• Omaha: Day 2

    An aerial view of cheetahs from the sky safari, a gondola lift that passes over the parks collection of African animals.
    An aerial view of cheetahs from the sky safari, a gondola lift that passes over the parks collection of African animals.

    With baseball still a day away, I took the opportunity this morning to see what else Omaha had to offer in terms of entertainment. Rosenblatt Stadium sits south of downtown just off of I-80, and the Henry Doorly Zoo shares the same parking lot.

    A docent at the Omaha Doorly Zoo kisses a chimpanzee through the glass. Docents and other volunteers help greatly at the Zoo, which is a non-profit organization.

    I was really impressed with the level of interaction I was able to have with the animals. I stood in front of a window as a 400 lb. gorilla beat its chest and slammed itself into the glass and I walked along a corridor as an alligator swam in its tank next to me. I rode a ski lift over the giraffe and rhinoceros exhibits I haven’t been that close to lions since I was in Africa.

    There are already enough animals in the College World Series, what with Longhorns, Gators, Bears and Gamecocks, but I took a half-hearted attempt at comparing Texas’ starting lineup for Friday to animals that matched their looks or characteristics. I promise to be more normal once they start playing baseball.

    Children play in front of a penguin tank at the Omaha Doorly Zoo.

    Taylor Jungmann, RHP, meerkat
    He’s really not going to like this, but there was a meerkat colony at the zoo and the resemblance is striking. Taylor may actually punch me in the face the next time he sees me.

    Tant Shepherd, first baseman, lobster
    His teammates call him a lobster because of his giant first baseman’s glove, and I’m not one to mess around with team chemistry. I’m still getting over the fact I just wrote Taylor Jungmann looks like a meerkat.

    Jordan Etier, second baseman, Tazmanian devil
    Etier is dynamic at second base and unpredictable at the plate, but the thing that he does that reminds me of a tazmanian devil the most is the way he spins around in a small tornado while running the bases.

    This is the first year the College World Series will not be held next door to the Doorly Zoo. Officials there expect higher than average attendance over the next week as a result. 

    Brandon Loy, shortstop, spider monkey
    Loy bounces around in the six hole and can cover more ground than any infielder in the conference, but I haven’t seen him hang from a tree by his tail yet.

    Erich Weiss, third baseman, ostrich
    It’s easier for Weiss to fly than it is for an ostrich, but he may not want to with all the extra fees airlines charge these days.

    Jacob Felts, catcher, rhinoceros
    His catcher’s equipment is similar to a rhino’s armor-like skin, and Felts probably spends just as much time rolling around in the dirt as one.

    Jonathan Walsh, left fielder, mountain lion
    This is by far the most flattering comparison I’ve made so far. Maybe Walsh can help me out when Jungmann comes after me.

    Paul Montalbano, centerfielder, hyena
    Paul strikes me as one of the happiest players on the team, no matter if he’s hitting well or in the middle of a slump.

    The Zoo’s aquarium will be expanding in the next few years. It’s already one of the most crowded attractions.

    Mark Payton, right fielder, badger
    Payton’s from Illinois so he may not like the comparison to a Wisconsin mascot, but he fits the fits the bill nicely. Mark has a tough, scrappy attitude while in the field and at the plate, something he probably got from his hockey days, and even though badgers are small they are definitely not to be messed with.

    Kevin Lusson, designated hitter, tortoise
    He came on slow this season, but Lusson might have the most power in his bat on the team.

    Augie Garrido, head coach, owl
    Physical comparisons aside, coach Garrido conducts himself like a wise owl, even the way he perches himself at the steps of the dugout during games.

    Photos by Andrew Edmonson.

  • Omaha: Day 1

    A patron at the Ice House sits under a Longhorn flag. The next two weeks will determine whether the horns win the College World Series like they did in 2005.
    A patron at the Ice House sits under a Longhorn flag. The next two weeks will determine whether the horns win the College World Series like they did in 2005.

    We all slept in till around noon today. That’s what 13 hours on the road will do to you. It was a pretty slow day with a lot of time spent stealing wi-fi at Starbucks (sucks to suck, La Quinta Internet).

    Despite the lack of action (media activity gets in full swing Friday), we still found a way to make a connection with the Texas baseball.

    We went to Ice House, a sports bar where Texas had its celebration in 2005 after the national championship. It’s a really cool place — about 25 TVs, two of them with a Keno game — and a lot of sports memorabilia on the walls.

    We spoke with the Ice House manager, Brian, who worked during the post-game party.

