We're Going To Omaha!

Random Thoughts and Observations from the NCAA Regionals. Cal State Fullerton has been the host these past two weeks and here are some observations and opinions you won't find in any newspaper. Probably because no one would actually pay for them. But they are mine.

• Two sellout crowds. Two 3-three home run efforts and two victories equals one lifetime goal: Omaha. Congratulations Titans! You have earned it.

• The Mississippi fans were quite disappointing, especially compared to the Texas Tech fans and especially those who boasted about all the southern hospitality on the message boards. Those who did show up were less than friendly and quite defensive. And this was before the games were even played. They also were not very knowledgeable baseball fans. Texas Tech fans gave their team a standing 'O" when the last game was out of reach. And they also applauded the Titans on the earned, hard-fought victory. Not the MSU faithful. They just sat there, mesmerized perhaps by the high quality of baseball played in California. Or perhaps it was jet lag

• In the two regionals, with his spectacular and effortless catches, Chris Stringfellow was certainly the outstanding defensive player on the field but in the stands, the honor has to go to David Bacani's mom. In the Saturday game against ASU, a hard hit foul ball ricocheted off the facility down the first base line. It was a bang-bang play but David's mom, planted perfectly in the ball's route, with a clipboard and jacket in tow, cleanly snagged the bullet for a fantastic catch. Now we know where David gets those soft hands.

• Speaking of Stringfellow, you have to feel for a guy who gets snubbed by the Big West coaches (all-conference team selections... not even honorable mention? Please...) and then by the writers in the first regional's all-tournament team -- his defense alone should have earned him a spot. Out for redemption in the first game of the Super Regional, he promptly goes 4 for 5 with a double and two runs scored. Not even a mention in next day's papers. Only this last snub is forgivable since he was the batter who followed Mike Rouse's three home run record day.

• I found it hard to believe the left-handed Aaron Rifkin hit lefties better before the super regional began play. After hitting three home runs against MSU southpaw Paul Maholm, I am now convinced.

• Mark Whicker is to sports writers what Vin Scully is to Dodger baseball. Another great article on the Titans in today'sOC Register.

• Any high school player being recruiting by college baseball powerhouses USC and Cal State Fullerton should now realize which school is the premier place to play. The Titans easily outdrew the Trojans in attendance these past two weekends and there are no better coaches to play for then George Horton and his nationally recognized staff. Dave Serrano, Rick Vanderhook and Chad Baum deserve equal credit for getting the Titans to Omaha for the 11th time.

• Speaking of attendance, there were probably over a thousand fans turned away for Saturday's game. Upon arriving I thought the game was canceled because of all the people moving in the wrong direction. Are we ready for expansion again? I know some folks who would love to see some temporary bleachers placed out in left field at next years regionals.

• I don't have a problem with Kevin Costner coming to his first Titan game of the season Friday night. But, with all the millions he makes, I do have a problem with not seeing an Augie Garrido press box being built. He needs to talk to a good accountant because certainly he can use a tax write-off. While you at it Kevin, donate a little extra and add some luxury suites as well.

• Speaking of Costner, I am growing tired of the bad rap he is getting for the movies he has made.  Baseball classics Bull Durham and Field of Dreams should be enough to dispel those nonbelievers. Throw into the mix No Way Out, JFK, Dances With Wolves, The Untouchables, Tin Cup, Waterworld (Yes, it was a good movie and it did make money) and there's no one who can argue his record as an actor. Silverado, Thirteen Days, A Perfect World, For the Love of the Game, The Bodyguard and American Flyers were not bad either.

• Back to the regionals.Darric Merrell, who some thought had lost his arm these past couple weeks, proved that coach Dave Serrano knows what he's talking about: He did have a hitch and apparently was able to correct it. After a slow start he was mixing up his pitches and really got into a groove. Not an easy thing when you have an umpire with a different strike zone every other batter.

• This ump was bad all night and on both sides. He seemed to give Merrell a bad time but was quite easy on Paul Maholm. But towards the sixth the calls seem to go the Titans way. Friday nights game, however, the umpire was very consistent and I don't remember any heckling from either side.

• It's too bad Texas Tech got sent out west. They deserved a much better seeding.

• It was good to see the fans giving the players a standing ovation towards the end of the game as they came to bat. I'm sure all the players who are not coming back will have some great memories of Goodwin Field.

• Time to get ready for Omaha. It's not going to be any easier facing Nebraska with the home crowd but this team always seems to pull out the unexpected. For those going, have a great trip.