A few CWS thoughts as we roll through the Ozarks …
If I could change one thing about the CWS experience it would have been health – mine.
Not sure I’d have made it through if not for my Tupelo doc, Phil Jones, calling in meds to the Walgreens near the hotel.
Once Phil realized there was legitimate suffering he phoned in the good stuff.
There were a couple of days early on when I was fortunate to have John Davis and Brandon Speck bring back practice interviews to the room, and I was able to work with that.
Here are some highlights from Camp Omaha …
Juco Move: It was a hoot listening to John Gatlin define the term “juco move,” which was a term a friend of his used to describe Gatlin’s reach for a ball out of the strike zone that he was able to lift past a drawn-in infield and deliver the game-winner against Texas Tech. It was the Rebels’ first CWS win since 1969.
Bench Strength: In addition to Gatlin, Holt Perdzock continued to do his thing as a pinch-hitter, going 1-for-4 with two RBIs including one off a ground ball for the Rebels’ only run against Virginia on opening night.
Gatlin and catcher Austin Knight, Will Allen’s backup, no doubt saw more playing time than they would have thought, and both were solid defensively. Gatlin saw time at first base and second base.
Bullpen Strength: Aaron Greenwood gave up the walk-off hit to Mike Papi inn the opener when he left the ball too much over the plate. Otherwise Greenwood was really good. Papi’s hit was all he allowed in 1.2 innings in that game. In the win over Tech he faced the minimum for 1.1 innings.
Wyatt Short and Scott Weathersby, two guys who will be back next season, were also very good.
Short went 3.1 innings in the second Virginia game, giving up two hits, no walks and one run. He was scoreless for 1.2 innings against TCU.
Weathersby gave up a run to Tech in his one inning due in large part to the speed of Tech’s Zach Davis, the pinch-runner, who wasn’t even close to out when he stole second and third.
Weathersby then was tasked with starting Saturday’s resumption of the Friday Virginia’s game. He inherited a situation with no outs and runners at first at second, then retired the next three batters, one with a bit strikeout.
Defense: One error in four games was impressive for a team that didn’t have that reputation among the eight in the CWS.
The only error occurred when Errol Robinson was moving to his right on a ground ball Saturday. Robinson had a good CWS, including a key play late in the TCU win.
The infield corners were also good, and Auston Bousfield had an over-the-shoulder catch to remember that should live on in CWS promo coverage.
In closing: I’ve covered a lot of events in 20-plus years at the Journal, but this CWS was my first. The event was as first class, the city as nice and vibrant as I’d heard. It was a great experience.
I will say this. I’d always heard that Omaha really embraces the CWS. You can sense the pride in the event among the locals.
That’s a good thing.
However, it would be good if the city’s business leaders could encourage its hotel partners to do something nice for the fans who bring no tell how much money into their economy on an annual basis by offering those fans rooms at a more reasonable rate, especially given the duration of the event.
Those hotels could turn a nice profit without charging close to $300 and in many cases more than that for quality rooms.