CONGRATULATIONS TO THE FIGHTING ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS, who punched their ticket (don’t you love clichés? I do…) to Omaha yesterday by sweeping Free Shoes U (Florida State University) in the Tallahassee Super-Regional, following their sweep of Blow U (Oklahoma University) in the Norman Regional last week (we beat Oklahoma and Florida State, all games, at their places, for the baseball-impaired). (And for those who might be baseball-impaired, you have my pity…;-)
2009 College World Series Interactive Bracket here.
Baseball is one of the greatest sports ever devised by man. Called for over a century the “National Pastime”, it is quirky, weird, byzantine (explain the infield fly rule in 300 words or less; GO). It has ebbs and flows, currents and eddies. It’s a boys’ game played by men (and, in variations, by women). George Carlin’s HILARIOUS, consummate summary of the differences between baseball and football can be found here. Here in America, we play the WORLD SERIES, even though we invite nobody but ourselves….
If you want to reduce many American adult males to tears, just show them “Field of Dreams”. There have been so many odes, poems, epics, photo essays, and other elegiac efforts written and published about baseball that I will forgo that pleasure and effort in this piece. Suffice it to say, I’m as addicted as many, though not as addicted as some (who led the National League in hitting in 1967? What was Tom Seaver’s ERA? How many Cy Young awards did he have? In what year was he inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame? Name the teams on which Henry Aaron played, and what was his nickname? Trust me, there are guys who can instantly spout the answers. (Roberto Clemente, 2.86, 3, 1992.
Ok, so I threw the question about Hammerin’ Hank in there because he is the baseball hero who hooked me on the game. He played for the Indianapolis Clowns of the old Negro League, then a brief stint in the minors, then the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves until the last two years, when he played for the Milwaukee Brewers. He hit 755 Home Runs, a record which stood until Barry Bonds –spit- passed him in 2007.)
It was 105 degrees when we left Ft. Smith, Arkansas. I had a brand new Dodge Grand Caravan (quick aside on me and minivans; I always sneered, as most do, at people who drove “Mommyvans”. I did that right up until a friend of mine drove us from Malvern to Knoxville in his. We went on a football/golf trip; drove to Knoxvegas, played golf, got beat in football, then golfed our way from Knoxville to Birmingham, where we played the Robert Trent Jones courses all week, then beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa, as usual. It is barely possible that alcoholic beverages and lots of food were consumed at such places as Buddy’s Barbecue in Knoxville and the incomparable Dreamland in Tuscaloosa. Then we went home. By the time I got home, I was in love with the van---smooth like a car, good gas mileage, good handling, and you can take 2 grown men, 4 medium-large dogs, 2 sets of golf clubs, assorted tailgating/camping paraphernalia, and luggage for a week, without even worrying about whether you can see out or not. I determined that I would have one, and Big Red –my Dodge- was the result.).
So Big Red, Lucy, some friends and I set off for Omaha. We took shorts and t-shirts with us, because it was summer, right? Wrong, Nebraska is far enough north that a cold front had come through; we had to go to Wal-Mart to obtain windbreakers and long-sleeved shirts.
We arrived in Omaha and, since the hotels were full and we had our camping equipment, we camped at a KOA with a bunch of other Razorback friends. It was great!
The CWS itself is something else. People tailgating, drinking, eating, smoking, belching, and watching baseball. “It don’t git no better’n ‘is”.
Omaha’s Rosenblatt Stadium has been the permanent home for the CWS since 1950; it’s a great venue for baseball, very comfortable, nice surroundings, decent concessions, and a “strip” across the street with all kinds of vendors selling souvenirs, food, drink, and everything else.
You see a cross-section of America there, but generally it’s a fairly upscale/educated crowd (“slumming”). Most everybody is not only civil, but like us, most were thrilled to be there. It’s a great deal when your team gets there, and yes, we were all gloating that we were not like “mere mortals” at home watching it on TeeVee.
I’ll mostly let the pictures speak for themselves, with a few underlying comments. This year I’ll be a “mere mortal” watching on TeeVee, but it’s an experience I’ll never forget.
Beef, it’s what’s for dinner^
The scene, as viewed from our tailgate. “The Strip” is to the right of the stadium, across the street
We made it!
My buddy Les playing catch with his son at the College World Series
Yeah, we know. We like to eat.
In the immortal words of the immortal Larry Shank, our beloved, late stadium announcer:
I’m not sure there’s any comment to make here. We didn’t know these guys but it IS pretty hirarious.
Jake Dugger batting. I got to see him earlier this year (2009) playing AAA ball in Austin; who knows? Maybe I’ll get to see him hit at Minute Maid Park!
texass u (spit) pitching to us
In the above two pictures, I caught the ball mid-flight from pitcher to batter
It’s never too early or too late to hate texass u (spit)
2004 College World Series, by MalvernHog