OMAHA—Getting off the 13th Street exit Friday evening, 1,599 miles after my drive began in San Diego, I was within sight of my destination.
I saw Rosenblatt Stadium on the hill, beautifully backlit. Opening ceremonies—which featured a surprise appearance by Barry Bonds—apparently had ended an hour or so earlier, but fans were still leaving the ballpark grounds. I headed north on 10th Street toward my hotel. Downtown was hopping, full of fans filled with the excitement and optimism that everyone shares before a pitch has been thrown and fortunes change.
A few blocks later, I glanced to the left and could see the outline of the new ballpark rising in the darkness. It struck me that a year from now it will be Rosenblatt where the lights have gone out and the spotlight shining on the new stadium. I pushed those thoughts away for now.
Driving through six states over two days provides plenty of time to collect your thoughts. And after much consideration I will go way out on a limb and pick national No. 1 seed Arizona State to win the 2010 national championship. Actually, it is a risky pick considering the national No. 1 has won the title only once, when Miami did it in 1999 in the first year of the 64-team format.
Day Two of the drive out here was largely uneventful. Once you get out of the Colorado mountains and into Denver the topography has a pre-Columbus look. The world is flat. But the weather was good, notable only for some lightning way off in the distance midway across Nebraska. Of greater concern were the flashing lights I saw in my rearview mirror somewhere along I-70 in Eastern Colorado.
I pulled to the side of the road and officer Pierce introduced himself.
“Where you headed?” he asked.
“To Omaha for the College World Series,” I said.
“You need to slow down,” he told me.
I agreed, although I could tell he wasn’t done making his point. I tried to reason with him, suggesting that if he were baseball scout he wouldn’t have given me a second glance. After all, I never touched 90 mph.
“I’ll need to see your registration, license and proof of insurance,” he said before walking back to his car. A few minutes later he returned, asked for an autograph and wished me a good day.
I had intended to get a ticket to commemorate the last year of Rosenblatt Stadium, but this wasn’t what I had in mind.