The College World Series is very much an all-inclusive event. There are fans from everywhere. The closest event I have been to (and some people are going to hate me for this comparison) is the NCAA Lacrosse Final Four. When it comes to the finals of the CWS, you've got the fans of the two teams that are there, some of the fans of the six eliminated teams, the fans of local teams (Nebraska, Creighton) and then fans from all over.
In the lead-up to the game, this can be kind of overwhelming. Wandering around through the fan-fest beyond the outfield or the first base and outfield concourses, the mix of colors and logos is like you're in the world's largest Lids store.
But towards the end of a game, it can sort of be the opposite: Around 9:30pm local time, the "generic" fans start to stream out. The teenagers that have been treating the concourse as their own personal mall (see kids, back in my day, kids hung out at the mall. I don't know what they do now) are gone and you're left with the fans of the two teams playing.
One scenario isn't necessarily better than the other. They actually kind of work well together. But its an interesting dichotomy.
And that's just one part of the experience here in Omaha. The whole town is alive during these days. I highly recommend adding Omaha and the College World Series to your bucket list if it isn't already on it.
But then there was the game.
Aaron Fitt of D1Baseball put it fairly well:
You can make a compelling argument that @VandyBaseball has the best player and best pitcher in college baseball. Both came up big tonight.— Aaron Fitt (@aaronfitt) June 23, 2015
That is to say, it's not so much that we played poorly. We just ran into a very good pitcher and some good hitters and we couldn't overcome it.
Connor Jones allowed seven hits and four runs (all earned) in 6.1 innings of work. Against a team as good as Vanderbilt, with the Player of the Year, that is not a bad line. And one might think he might have been able to do a little more damage if he had gotten any run support.
But the batters were facing off against Carson Fulmer and the stud pitcher was winning, by a lot. Fulmer's final line was two hits and no runs in 7.2 innings of work. Jones matched him through five innings, but the Commodore pitcher just had more gas.
But here comes one of the other things that is nice about the College World Series: It's a best of three series. True, the Cavaliers are in a hole and will have their backs against the wall. But the bottom line is they have another chance. And we'll all be watching to see if they can take advantage of it.
- It seemed there were a lot of weak strike calls - including lots of appeals to the other umps - when our batters were in the box. I know part of that was how much Fulmer was tying us up a the plate. But it just seemed a little absurd
- Some of the concession folks are a little too excited about their craft. For instance, the waffle cone guy who wouldn't make a cone without at least 5 people watching intently.
- My first trip to Omaha (in 2011) we had a tornado warning. It was a rather enjoyable experience overall. I kind of wanted a repeat of that somewhere around the 4th or 5th inning to throw Fulmer off his game. No dice.
- There is still not very much in the way of restaurants/shops around the ballpark. I expected the area to have filled in a bit since my first trip, but it really hasn't. That said, the downtown area is nice and has plenty of options. Maybe that's why the ballpark area hasn't grown.
- The LED (I'm guessing) lights on the top of the northern bridge to Council Bluffs are really distracting from inside the park (at least on the first base side)
- Also distracting: The Vanderbilt whistler. I didn't notice him for most of the game. Its not nearly as bad as it is on TV. But once you hear it, you can't unhear it. I don't know how he hasn't had the ushers called on him.