Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Omaha Adventure - Day 4 Redux - College World Series Game 2

Game 2 of the College World Series was an adventure.  We were already in Omaha without tickets.  I expected that we would have to scramble around for seats as this was likely the only thing going in in Omaha that night (Turns out I was wrong).  C is with a friend so G and I start walking around to see if someone was scalping tickets. 

Finally, after not much luck finding 3 seats - Although I could have purchased 4 seats if I wanted them.  What a friendly scalper! - I suck up another purchase from Stubhub.  At least this was a cheaper alternative than Game 1.  So again we head to the basement of a downtown hotel to pick up the tickets from the same three friendly people we saw the day before.  G is exhausted since we walked a couple of miles looking for parking, tickets and dinner, while at the same time getting Stubhub.  So we stop at the same brew pub that we stopped at the day before.  Yawn, I guess (according to G).

After that dinner with C and his buddy, we head to the game.  We had similar tickets as Game 1 except a little closer to the first base dugout. 

It seemed like Coastal Carolina was ready for this game, moreso than last night.  They appeared more loose and excited to play. It didn't hurt that they had their closer starting tonight - Mike Morrison.  And was he throwing heat to begin the game! 

And while Arizona jumped to an early lead, Coastal Carolina capitalized on a dropped pop up by the Wildcats' third basemen to be in a position to score their first run in the Series. The Chanticleers' dirtdog, Anthony Marks - who was on base all 4 times he was up and just seemed to be a disruption every time he was up - drove in the first runs of the Series for CCU as his two run single after the dropped popup gave CCU the lead. When we left, and CCU scored 3 runs in the 8th, it was 5-2.  And while Arizona made it interesting at the end, scoring 2 runs in the bottom of the 8th, The Chanticleers lived to play one more game, taking Game 2, 5-4. 

Meanwhile, we are getting geared up for our own playoffs.  See you tomorrow.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Omaha Adventure Day 4 - The Reckoning

2016 Slumpbusters...The Reckoning.  After three days of travel and three weeks worth of life experience - if G's constant questions of being robbed (first in Detroit, then in Council Bluffs) was any indicator, Day 4 of our Omaha Experience finally included some of C's baseball.  The Triple Crown Slumpbusters tournament was finally ready to go.

Two pool games and then the playoffs.  Wait, we traveled all the way to "Omaha" and we only play 2 pool games before the playoffs?  Well, at least this will give us more time at the Americinn.

Game 1 would be against this team from California - Phenom OC.  And C would get the opening start.  I was nervous the morning of.  I wouldn't admit it to C, but I was nervous.  I could only hold down 1 coffee from the local Starbucks and only one Chicken Salad Sandwich from the local Hy-Vee.  As we drive down to the field, I tried to impart some Fatherly wisdom.  Keep the ball on the outside corner.  Take your time.  Mix up your pitches against the middle of the lineup. 

"OK, Dad  I get it"  C moans.  Maybe he's nervous too...Nah, he's just tired of me talking to him.  No Frappuccino for you I guess.

As we get in for the early morning game, G and I drop him off with his team.  This is our first glimpse of some of the rest of the parents.  They were all impressed that we drove out here.  (And didn't kill on another is what went unsaid).

G and I drive around the Starbucks area and barely get back in time to watch the first pitch.  It would have been better if we didn't come back.  C's low strikes were not getting called strikes.  The first batter takes a 3-2 pitch the other way for a triple.  This does not give me the good vibes.  A couple of walks and a couple errors and a couple of hits later and the score is 5-0.  Uh oh.  C has his pissed off look on his face when he is ready to bear down, but the ump was still not going to call the low strike.  It didn't help my psyche that the California coach was being a prick - arguing balls and strikes, telling the ump that C's necklace ( a fighten necklace for crying aloud) and yelling at our players.

(Quick aside.  I usually don't blame the umpires, but if you don't call strikes on the lower half of the zone, I don't mind blaming you).

