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Rode To Omaha VS. Road To Omaha … College World Series

June 26th, 2016 · Tags:Cities · Sports · Wi-Fi

Attendance sized

How far must I ride to get a win out of my alma mater Texas Tech in the College World Series? In 2014, I rode the new Triumph over from Columbia, Mo., not such a big deal, just 315 miles. This year, I caught the first game of the school’s second ever visit to the College World Series after a 652-mile stretch from Fort Worth. Well … Tech finally got a win over #1 Florida, right AFTER I headed back to Texas. As I write this, both Texas Tech and the purple horde of Texas Christian University have been eliminated from the CWS … but oh my, what a game the two Texas teams put on for my hot sweltering visit to TD Ameritrade Ballpark!

If you have been following the series, you may agree that Texas Tech blew it in two of their losses and likely should have made it to the finals … Oh well … first Tech served up a nice fat juicy pitch over the plate for TCU’s designated hitter, giving up a three-run homer and the lead, rather than walking him and coasting to a win, with a 9th inning lead. Later in the losers bracket, The Red Raiders committed fatal errors and mental mistakes against upstart Coastal Carolina (the guys who beat TCU twice in a row to advance to meet Arizona in the finals).

 

coach sized

So about the one game I saw, TTU vs. TCU at 2 p.m. … in temps that reached well over 100 on the field …

Funny start. I asked the attendant at Will Call for my electronic ticket. They instructed me to walk to any gate and show my ID and the computerized system would print a ticket. I looked at one gate up the sweltering stairway, and then I saw a second gate in the shade with an elevator. Aboard the elevator I went. When it opened, I was in the ballpark (camera and all … which they tried to prevent during my last CWS …) … without an actual ticket. “Was that how it was supposed to work?” It didn’t seem right. So I found another ticket person and asked if I could get a paper ticket. Ha … they quizzed me for five minutes before they accepted that I was not a terrorist or a crook, and simply found a glitch in their system. I mean … I was being honest and trying to do the right thing … and they were so skeptical. No one hurt … but interesting.

So about the game …

They say “luck rewards the prepared mind” or something like that. TCU must really, really be prepared. I jest. Hats off to them. The Frogs’ Luken Baker stepped up big time to hit a huge homer, snatching a win from Texas Tech. Why did the Red Raiders pitch to the designated hitter when there was room on base for him? … I don’t know. Hindsight and all that.

How about Luken Baker’s name. I had not heard or seen it before the series … although I am sure he must already be a legend. That name has got to be a play off of “Willie and Waylon and the boys,” does it not (Luchenbach)? And wow … this kid or at least his mugshot on the Jumbotron is a smiling, baby-faced kid … but in stature he is like any any of several menacing characters off of Game Of Thrones. I think one of the sportscasters referred to him as a “man child.” Well … back to the Game of Thrones reference, I admit it …. I tried to get the chant started every time “Luchenbach” went to bat, “Hold The Door!” “Hold The Door!” “Hold The Door!” You do watch GOT, right? Ask someone … its a comical reference:)

Talk about clutch hitting … LB won the game for TCU with a big homer, just a foot or two inside the left field foul pole. I was sitting just left of the plate, when the ball exploded off the bat and I watched it and watched it and watched it … I thought surely it was going to go foul. It did not. My first reaction … stunned, I looked at the flag pole to see the wind direction. The entire game prior to this, the wind had been blowing strong, right to left. During that at bat, the wind had changed slightly … blowing the flag straight toward the field of play.

Maybe God is a Frog fan?

 

Gardner sized

While the competition on the field was incredible, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the less-than-stellar behavior in the stands. First, I think everyone in my section was annoyed by the Texas Tech fan who repeatedly yelled after bad calls made by the umpire. Have you ever seen an umpire change a call or correct his vision after a fan yelled? But what really chapped me was the antics of one of the Frog faithful. After a huge double, Tech Centerfielder re-injured a hamstring as he went in hard to second base. For a minute or two, it looked like the injured player would leave the game, as he lay on the ground. Very gutsy — Tanner Gardner who was pretty much tied with Luken Baker in this game for heroics, limped around and then jogged and stayed in the game. (Have you ever pulled or torn a hammy? … Oh my!)

