Butch Thompson

When fall semester classes start at Auburn in August, Coach Butch Thompson and his staff are not going to waste any time getting their baseball players on the field for offseason workouts.

With the college season canceled in March and many of the summer baseball opportunities not available for college players due to the covid-19 scare, Thompson’s theory is that his team will need a heavy dose of playing actual games. Most of the amateur baseball being played this summer is travel ball featuring players younger than the ones who compete on college teams.

With an unusually large roster of 39 with the NCAA allowing players to return for the 2021 season without burning a year of eligibility, the Tigers will have plenty of depth to play plenty of games.

The Tigers are bringing in a strong signee class and return most of their key players from the 2020 season. This should be one of the more talented rosters in program history and that is likely to be the case for other teams around the SEC.

Elsewhere in the baseball world, Major League games are back and I decided to watch a bit of the opening night contest at Dodger Stadium, but that didn’t last long—15 seconds at most.

When I channel surfed over to the game it was during the national anthem. When I watched multiple players taking a knee that was all I needed to see and flipped the dial elsewhere.

It reminded me of the strike by the players in 1994 that ruined that season. It also prematurely ended one of the better seasons in American League history when former Auburn star Frank Thomas had his season cut short after playing 113 games. The Big Hurt smashed 38 home runs and drove home 101 runs with a .353 batting average that year. He also led the league in runs scored with 106, bases on balls with 109 and slugging percentage at .729. 

The strike also accelerated a major downturn in interest by Americans in baseball. Just a guess, and it’s probably not a wild one in saying that I am not alone in tuning out overpaid professional athletes who are disrespectful to the country.

As someone who thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to be able to play the game and later have the chance to coach young baseball players, I would like to give the pros the benefit of the doubt and tune in again. However, at this time I have no doubt Major League Baseball isn’t worthy of my support.

Considering that at one time I knew the names and approximate batting average on any particular day of every position player in the American and National leagues plus the approximate won/loss record and earned run average of every pitcher in the American and National leagues, it shows how big a change I have made in growing such disdain for what Major League Baseball has become.

Here in Auburn we are fortunate to have quality baseball to watch at Plainsman Park and I am looking forward to seeing if the Tigers can continue their recent success with Thompson in charge of the program.

Mark Murphy is the editor of Inside the Auburn Tigers magazine and newsletter

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