“The University of Nebraska says that elderly people that drink beer or wine at least four times a week have the highest bone density. They need it – they’re the ones falling down the most.”– Jay Leno
After we left Denver, we were on a high from the mountains, the baseball, and the family that we just got to experience. We were headed back towards Minnesota, but had a fun stop along the way in Omaha for the College World Series (CWS). The CWS is played every year in Omaha at TD Ameritrade stadium and spans 11 or 12 days with the eventual crowning of the champion of the college baseball season. We had wanted to make this event for years, so it was a must as part of The Great Baseball Ride.
We stayed just outside of Omaha in Gretna the night before and it was clear that with the CWS being in town, the hotel prices were higher than usual. We headed into town early to take in the festivities, and so I could stalk Warren Buffet pre-game (I just drove by his office, no one needs to call the police).
One of the things we were looking for on our baseball pilgrimage was a good tailgating scene. Since many MLB stadiums are built in to downtown environments, there typically isn’t the parking necessary for tailgating. TD Ameritrade, however has a nice big surface parking lot. We were impressed by the tailgating, and further impressed that many people seemed to be there representing schools not in the tournament. We can appreciate that kind of baseball love.
After leaving the parking lot we explored around the stadium where food and retail vendors were set up. There was a very good energy for a Wednesday day game between Texas Tech vs. Arkansas. We eventually headed over to the Fan Experience section set up by the NCAA were I would describe the set up as a small baseball-themed carnival. There was plenty to see, but we were hot and thirsty and took a moment to catch some shade and a beverage at the Buffalo Wild Wings pop-up restaurant.
Upon heading into the stadium, we walked around for a bit, but were pretty focused on getting food at this point. We didn’t expect much in the way of food diversity as it’s a tournament there for a short time and could likely get by on serving basic burgers and hot dogs. We were pleasantly surprised when we saw a turkey caprese burger on the menu. A seasoned turkey patty, a tomato, basil pesto, and mozzarella cheese made something we hadn’t seen at a ball game and were excited to experience. We’d recommend it if it is on the menu again.
This is the part where I usually mention some local beer that we had and how wonderful it was. I don’t remember what beer they had, and I don’t think it was local. Given that I don’t remember it, I suspect it tasted a lot like…beer. Let’s move on.
We were in probably the worst seats in the house; top deck, as far towards right field as you can go; like literally the last seats. But, it’s a typically used as a minor league stadium so it’s smaller. There really isn’t a bad seat in the house. The weather was overcast, but humid, and up there we were able to snag whatever wind was available. Furthermore, we could see views of the city as well as the whole field. We ended up abandoning these seats to walk around the outfield concourse to get a closer look.
I have always had lukewarm feelings about college baseball. On one hand, its baseball, so I love it. One the other hand, it’s baseball with metal bats and a 22 to 11 game isn’t so unusual. Twenty-two to eleven isn’t baseball, that’s bar league softball. The ping of the metal bat is the villain to the crack of the wood bats superhero. This all said, I was blown away with how hard these kids played. As I think back on the game, the image that comes to mind is of a player laying full out to catch a ball. That image isn’t just a single play, it’s more like the cover of the book. It is a symbol of what the game was like; all out.
We did eventually get some rain, but the vibe was still good. People having a good time became people still having a good time, but with shower hair.
We were heading back towards Minny that night, so we left before game end. We were tired and a bit damp, and ended up stopping at a Chili’s in the Des Monies area just to chill for a bit. As we sat in the bar area awaiting our queso and fajitas, we enjoyed that fact that the TV was airing the CWS.