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SETTLING IN IN OMAHA
This week’s Bulldog Update comes to you from Omaha, Neb., where Coach John Cohen’s baseball team has extended our stay thanks to a pair of exhilarating College World Series wins. I’m sure you’ve all had a chance to watch and re-live the victories over Oregon State and Indiana. It’s remarkable how similar those two games were, from the final score (5-4), to matching eighth-inning Bulldog rallies, to the hold-you-breath bottom of the ninths. The wins haven’t come easily, but the players and coaches have put themselves just one win away from next week’s CWS Championship Series.
Only one other Mississippi State baseball team has been in this position. The 1985 Bulldogs of Clark, Palmeiro, Brantley and Thigpen fame finished third in Omaha. The 2013 squad is assured of a top four finish.
The Bulldogs are one win away from playing for a national championship. And three wins away from bringing the title back to Starkville. Baseball is a funny game, and at the CWS – with only quality teams remaining – there is such a small difference between winning and losing. But I know that all fans of the Maroon and White are proud of the way this group of players has competed on the sport’s biggest stage.
RANDOM THOUGHTS FROM SOMEWHERE IN MIDDLE AMERICA
- This Bulldog team has so many special qualities, and every fan probably has a favorite player (Renfroe, Frazier, Rea, Holder, et al) or favorite thing (bullpen, defense, speed, etc) about this team. But for me, I love how selfless these guys are. Every guy wearing a Bulldog uniform has accepted his role, and the only thing they care about is winning for Mississippi State. That’s a credit to these young men, their families, and our coaches.
- It was a treat to spend some time with former Bulldog Burke Masters this morning at the team hotel. Burke, now a priest in the Chicago area, is teaching a week-long class at Omaha’s Creighton University. It was neat seeing some of our current players stopping by our table to introduce themselves to Burke, usually using the line “you’re the guy from the Jim Ellis radio call, right?” … referring to his ninth-inning grand slam against Florida State in the 1990 NCAA Regional.
- The new home of the College World Series – TD Ameritrade Park – is incredible. I had been to Rosenblatt Stadium several times, but the new place is a big upgrade, both inside and outside the venue. Inside provides great amenities and seats with nice views of the action. Outside, several hotels and restaurants, including the Old Market section of Omaha, are within walking distance. And you can’t go 10 feet without passing a novelty/souvenir tent. It’s a cool scene.
- Getting lots of questions about CWS tickets. The NCAA only provides 700 to each participating school. After taking care of player and coaches families, that left about 500 to sell through our ticket office. As always, the ability to purchase from MSU was based on Bulldog Club priority. Fortunately, our fans are resourceful, as several thousand found tickets through other means to support the team in the first two games.
- If you’re a runner, and are making plans to be in Omaha to support the Bulldogs, bring your training gear. There are some great running paths along the Missouri River next to TD Ameritrade Park. And the weather is slightly (OK, greatly) less humid than what we typically experience in Mississippi this time of year.
- It’s amazing who you meet in airports. Back in February I was flying out of Indianapolis after a meeting of an NCAA cabinet I serve on. At the gate to my flight was the Indiana baseball team. Their coach, Tracy Smith, sat down near me and we struck up a conversation. They were headed to their season-opening games in Florida. Because of that 30-minute visit, I’ve kept tabs on the Hoosiers this year as they won the Big Ten. Here in Omaha, I was able to reacquaint with Coach Smith and congratulate him on getting to Omaha. Small world, huh?
- I left Starkville last Wednesday for the national AD conference (NACDA) in Orlando, then headed to Omaha late Friday night. So, after a week on the road, today is laundry day. Kudos to our team hotel, Doubletree Downtown, for providing complimentary washers and dryers. That’s big.
- Regardless of what happens here the next few days, I hope you’ll make plans to greet the Bulldogs when they return home to Starkville. We’ll distribute details on time/place/etc. once we know how things finish up in Omaha.
We appreciate what you do for Mississippi State Athletics and want to encourage you to get others involved. There are three things you can do to help the athletic department at Mississippi State reach its desired goals –
1. Buy Season Tickets
2. Financially Support the Bulldog Club
3. Get Others To Do The Same
Thanks for taking the time to read this Update.