Archive for the ‘Stadiums’ Category

It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over: The 2009 Southern NH Media Homerun Derby

The ribs on my right side were starting to hurt. The base of my right index finger burned from a broken blister. My arms were tired from swinging a 30-ounce bat nineteen times in the August heat. And while I didn’t know the exact score, I had a pretty good feeling that if we were going to have any chance of winning, my last swing was going to have to be my best.

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It was over a month ago, during WGAM-900’s weekly segment with Mike Murphy of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, that afternoon drive co-host Mike Mutnansky first mentioned the idea of a Media Homerun Derby at Manchester’s Merchantsauto.com Stadium. I was driving at the time, because I only listen to sports talk radio when I’m in the car, but as soon as I arrived at my destination, I pulled out my phone and dashed off an email to Mutnansky, suggesting that Bus Leagues was a legitimate southern New Hampshire media outlet and deserved to be included.

No answer.

The topic came up again the next week. Later that night and into the wee hours of the morning, I typed up a long email to Murphy, the organizer of the event, in which I listed ten reasons Bus Leagues deserved a chance. (Andrew helped.) There were mentions of the experiential stuff I like to write about, the sweetness of my swing, my long ago interview with Erin Andrews, and the fact that my only previous Derby experience had resulted in unmitigated failure. Regrettably, I did not include my startling physical resemblance to Prince Fielder (we are both extraordinarily round); if I had, this might have been resolved much sooner.

There was no answer until the following Monday, when Murphy got back to me with some info about the entry fee ($100, which would go to charity) and suggested I contact Mutnansky about partnering with either him or his co-host, Rich Keefe. They answered the question on-air the next day by announcing that they would be joining forces as Team WGAM. After another email from me, Murphy gently laid down the law: unless I could find a media member willing to take me on as his or her partner, I would probably not be able to compete. I sent him one more email, apologizing for any over-pushiness on my part, and chalked it up as a learning experience.

Then, last Friday, I was pulling into 7-11 to grab a Gatorade when a text message announced that I had an email. Preliminary inspection revealed that it was a reply to the last “Media HR Derby” message I had sent to Murphy a few days before. Veeeeeeery interesting. I bought my Gatorade, sat in my car for a minute, and opened the email, which read as follows (with my immediate thoughts in italics):

“Do you believe in miracles?” Why yes, Mike, I do.

“You want in?” Yes. Please don’t tease me.

“You have $100, a partner, and a charity?” Yes, I’ll bring my two-year-old and his inflatable Red Sox bat if I have to, and I’m sure I can find one.

In closing, he told me to call him, so I did – eight minutes after he sent the original email. Ten minutes later, he had gone over a few of the rules and I was unofficially part of the derby, assuming I met the conditions named in the email. Like I was gonna mess it up at that point.

Murphy followed up our phone conversation with an email detailing the scoring rules. Basically, because most of the participants were highly unlikely to hit a ball over the wall, they came up with a points system to level the playing field. Anything over the wall on the fly was worth 10 points; if it touched the wall, 7 points; went past the “interior” wall (designated by flags), on the fly, 5 points; rolled or bounced past the “interior” wall, 3 points; hit hard and reached the outfield, 1 point. The teams were groups of two, with each partner getting ten swings, regardless of outcome. The top three teams advanced to the finals.

Finding a charity wasn’t hard. I asked my boss if she knew any good ones that I could use and she was like, “Um, you work for a non-profit. Use us or our Special Olympics team.” So the PLUS Pride Special Olympics team became my charity of choice. The partner thing was a bit more difficult. My friend Chris moved back to New York recently, my brother was busy with school, and my father informed me that “he would help, but Pedro broke his bat.” (Inside joke, long story.) My friend Colleen learned of the derby on Saturday night and spent the better part of two days asking to be my partner, but, well, she’s Colleen. Winning wasn’t required, but I didn’t want to wave the white flag before we even started. It was my wife who suggested that I email her cousins, Tom and Erol, to see if they might be available. Erol was busy, but Tom emailed back a couple of days later to say that he could make it, which was good, because I’ve always been under the assumption that Tom is good at baseball, and that seemed to be a nice quality to have in a partner for this event.

So that brings us to Tuesday. Derby Day. I arrived at the ballpark at about 2:15 (start time was scheduled for three o’clock on the nose; I was a bit excited), met Murphy, and soon found myself sitting in the first base dugout. It’s surprising how big it is – I was able to take full practice swings without fear of hitting anything.

