Alabama's Dylan Smith to Participate in This Week's CSBI
Believe it or not, college baseball is happening this week in America.
Despite the current pandemic and other issues that our nation is currently facing, the Collegiate Summer Baseball Invitational is taking place in Bryan, Texas.
“I ready to play other guys,” Alabama sophomore reliever Dylan Smith said. “I’m ready for the competition. I’m ready.”
Smith, along with many other college baseball players from across the country, was invited to take part in this year’s event following the cancelation of college sports seasons back in early March.
Upon receiving his invitation, Smith was excited to get back onto the mound again.
“I was actually very shocked,” Smith said. “I was very happy. I was very excited; I was running around the house. My mama was like ‘really? Really?’”
The CSBI is an opportunity for players to showcase their talents heading into next season as well as next week’s Major League Baseball draft. The six-game tournament is composed of four teams consisting of Division I players who had their seasons cut short due to COVID-19.
Proceeds from the event will benefit No Kid Hungry.
Like many other college players who were just starting to get into the meat of their schedules, Smith was disappointed to see his team’s premature end to the season.
“I was very sad,” Smith said. “I actually cried, personally. I really didn’t want to see the season end like this and the fact that something had messed it up made me sad because we worked so hard for this moment, and for it to come to an end — everyone was kind of distraught and sad but we had to realize that this was a world pandemic and there’s nothing we can do to stop this situation.”
Now, Smith has the opportunity to showcase his talents as a reliever once again, albeit this time on a baseball field in central Texas.
While the CSBI is a great opportunity for the players, it has been met with some criticism surrounding the event, with many skeptics questioning whether it is too early for a sports tournament to take place.
Uri Geva, CEO of Infinity Sports & Entertainment and organizer of the CSBI, ensures that his team is taking every step to maintain player safety not just in respects to the coronavirus but also on the field itself.
“We’re doing every single step that the governor is requiring and then some to keep the athletes safe, to keep our communities safe,” Geva said. “The players aren’t coming over here to the bars and hanging out. They’re staying in one hotel, the hotel has four stories that are dedicated to our quarantine people, they have wristbands that tell us ‘hey these people are in the bubble, these people are outside the bubble.’ The food is being delivered to the hotel. The hotel gym is secured only for us. The players won’t have their rooms cleaned because that would expose them. Every single step is there.
“We’re providing all the steps that Dr. [Anthony] Fauci talked about, all the steps the governor of Texas has wanted.”
The tournament also is setting tight limits on how many pitches can be thrown by pitchers in order to reduce injury risk as well as monitoring playing time of players to ensure that no player overdoes it after not having the access to gyms during quarantine.
Smith said that he initially was worried about his safety but after speaking with the organizers of the event and its medical staff, his worries have been put to rest.
“I was [worried] at first and then when they kind of broke it down with how everything was going to go with the testing, wear a mask,” Smith said. “I had my ups and downs about it, but then as I really thought about it it’s kind of a safe protocol how they’re taking things. First few days you get tested and then we play at the back end of the week. I really like that protocol.”
Despite all of the actions that Geva and his team are taking to ensure player safety, some naysayers still exist. While he acknowledges the naysayers, Geva believes the tournament will go a long way in providing the American people with a sense of much-needed normalcy.
“You’ll always have naysayers,” Geva said. “You will always have people that think that this is crazy and why are we playing baseball, but America’s pastime is what united us as a country after 9/11 and there’s no reason why it can’t unite us now and what better than to showcase these college baseball players who are playing their hearts out, who are not doing this for money, who are doing it for the love of the game and the opportunity to shine.
“The naysayers will always be there, but at least we can provide some normalcy for the rest of us.”
There are benefits to more than just to baseball fans. Yes, people can have a brief glimpse of normalcy through watching the tournament. The benefits also extend to the players as well.
For the players, there are numerous benefits.
First and foremost, it allows them the opportunity to have some closure after a heartbreaking conclusion to the 2020 season.
For juniors and seniors, it gives them the chance to showcase their skills in front of MLB scouts entering the draft, which is the most competitive in its history due to being shortened to five rounds.
For sophomores like Smith, it provides them with a stage to be evaluated and gain valuable experience against quality competition.
“The Collegiate Summer Baseball Invitational can benefit me because it can help get me drafted, put me in front of scouts, get better looks and views upon myself,” Smith said. “It can also help me figure out what I need to work on as a baseball player and how to carry myself for the future.”
The Collegiate Summer Baseball Invitational happens this week from June 4-6 and will be available to stream online for $59.95, with the proceeds benefitting No Kid Hungry.
For more information, visit csbi2020.com.