    “I hardly remember anything because of how busy I was,” he said. “It got pretty late and we didn’t think anybody was coming, and then about 20 [players, families and baseball staff] showed up. And then, about 10 or 15 more people would show up every 15 minutes.”

    Ice House, which is about 20 miles away from downtown Omaha, hasn’t hosted any more team parties since then.

    “Most of the teams are staying downtown now, closer to the stadium,” Brian said. “They probably don’t want to come all the way out here.”

    Thanks for reading, stay tuned.

  • Road to Omaha

    9 a.m.

    We depart.

    11:07 a.m.

    We are sitting in the van in the Czech Stop parking lot in West, Texas. Their kolaches are a must for any trip along North Interstate Highway 35.


    Customers at the Czech Stop bakery shop for kolaches.

    Nothing very noteworthy in the early stages of the drive, and then the tragedy of embarrassment struck as I mixed up my Buffetts.

    When told that Warren Buffett hails from Omaha, I asked if they had a big Margaritaville.

    Warren sounds like Jimmy, OK?

    Dreading the drive through “Chokelahoma” and Kansas.

    1:48 p.m.

    Our entry into Oklahoma was greeted by the smell of kerosene and a giant WinStar World Casino. No, we did not stop. It’s worth mentioning that Andrew lived in Laton, Okla. for eight years.

    Did he like it?

    “No, I did not,” he said, solemnly shaking his head.

    3:47 p.m.

    A few thoughts on the state so far: First, Bob Stoops deserves props for the recruiting magic he does. I know Oklahoma is a school rich in tradition and one of the best college football programs in the nation, but man, Norman does not seem very appealing. And that’s saying it nicely.

    We recently passed a billboard advertising that “Secretariat” was coming out Oct. 8. What a time capsule.

    There are other weird billboards in Oklahoma…


    A pair of signs in the middle of Oklahoma. Methamphetamine usage has been a plague in the West and Midwest since the nineties. Public service announcements discouraging it’s use aren’t uncommon.  

    And other bizarre agriculture happenings…

    Trey Scott watches a controlled fire from a passing van outside of Tonkawa Oklahoma, near the Kansas border. The fire was on a patch of farmland and fizzled out quickly, dying out in minutes.

    We entered Kansas sometime in the late afternoon; I forgot to mark the time.

    We stopped at Long John Silver’s, not to necessarily eat the food, but to use their restrooms. We threw in a sympathy purchase — an order of popcorn shrimp and a small order of fries between the four of us.

    10:02 p.m.

    According to the sign that says, “Welcome to Nebraska,” we’re not in Kansas anymore.

    11:45

    Finally, finally, finally in Omaha.

  • Road to Omaha: Introduction

    On Feb. 18, we saw Texas open its season with an 8-0 win over Maryland at Disch-Falk.
    And now, four months later, we get to go see the Longhorns try and win their seventh national championship.

    That’s right, we’re going to Omaha.

    The van is loaded, bags are packed, the maps are out, and the playlist is set — Jon requested heavy amounts of Ke$ha. Let the 13-hour drive begin.

    Texas’ 2011 season began with high expectations — Omaha-or-bust. We’re embarking on our trip with lofty goals as well — to watch some great baseball in the college baseball capital of the world.

    The group of three — baseball beat writer Jon Parrett, photographer Andrew Edmonson and myself — will be spending either seven or 15 days in Omaha, depending on how Texas plays.

    Big thanks go out to our awesome Daily Texan adviser Doug and the business department, Lori and Amy, for giving us the green light on this trip.

    We’ll be writing and shooting multiple times a day, so expect some awesome content both in the print and online editions of The Daily Texan. We also plan on using this blog as a running diary, documenting the progress of the trip.

    It’s like you’ll be right there with us.

    But not really, because we’ll be in Omaha.

    And that’s so damn cool.

  • Costumed mascot to miss game three of Austin Super Regional

    Hook 'em, the school's costumed mascot who attends Longhorn sporting events, will be absent from game three of the Austin Super Regional after being cited for getting in an altercation with a fan in game two.
    Hook 'em, the school's costumed mascot who attends Longhorn sporting events, will be absent from game three of the Austin Super Regional after being cited for getting in an altercation with a fan in game two.

    There will be a familiar face missing from tonight’s game three of the Austin Super Regional. “Hook ‘em,” Texas’ costumed mascot, will not be making an appearance in tonight’s game against Arizona State after he got in an altercation with a fan during yesterday’s game, according to an NCAA official.

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