I wasn’t worried about my swing – it’s always been the best part of my game. No, the thing that concerned me most was my timing. I hadn’t been able to get to a batting cage over the weekend, hadn’t seen live pitching in years, and knew that it would likely take a few pitches (probably several to many pitches), to begin to settle in. When I approached the ticket window to announce my arrival, my first instinct was to say, “I’m here for the public humiliation.” (In fact, I think I used that line on Murphy when we first met.) Timing, and the ability to find it quickly, was the key to not making a complete fool of myself.

Tom showed up about twenty minutes after me, wielding an old-school Easton bat that he had used in high school. (I, on the other hand, was the “cool” kid with a shiny, new, never-been-used Louisville Slugger Samurai that I’d bought at Olympia Sports the night before; I figured if I was gonna be bad, I might as well look good.) We were meeting some of the other competitors when my wife arrived, ready to take whatever video she could, and my in-laws were right behind her, with my two-year-old son in tow. He didn’t really understand the magnitude of what was happening on the field, the epic, life-altering event in which his father was soon to take part; of far more importance to him were the plane he saw flying overhead, the tractor that passed him on the concourse, and the wide open stands through which he was allowed to roam encumbered. I miss being two-years-old.

Thanks to a random drawing, Kevin Gray of the Union Leader and his partner, Morgan Crandall of the Fisher Cats, went first. I didn’t see much of their turn at bat because I was watching my son run around the stands and praying he wouldn’t find one of the open gates to the field. No need to get kicked out at this point in the proceedings. I tuned back in just in time to catch their final score – 18 points, if I remember correctly. It’s hard to know for sure because moments later Murphy drew the next name, called out, “Team Moynahan, representing Bus Leagues Baseball!” and my heart jumped into my throat.

Tom was kind enough to let me go first. As I stepped in against the pitcher, Fisher Cats hitting coach Paul Elliott, my first conscious thought was how close he was. He couldn’t have been more than thirty feet away, tucked safely behind an L screen. My second conscious thought was that I needed to wait for a couple pitches, at least get some sort of feel for the speed and location before I started hacking away. That was the end of conscious thought for a while. The rest of the round is a blur. I had a few decent hits, including one line drive that reportedly rolled all the way to the right field wall, and put up 18 points. Tom stepped in after me and delivered a strong showing of his own, tallying 17 points for a team total of 35.

As it turned out, none of the remaining four teams – Team WMUR (sports anchor Jamie Staton and Chris Sullivan), WGAM (midday drive hosts Mike Mutnansky and Rich Keefe), WGAM II (host Pete Tarrier and Ken Jobin), and WGAM III (host George Russell, on his own after his partner failed to show) – were able to beat our score, meaning that not only were we through to the finals, but we would be going last. Staton and Sullivan finished second, with Mutnansky and Keefe in third.

Before the finals started, I asked Tom, “How do you wanna handle this?” He answered brilliantly, asking me, “How do YOU wanna handle this?” Truthfully, I already knew what I wanted to do: I decided that when the time came, I wanted the contest in my hands. I was going to be the last hitter, I was going to know exactly what I needed for the win, and I was going to close this sumbitch OUT.

“Of course,” I suggested, “If you want to just go ahead and put up like forty points, I’ll bunt ten times and call it a day.”

Rich Keefe led off the finals with a second excellent performance, spraying line drives all over the field and scoring twenty points. Mutnasky could only manage eight, however, for a reasonable but beatable total of 28. Sullivan batted for Team WMUR next and also started strong, matching Keefe’s twenty points. As Jamie Staton walked to the plate, he quipped, ‘If I can’t get eight, I’m never doing this again.” He came through with fifteen, matching our first round total of 35.

So now Tom and I knew exactly what we had to do. He stepped in first and promptly popped up about three straight pitches. I could hear our opponents muttering under their collective breath – “Trying too hard”; “He’s pressing”; “Trying to do too much”. He settled in, though, and hit a few solid drives past the flags planted around the outfield. As he walked off the field and handed me the bat, he was muttering to himself.

“Terrible,” he said.
“Twenty points,” Mike Murphy announced.

So there it was. Fifteen to tie, sixteen to win. Seemed doable. I felt pretty loose and kidded with Elliott on my way into the box, asking if he could pitch to me underhand. For some unknown reason, he declined.