We get a couple of runs back in the inning, as the Umpire was just as tight with the zone with the other team too.  5-3 after 1.

Before the 20-8 Bombardment, or After...Lot of sun
The second inning really didn't go that much better as C gives up 2 more runs.  We're losing 7-3 going into the bottom of the Second.  After two outs are made and we score a couple of runs, C comes up for a second time with a runner at second.  He proceeds to drive in the tying run to make it 7-7.  Then C proceeds to steal second and third (Dad's wheels!) and then scores on a passed ball.  We're now winning 8-7. 

But the lead is short lived as we give up a ton of runs after C comes out of the game after 2 innings pitched.  He pitched well, just could not get any called strikes.  I'm usually not an apologist, but Christ was this a narrow Zone.  And our relievers did not do any better.  We make more errors, most of which could have been avoided.  We don't score any more runs and proceed to lose our first game 20-8.  Ugh.  C did get two hits though and made some dynamic plays.  0-1 in the two game pool.  Just like Women's soccer.

Game 2, while not as interesting, did lead to a win and a 1-1 record in pool play.  We played a team from Teas and proceeded to beat them 12-4.  I guess I should say that it was completely uninteresting as C (after talking some mild trash to one of the Texas kids) was then hit in his next at bat.  Apparently, this was true.  What a bunch of Wussies from the Lone Star State.  I guess things were more interesting!

We go into the playoff round starting tomorrow as the 5 seed.  Next up is the Naperville White Sox Black from Illinois.

Next up, Game 2 of the College World Series.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Red Bull Flugtag 2016 - Flight Day

Red Bull Flugtag 2016 was everything I thought it would be.  Listening to an ad for it on the SportsHub, I thought going to the Boston edition along the Charles River would be an interesting side note to our Summer filled with interesting trips.  I was generally familiar with the concept, although I did not know it was called "Flugtag."  The kids had no idea what we were doing. 

"Is this another beerfest?" C skeptically asked, thinking that every time we went somewhere outside away from our town, it usually involved something like.  No, and I don't think drinking alcohol and flying really go together.  Hey this isn't the Marshfield Fair!

The Flugtag Salute
And as we were driving in, I tried to talk the kids into the fact that Flugtag had its own hand signal.  I tried to sell them on the idea that the Mr. Spock "Live long and prosper" Vulcan Salute was actually the official hand signal for Flugtag.  But as Spock would do the salute with the fingers pointing, I did it with the fingers point sideways.  Well at least DLG fell for it, all while LC was snickering next to me.

German for "Flight Day,"  Flugtag originated 25 years in Vienna Austria as a lark for Red Bull.  But it was such a success that they decided to keep the tradition going.  Limited in wingspan and weight, these human-powered homemade flying machines would be helmed by teams of 5.  Usually with one pilot and 4 skit members.   Most teams don't take it seriously, and nor should they since homemade planes tend not to fly that far.  Dressing up in costumes seems more reasonable when faced with diving straight off of a barge 30 feet above the surface.

And was there a line to get in!  We were in midst of lumbermen with dirty beards and women wearing strange necklaces.  And while I wanted to make fun of them because they seemed to be everywhere, I came to the realization that I am a lumberman because I see them everywhere I like going.  But anyway, how about that line?  It seemed like we were in line for hours.  I think having one security check point when you are expecting 50,000 people probably was not the brightest idea.  But we told you to leave extra time for security, Red Bull people were telling us... 

Whether it was 2 Flug 2 Furious, or the Barstool Pirates or Something Wonderful (which was just a giant ad for LovePop greeting cards), there was flight machine for all three kids - well at least when they weren't asking for water, or Red Bull or something to eat.  My favorite was the team dressed as dinosaurs.  And while I have no idea what their team name was, I was intrigued by the dinosaur- themed contraption that we all knew had not chance of flying.  Looking back at the website, I think it was Dinosoars.  No really.

