You would think that after the impressive performance of the NU baseball team this early season, they would be coming home to nothing but sunshine, at least figuratively speaking. Well, think again. While those "nancy boy" southern baseball players are whining about having to sweep off home plate before they bat, Nebraska players are using ice picks just to get to it.
Not even head coach, Mike Anderson is immune from the duties that befall those that are "fortunate" enough to experience what it's like to actually shovel your way to the position you are practicing that day.
This is baseball in Nebraska though. Forget about living the easy life like they do down in Texas, where they simply have to take out a rake, pretend to be one of those japanese garden experts, making little tracks in the sand, this is about the baseball version of "roughing it".
Looking at where coach Mike Anderson is, I almost expect a local farmer to look at that picture and say, "What in the hell is that guy doing out on the farm in a baseball uniform?".
As Mike says though in typical appreciation of where he is at and what he is doing, It's not that Texas players don't have to do it, they don't "get to".
Now, that's what I call putting things into perspective.
BATTER UP!!!! What the? Snow, mud, bubbles from that ultra-high-tech ventilation system that is used to dry out the field that much faster, what are we paying these guys for?
Ok, nobody playing is getting paid at Nebraska, at least not yet, but look at that mess to the right. In less than half an hour from the time this picture is taken, batters will be in that cage, in the middle of that mess, swinging away and smiling while they are doing it.
This is one of the very first times the players have actually gotten outside, getting their chance to swing for the fences, so what you see isn't a "mess", it's a sweet sight indeed.
Speaking of farms, do you ever think that right before a practice starts in Florida, you are going to hear a coach yell out, "Hey, someone move the snow plow out of the way so we can play some baseball!!".
Nope, not happening.
It's almost surreal when you think about it though as this field, even as they step on it for practice is going to still be half-covered in snow, ice and slush.
Instead of an umpire going to home plate to dust it off for the next batter, it's more likely to be someone bringing out a bottle of de-icer and an ice pick. I can see it now. You see that collection of snow at the bottom center of this picture? Imagine a soft liner over the second baseball that bounces, trickling into that unflavored slurpy. "I lost it!!", yells the second baseball, glancing around wildly for the suddenly absent baseball, to which someone yells, "IT'S IN THE SNOW!!"
Tell me that isn't just plain strange.
That again though is baseball in Nebraska. Time spent together in the early part of the season, practicing in Haymarket park, you spend as much time trying to clear the surface you are playing on just so you can see it as you do spend time playing the actual game.
Why, you might even start seeing yourself playing games. "Look Ma!!! I ain't looking and I STILL hit coach "A"!"
When it's all said and done though and the snow is somewhat cleared and the frost, partially removed, this is a place that regardless of the time, these players would be more than any other.
If but for a moment to get outside, stretch and actually play some baseball where the limitations are those they put on themselves, forget about the cold, the wind and yes, the snow, nothing beats getting out on the "real stuff".
After all, on days like this, your appreciation can span an even greater distance as coach Childress said that this is the time he gets "fired up" and why? "Because, I get to wear my sunglasses."
Now, that's Husker baseball.
Steve Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-730-5619