I stepped in and popped the first pitch up. Then the second. By the time five pitches had passed I had scored just a point or two, if that. In my head I could hear the same comments the peanut gallery had made about Tom, and they were all true – I was trying too hard.

As I pushed a ball away from the plate with the barrel of the bat, I decided to slow things down. It might as well have been a 3-0 pitch, because I stood up there like a statue, with no intention of swinging. He could’ve put it on a tee and I would’ve politely declined. The next one too, although this time I at least pretended to be ready for it. Finally, my mind and body slowed, I was able to deliver my favorite hit of the day: Elliott placed the ball low and away, out over the plate, and I flicked the bat out to reach it. The connection was perfect, the ball leaving on a line to centerfield, where it landed and rolled all the way to the wall for seven points.

By the time I got to the later pitches, my timing felt good, but my body was beginning to remind me that it had been awhile since we had performed this particular activity. On number eight, I took a hack, popped one up, and felt a pull in my ribs. “That’s gonna hurt later,” I thought to myself. On number nine, there was a pain from my right hand, at the top of my palm and the bottom of my index finder; I figured the skin had torn, but if I didn’t look, it couldn’t be that bad. So I didn’t look.

So this was what it came down to. The ribs on my right side were starting to hurt. The base of my right index finger burned from a broken blister. My arms were tired from swinging a 30-ounce bat nineteen times in the August heat. And while I didn’t know the exact score, I had a pretty good feeling that if we were going to have any chance of winning, my last swing was going to have to be my best.

If the earlier swing, the line drive to center, was my favorite of the day, my last one certainly was my best. Again the pitch was low and away, over the plate, only this time I got out in front and lifted it on a high arc to right field. I watched from the plate as it landed on the warning track, took one hop, and caromed off the wall. Seven points! I raised the bat in one hand as I walked off to accept the congratulations of my fellow competitors.

Some quick mental math suggested that Tom and I were the winners. Two sevens, plus a couple of hard hit balls, meant that we should have a narrow victory. Murphy called out to right field, where a team employee was tallying points.

“How many?”

She took a moment to consult her sheet one last time before answering.

“34!” she shouted.

“By himself or total?” someone yelled.

“Total,” she called back.

We were a point short, but how? I’d hit the wall twice, Murphy noted…only I hadn’t. The first big hit, the line drive to center that felt so perfect coming off the bat, the one that rolled so far that I implored it to grow legs as it gently kissed the wall, hadn’t reached the wall at all. Five points instead of seven.

“It was short by this much,” she said, holding her hands about eighteen inches apart.

I like to think that Tom and I now know how the Tennessee Titans felt when they lost the Super Bowl by a yard.

We handled it well, though, with the aplomb of a couple guys who were just happy to be there. We congratulated the winners, Staton and Sullivan (who won $600 for the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth), accepted congratulations from other participants, awkwardly posed for a picture, and marveled at how close we had come to walking off, in dramatic fashion, with the whole thing.

In the end, this can go down as nothing less than a fantastic experience. We made Staton’s evening newscast and Gray’s sports blog at The Union Leader (granted, nobody got the spelling or pronunciation of our names or the blog’s name quite right, but it was still good publicity, and my wife got a kick out of seeing me on TV), and had a great time. On the down side, my ribs still feel like somebody kicked me and there’s a tiny circular spot on my right hand that simply doesn’t have any skin.

I can’t wait to go to the batting cages. Gotta get ready for next year.

(The final order of finish and charities everyone was playing for went as follows:

1. Jamie Staton, Chris Sullivan: WMUR – CHaD Battle of the Badges
2. Brian Moynahan, Tom Duprey: Bus Leagues Baseball – PLUS Pride Special Olympics Team
3. Mike Mutnansky, Rich Keefe: WGAM – Herobox.org
4. Kevin Gray, Morgan Crandall: The Union Leader – Team Emma’s Enchantment
5. Pete Tarrier, Ken Jobin: WGAM – Manchester Boys & Girls Club
6. George Russell – Nashua Police Athletic League

Fandom Auctioned: SOLD! for $14.99

bandits mascot jcBanditsI’ve managed to come down pretty decisively on one side of most of the sports arguments of my day (I’m against municipal levies to pay for ballparks; I don’t mind the designated hitter), but this one still gets me into ferocious internal arguments with myowndamnself.

