On The Ground In Omaha The Day Before The Series
Collegebaseball360.com Editor Sean Stires will be checking-in throughout the day today from Omaha. Practices and press conferences are scheduled for Friday at Rosenblatt Stadium. Look for video with players and coaches later today as well…
Our coverage of the 2010 College World Series is brought to you by The Dugout in Omaha, with everything you’re looking for when it comes to officially licensed CWS hats and shirts. If you can’t make it to Rosenblatt make sure to follow the link for all of your CWS gear!
6:45 am – I live in the Eastern Time zone and I usually get up at around 7:30, so it’s no surprise that my internal clock is still set even though my body now a time zone to the west. I’m wide awake even though I had no intention to be. Time to make the coffee…good thing I brought my own coffee maker (the perks of driving rather than flying), even though my wife gave me that look when I packed it!
7:30 am – I’ve been watching Mike and Mike on TV. All the talk is, of course, about Kobe and the Lakers. Puke. Local TV had some CWS driving tips last night, like avoiding the 13th street exit off I-80 as much as possible. I found that out the hard way last year. It gets backed-up pretty quickly.
7:45 am – I was just going to head outside the hotel to stretch the legs with a stroll for a bit, but then I heard this rush of wind. I hadn’t pulled back the blackout curtains yet. When I did I saw big black storm clouds…not good for practice day for the eight teams at Rosenblatt. Most of last year’s practice day was scrapped by rain, although teams still signed autographs inside the packed stadium walkways. Storms never shock in Omaha during the CWS, but there were more than 30 tornadoes a couple states north of here in Minnesota last night. Hopefully this doesn’t get too serious. TCU has the first scheduled practice of the day in a little bit more than an hour.
8:05 am - One of the local TV stations just showed some shots from Rosenblatt from about an hour ago. They said it went from a beautiful sunny morning to black in just a matter of minutes. The satellite TV here at the hotel keeps cutting in and out. Bad looking stuff on the radar. Not looking good at all for practices, autographs and Fan Fest…at least for the next few hours.
8:40 am – Great news! It’s clearing-up outside and the local weather guys are saying most of the storms are heading south of Omaha. Supposed to be…wait for it…hot and humid this afternoon with a chance for some showers this evening during opening ceremonies and fireworks. Getting ready to venture out soon.
10:30 am – After picking-up my media credential downtown I’m at the stadium and caught the end of Florida State’s batting practice. Didn’t see anyone hit any out, but there was a bit of a breeze blowing in. It’s a beautiful morning right now after what was looking like the start of a nasty day. Nomar Garciaparra, who’ll be working the CWS for ESPN, was chatting-up FSU head coach Mike Martin behind the batting cage.
11 am – At the first press conference of the day, featuring Tim Esmay of Arizona
State, Jack Leggett of Clemson, Sunny Golloway of Oklahoma, and South Carolina’s Ray Tanner. This is the group of coaches from teams that will play Sunday’s first round games.
Some of the highlights…
Leggett talked about playing at the CWS against an Arizona State team that included future Major Leaguers like Hubie Brooks, Bob Horner, Floyd Bannister, and Bob Welch. He says yellow school buses picked-up players at their hotels to take them to Rosenblatt Stadium.
Esmay talked about his ASU team playing against Robin Ventura and Oklahoma State in 1987 when Ventura was in the midst of what would end-up his NCAA record 58-game hitting streak.
Tanner talked about something that happened at last week’s Super Regionals. South Carolina ace Blake Cooper had just finished his start against Coastal Carolina and was icing his shoulder in the dugout. A hard hit foul ball was headed right at Cooper’s head, so he instinctively put his hand up to protect his head. It was his pitching hand, and it was sore and swollen for a few days, but after some ice Tanner says it’s now better. He will start Sunday vs. Oklahoma.
The other three coaches announced their starters as well: South Carolina-Blake Cooper (12-1, 2.81) vs. Oklahoma- Michael Rocha (7-2, 3.57), Clemson-Casey Harman (7-3, 3.73) vs. Arizona State-Seth Blair (12-0, 3.35).
12:05 – I caught part of UCLA’s on-field practice. Tyler Rahmatulla, who broke his right wrist in the Bruin’s Super Regional dog pile celebration, has a cast on his wrist. No surprise, he wasn’t looking very happy.
I talked to UCLA SID Alex Timiraos and he filled me in on the story of Bruin pitcher Trevor Bauer’s hat, which is as faded looking as an old worn-out pair of denim jeans. Bauer is a sophomore who enrolled at UCLA in what would have been his senior year in high school. He got the hat right after getting to Westwood and it’s the only game cap he’s worn since he started playing. Bauer (10-3, 3.02) will start Saturday vs. Florida. It’s his first game one start of the season. Gerrit Cole (10-3, 3.25) has been UCLA’s game one guy to this point so far.
1 pm – Writing in the Rosenblatt press box right now while Oklahoma is on the field taking batting practice.
2 pm – At the press conference with Florida’s Kevin O’Sullivan, Florida State’s
Mike Martin, TCU’s Jim Schlossnagle, and UCLA’s John Savage. It’s always interesting and fun to see how different coaches react and interact when they’re around each other. I was right behind Savage when we were walking into the press conference room and O’Sullivan was talking to someone in the entryway. They shook hands and after Savage moved along O’Sullivan had a youth-like nervous kind of innocent look as if to say “That’s the guy we’re going up against.”
The four coaches officially announced Saturday’s starting pitchers: UCLA-Trevor Bauer (10-3, 3.02) vs. Florida- Alex Panteliodis (11-2, 3.26), Florida State-Sean Gilmartin (9-7, 4.89) vs. TCU-Matt Purke (14-0, 3.23)
Martin on FSU outfielder Tyler Holt “He’s a dirt bag, fireball redneck…take your pick”. And on TCU being in its first College World Series “They belong here. To do what they did in Austin (beating Texas in the Super Regionals) is an unbelievable accomplishment”.
“I fell off my chair.” – Savage on his reaction when he learned that sophomore pitcher Gerrit Cole would attend UCLA instead of signing pro after being drafted in the first round of the 2008 MLB draft by the New York Yankees.
“We’ll find a spot.” – Schlossnagle on what he said to Matt Purke last fall when he asked him if he had a spot on the roster for him at TCU. The freshman was drafted in the first round out of high school a year ago by the Texas Rangers.
“He’s the coach of all coaches.” – Savage talking about the late great former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, who died earlier this month.
2:45 pm – Eating lunch in the press box while watching South Carolina finish its batting practice. A cheeseburger from Omaha Steaks…that’s a pretty solid lunch!
3:30 pm – Arizona State has been taking batting practice while I’ve been writing and editing video. It’s strange to look down at the field and not see Pat Murphy with the Sun Devils.
4:30 pm - Stepped outside the stadium to get an ice cream cone at Zestos. It’s a College World Series tradition, but like a lot of other traditions it doesn’t sound like it’s one that will continue once things move downtown next year. Let’s hope they at least have a Zestos tent or stand next to the new stadium next year.
After grabbing my cone I headed across the street to check out the shirts and hats and everything else at the tents, including The Dugout on the corner right across from Zestos. A lot of great stuff! I don’t know which ones to choose…and I have a lot of people to bring stuff home for!
7:15 pm – I’m back at my hotel after leaving the Rosenblatt neighborhood for the day. I’ve been posting video from earlier today as well as updating this blog. I’ve also been watching The Long Home Run on one of the local stations. It’s the documentary about the College World Series and Rosenblatt. It’s definitely worth a watch.