On to the CWS

Nebraska to the CWS. We've been here before, so it's a story in and of itself. A story that has been duplicated and told from an incredible variety of sources and angles. The Pond's RedCladLoon has his always informative and entertaining take on NU's second trip to Omaha.

In their song "Omaha," The Counting Crows sing about an old Nebraska river town where, incidentally, college baseball's champions like to call home. "Omaha, somewhere in middle America," the tune goes. "Get right to the heart of the matter; it's the heart that matters more." And to grasp these lyrics, look no further than this weekend's rockin' gig at Haymarket Park: Nebraska's ace conducted a masterpiece Friday, but then NU took some chin music from Richmond a day later. On Sunday, against the wall and minus their big bopper, the Cornhuskers learned how to reach deeper than they ever had before. And the 9,000-strong red-clad chorus that cheered on the CWS-clinching triumph? They found out that yes, it IS the heart that matters more.

A few takes:

LIFE'S A PITCH: Going into the Super Regional, Husker fans everywhere knew that for the Huskers to have a chance to move on to Omaha, Shane Komine would need to pick up a win. But who would have expected two from the Flyin' Hawaiian? The conspiracy theorist in me says he let that fastball hang in the seventh, knowing that UR's Bryan Pritz would turn it into a vapor trail and tie the game, thereby giving him a chance to be the winning pitcher. But Komine's heroics wouldn't have been possible without the workmanlike effort of Steve Hale, who put the screws to the Spiders after Jamie Rodrigue got shelled like an al-Qaida hideout. In the end, this war of attrition turned into a call to arms -- and NU had more of them in their bullpen than Richmond did. 

JUSTIN TIME: With Matt Hopper more boogered up than a baby's nose, Loons everywhere were scratching themselves in baseball-appropriate regions Sunday, wondering just exactly where Nebraska was going to get its power surge. The answer came in the unexpected guise of No. 10, Justin Seely, whose grand slam in the eighth all but punched NU's ticket to the final eight. The senior from Nacogdoches, Texas, who hits home runs about as often as Gary Barnett disciplines his football players, picked a perfect opportunity to ring up a rare dinger. Besides giving NU a big lead, Seely's sweet swat sent everyone at Hawks Field into a joyful delirium that never subsided. It was about time, too -- until that point, the crowd had experienced so many violent mood swings, you would've thought they were serving steroids at the concession stands.

JIM VERBOSE: In case you were busy scraping the ceiling with your fists as you leaped from your sofa or swerving back from oncoming traffic as you listened to the Cornhuskers record the final out, this was Jim Rose's call: "And Nebraska baseball, you have another World Series!" For the often breezy Rose, the call had less talking than a macroeconomics debate between Forrest Gump and the guy from "Sling Blade." Usually if you ask Rose what time it is he'll tell you how to build a watch. But in this case, less was more. Besides, how could he top his call following Seely's eighth-inning blast?: "... (he's) just spilled drinks all across the state of Nebraska." If he only knew how right he was.

GRATEFUL RED: Hey, you -- yeah, you! Get your head out of Athlon's National Football Preview Magazine and take a good look around. Look, bub, I realize that usually this time of year the most exciting thing to happen to the average Husker fan is (A) the release of the pre-mini-summer-conditioning-camp seven-deep depth chart; (B) the eruption of an in-depth message board debate over whether the 1995 Cornhuskers could defeat the Incredible Hulk in a two-out-of-three-falls cage match; or (C) the humidifier breaks. But in case you haven't noticed, Nebraska has got itself quite the hardball program alluvasudden. Hell, if Solich ain't careful, he'll have to start convincing his grid recruits that it's OK to come and play second-fiddle at a baseball school. And it will undoubtedly warm the cockles of my red-clad ticker to see such scarlet-hued positivery descending upon the 'Blatt next weekend. But hopefully, ESPN's cameras will find nary a Crouch jersey in the stands this year. Ha! ving the Inflatable Hellspawn bouncing around the diamond all day is embarrassing enough, ain't it? A word to the wise (ass): Remember, Loons -- Nebraska is playing Clemson. But Danny Ford, Homer Jordan and Perry Tuttle will NOT be suiting up for the Tigers.

THE BOTTOM LINE: It is probably a no-brainer to say that Johnny R. is a legendary name in Nebraska sports. No, I'm not talking about the prolific 1972 Heisman winner, I'm referring to Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium, the center of the college baseball world each June. It's proven over the years to be as elusive to many teams as the iconic punt returner was back in his heyday. But the Huskers are starting to grasp the concept of finishing their year in the CWS. Now NU is poised to grab hold of something else: an NCAA crown. Hey, you might laugh, buddy boy, but while you're trying to come to grips with the notion, consider this: Whodathunk from the way the Huskers were reaching for straws in the first half of the year -- at one point 23-13 and dropping four of six to K-State and Mizzou -- that they'd be putting the squeeze to opponents in June? So grab on tight to the bandwagon, Loons, it's pulling out of the station. 'Wagons East!

Baud to the Bone.
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Home of Nebraska's RED CLAD LOON.

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