Should a fan ever renounce his love for his team? For me, personally, the answer is no. How can I expect to hang with my wife for the rest of my life if I can’t even put up with the mild agita that each doomed Royals season brings me? And yet, there’s a part of me that says it might be OK for the more feckless amongst us, because some owners render teams unworthy of undying love, and I hate to reward that kind of behavior. The old “small market!” chestnut has been blown to pieces as the likes of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays turn burgeoning farm systems into quality major-league contenders. It simply appears that some billionaire owners are too cheap to give back to their fans in any meaningful way.

Pittsburgh Pirates fan Brad Davis, fed up with the Buccos’ tendency to trade away every player that ever gave the team a fighting chance to win, put his fandom up for auction on eBay. The slightly tattered artifact was picked up by the Low-A Quad Cities River Bandits, who know how to spot a value pick in this constricted market. They paid just $14.99 for a slightly-used vintage fan. And Brad gets a friendly small-town Bus Leagues club with an awesome stadium to call his very own.

There’s only one real problem I have with the way this played out. The auction story was cute and all, but I can’t help feeling that Davis could have stayed within his own farm system if he wanted to see great Pirates draft picks before they were traded. But I guess he needed a clean break.

Word of warning, though. Once you go Bus Leagues, you’ll never go back, Brad.

The Great Baseball Road Trip – Extra P in your seat.

I’m not going to rehash the story Brian has already told so well. I’m just going to add in the photos I took, along with some captions, since I was only there for the Baltimore portion of the trip.

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Camden as viewed from OMDQ’s seats. The seat I actually paid for would be right in front of the railing all the way to the left. This marks the first time I’ve ever been forcibly moved to a better seat in a ballpark in my life.

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Here’s OMDQ with two friends and his brother. I thoroughly enjoyed all of their company, but if I don’t write down a name or say it fifty times in my head, I forget it almost immediately. Including my own.

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Here’s the mean old usher who made us all move. In his defense, a near-sellout at Camden these days qualifies as a PRETTY BIG DAMN DEAL. Sadly, I suspect it was more for the post-game fireworks than for the team.

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Now, don’t think I wasn’t having any fun after I moved back down to my solitary seat. The people-watching was excellent from my vantage point on the causeway. This lady was like the female Homer Simpson, with her giant orange beer fist and chef’s cap.

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I still can’t really explain this one. The game was D.C. vs. Baltimore. Why were we graced with the presence of a squadron of boozed-up Phillies fans? Do they really need to lord their championship over other long-suffering fans like this?

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What is it about the Young Men’s Christian Association that sports fans love so much? These young ladies seem to believe that it might be fun to be there.

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The guy on the left was so drunk he looked like he had suffered a stroke. (I’m going to feel really bad if he had, but he DID maintain a death-grip on a succession of bottled beers throughout the game). The lady on the right thrilled me with her neck tattoo.

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This guy’s title confused me a bit. Is he in charge of alcohol *rules* compliance? Because god help him if he is. On the other hand, if he’s just in charge of getting people to comply with alcohol, he’s got the easiest job on earth.

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Brian did come down and chat with me after my row cleared out a bit (the massive scoring binge by the O’s in the 6th took care of that). One reason he was probably glad he didn’t sit near me the whole time: he only had to endure one of these dumbass self-portrait attempts.

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It just doesn’t get any better than this. Seriously.

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This was how the evening ended. Sort of a warmup act for Independence Day. A huge portion of the crowd stayed for this, but the traffic leaving the stadium still wasn’t too bad. Which I was extremely grateful for, since I had run my gas tank almost empty trying to get there in time for the first pitch. I asked a cop where the nearest gas station was and booked it over with a few drops to spare.

Yeah, I got home late. And yeah, I felt it the next day, but I don’t care. It was worth it.

Interview: College World Series organizer Jack Diesing, Jr.

I went to the College World Series for a couple of days this year. I might have mentioned that before.

The resulting article is up on ESPN’s SportsTravel page right now. One of the people I spoke to in Omaha who contributed a lot to my understanding of the event’s history and my appreciation of where the CWS is and where it’s going was Jack Diesing, Jr., who heads up the non-profit organizing committee College World Series of Omaha, Inc. I used three quotes from him in the article, but really wanted Bus Leagues readers to see what else he had to say.

