Being a huge sports fan, my wife knew early on that I love watching my teams on TV and in person.
Well, 2012 did not disappoint for the sports watching.
We have season tickets for University of Nebraska at Omaha Mavericks college hockey. I wish I had season tickets for the University of Nebraska Cornhusker football, as well as Creighton basketball.
So, 2012 started where it usually does with our live sports viewing – UNO hockey. The Mavs did not have a great season. They struggled all season long. The Mavs finished the season losing their last four series to end with a losing record.
We like to catch college baseball, and 2012 gave us an opportunity to watch two NCAA Division I teams in Omaha. UNO is early in its move up to Division I from Division II. With such a move, the Mavs did not have a great season. They played some teams tough, but in the end struggled. We enjoyed watching a game at the TD Ameritrade Park in downtown Omaha between UNO and Creighton.
The Creighton Bluejays had a losing record for the regular season. But, the Jays caught fire late and swept their way to the Missouri Valley Conference tournament title and an NCAA tournament automatic invitation. They finished second in their regional, losing to the UCLA Bruins. The Bruins were national runners-up in the 2011 College World Series. They returned to the CWS in 2012.
We caught the last regular season game of the Jays. Creighton hosted Wichita State. It was awesome seeing the great Gene Stephenson coach the Shockers against the Jays.
I was lucky enough to catch two great games at the College World Series. Lisa and I watched the Arkansas Razorbacks upend the two-time defending champion South Carolina Gamecocks. The Hogs ended the Gamecocks’ 21-game postseason winning streak. Unfortunately, South Carolina swept the next two meetings with Arkansas to advance to the national championship series.
Speaking of the national title series, the Gamecocks’ opponent was the University of Arizona. The Wildcats took the first game of the best-of-three series. The Cats needed to win game 2 to claim the national title. The Gamecocks needed to win in order to force a decisive third game.
My sister-in-law won tickets at work for the second game. She asked if I wanted to take my nephew, Don, to the game. It was his first college baseball game. What a game to attend. Arizona won the game and the national title. We watched the Wildcats perform the traditional dog pile at the pitcher’s mound. It was my first national title event, as well. I was thrilled to see it, and was honored to be the one to get to take Don to the game.
Following some great college baseball viewing, we set our sights on America’s team – the USA Olympic swimming team, that is.
Omaha hosted the American Olympic swim trials for the second consecutive time. The trials started in late June and completed July 2nd. We attended the last day of the event. We wanted to see if Dana Torres could grab a sport on the women’s 50-meters freestyle team one more time. Torres, in her mid-40s, fell short in her bid for another Olympic competition.
It was cool to watch the entire American swim team gather – men and women – on stage with 13,000+ fans chanting “USA! USA!”
Next up on the sports scene for us was taking in some top flight minor league baseball.
The Omaha Storm Chasers won the Pacific coast league title in 2011. They followed that with the one-game playoff win against the Eastern league champion to capture the AAA national championship. In 2012, the Kansas City royals’ farm team continued its winning ways, advancing to the PCL championship series. The Chasers fell short, but provided fans with some great play.
I believed that Lisa and I were not good luck charms for the team, though. In three of four games we attended, they Chasers lost. It wasn’t until we attended the final home game of the regular season with her step-grandpa that we witnessed a win. I joked that if Omaha wanted to guarantee an undefeated home season in 2013, we needed to be given a suite. We had the honor of getting to sit an owner’s suite along with her step-grandpa and a few other fans.
Anyone who knows me knows I live for football, especially the Nebraska Huskers and the Minnesota Vikings.
We met friends in Los Angeles for the Huskers’ only road game of the non-conference season. Nebraska traveled to LA for an early season match-up with the UCLA Bruins. We were psyched to see the Huskers beat the Bruins in the famed Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena.
Well, two things about that game: 1. The Huskers lost a hard-fought game 35-31, and 2. The Rose Bowl is an old rundown stadium. I know it is undergoing renovation, but the stadium looked old. The facilities – concession stands, restrooms, etc. – are old and in need of replacement.
Still, it was the Rose Bowl, so that was great. The game itself was back and forth most of the way, until the Bruins sacked our QB in the end zone for a safety midway through the fourth quarter. That proved to the game changer.
One thing I remembered as we prepared for the trip was that the first Nebraska football game I attended was the 1987 UCLA game. That ended much better as the Huskers blew out the Bruins on ESPN.
Anyway, Pasadena was a nice looking community, as we traveled Colorado Avenue or Boulevard several times looking for the mansion that was used for exterior shots of the 1960s “Batman” TV series. That’s a story for another post. LOL. Suffice to say, four people in the car and three GPS sites being used for directions.
A couple of weeks later, I had the privilege of taking our nephew to his first real Nebraska football game. He attended the spring game once, but he was much younger and not that interested. All these years later, he was not that interested. LOL.
We took in the Nebraska-Idaho State “game.” I say “game” because Idaho State is one of the worst college football teams in Division IA or IAA. Heck, toss in the NAIA for that matter. The Huskers led 35-0 after the first quarter. It was great watching the Huskers score on our end of the field, but it didn’t feel right, like watching lambs led off to slaughter.
We left at halftime, partly because of the score and partly because the nephew did not have a great time. He was a bit bothered by the crowd and not being able to see over some people in front of us. I must confess that Nebraska tends to squeeze as many seats into a bleacher as possible.
Besides Husker football, locally, I am a big fan of Creighton basketball. The previous coach Dana Altman transformed a team that had experienced too many losing seasons into an annual conference championship contender. Once Altman moved on to Oregon after the 2010-11 season, the jays hired Greg McDermott away from Iowa State.
Coach Mac has continued what Altman started. The Jays are legitimate NCAA March Madness contenders. Creighton won the 2011-12 Missouri Valley Conference tournament title and the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The Jays knocked off Alabama in the second round before falling to the North Carolina Tar Heels in the third round.
So, absent a trip north to the Twin Cities and a Vikings game, I confess I had a fun and enjoyable sports scene in 2012.
As 2013 begins, I am looking forward to attending the US Figure Skating Championships in January, as well as UNO taking on some of the best hockey teams in the country over the next two months. Then, attention turns to some good college baseball, followed by football season. And, so the cycle of life (for me) continues.
May your 2013 be sports packed.