The next line by the Cult in the song "Rain" is, "Here comes the rain," and later it changes to, "I love the rain."
The same cannot be said here in Omaha, where the surprise isn't the rain, it's the sustained rain, the sustained wind and the sustained lightning. It seemed to rain all night, it's raining again this morning, and those of us staying at the media hotel, the Sleep Inn near the airport, woke up to a downed tree on top of four cars in the parking lot.
Kirk Kenney—who recalled that when you drive into Nebraska, the welcome signs say, "Nebraska, Home of Arbor Day"—snapped this among many other shots.
It's supposed to be a tripleheader, which hasn't happened at the College World Series since 1980. Frankly, even though the rain has stopped here right around 9 a.m. local time, that seems unlikely. It's imperative to at least get Clemson versus Arizona State played today, though, so that they don't fall so far behind the other teams that have played already.
In the hotel lobby at around 7:45 a.m., Nebraska sports information stalwart Shamus McKnight already was dressed, packed up and ready to head to the ballpark, where he'll sub for Lou Spry as the official scorer for the 10 a.m. game. Shamus obviously is familiar with the state's weather patterns and predicts we'll get two games in but doubts three.
Dennis Poppe, the NCAA's vice president of baseball and football operations, told the Omaha World-Herald, "We've had the experience of bad weather . . . it blows through and it moves on. We kind of assumed it would be like most other days.
"We really wanted to maintain the competitive balance of the bracket. We sure wish Arizona State and Clemson could have played, but we ended up just barely getting through the first one."
If we get three, that will be both a lot of work and a treat. I'm sure much grumbling will ensue in the press box, and yesterday was a long, tedious day in many regards. But I'll try to stay focused on the fact that, weather permitting, I'll see six of the best college baseball teams in the country play on one field in one day. That has, as Hubie Brown would say, upside potential.
On to the picks, where Aaron has taken a 2-1 lead after Oklahoma's 4-3 victory against South Carolina. Kudos to both teams for a well-played, interesting game, despite all the rain delays.
Clemson vs. Arizona State: We both picked Arizona State yesterday and we're sticking with that pick. We also have word that the game has been pushed to 11 a.m. Central, back from 10. We'll Tweet confirmation of the game time ASAP.
Florida vs. Florida State: This was a debate we had many weeks during the regular season during Top 25 rankings meetings. The Seminoles beat the Gators three out of four games during the regular season, all during mid-week games, but still, three of four was significant, and kept the Seminoles ahead of the Gators for many weeks in the rankings.
It doesn't keep Florida State ahead in this pick, though. We're both going with the Gators, who we believe have the better starting pitcher (freshman righty Hudson Randall) and the better defense. Plus, it's hard to get around Florida State's two-and-barbecue history in Omaha. Mike Martin's club already has done it four times.
TCU vs. UCLA: Here's where we diverge a little bit. The pitching matchup is excellent: Horned Frogs sophomore righthander Kyle Winkler is a winner with a long track record dating to high school and his USA Baseball junior national team days. Meanwhile, Bruins sophomore righty Gerrit Cole was a first-round pick in 2008 and will go in the first five to 10 picks next season, and was the Bruins' Friday starter all year.
I picked UCLA to win the bracket, predicting an all-Pac-10 finale. Aaron picked TCU. Those are our picks today, and whoever wins that game sets either Aaron or me up for a free lunch at Durham's ridiculously tasty Backyard Barbecue Pit. Big Paulie, I can almost taste that pulled pork sandwich now . . .
Aaron's Picks: Arizona State, Florida, TCU
John's Picks: Arizona State, Florida, UCLA
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