This is technically my father’s day post, because we talked a lot about how Jack Diesing, Sr. helped build the Series.

Extra P: The CWS has been at Rosenblatt for 60 years. In 2011, it will be in the new stadium downtown. How do you even begin to pack for a move like that?

jackdiesingjrJack Diesing, Jr.: Having been somewhere for 60 years doesn’t make the process easy, but the overall idea is to make it as seamless as possible. Especially for season ticket holders who have been the backbone of the event over that time. Change is difficult, but change is good. You get people prepared for it, then you do it slowly but surely. You celebrate the past and you look forward to the future, and that’s what we’ll be doing for the next couple of years.

EP: Are there any treasures from earlier series hanging around Rosenblatt?

JD: There are a lot of plaques immortalizing past winners of the Series, some for past Most Outstanding Players, certainly plenty of photographs. There’s the “Road to Omaha” statue, of course. And most of those will, in one fashion or another, be moved to the new stadium.

EP: Will there be an auction of some of Rosenblatt’s effects? Seats, fixtures, signs?

JD: There aren’t any official plans for that at this point. But there will be discussions with the city of Omaha, because they might want to do something with the seats, and potentially some other artifacts. Anything unique to the Series will move to the new stadium, because this is about the history of the event, and it is about the College World Series, and about the NCAA DI baseball championship. We want to carry that tradition on to the future of college baseball.

EP: What will you miss about Rosenblatt?

JD: That’s an intriguing question. Mostly, for me, I’ll miss reliving the memories of some of the great games that were played there. There have been a lot of last-minute heroics. A lot of people have been touched by the College World Series over the years, starting with my father, then Rod Dedeaux, coaches, players, the people of Omaha who’ve contributed so much. The underlying theme, for me, is that Rosenblatt Stadium, for 60 years, has been the foundation of the success of the CWS, and it’s leading us into the future at least for the next 26 years. That’s a memory in and of itself.

We’ve gone through four different additions to the stadium.

EP: Which proposed features of the new stadium are you most interested in?

JD: The new stadium is going to be very, very fan friendly. There will be a 360 degree concourse going around the stadium so people can enjoy getting up, walking around, buying food, and visiting with people while still having a view of the action, and also not blocking anybody else’s view. The seats are going to be wider, with more legroom. The sight lines will be better than they are now, even though I don’t think there’s a bad seat in Rosenblatt, but it’ll be that much better. I think the overall experience will be something that people really enjoy.

EP: Fans are very attached to Rosenblatt, but do you get the sense that participating teams are excited about the new facility?

JD: I think the overall sense from those who are involved is that building the future of the CWS, making it fan-friendly, and also a place that offers a first-rate experience for student-athletes is good. It’s about creating something that will last long into the future that satisfies those criteria. For the players and the coaches, it’s going to be a great field with a wonderful atmosphere. Batting cages, locker rooms, the field itself – It’ll all be state of the art. We’re creating something that will allow the Series to live on in Omaha far into the future, and giving everyone a lifetime experience. Fans will have a new place to come and enjoy the greatest show on dirt. It IS all about the event. History is great, but the idea is also to continue to take the CWS to the next level for everyone involved. And the vision we create here is going to do that.

EP: Omaha has had an unprecedented run as the sole host city for this event. Is Omaha just fertile ground for baseball lovers, or did the love of baseball grow stronger because the series was always there?

JD: We’ve had AAA baseball in Omaha for a long time. But I think as the Series stayed here, people here took ownership of the CWS. Residents have been able to see this event basically from birth and watch it grow, expand, and improve. At the same time, the festival atmosphere that was created has been pretty affordable. We have a two-week event that allows people to come in, see old friends and watch kids playing baseball for the love of the game, since most of them won’t be able to go pro. The local participation and volunteerism is great. But we also have people from all over the world who have formed love affairs with the CWS, and that’s what it’s really all about. It’s not just the college kids, either. There are a lot of junior baseball tournaments played in town around this time as well.

EP: It’s a pretty big part of the identity of Omaha at this point, isn’t it?

JD: We have a belief that the sports initiative is a very important ingredient in the success of Omaha in terms of economic impact and the image of the city – the quality of life. The track record of success that we’ve built over the years has provided a solid foundation for developing credibility when we look at expanding the sports initiative. It has big economic impact in the community, it has a national image-building capacity for the community, and it’s also helped us build a reputation around the country for knowing how to host amateur sporting events, and we are aggressively expanding our sports presence in the city.

