Another Minor League season is gathering steam, and I’ve wanted to find an appropriately meaningful time to resume blog writing. I’ve found it.
Omaha, Nebraska is the inspiration for the most profound accomplishment I’ve yet experienced as a baseball player. What we did as a college baseball team in 2009 and what 8 college baseball teams do every year is worth every word that’s written about it. Three years later, I find myself at a deeper-than-baseball intersection of college and professional baseball. Back in Nebraska to play the Omaha Storm Chasers—imagine the battle if they ever played the Lake Elsinore Storm—I can’t help but reminisce about my teammates and our road to Omaha.
In June of 2009, Kevin Arico’s strikeout and subsequent glove spike sent us into a dogpile and onto a surreal trip to Rosenblatt. Dan Grovatt and I must have sounded ridiculous repeating with disbelief to each other, “We’re going to Omaha.. we’re actually going to Omaha!” The city and the tournament were worth all the sacrifice it took to get there, and I know we will each cherish the memories forever.
Now, I’m back. But I exist in a reality much different from that of three years ago. I’m a Minor League baseball player pushing hard through the grind, wanting to play the game the right way and be the best that I can be. In many ways, the game is still the same; in many ways, it’s very different. This reality gets me thinking about baseball and beyond. From here, I’ve stumbled upon a wonderfully American thought about this city described by the Counting Crows as “somewhere in middle America.”
More than just being in the middle of America, Omaha, I think, represents the heart of America. Home to both an awe-inspiring college baseball dreamland and an elite group of KC Royals ballplayers just a step from “living the dream,” this town embodies through baseball what is more American than baseball: the freedom to pursue a dream. Maybe Adam Duritz was thinking the same thing, when he also crooned in his band’s “Omaha,” “It’s the heart that matters more.”