Monday, June 27, 2016
College World Series Journal
I was lucky enough to head to Omaha at the end of last week to take in multiple games over a three day stretch. Here are some of my impressions as the Championship Series is underway on Monday night.
Omaha has got this event down to a science. The area around the stadium is set up perfectly for fans to enjoy pre-game festivities at local establishments. Fans can then head into the game and after the game there are multiple concerts, food offerings, and activities. If you can't find something to occupy your time, you aren't trying very hard.
Blatt Beer & Table was our gathering spot before the first game because it was right next to the stadium and it had a roof top patio to enjoy views of the downtown area. We ran into ESPN's Pedro Gomez at this bar as his son Rio Gomez is a sophomore left-handed pitcher for Arizona. Through out the trip we tried many of the establishments near the field and my group was impressed with the service, food, and overall atmosphere.
Omaha makes it easy to want to come back to this event again and again.
TD Ameritrade Park is beautiful with all the amenities fans need to enjoy the baseball experience. I spent most of my early time in the park exploring each part of this venue that opened in 2011. You can walk all the way around the concourse and have a pretty good sight lines. Even when I sat in the upper deck for part of a game, it felt like you were still right on top of the action. There were plenty of water stands available to counteract the 90 degree heat.
Some things I would like to see improved would be to add in some big fans like those used at Target Field. The lines for concessions were very long during the games that were sold out and this made took a little away from the experience.
Pace of Play
Thursday night's game between Coastal Carolina and Texas Tech was brutal to watch. The official game time is listed at three hours and 48 minutes but it seemed like an eternity. It was an elimination game for both teams so there were seven different pitchers used with no pitcher throwing more than 4.1 innings. Pitchers took a long time between pitches, batters took a long time getting into the box, and coaches visits to the mound lasted too long.
I didn't realize how much MLB's new pace of play rules were impacting the game until I had to watch a game where those rules aren't in place. One has to wonder how long it will be before the NCAA starts to implement some of the same rules.
It is really tough to hit home runs at TD Ameritrade Park. It was amazing to see the positioning of outfielders especially on Friday when the wind was blowing straight in from center field. I made a comment to one of my friends that it almost looked like they were playing at Little League depth. There was no reason to play any further back as the wind played a factor in all the games we attended.
Between the three games we attended on Thursday and Friday, we saw a grand total of one home run, a line drive down the third base line that snuck into the bullpen off the bat of TCU's Dane Steinhagen. Some of these team's rely a lot on the long ball during the regular season but it's almost impossible to hit it out in the most important games of the year.
When it comes to watching a big league game, fans know that a pitcher getting close to 100 pitches is most likely near the end of his time on the mound. MLB organizations are very conscientious about the health of their pitchers and their future in the game. College teams and coaches don't have the same agenda as MLB teams. The incentive in college is to win and to win now, no matter what the cost.
On Friday night, I witnessed a pitcher throw 137 pitches on the way to a complete game. Andrew Beckwith was an undrafted junior that throws with a side-arm action so there is less stress on his arm. This was his second straight complete game and now his team is in the College World Series Championship. Arizona has also been criticized for there use of pitchers and they might have seen the results of this on Friday afternoon as Nathan Bannister left the game with pain is his forearm. The Wildcats will face Coastal Carolina in the Championship but their pitcher usage might have cost them their ace.
Attending the College World Series was a dream come true and I'm excited to see who will come out victorious over the next few days. Part of me is rooting for Coastal Carolina since it is their first trip to the College World Series and who knows when they will be back.
Feel free to ask any questions in the COMMENTS section about the event and I will try and answer as many questions as I can.