EP: The MOP trophy is named after your father. How did your family come to be involved with the CWS?

JD: That’s an interesting story. Way back when they came here, they were looking for local business leaders to run the show. So they found a local guy who owned the largest retail store here, and he did it for a while.

Then he passed away in 1963, and they convinced my father – who at first said “No way, I don’t want to do this – to take on the role of being the organizer of the event. And he also became the creator of the local organizing committee – CWS of Omaha, Inc. – which is a totally volunteer operation. He had never played baseball in his life, didn’t really want to do it, but it’s like the story we talked about a minute ago – he fell in love with the event, and the people who come here every year, and was actively involved for 27 years overall.

EP: Are you already planning farewell events for next year’s final series in Rosenblatt?

JD: Yeah, we are, but we don’t have any specific plans yet. We want to make sure it’s a celebration that would be fitting for the home of the CWS for the last 60 years, and we want to celebrate what Rosenblatt has meant to college baseball, and the enjoyment of the event by fans and players. We’re not far down the road with a lot of specificity, but it’s on our to-do list.

EP: That’s going to be a tough ticket to get!

JD: Every year’s a tough ticket to get. But it’ll be even more fun next year.

EP: If someone is planning to make their first trip to the CWS, where would you suggest they go?

JD: The first thing people usually want to do is get their picture taken in front of the “Road to Omaha” statue. It’s become the icon of the DI men’s baseball championship. You can do that right out in front of the stadium.

If you get here the Friday before the event and go up, down, and around the stadium, you’ll find all kinds of things going on. There’s the NCAA fan fest hosted by the event’s corporate partners. There are various retail establishments up and down 13th street, and there’s a local eatery called Zesto’s which is a place most people don’t want to miss. You can go in there and get a banana shake or something.

The Doorly Zoo, we think is the best zoo in the country, and from an attendance standpoint, it’s #2 in the country, and it’s right there. About four blocks away is Lauritzen Gardens, which is a botanical park. The Old Market is the downtown development which is in the older buildings downtown, and our convention center and arena is there. The Space Museum has aviation displays, and it’s not too far from downtown.

There’s a lot of things within three miles of the stadium that keep people busy for the time they’re here, but the one thing a first-timer should do is buy a general admission ticket and sit in the bleachers. That’s probably the most fun place to be for a game.

We’re out of time to visit this year’s series, but there’s always next year, and the 25 years after that… Thanks to Mr. Diesing for chatting with me.

More Rosenblatt Memories

I went to the College World Series to write about Rosenblatt Stadium for ESPN.com. Even though you’ve seen my massive, hard-drive crushing photo display already, here’s the more polished words I wrote there:

A Year Long Swan Song

OK, self-promotion over. Off to work on the next Z-Meter.

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

Let the Road Trip Begin – Part 1

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OK, so it’s not really a road trip. I’ll be flying a lot, and I believe there are plans to go on a ferry as well. But the fact remains that I’m going on the road, which always means one of you might see me out and about in your town.

First of all, I’m flying up to Philadelphia to meet up with my basketball season partner, Marco. I’m going to laze around the museum and look at the Rocky statue on Friday. On Saturday, Marco and I will journey a bit farther northward to take part in Blogs with Balls, so if any of you bloggers are  planning to be there, look for the big guy with a black-and-white beard. I’m sure I’ll have a nametag of some sort, and it will say Eric Angevine.

The next day, I fly out of Philly to Kansas City, meet up with my dad, and drive a couple of hours northward to Omaha to catch a couple of days of the College World Series. I was already excited to see Rosenblatt Stadium and do a little reporting and picture taking, but then it turns out that my hometown Virginia Cavaliers will be there as well. Bonus. I’ll be there writing a story abou the demise of Rosenblatt for ESPN.com, so again, if you see me, you can surreptitiously check my nametag to make sure it’s me before you accost a stranger.

Since my story for ESPN’s travel section will only use a fraction of the information I gather on my field trip, Bus Leagues readers can look forward to full interviews and photos when I get back.

Also, I call this part 1, because later this month, OMDQ and I will be meeting in a city on the Atlantic seaboard to watch some baseball together. But that’s his road trip, and he’s going many other places during it, so I’ll let him tell you about it when he’s ready.

Hope to see some of you in Philly, NY, or Omaha!