Since Indiana is finally putting a B1G team in Omaha for the first time in just under three decades I decided to do a short write up on the teams in the CWS as well as what to do and where to go in Adam Duritz’s favorite Midwestern town.
This is shaping up to be a pretty interesting tournament considering there are only a few national seeds left in the dance which means there is a good mix of blue-bloods, squads that have been absent for awhile, and newbie’s (Hi, Hoosiers!) that are all hungry for the title of best in college baseball.
Saturday June 15 3pm ET
Mississippi St. (46-18) - The Bulldogs show up somewhat regularly to the CWS with this being their 9th total appearance with their last trip being in 2007. They usually bring in a decent amount of fans with them that are always vocal and willing to bash Ole Miss baseball (or Ole Miss anything really) at the drop of a hat.
MSU hosted a regional and rolled through it fairly easily only getting some resistance from Central Arkansas in the final games before moving on to face Virginia in the Super Regionals. From there they took care of business against the Cavaliers in Charlottesville sweeping them two games to none (after about 23 rain delays).
Oregon St. (48-10) - The Beavers have only made the trip to Omaha four times before this year but they made two of them count by winning the whole damn thing in 2006 and 2007. I would consider them "new money" in the college baseball world where they really found their stride in the sport in the last decade or so. One thing that keeps them coming back to Omaha so much recently is having great pitching which is a staple for any team that wants to go far in the CWS and this year’s team is no different. They may not bring as many fans as those SEC folks do but the locals have definitely embraced them as a team to root for in the tourney (what guy doesn’t like screaming "Go Beavers!" at the top of his lungs at a sporting event?).
Oregon St. is one of the few national seeds left and started things off by hosting their own regional and making short work of the visiting teams. They then had to take on Super Regional newbie Kansas State where the Wildcats put a slight scare in them by winning the first game. However, OSU was not going to allow the purple people eaters the satisfaction of going to Omaha (thank God) by winning the final two games and heading back to the big O for the first time since 2007.
Saturday June 15 8pm ET
Indiana (46-14) - The B1G finally puts a team in Omaha for the first time in 29 years (Michigan ‘84) although the conference had their chances in the recent past. Other B1G teams like aOSU a decade ago, Michigan a few years after that, as well as Purdue last year had their opportunities to make it back but the Hoosiers are the ones that finally sealed the deal. If you followed B1G baseball this year (and yeah I know most of you didn’t) you would know that Indiana won the B1G regular season and tournament title with a team that was pretty well rounded having decent pitching and hitting throughout the year. It will be exciting to see how they do in the tournament as well as how they are received by the locals. Since they are the "Cinderella-like" team, as well as a known B1G conference mate, I think they will have lots of folks on their side. Hopefully we will see a lot of the Hoosier faithful come on out as well.
Indiana walked through their regional fairly easily (minus the close call against Valparaiso at the start) which sent the Hoosiers to their first Super Regional in school history. When it was announced that they would be playing against Florida St. in Tallahassee some pros and cons came to mind:
Con: Indiana would have to go into a tough environment to play a decent Seminoles squad at one of the best college baseball atmospheres around.
Pro: If there was a program that could choke away hosting a Super Regional it would be FSU.
Indiana showed why they were ranked all year by sweeping the Seminoles 2-0 to represent the B1G and their school for the first time in program history. The interesting thing is that they are playing…
Louisville - …where both teams are very familiar with each other having faced off in a three game season long series with the Hoosiers winning two out of three. This will be the Cardinals second time in Omaha with their first trip coming in 2007. Just like Indiana in their Super Regional Louisville had to take down a tough opponent in Vanderbilt who was the #2 overall seed as well as an odds on favorite to win the whole thing. The Cards got there by defeating some pretty decent opponents in their own home regional which included Miami and Oklahoma St. So from looking at the path this team has taken to get to the CWS it seems they are battle tested and ready for anyone.
Pod 1 Predictions --- This group may be tougher to figure out who is moving on to the final than Pod 2 since we only have one national seed left on this side and a few relative newbies in the mix. Oregon St. has the pitching to go far and Louisville has showed they can play with anyone, but I’m going to pick the Hoosiers to go to the title game because B!-I!-G! B!-I!-G! B!-I!-G! B!-I!-G! (and I’m not getting paid for these picks so I don’t give a crap if I’m wrong.)
Sunday June 16 3pm ET
North Carolina (55-9) - The Tarheels were the final team to make plans for Omaha beating South Carolina on Tuesday after weather pushed everything back a day. They also ensured that the Gamecocks will not be in the final for the first time in four years. This will be their 10th appearance overall but North Carolina has really made a push in the last seven years to be considered as one of the more consistent programs in college baseball. They do this with a great combination of good pitching and timely hitting. You will see a lot of Tarheel fans in attendance at the CWS and they are just aching to finally win a title not only for the school but to lift the curse on the ACC which hasn’t won one in 58 years.
North Carolina was rolling right along in their own regional until they got into a dogfight with Florida Atlantic and won the regional final in extra innings in one of the best games of the year. They then moved on into their hard fought Super Regional besting the Gamecocks 2-1 to keep their quest for a NCAA title alive.
North Carolina St. (47-14) - The Wolfpack are returning to Omaha after a 45 year absence but will face off against a similar opponent they know too well. Both North Carolina St. and North Carolina have faced off four times this year with the Tarheels getting the 2-1 advantage (one game was canceled due to possibly a BBQ infestation or something).
