ESPN strikes out with NCAA tourney coverage |

ESPN strikes out with NCAA tourney coverage

Where were you CBS and DirectTV? And someone please tell ESPN that poker and spelling bees aren’t sports.

College baseball fans certainly agonize this time of the year. Even tiny Winthrop College received more TV coverage during the college basketball tournament than the top baseball teams are garnering during the current NCAA baseball tournament.

Without a pay-per-view TV package available to follow your favorite baseball team in the NCAA tournament and CBS unwillingly to show an interest in college sports again until the fall, what is a displaced Oregon State grad supposed to do to keep up with their favorite team?

Fortunately ESPN2, ESPN and ESPNU will provide coverage this weekend for the super regionals, but last weekend’s coverage was pathetic. ESPNU and CSTV (channels 609 and 610 on DirectTV) made a half-hearted attempt to cover the opening round of the 64-team tournament. But when rain washed out the Coastal Carolina regional on Saturday, the day prior’s games were retelevised. There wasn’t any effort to move the TV cameras to one of the many other regionals, and why did they set up shop at Coastal Carolina in the first place?

But the two sports networks’ biggest goof came early Tuesday morning when the defending champion Beavers played Virginia in a winner-advances, loser-out showdown in Charlottesville. ESPNU meekly showed a replay of the Cal State Fullerton drubbing of Fresno State in the San Diego regional final while CSTV opted to replay the Division III tournament game between Carthage and Eastern Connecticut State. I’m sure you didn’t miss work for that one.

But technology did come through to satisfy the needs of this alum. and its Gametracker site allowed me to follow every pitcher of the Charlottesville regional final and there was enough dead time for me to fill in with my own play-by-play. Good thing there was nobody else home at the time.

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ESPN should be ashamed to call itself the Total Sports Network. There was very little going on in sports last weekend and college baseball beckoned to be covered. Coverage of “real” sports and fewer talk shows and game replays would enable the network to better serve sports viewers.

Until then, don’t hesitate to go to Internet to follow your teams.

– Tribune Sports Editor Steve Yingling can be reached at (530) 542-8010 or