A year ago, Mississippi State was in the 2019 College World Series.
The Bulldogs were on their second trip to Omaha in as many years and under as many coaches, and they looked like a legitimate contender. And as it turns out, I was also in Omaha. My wife, dog, and I happened to move to Nebraska in March 2019.
No, we didn’t move to be here specifically for when Mississippi State would make it to the College World Series, though that would have been some serious dedication if we had and we’d deserve some serious recognition for that.
We just happened to luck out. I got an amazing job opportunity and it gave us a chance to grow as a young married couple. And fast forward about three months, we were presented with an opportunity to watch Mississippi State compete in the College World Series.
It’s an experience I honestly expected to have again this year. But, well, as we all know by now, a global pandemic trashed those plans for us.
And it should be noted that this pandemic has ruined so many far more significant things for countless people across the globe. Me missing a sporting event is insignificant. Completely and totally insignificant. I want that to be as clear as possible.
It just happens that, on essentially the eve of “The Greatest Show on Dirt” (insert trademark/copyright/whatever symbol here), I’m missing that insignificant sporting event a little more than I thought I might.
Maybe I’m missing the College World Series because not having it is having a huge economic impact on the community I now call home.
This move to Omaha was a challenging one for my wife and I. Mostly because I was dumb and only gave us three weeks to make it happen, but for a few other reasons too.
Challenge No. 1 is everybody says “pop” instead of soda or coke or what have you. Challenge No. 2 is how cold it is during the fall and winter and even a lot of spring. It snowed on the day my son was born and that was in April. Snow in April is such a foreign concept to a Texan who spent the vast majority of his life a little over half an hour from major bodies of saltwater and then also spent four-and-a-half years in Mississippi.
The familiarity of summer heat (although summer here seems pretty mild comparatively), college baseball, and my alma mater competing for the chance to compete for a national title helped our adjustment to Omaha. Although we very quickly fell in love with the town after moving here, the College World Series served as a vehicle for falling in love with the town in a brand new way.
And now this town is getting hit pretty hard by not having one of its premier events.
When the event was cancelled due to the pandemic, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert said the cancellation would cost the local economy about $70 million. Given that the 2017 College World Series brought in $64 million for this city, yeah, I believe that.
It shouldn’t come as a shocker that a brand new bar and restaurant entertainment district of sorts near the stadium would be among the businesses hardest hit by this cancellation with the folks over in the Capitol District estimating that losing the CWS is leading to over $1 million in lost revenue.
That’s not counting everyone whose job was DIRECTLY tied to the event. Security, concessions, ticket sales, sanitation, and so on and so forth. There are so many people in this city who were looking forward to an opportunity to work the College World Series.
This pandemic ruined that for them and cost them potential income.
All of that adds up to be a fairly significant impact that could be felt in this town for a very long time.
It’s possible that I’m missing the College World Series for sentimental reasons.
My wonderful wife who moved halfway across the country with me to a city where we knew nobody gave birth to a truly special son who (whom? I’m not totally sure, I just got off work and I’m exhausted and I’m writing these thoughts in what is almost a stream of consciousness sort of fashion) I hope grows up to be a far better man than what I ever could be a few weeks back.
He’s far too young to hypothetically have attended any of the games or go drink cheap Texas beer at any of the bars, but part of me was hoping he could have experienced at least something of this event with my wife and me.
Maybe part of me was hoping that I could have spent too much money buying some MSU CWS baby stuff from a street vendor.
Or maybe I was hoping we could drive by TD Ameritrade Stadium and my wife and I could point at things that he’d have no way of understanding and sharing those things with him.
I know sharing the experience of all of this with my wife was something truly special for us (shoutout to my old manager, Maggie, who helped me arrange my schedule in such a way that I could work a different shift and Jim, Cathy, Sarah, and Vonn for approving that shift so I could attend the game and all of my coworkers, Jasmine, Bradley, Josh, and so many others, who worked that day and helped get everything taken care of while I was watching MSU’s miraculous win over Auburn).
Being able to go to that game meant a lot to my wife and me. It’s something I suspect we’ll both cherish for a very long time.
I’m sure sharing something of a similar experience with my son one day will be truly special as well. I’ll be grateful for whatever experience I get, even if the game we watch happens to be a disaster (here’s to hoping I don’t subject my son to heartbreak but he’s being raised by Mississippi State fans so we know that it’s certain he’ll see it at some point or another).
Whatever the reason(s) happen(s) to be, I miss Mississippi State being in the College World Series. And I can’t wait until Mississippi State gets back to Omaha.