For the next two nights (at least), Omaha, Nebraska, is the center of the baseball world. That’s because it’s almost time to crown a new College World Series champion.
It’s been a long road to the 2015 CWS finals, but two teams have finally made it. The best-of-three championship round begins tonight, with defending champs Vanderbilt facing Virginia in a rematch of last season’s title series.
Here’s how we got here:
For 115 years, the United States Open Championship has aimed to challenge the best professional golfers in the world with tough greens, narrow fairways, and thick rough. The winner must show resilience, determination, and be willing to take risks. No one did these three things better this year than 21-year-old Jordan Spieth, who on Sunday became the youngest U.S. Open champion since 1923.
Having shot rounds of 68, 67, and 71, respectively, going into championship Sunday, Spieth was in good position to win the tournament at four shots under par, tied for a four-way lead.
Summer officially arrived this weekend, so of course the baseball gods gave fans a lot to remember.
Let’s start in the Bronx, where New York Yankees DH Alex Rodriguez made history. After serving a year-long suspension in 2014 for using performance-enhancing drugs, A-Rod has been making for lost time. Through Sunday, he’s hitting .282 with 14 home runs, and earlier in the season one of those blasts pushed him passed Wille Mays to fourth all-time in homers.
His home run in the bottom of the first in Friday night’s game against the Detroit Tiger brought Rodriguez into more elite company. The solo shot was his 3.000th career hit, making him the 29th player in MLB history to join the 3,000 Hits Club. He’s also only the third player to ever reach the milestone on a home run (the others were Wade Boggs in 1999 and Derek Jeter in 2011).
Transporting a city is not an easy task.
The USGA managed to do such a thing for this year’s U.S. Open Championship. With all the tents, grandstands, even an entire courtyard for spectators, Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place, Washington, was completely transformed for the largest golf tournament in the United States.
The festivities started almost a week before play began on Thursday, June 18. There was a Flag Day ceremony in Spectator Square on June 14, with activities for younger fans. There was also a golf course simulator and the opportunity to take a lesson from a professional golf coach.
When I arrived, the first things I noticed were the differences between Chambers Bay and most other golf courses. For starters, there’s only one tree on the entire course, a fir tree between the 15th and 16th holes.
Only 2.7 seconds remained on the clock when Georgia State junior guard R.J. Hunter nailed a three-pointer to upset the third-seeded Baylor Bears in the 2015 NCAA tournament. In the midst of the ensuing madness, all eyes fell on R.J.'s father, coach Ron Hunter. He had literally fallen out of his seat.
Ron sat on a rolling stool to coach the 14th-seeded Panthers against Baylor, wheeling up and down the sideline because he had torn his Achilles tendon four days earlier — while celebrating the conference tournament title that sent Georgia State to the Big Dance for the first time since 2001.
His son's 30-footer against Baylor opened the book on one of the best Cinderella stories of the tournament, and it was the perfect culmination of a relationship 21 years in the making. After learning to balance basketball and family, the Hunters had combined to produce one of the biggest wins in Georgia State history. It was a father-son moment to cherish.
As the school year winds down and the weather gets warmer, kids around the world are able to enjoy themselves by playing and watching sports. Another way to enjoy sports is by learning more about the ones we love.
That’s exactly the opportunity available in Chicago from June 24-28. That’s when the 45th Annual Society for American Baseball Research, or SABR, convention hits town. SABR has more than 6,000 members who love the game of baseball from different angles: as players, writers, historians, fans, or statisticians. SABR has 69 local chapters, but this is the biggest convention of the year, with people attending from across the US and the world.
When Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred took office earlier this year, he said one of his biggest priorities was to get kids interested in baseball again.
A new program launched yesterday by MLB and USA Baseball is big step toward, hopefully, make that a reality.
On Thursday, Manfred was joined by current and former MLB players and 50 young ball players from New York and New Jersey to kick off the Play Ball youth baseball initiative. The event was held at Macombs Dam Park, a public ball field across the street from Yankee Stadium
Play Ball is geared toward getting more kids involved with baseball in all forms — no matter who they are, where they live, or if they’re playing with an actual baseball.