North Carolina St. mowed down the competition in their regional before moving on to host Rice and their 245 year old coach in the Supers. After winning game one it took 17 innings to finish off the Owls in game two which was the longest game in Super Regional history.
Sunday June 16 8pm ET
UCLA (42-17) - The Bruins will be making their 5th appearance to the CWS and have really come on strong the past few years with showing up last year as well as going to the title game in 2010. UCLA usually has decent pitching and being in the baseball talent hotbed of California they always can field a serviceable team year in and year out.
In regional action the Bruins easily took care of four other California schools at home before going on the road to face off against #5 national seed Cal St. Fullerton. In a match up I was sure to favor the Titans the Bruins showed they were not here to mess around and made short work of Cal St.’s hopes of visiting TD Ameritrade Park.
LSU (55-9) - Are you ready for some Gorilla Ball?! No? Not sure what that is you say? Well, what about Tiger Bait? Geaux Tigers? If your not familiar with these phrases now you probably will be by the time the tournament is over especially if you make the trip to the ball park. Even when LSU isn’t officially in the CWS Tiger fans will make their presence known but it certainly gets ramped up to ‘11’ when the team joins them in Omaha. LSU didn’t start showing up to the CWS until the 80’s but they have certainly made a case for considering themselves as being a ‘blue-blood’ of the college baseball world. This will be their 16th tournament appearance and with having six national titles they certainly are the kingpins of this year’s show.
Being the #4 overall seed LSU started off hosting their own regional and rolled through several southern-based teams before heading to the Supers. They then faced off against the Oklahoma Sooners in what may been one of the more intriguing match ups until the Tigers just easily ran away with the series winning two games to none.
Pod 2 Predictions --- This group breaks down a little easier in that it is a choice between North Carolina and LSU. Since both are the two of the last three remaining national seeds expect both of them to win their first game and then face off again next Tuesday. I’m going to give LSU the edge on this one only for the fact that they’ve been a top rated team all year plus the Tigers seem to have some crazy cajun mojo while in Omaha.
Guide to Omaha:
So I figured some of you would appreciate a guide to Omaha. Also, since I used to work just a block away from the new downtown stadium I felt compelled to give some insider tips and tricks on how to make the most of a trip to TD Ameritrade Park as well as other venues in and around Omaha.
If you ever made the trip to the CWS before (at the ‘Blatt) you probably had an excellent time with good food, good people, and great games. Well, this year’s CWS promises to be just that only in a new locale in a shiny new complex. Also, being located closer to downtown Omaha you’ll be closer to more areas of interest (like drinking, dancing, and just plain making a fool of yourself). Here is some helpful information:
When: 6/15/13 (Saturday) till 6/25 or 6/26 (if necessary)
Where: TD Ameritrade Park
Located on 1200 Mike Fahey Street in the rapidly developing North Downtown district of Omaha TD Ameritrade Park is within 3.5 miles of the airport and walking distance to downtown Omaha/The Old Market district. The event is run by College World Series of Omaha which on the website will provide details on tickets, events, rules/regulations, and any other FAQ you may have on the CWS.
Parking – This is still a new experience for both Omahans and out-of-towners alike. If you’ve been to the CWS before you’ll know that parking was kind of quirky at Rosenblatt. Parking now is a little more structured but still chaotic since this is a new adventure for everyone involved. Offical parking for TD Ameritrade is here.
Most of the streets around TD Ameritrade Park (as well as Downtown) are metered so if you’re early enough you could find a sweet spot a short distance away from the ball field. The meters around the stadium and surrounding areas are 10hr ones that go from 8:30am – 5:00pm (off on weekends) but check first to be safe.
If those are full there are lots of parking garages/lots around as well. Here is a good map of those between the park and downtown. They range from $8 to $30(!) and aren’t too much of a walk away. There is also parking available on Creighton’s campus which is just a few blocks to the west. Map is here. During the weekend there are going to be more spots available then the work week so if you are going to be around M-F be sure to get there early. Note: just because a lot is empty it may not be okay to park there and be sure the lot you choose is legit before parking.
If you want to be closer to the nightlife after the game I’d suggest parking in the Downtown/Old Market District and using the Stadium Circulator which connects the stadium with downtown hotels, public parking, the Old Market and other attractions. There is also the Stadium Express which will pick people up at Westroads Mall, Crossroads Mall, The Carol Hotel, and at locations in Bellevue, and Council Bluffs. Midtown Crossing will also have a shuttle service from about 31st and Farnam Streets.
Expect the areas around TD Ameritrade Park and Downtown to be packed with cars, pedestrians, and what have you so be careful. ProTip: If at all possible avoid Cuming Street (not a typo) and take alternate routes to get to and from the stadium.
If you’re lucky enough to get a TD Ameritrade/Qwest Center parking space be sure to follow all the rules here. There are also beer gardens and other amenities surrounding the grounds of the stadium and more will be posted on those when more information is available.
To do in Omaha:
Aside from the CWS event and downtown festivities be sure to check out the Henry Doorly Zoo (near the old Rosenblatt Stadium), The Durham Museum, and the ridiculous amounts of golf courses around the city.
Also see saxattack29’s post on what to do in the Big O.
Any thing I left out? Want more information? Add it to the comments.