Sunday, April 27, 2008

Here in Lubbock, Texas, the prominent collegiate athletic program belongs to Texas Tech University, where I'm on the faculty. With their (mostly) glitzy sports facilities, Red Raider squads compete in the prestigious Big 12 conference.

Texas Tech is not the only university in town, however. There's a smaller school called Lubbock Christian University, which competes at the NAIA level in sports.

Texas Tech's baseball program, a major player on the national scene several years ago, has been struggling in recent years. LCU, in contrast, has remained strong in its own sphere of play and, in fact, had risen to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings with a dominant stretch of play.

Last night, though, LCU had its 38-game winning streak snapped, against Wayland Baptist.

Compared to the situation in basketball or football, the most talented teams in baseball tend to be less dominant. As Jim Albert and Jay Bennett hypothesized during an online chat on my old Hot Hand page, the rules and physical demands of baseball limit, respectively, how often a team's top hitter can bat or top pitcher can take the mound. In contrast, a great football quarterback or basketball shooter can be involved in a vast majority of his or her team's plays.

Thus, regardless of league affiliation or competition level, winning 38 straight baseball games isn't easy, and LCU deserves great congratulations on the streak.

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