During the brief hammy stretch, that is when the TCU guy yelled, “Will you get on with it you morons!” … This at a time when most of the crowd was quiet, out of respect to an injured athlete, which is the custom … like everywhere. So it just echoed through the park. Ha … well played Frog. I digress …

Don’t ever tell me Texas Tech has the worse fans.

 

Hargrove sized

Before the game, I didn’t get to sample any Wi-Fi, however I was drawn in to an AT&T kiosk on the concourse, near right field. I hoped it was a misting station, but the attendant insisted I stop in to charge my iPhone. “But I have several bars, don’t need a charge.” She insisted and assured me that later, I would need that phone to call my Über driver.

“Oh this chick’s good!” … I thought, as I was reminded of how my sister insists her cell phone reads her mind and gives her ads based on her thoughts … I digress.

How did this AT&T charging station lady — who by the way in her own words was “rocking the Aunt Jemima” look — know that I had just taken my first ever Über ride to the stadium? Well I had because, tragically, after the 10-hour ride to Omaha, the day before, my bike broke down in downtown Omaha … which is another story.

 

ATT Jemima sized

When I got to Omaha, I circled the ball park area, passed The Old Market and rode by the edge of Omaha’s Happy Hollow (which I of course call “Hippie Hollow”) and back to downtown on the side streets, as I got my bearings. I whipped into a sketchy looking convenience store for a bottle of water and a look at my GPS. Hmmm … as I dismounted, I noticed the cable down near the clutch was frayed. “That ain’t good.” I slugged down a bottle of H2Omaha and reproached. I planned to take ‘er easy and ride my bike to the hotel for closer inspection. One pull of the clutch — the very next pull — and the cable snapped. How crazy … or blessed by the good Lord … is that to have ridden 650 miles of often times barren road and not break down until I was at my destination. I felt the protection, for sure.

But … but as I looked around, I felt less safes as I noticed for the first time that the very cool city of Omaha also has an underbelly. And that’s where I was parked, by no choice of my own. Numerous women, wanting crack or money or me … or a combination of the three approached me. I was at their corner and the sun would soon be going down. Did I mention it was Saturday evening and all the motorcycle shops were closed? I contacted a friend with Omaha connections and asked strangers about mechanics and towing services.

I pushed the bike to the other side of the parking lot away from the ladies of the night and was planted there Googling and thinking when a guy came out of the convenience store and offered to help me, after the cashier asked him if he knew of a motorcycle repair. Good fortune.

So this young, maybe somewhat scruffy guy offered to give me a ride anywhere I wanted to go … and added that he knew of an auto shop and a parts store a few blocks away. Against my better judgement, I climbed in his car and we rode away, as I wondered if the “ladies” were now rummaging through the saddlebags of my wounded bike. My trust in humanity was strengthened by my choice to legally conceal, I must confess … but I am all about people trusting people. And what the heck … what blog doesn’t need a little adventure?

Me and the good Samaritan made small talk, and he told me his dad wouldn’t forgive him if he had left a biker stranded. (Thanks for raising this boy properly, I thought …) “What does your dad do? Does he ride?” Ha … The dude told me his dad is in The Hells Angels, and he asked if I was affiliated with a motorcycle club. I thought: “No, but I once rode an elevator with three or four Hells Angels after the funeral of their murdered leader … does that count … it’s in one of the blogs?” … Actually, I said, “No, I just ride,” as I responded, thinking “Did he think I rode with a bunch of unshaven computer nerds?” More small talk, and the young man informed me that he no longer rode, but that he was hooked up with a youth group called The Aryan Nation. Ha … life on the road. Well … I ain’t gonna judge. He drove me to several shops with not luck and even offered to take me to the clubhouse. And most importantly, he and the ladies were not in cahoots. I declined the clubhouse invite, thanked him profusely, and called a tow truck. But stereotypes aside … nice guy.

