As the Connie Mack South Plains Regional concluded Sunday evening at TCU, the DBAT Mustangs squad advanced to yet another Connie Mack World Series. The same thing happened last year, but in less of a landslide. This year’s march to victory was reminiscent of the domination that Carpenter’s Mustangs squad displayed prior to the creation of DBAT. DBAT is the premier amateur baseball academy in the world and has the most sophisticated infrastructure, tournament/showcase access, and funds of any similar company throughout amateur baseball. ABD in California, Midland in Cincinnati, and Top Tier in Chicago as well as many others worldwide provide players (customers) with access to facilities, coaching, evaluation, tournament and showcase entries, equipment, and teammates. No company does this as well as DBAT in large part because the DFW area has other rival clubs capable of providing consistent quality opponents year round to the DBAT squads.
The state of Texas also has over a dozen Division I universities with the DFW metro claiming three of their own. Carpenter recognized that academies like DBAT were very much the future, and in the late 90’s he decided to merge his Mustangs team that he had cultivated for decades with the business-minded DBAT. This move not only has allowed those involved with DBAT to profit financially but also ensures that DBAT fields the best team(s) in Texas every year, as Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and El Paso have yet to unify their city’s amateur talent in as complete a fashion.
Well, for fans of amateur baseball outside the DFW metro and in, the Connie Mack World Series represents the finest collection of amateur baseball teams each season. The AABC adequately divides the nation into regions based largely on geography with each regional tournament feeding into the CMWS every year. For this reason, the CMWS field is always quite impressive because there is hardly any room for bias as is always the case with invitational events.
In 2006, however, the CMWS expanded its field to 10 teams with the addition of two spots for teams winning qualifiers. Since then those qualifiers have migrated geographically with 2012’s held in Tempe and Flemington, NJ. A DBAT group won the Tempe event in rather thrilling fashion, and many would debate that the qualifier events are at least as challenging as a regional tournament simply due to the volume of teams receiving invites. The qualifiers typically have over 20 entries, all representing prestigious academies throughout the country as well as Canada and Puerto Rico on occasion.
The fact that the CMWS is going to feature two teams from the same academy must be viewed as the worst-case consequence of the qualifier tourneys. Imagine a CMWS title game between DBAT and DBAT. Why not just split town early and have a live BP session back in Dallas with L-screens and a roll cage? DBAT is hardly to blame, though. The very nature of the qualifier tournaments is anti-Connie Mack. The qualifiers more closely resemble typical recruiting events like those held by Baseball Factory or Perfect Game as opposed to the state and local league structures required by conventional AABC rules. Only through those leagues do teams have access to regional events, and only through those do teams have access to the CMWS.
Eight teams is not a large enough field of participants, though, which was the size of the CMWS field prior to the introduction of the qualifying events. The problems with a 10-team double-elimination tourney are the requisite byes, which begin in the second round and possibly don’t end until championship night, and the tremendous bias associated with a potential champion that potentially drew more byes than the teams they defeated along the way. So why not 12 or 16 teams? That would eliminate the byes but still be a small enough number not to weaken the quality of the field of participants. But we still have the problem with multiple teams from the same academy qualifying. That problem is eliminated if we simply increase the number of regional tournaments from 7 to 11 or 15 and ditch the qualifiers.
The fact that Colorado plays in the same regional event as Louisiana is silly to begin with. The local economy in Farmington would benefit considerably from a larger and longer CMWS. The host family tradition might need to be modified or replaced with something new, but Farmington’s hotels are rarely if ever full. It has been argued that the host families make the tournament, and I agree to an extent, but for the CMWS to keep pace with rival events, baseball must come first and must be the key determinant in progressing the tournament. The fact that in 2012 the second best club from an academy might win the CMWS is a dangerous step in the wrong direction even if it is DBAT.