Archive for June 18th, 2009

Bus Leagues Road Trip: 2009 College World Series, part 2

Rosenblatt is a highly visible structure in Omaha, let me tell you. And it’s not because Omaha is flat, because the city sits on the Missouri River, and has plenty of leafy hillsides and such to gaze upon. One reason the venerable stadium is so easy to spot is that it sits on a bit of a rise just off the interstate. Another is its famous blue paint job.
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After getting the lay of the land, I went out into the parking lot to see some tailgating action.
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The next day, I interviewed the architect of the new CWS stadium that is being built (I’ll run that full text later this week), and walked past the site on my way downtown.
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Omaha is developing the area around the new site pretty aggressively. They call it NoDo, for northern downtown. The Qwest Center was built there recently, and owns the land that TD Ameritrade Ballpark will be built on as well. All of this is on the north side of the river, which is a nice place to visit, too.
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The downtown area is technically called the Old Market district. It has nice, brick roads and covered sidewalks. Let me tell you, the waiters and such know where their bread is buttered this time of year, too. Most are wearing mardi gras beads and chatting up the LSU fans, who are generally beloved in Omaha.
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I was on my way downtown to meet up with Minda Haas, who works for the Omaha Royals and writes a fine baseball blog (or four) herownself. As I neared the corner where I was supposed to meet her for lunch, I stepped off the sidewalk to cross and just kept on stepping, as the ground was not where I expected it to be.
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The top photo is what it looked like at a cursory glance from the sidewalk. The second is what was actually below my feet. Fortunately for me, Minda was facing the other way and did not witness my collapse. Though, of course, I had to explain why my knees were bleeding anyway once I got across the street.
It was great to talk to Minda. I’ve lived on the east coast for ten years now, and it’s been a long time since I had a chance to chat with someone who loves the Royals like I do, let alone someone with so much inside knowledge. She even gave me a couple of names to watch for on the Z-meter. And how do I repay her? By posting the overexposed photo I took. I didn’t do her justice.
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After lunch and conversation with Minda, I hurried down to catch the Virginia/Fullerton game. It was Virginia’s only win in the Series, and I was glad to get a chance to be there for it. I also met Brian Foley of The College Baseball Blog in the press box. It gave me another opportunity to show just how bad I am at taking photos of people, as I allowed the backlight from the field to turn Brian into a shadow. Ye Olde Photoshoppe helped a bit with that, but only a little bit.
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The whole thing was a great time, as I’m sure you can imagine. I’ll always be glad I went to Rosenblatt before it was torn down, but that won’t stop me from enjoying future Series in TD Ameritrade. All I can say is, if you find a way to get there next year, do it. Just do it.

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Bus Leagues Road Trip: The 2009 College World Series, Part 1

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I’ll be honest here: I find it rather a daunting task to attempt to describe my whirlwind two-day visit to Omaha. Fortunately, I remembered that a picture is worth 1,000 words, so I’ll be letting my camera do the talking for part of this recap.
I have always wanted to go to Omaha for the Series, and stupidly did not do so when I lived a couple of hours away in NE Kansas. Fortunately, fate allowed me another chance, as my recent freelance association with ESPN.com’s Sports Travel page gave me an in.
I had already planned to travel to New York for Blogs With Balls 1.0, so I just added in a connecting flight to Kansas City, where I met up with my dad. He was hauling his travel trailer, so we’d have a cheap and portable place to stay while we were in Omaha.
We rolled in before the 1pm game. Since I had press credentials, my dad had no way to enter Rosenblatt with me. Being a marvelous and supportive father, he was quite happy to let me work while he explored the other sights in Omaha, of which there are many. His decision was invaluable, as I needed time to interview fans and officials and never made it to the nearby zoo. My dad did, and he gave me all the pertinent details. He also had the tough job of having to eat at the awesome diners around the stadium. Poor guy.
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I was pretty eager to get inside, as the 1:00 game between UNC and Arizona State was already underway. Rosenblatt, despite being built in 1947, has an excellent seating diagram. The diamond was completely visible from every vantage point I explored.
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I did some pre-interviews by phone before I arrived, and one of the event’s organizers highly recommended the bleacher experience for first-time visitors. It was packed in the outfield, with fans spilling out into the walkways. The vibe of happy rivalry was really enjoyable.
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I call the second photo here “Mona Lisa of Tempe”, because I clicked the shutter just as she began to smile. Gives her more of an air of mystery, no?

Coming Up: Rosenblatt, part 2