Monday, June 16, 2008

World Series Notes

As far as we are concerned, the best sporting event in all of college sports is the NCAA College World Series. Better than the NCAA Basketball tourney? Yes! Better than the Rose, Orange, Fiesta and Sugar Bowl? Yes! ARE WE CRAZY? Possibly, but hear us out.

Is there a better venue than Rosenblatt Stadium? First it's called Rosenblatt, not AT&T/Home Depot/Minute Maid/Mutual of Omaha Stadium. It's also named the NCAA College World Series, not the FedEx World Series and it's in Omaha every year, not some roving venue that civic leaders fight over every year. Omaha is the home of middle America, apple pie and where everyone probably drives a Chevrolet. It's a grand old structure...the kind that gives a person goosebumps when they enter. It's a college version of Wrigley or Fenway.

The tournament itself is well timed...right after the MLB draft. We get to see just how good first and supplemental round players: Buster Posey (Fl St.), Yonder Alonso/Jemile Weeks/Carlos Gutierrez(Miami), Gordan Beckham/Josh Fields (Georgia), Jason Castro/Jeremy Bleich (Stanford), Brian Price(Rice) really are in pressure cooked situations. No other NCAA championship has that kind of built-in pro city loyalty that fans can follow.

This past weekend, SF Giants fans were a bit torn by the fact that their local Stanford team destroyed what was billed to be the future franchise phenom at AT&T Park in Buster Posey. Actually, it just solidified the fact that this guy is a catching prospect and pitching may not be his future...just in case there were any doubts.

Astros fans are equally as interested in Stanfords Jason Castro while also rooting for Rice. Oakland, Minnesota and Cincinnati also had Hurricanes on their minds as Weeks, Gutierrez and Alonso battled for Miami. You get the picture.

And the fans of Omaha soak it all in. Ask anyone you see on what seems like the only street that matters in this town...Dodge...and they will all have stories of the greats that have passed through Rosenblatt. They will tell you they knew well before the rest of us that a scappy little shortstop for Florida in David Eckstein would win a World Series Ring...or that Tennessee's Todd Helton would be one of MLB's great hitters and Georgia Tech's Nomar Garciaparra, Cal's Jeff Kent and Miami's Pat Burrell would make their mark with their respective teams, well before we and their million dollar sponsors of today all knew it.

This town loves it's baseball too...and, the 58 year history with this tournament. And not much has changed in those 58 years in this semi small town that wants to be semi big metropolitan area. Look at the photo at the top of the page. That's Rosenblatt circa 1950, which is pretty much identical to Rosenblatt-2008.

Yes folks, the NCAA College World Series is the purest of pure competitions. No huge media build-ups, sappy Shiny Moment theme songs, or mega-corporate pre-fixes tarnishing the viability of the tournament itself. It's about a gang of nine getting dirty, sweaty and rooting fo the drama that is every pitch. It's what college sports should be about. It's what kept me glued to the TV this weekend. I hope you aren't missing out. It is truly a great sporting event.

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