these need to be made to make this tournament as first rate as its counter parts.Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at jstaszewsk