And with the winds whipping around - making things comfortable for us spectators - but downright dangerous for the pilots, it seemed that there was little chance of the record for longest flight (258 feet) being challenged.  We were laughing as one of the machines - I think it was the Murphy's Claw - not even get pushed off the platform and it was starting to fall apart.  The Barstool flight machine was just a pirate ship.  I think they just gave up.  Boston Creme Flies started going sideways while it was being pushed and ended up with negative distance. 

It was pretty funny.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Omaha Adventure - Day 3 Welcome to Council Bluffs

After a relaxing night in South Bend, allowing us to charge our phones and get some sleep, we made our way to the last leg of the journey to Omaha.  I didn't have the heart to tell them that it was not really Omaha, but actually Council Bluffs, Iowa.  A sister city like St. Paul is to Minneapolis, Council Bluffs was our actual destination.  The boys would admit that stopping 20 minutes sooner was desirable, even though things were different when instagramming that they made it.

We get to our destination after hours and hours of corn fields (and Des Moines!).  We made our way to the obligatory fast food stop for lunch and went to the fields to see where they would be playing the next day.

"OK look, Dad, more corn fields!" G exclaimed as we drove the last mile to the fields.  Whatever, at least they have a three day break from driving.  Then we made our way to the hotel and their jokes immediately stopped.  Maybe it was the neo Nazi-looking bikers smoking outside, or the crazy looking lady hiding her smoking at the front desk, but the boys were PETRIFIED.  I laughed it off, but thought to myself - was the 100 dollars savings really that important looking at the other "guests?"

"Ah, Dad, when are we going to Omaha?" C asked me as he looked sideways at the obese people eating lunch at the common area that looked like Hee Haw's kitchen.

I had mentioned to them that we got tickets to Game 1 of the College World Series; a tilt between the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (Huh?) and the Arizona Wildcats.  We're getting the tickets now, I told them. 

"Just a few hours away." I kidded. They were not amused.

So we get int eh car and make the 15 minute drive to downtown Omaha.  I was struck by the fact that while it was late afternoon, no one seemed to be walking around the office buildings.  Does anyone work or does the City take the week off.  Maybe they were at the Olympic swimming trials next door at the Century Link Center.

The lack of crowds made our walk from our dinner place (a surprisingly good Upstream Brewing Company) to the TD Ameritrade Center where the game was taking place that much easier.  Except for a couple of panhandlers, the only people we saw were the fans going to the game. And, although G was pissed that we were walking so far, it was a good idea since it allowed us to spend time together...just kidding I wanted to get some walking in since I was in a car for the last 72 hours.

The College World Series was going to be an interesting matchup.  Perennial Powerhouse, Arizona was looking for another championship, while Coastal Carolina was looking for its first NCAA championship in any sport in its history.  Coastal Carolina led the World Series in home runs and runs scored, but was facing one of Arizona's best pitchers, JC Cloney. A big lefty with an ERA under 3.00, Cloney was poised to give Arizona a Game 1 victory.  When I was watching him warm up, I thought he could easily be drafted in the upper rounds next year.

But before we could sit down and enjoy ourselves, we had to entertain C in his search for his teammates.  We looked high and low for his teammates, when he finally settled for hanging out with a couple of his teammates and friends.  After landing C about 4 rows in front of us, G and I sat and watched the game.  Sadly, G did not have any friends in Omaha.

Anyway, Cloney did not disappoint as he pitched a 4 hit shut out to lead the Wildcats to a 3-0 win. I wonder if C can be as successful in Game one of his tournament...we'll see!

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Omaha Adventure - Day 2 Redux at Notre Dame

After leaving sweltering Motown behind, we continued on our journey to the promised land.  This would be the easiest day of our journey as I decided only to drive a couple of hours from Detroit to South Bend.  It was time to see Touchdown Jesus.

The game got out around 3:30.  Or that was when I told the boys we had to leave short of not getting our hotel room (wink, wink!).  That walk back to our car was one of the hottest 10 periods I had ever experienced.