The next day at the hotel, I was up at sunrise calling and searching for more options. I found a motorcycle parts store that would custom make a clutch cable. I limped the bike the 10 miles to the shop … Shifting on low r.p.m., without a clutch. No big deal except for starting the big heavy bike in gear … Soon I was out of the neighborhoods and the troublesome red lights and on to the freeway … when I encountered yet another Omaha guy wanting to be friends.

This guy rode up beside me in the next lane and started doing all kinds of strange hand gestures and arms motions.

I immediately recognized he was trying to play highway Charades:) I mean … I had just realized one of my saddlebags was open and flapping, so I knew he wasn’t trying to point that out to me. I was already driving with one hand and holding the saddlebag closed with the other … As he pulled along side me and crossed his arms over his chest (as he drove) and grabbed his shoulders. Ah … I see … He was serious about charades! I guessed he was trying to gesture “you’re parachute is open.” No not that, he kept gesturing. Was he saying his parachute would not open??? Very confusing. He pointed back to the highway behind me. “I’m going the wrong way?” Well how could he know where I was going? Finally, he ran out of gestures and I ran out of guesses, so I pulled over. HA! “Your jacket flew out of your saddle bag when you entered the highway.” OH! … It was just a freebie jacket from a college bowl game covered by the PingWi-Fi Blog, but a good one … waterproof. I had carried it for years. But, reluctantly, I needed to get the bike fixed and rode on.

It was when I parked at the motorcycle shop that I first learned they didn’t have a shop or a mechanic … Just a cranky old fart who sold me the cable and reluctantly loaned me a few basic tools … as he offered both some good advice and also some wrong instructions on how to install the cable. I made it work, crawling around the bike in the hot parking lot on the black asphalt, as various bikers smoked cigs nearby. I hopped on the bike … and yes … I backtracked and snatched up my riding jacket from the side of the road … Thanks friendly Omaha guy! I headed back to Texas, my trip cut short by the chance of more motorcycles troubles. It seemed prudent to head on home.

Oh … back to the Jemima phone charger lady and Über. YES! Just as Texas Tech’s luck ran out in game one, and the temperature soared … my phone went dead, just as Jemima predicted. I returned and charged up and called for my second ever Über — and called a new BFF in Omaha — Isidor … an excellent driver AND a walking, talking, driving, baseball statistics encyclopedia … or rather wikipedia. He could recite entire rosters of major league teams throughout the years and knew lots about the College World Series … and he was a gambling man.

When he asked my opinion on the upcoming NBA final game, I predicted that LeBron James would indeed win a world championship for his hometown Cleveland. The driver agreed and placed a bet at a stop light via his phone. I guess sometimes the luck is on my side …

What a trip! The entire ride to Omaha was characterized by decent temperatures, in spite of the heat wave of late. As I rode north on I-35, most of the way, there were clouds to the West, on my left and clear skies to the East, to my right … with a cool breeze between along the long road.

On the ride back to Texas, the weather was overcast as I left Omaha, but then got pretty warm through the “Endless Toll Road” that they call Kansas. The cars behaved for the most part, and as I hit Oklahoma I saw one of the best sunsets ever, with sherbet orange/pink clouds and massive wind turbines in the distance. A few miles later, as I hit the southern border of Oklahoma, the sun had faded and revealed a giant, red, full moon … with lots of scattered fluffy clouds moving around the big red ball … pretty scenic and truly relaxing after some of the more stressful points of the trip. By 1 a.m., I was back in Fort Worth in my own bed … a bed I have missed for two months, as I continue to work in Houston. Yes … what a trip!

Know what I sayin?