Friday, June 9, 2000
by Will Stewart, HokieCentral.com
Rockies Draft Vick
In case you missed it, the Colorado Rockies drafted Michael Vick in the 30th round of the draft on Tuesday. That's right, the Rockies baseball team.
Ironically, Vick was drafted before any "real" Tech baseball players were drafted. Larry Bowles, who was picked a few selections after Vick by Anaheim, was the first player from the Tech baseball team to be drafted.
It depends upon whom you listen to as to when it was that Vick last played baseball. MajorLeagueBaseball.com quoted Vick as saying he "gave up baseball" in his senior year, but multiple other outlets reported that he hasn't played since eighth grade. No matter -- it's been a while.
Given that he was drafted in the 30th round, it was a throwaway pick for the Rockies, and it was also a pretty good publicity stunt. I can't see any losers here. The Rockies did it on a lark, hoping it would work out, and they got their name in the papers for it, so it's good for them.
As for Vick and Tech, it's all good, and at the very least, Tech Sports Information staffers Dave Chambers and Dave Smith ought to give Colorado a call and thank them for kicking off Vick's 2000 Heisman Trophy campaign at no cost to the Hokies. The papers and on-line sporting services were filled with the headline "Rockies Draft Heisman Trophy Hopeful." You gotta love that.
One point that no one touched on is that if Vick were to actually decide to sign a contract and give it a go, it could be an incredible boon to the Rockies' local Class A affiliate, the Salem Avalanche. If Vick were to put on an Avalanche uniform and get to play a few innings in the outfield, the Avalanche's stadium (which is a nice facility for a single-A club) might be filled to capacity to watch that show.
I don't follow the Avalanche all that closely, but I know that their stadium, which seats 6300, is rarely, if ever, filled to capacity. Vick in an Avalanche uniform would bring the Hokie fans out of the woodwork for a look, and his contract, which would probably be fairly small, might easily pay for itself in increased attendance.
In an interview with MajorLeagueBaseball.com early Tuesday, Vick sounded like he might be interested in talking to the Rockies, but by the time the Roanoke Times's Randy King got to him, it didn't sound likely. I for one, am dead-set against Mike messing around with baseball. Succeeding at the QB position will take all of his focus and energy, and compromising that focus by fiddling around with baseball, even if it was just for a summer in Salem, would not be a good idea.
But for Michael, I'm sure it's mighty tempting. Even if all the Rockies were interested in was signing him to a piddly little $50,000 contract for one summer in Salem, that money sure would come in handy. It's something to think about.
And no, Mike wouldn't lose his football eligibility by getting paid to play baseball.
By the way, this isn't the first time a Hokie athlete has been drafted by a sport that he or she doesn’t even participate in. In the mid-80's (I love flashing this bit of Hokie trivia), Tech point guard Al Young was drafted in the 12th and final round by, as ESPN's Chris Berman says, "the New York Football Giants."
Back then, the 12th round was the throwaway round for NFL teams, and the Giants wanted to give the stocky, super-quick Young a look at defensive back. They wound up cutting him pretty quickly, because although he was quick enough to respond to receiver's cuts, he wasn't fast enough to stay with them when they motored downfield on a fly pattern.
It's obvious what the Giants' mistake was. If they had let Young dribble a basketball while he guarded the receivers, he could have stuck with anybody.
Oh, well, one more comment on Vick: don't do it, Mike!
Tech to Enlarge South End Zone Bleachers for 2000
In a Tuesday press release (my, Tuesday was a busy day), the Tech Athletic Department announced that they're tearing down the South (scoreboard) end zone bleachers and replacing them with temporary bleacher seats for the 2000 season.
This will bump capacity from its current 1,672 to 3,268 for the coming season, helping Tech fill 32,000 of the 35,000 season ticket requests they have received. I believe that Tech will not seat Hokie fans in those bleachers, but rather, will make those seats part of the individual game seats (read that as "opponent's seats").
This news brings up all kinds of points and questions. First off, will the bleachers be rented? Probably. Any kind of permanent installation doesn't make sense, since they're just coming down after this season.
What's it going to cost to put those bleachers up? Not sure about this one, but I think the old North end zone rental bleachers, which used to seat 2,200-2,500 fans, cost about $35,000-$40,000 per game. So, figuring that 3,268 seats for an entire season might cost $250,000 or so (7 games times roughly $50,000 per game, with a $100,000 discount for quantity, and for not having to take them down and put them up from game to game).
So, ballparking it, the bleachers might cost Tech about a quarter of a million dollars this season, but the extra 1,596 season tickets they can sell now, at $203 apiece, will bring in $323,988 extra dollars. And that doesn't even begin to count the extra parking passes and concessions that will be sold. So if my hatchet-job calculations have any merit, the Hokies might actually make money off this move.
But that's all short term stuff. Long term, this is a smart maneuver, because it enables the VTAD to create 1,596 customers who might keep coming back year after year. That's where the big money comes in, from repeat business.
This has another implication, though. If Tech leaves the bleachers up all season long, it brings up the question of how this is going to effect the South end zone expansion of 12,000 seats, which is targeted for the 2001 season. If the construction can't begin in earnest until very late November or early December, it's going to take a Herculean effort to get it done in time for the 2001 home opener.
But that's nothing new, because the old bleachers were going to be sitting there, anyway. The only difference is that the new set will be a little larger.
In any event, Lane Stadium just got a little louder. 5,000 fans in the North end zone, and 3,200 fans in the South end zone? Sounds like a winner to me.
Big East Announces Cross-Divisional Basketball Games
The Big East Conference finally took the lid off the news of what men's basketball teams will cross over from division to division next season. The schedules themselves have not been set yet, but the Hokies now know who their sixteen Big East basketball games will be against. Here's the short version:
The home-and-home matchups were givens, of course, because those are the teams in Tech's division. The single-game matchups are games outside the division that were strictly at the discretion of the Big East, and believe it or not, I think the Hokies got a pretty good deal out of this.
At home, Notre Dame is possible Top-20 material next year (I saw one preseason ranking that had them at #20). They're the NIT runner-ups, and hey, they're Notre Dame. They're a marquee team, and that matchup will bring back memories of the 1973 NIT final, when the Hokies beat the Golden Domers for the title.
Also at home, WVU is a great visitor, a big rival, and will bring lots of fans.
On the road, the Georgetown visit is a great chance for Northern Virginia Hokie fans to see Tech play. Also on the road, the Pittsburgh matchup is the closest one to home from the quartet of Pitt, Rutgers, Seton Hall, and Syracuse.
The only way the setup could be better (other than actually having ND, Syracuse, GTown, and WVU in Tech's division) is perhaps if the Hokies visited Syracuse instead of Pittsburgh, or perhaps if the Notre Dame home game was swapped out for Syracuse.
But really, I've got no complaints. And yes, I can't believe I said that, either.