All this way, and this is as close as we got...
A thunderstorm here or there (ever had the feeling that you should pull over and let the storm pass, but I was too macho to pull over...yeah me neither) did not derail our plans.  I wanted to get to the campus in time to see the stadium. When we get to Notre Dame the first thing G remarks about is the golf course right on the corner of the main street and the street leading to campus.  Even I was getting excited.

Then we come across the construction at the stadium.  No one told me that the stadium was under going massive reconstruction and rehabilitation.  We couldn't even get near the stadium.  The closest we could get was to eat dinner at the University-owned bar - Legends.  Bummer.  At least the beer and the food was good, even if no one wanted anything to do with us that late on a Sunday.

We got back to the hotel, watched Clayton Kershaw, plugged in our phones and got prepared to make the final stretch run to Omaha.  See you soon!

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Omaha Adventure - Day 2 Tiger Time and Touchdown Jesus

Day 2 of our Omaha trip has broken.

After dodging all of the Model As in the parking lot, we began our easiest day of our adventure to Omaha.  No 5am wake up calls and no 8 hour drives.  Today was going to be a leisurely trip to Comerica Park for the Tigers Game and then a trip to South Bend to get a picture of Touch Down Jesus at Notre Dam Stadium.

The day started innocently enough as I took a walk around the buildings seeing if any of the older gentlemen in attendance at the car show needed CPR or something.  Seeing that everyone was happy and healthy, I gathered the kids together to make the trip to Detroit.

"Dad, is it safe where we are going?" G asks as we drive out of Toledo.  Although he hasn't done his Summer reading, he apparently has reviewed guide books about how dangerous the mean streets of Detroit are - or perhaps he watched 8 Mile recently.

"No its fine." I explain.  We're parking next to the stadium and this area is a lot like Fenway.  I guess, I haven't been to Detroit since 1980.

"So we're not going to die?" C asks looking up from his phone.  No we're not going to die...in Detroit, at least.

This goes on the entire hour trip up to Detroit.  Do they rob people at the ball park? Not that I know of.  Should we bring all of our stuff so it doesn't get stolen?  Sure, why not.  And the best one...why was that homeless guy sell you American Flag pins?  I was donating money to the homeless veterans.  So worldly. As we park our car, the boys are astonished at how many people are around.  The lines to get in near the Tiger are extra long for this Sunday afternoon game against the First Place Indians.  Justin Verlander is pitching though so the Tigers have a chance to get back one game against the Indians.

As we finally get in, we get the first taste of the heat we are facing.  It has to be 90 degrees out.  I'm actually not interested in drinking any of the Michigan beers that you can find at Comerica (yeah right), even though the craft beer stand is just 10 feet from the batting cages and pitching radar that the boys wanted to do.

After watching C throw 60 miles an hour and G throw 47 miles an hour (the gun must be wrong C rationalizes to no one in particular), we sit down at our seats.  Good seats, but we are nowhere near shade as the Sun is beating down on us.  Even the obnoxious Indians fan that I am sitting next to only yips and yaps occasionally even though the Indians come out hot against Verlander.

After we make our way around the field, looking at the plaques and statues in Right Field and enjoying some Mediterrean fries, we sit back down to watch the rest of the game.  This time, without mentioning anything to G, I have him sit next to the obnoxious Indians fan.  I tell the guy that I'm now sitting next to that that guy was a huge pain in the ass.  He smiles at me and then turns serious.

"Just wait," he starts to explain while bouncing a baby on his knee "a couple of more beers and the guys behind him are going to beat the sh*t out of him."

With that, I start to plan when we are going to move on to our next destination.  Verlander is getting killed (6 homers) and the Tigers are not keeping pace.  Meanwhile G is in some serious need of air conditioning as he continues to fan himself down with the Verlander poster he received as a free from the park.

"Can we go to Notre Dame now?"

Sounds like a plan (keep reading for part 2)