I did not have the opportunity to watch any Florida State baseball this season until I saw them in their super regional against Wichita State. I only had a little time to watch one of those games one day before work, but I caught the part where FSU shortstop Tony Delmonico had a runner slide into him really hard. Delmonico went to the ground, writhing in pain. He was helped off the field and I assumed he was done at least for the day, but he emerged 11 minutes later with a hurt ankle and a bunch of stitches in his leg - and played the rest of the game.
Of course, the Seminoles went on to advance to the CWS and are trying to hang in there against Stanford in the very first game of this year's series. Delmonico is playing, despite swelling in the ankle he hurt in the super regional game.
I don't want to say that this kind of determination to play baseball wouldn't happen anywhere else, but it's unsurprising that it happens as part of the College World Series storyline. During this tournament we have the privilege of finding the players whose hearts are most full of fire for baseball, who will ignore great amounts of pain to stay on the field and help their teams, and who do all of that while managing lives as students and trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up (because, as the NCAA commercials keep reminding me, most of them will go pro in something other than sports).
Last year at this time, I also had a baseball-related ankle sprain, so maybe that's why I've taken such an interest in the resilient Delmonico's story. Whatever the reason, I've decided Delmonico is my pet favorite, so I kind of hope Florida State can pull out a win tonight against The Cardinal and stay in my town for a little while. For reasons I don't want to get into*, I'm watching today's action (and, likely, most of the rest of the games) from my futon instead of from inside Rosenblatt Stadium. But I'll do my best to give you some kind of bloggy coverage from the hallowed home of the Greatest Show on Dirt.
*OK, I kind of do want to share the reasons, but now isn't the time. Maybe if I get reeeeeeally grumpy while the CWS is still going on, I'll spill. But otherwise, no.
I absolutely love just being in Omaha right now. It's a great place to live in general, but I get this sense of pride and a little giddiness every time people on ESPN talk about how cool it is to make it to Omaha. I'm pleased the city was able to lock up the Series for another 25 years, because I can't think of another city where this tournament would work the way it does here. Once we move things into the new stadium, there will be some new logistical challenges but overall the city knows how to coordinate traffic and the temporary swell in population. Local businesses already know how to accommodate everyone and make visitors feel welcome and at home. (Side note: I grew up in a teeeeeeny-tiny town, so I always thought of Omaha as a scary big city. Now I think it is as friendly as a town of any size could be, and I giggle a little at the perception I once had of this "giant small town.") The bars all make extra room for beer garden crowds, where fans of rival teams can drink together and be friends for a while, enjoying the common destination each one's team worked so hard to reach. The city is centrally located and...well, it's just a darn great place to be a baseball fan.
My Favorite Year (Redux) - A couple of weeks ago, a brilliant reader asked me to reprint the story I had written about 1986 in honor of the Mets and Astros once again getting back to...
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