This just in: The College World Series is better when LSU wins.
No offense to the seven other teams — OK, six as Cal State Fullerton drives to the airport — here in Omaha. We love you all. But there's no sense in denying it: LSU is Omaha's team (with apologies to UNO and Trev Alberts).
Nothing against Arkansas, either. The “Omahogs'' were loud and proud and everywhere you looked. If we can't have gumbo for two weeks, pulled pork is a fine caloric substitute. The Omahogs look like they can throw a party, too.
But let's not kid ourselves. It's Mardi Gras in June again.
You can see it, feel it and hear it around Rosenblatt Stadium. “L-S-U, L-S-U'' is b-a-c-k. There are tiger tails and crazy feather hats. There are strings of gold and purple beads everywhere. There was so much gold and purple in Rosenblatt on Monday night that the old relic looked like it was wearing the beads.
We've had some fun stories around here in recent years. But Oregon State and Fresno State don't capture the imagination like the Bayou Bombers. We'll take a party over parity every time.
And that's really why the Tigers resonate with Omaha. Oh sure, LSU was here so often they could have voted. And everyone would have voted Skip Bertman for mayor. There was Gorilla Ball. Omaha loves a good fireworks show.
But mostly, Omaha loves a good party. When LSU is here, the CWS is more colorful, more boisterous, more fun.
The feeling is mutual. Omaha carries a reverence in the great state of Louisiana. The ghosts of Warren Morris, Todd Walker and Eddy Furniss live on in the framed Omaha sports sections you can find on the walls in crawfish and gin joints from Baton Rouge to Bourbon Street.
Meanwhile, here on Leavenworth Street, Karen Barrett prepared this week for Mardi Gras in June. Barrett's Barleycorn is the hub of all things LSU in Omaha and has been since 1995, when an LSU fan met his wife at the Irish bar.
Barrett told the New Orleans Times-Picayune this week that there are already plans for a party on the sand volleyball court if the Tigers win it all. Asked if all of the LSU fans scare away fans from other schools, Karen said, “I sure hope so.''
The other spots in Omaha understand. Nobody plays harder than LSU. And the team isn't so bad, either.
The Tigers are back. The smiles are back. The truth is, we've missed LSU. Their loyal fans would still make the trek, but the CWS hasn't been the same since 2000, Bertman's last of five titles in nine years. Since then, LSU made three CWS appearances in 2003, 2004 and 2008, winning one game.
But the CWS is back to the future. In beating Virginia and Arkansas, Paul Mainieri's team looks like one of those CWS videos from the 90s.
Put it this way: Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn may have gotten rid of the monkey on his back. But this time he was going up against a gorilla.
Gorilla Ball is back. We thought that college baseball had banished the term, with the aluminum bats dialed back and all and LSU's absence from the top. But the Tigers have unleashed their inner beast again on Omaha.
They have five homers here, including three against Arkansas. It's an amazing thing. This was supposed to be a good offensive team. But coming to Omaha, LSU “only'' had 94 homers. Not exactly your father's gorillas.
This was an LSU team with veterans, gloves, a one-two pitching punch in Anthony Ranaudo and Louis Coleman and some live bats.
But they have a new life in Omaha. Balls are flying out again. What is it about this stadium and LSU? The old voodoo is back.
Coleman, a fourth-round pick by Kansas City, was terrific Monday night. Armed with a fastball with serious movement, he struck out seven and allowed just six hits in six innings. He gave Omaha Royals fans a glimpse of what they might see in a couple of years. Well, not necessarily in Rosenblatt again.
LSU is in the driver's seat for another long ride. They don't play again until Friday. By then, Omaha will feel like the location for the movie “The Hangover 2.''
The Tigers gave Van Horn a headache. It was interesting watching Van Horn get interviewed on ESPN right after he passionately argued a call at first base. The timing could have been better. He was the only guy in the stadium who wasn't happy to see Erin Andrews.
Now we get Arkansas vs. Virginia on Wednesday night, which will seem like an inside joke to local fans. In the battle between Van Horn and Brian O'Connor, it will be the closest thing to a Nebraska vs. Creighton game in the CWS.
Not to worry. Our other home team is home again. Pass the beads. And the aspirin.
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