Pontifficating: Omaha from an LSU Player's Perspective
LSU Sports Interactive
Entry No. 5: June 22, 2009
Tiger Nation: Three down, two to go! At our first team meeting last August, Coach stood in front of us saying how this year we would play for the National Championship. Well, his prophecy came true! After hundreds of Division I college baseball programs have begun and ended their season, there are only two still standing!
Coach extended curfew after beating Arkansas for the second time, and we all were able to enjoy ourselves in Omaha again. The next day, Saturday, everyone slept late, and then we ate a team breakfast. After breakfast a large group of guys visited the nearby Children’s Hospital, as we tried to brighten each kid’s day. We brought autographed baseballs and spent some quality time with each patient to give their schedule a break from their ordinary hospital agenda. All of the kids were so nice and appreciative. After the hospital visit, we had a nice practice. Saturday night, each player was able to have a nice dinner with their friends and families.
Sunday was Father’s Day- happy belated Father’s Day to all of the fathers reading this column. Each team was allotted an hour and a half practice at Rosenblatt before the big game. Once practice was over, we all came back to the hotel and were off so that we could enjoy the rest of the day with our Dads. My Dad and I enjoyed a nice lunch, and then we had some good Omaha steaks for dinner. It was great to be able to spend some quality time with my role model.
Today is game day. We just had a private team breakfast, and everyone is relaxing before we leave at 3:30. Like I said in my first column, this team is different than any team I have ever been a part of. Nobody is shocked to be at this point because we all expected it. It’s time to win the first part of the 3 game series tonight. Please check back for my next round of “Pontifficating” after the game. Geaux Tigers and you stay classy Baton Rouge!
Entry No. 4: June 18, 2009
Hello again Tiger Nation! I’m a little bit superstitious so I will begin this blog as I did the last one. Two down...Three to go! After a huge Mahtook homer, another beautifully pitched game by Coleman, and some big hits by Schimpf and Dean, we are one game away from making it to the Mecca of college baseball—the College World Series Finals. After beating Arkansas, we rewarded our pitching staff and our team with three days off in Omaha.
On the first off day, everyone slept in pretty late because Coach Mainieri had again extended curfew to 2 a.m. after the big win. After everyone was awake, we enjoyed a private team lunch at the hotel, then had a nice practice at a nearby high school field. After practice the position players got an hour weight lift in at the same high school. Once we got on the bus after weightlifting, Coach announced a special surprise—he was treating the team to dinner at Sullivan’s! We all enjoyed a nice steak, then took it back to the hotel.
On the second off day, wake up calls were set a bit early because Coach wanted us to start getting used to waking up early because our game on Friday was set for 1 p.m. After a nice team breakfast, we set out for practice again. After practice everyone showered up, and Coach took us to the zoo. If you don’t know much about Omaha, I will tell you that they have one of the coolest zoos in the country. We spent about two hours at the zoo, came back and showered, and then attended a banquet at the hotel. The banquet was put on by some LSU supporters and all of our families attended. I’m sure you’ve heard by some people up here, but if you haven’t, the banquet was awesome! Over 300 people attended, there was a great video of how we got to Omaha, and each player spoke at the microphone about their families. Well done to all those who put that banquet together!
Today was our last off day. We woke up at about 9 a.m. for breakfast and then went to practice. After a good practice, we came back to the hotel for some down time. At about 4 p.m. the bus departed for Rosenblatt so that the team could experience the CWS from a fan’s perspective. We were able to shop at all the little huts around the stadium for CWS gear, and then we took in about 5 innings of ASU vs. NCU game tonight. Everyone is now settling into bed as we get ready to play tomorrow. I look forward to “Pontifficating” after our next victory, but for now, Geaux Tigers and you stay classy Baton Rouge!
Entry No. 3: June 16, 2009
The following is the blog entry from Wally Pontiff Sr. on the morning of June 16, 2009. Listen to the audio clip here.
Hey, Wally Pontiff Sr. (Nicholas' father) here from Omaha and the College World Series. It has been a wonderful trip so far. The fans have been terrific and the team has played great, but what makes this tournament are the people in Omaha. They love the Tigers. They open their doors to us. The food here as good as New Orleans. It’s just right there. We have gone to many restaurants and enjoyed it.
The atmosphere here for baseball, this is definitely the greatest baseball town in the country when it comes to college baseball. Last night at the game, a lady that hadn’t been to the World Series came for the first time said “it was three hours and 24 minutes of enjoyment.” I said what a great statement.
We are pumped up here. As a parent, I was fortunate to be here three times – one for a national championship in 2000, last year and hopefully to win one this year as the national champions. The great thing is the parents that we get to be with. The administration from LSU just opens the door and makes this thing happen.
We are having a great time. We got invited today to go to Lo Sole Mio’s lake house and enjoy some Italian food. Pontifico. We changed it to Italian today. We were French yesterday. I can’t say enough about this place, especially for the kids on the team who are enjoying it and meeting different people.
The most important thing, the weather has been terrific and the stadium we are going to miss when they tear it down. I just want to tell you from Omaha, that I wish all you Tiger fans in Louisiana could come up. Hopefully, when we get to the (CWS) finals, you guys can drive up and bring that 25,000.
Entry No. 2: June 15, 2009
One down, four to go! After a hard fought 3 ˝ hour game against the Cavs, the good guys took the victory. Coach Mainieri always stresses to take each game one by one, but for the sake of this journal I will just lay the facts out on the line-- after 4 straight wins, we believe we can be National Champions! Our curfew is normally 12 a.m., but when we got back to the hotel after the game, we all received a surprising text message from Coach saying that curfew had been extended to 2 a.m. Everyone showered up pretty quickly and we enjoyed some of the nightlife that Omaha has to offer.
The next morning, Sunday, wake up calls were set for 10 a.m. as we got ready to enjoy a nice brunch with the Omaha Exchange Club. Every year a different club sponsors each team, and that club is responsible for being your host for the whole tournament. Some of the things that the Omaha Exchange club does for us are greet us when we arrive here, give us sandwiches and donuts after each game, and sponsor this brunch for us. After we ate, each player received a sentimental keepsake, a framed picture of the whole team that we posed for in front of Rosenblatt on our first day. After brunch we came back to the hotel and waited anxiously for the Oakley representative to come. Because we wear Oakley sunglasses throughout the whole year, Oakley always rewards us for getting to Omaha by allowing us to trade any existing pair of Oakley’s for a new one. It was great to get some new shades, but it was especially rewarding to sit back and watch how excited the freshmen reacted to this modern bartering system.
Now it’s about 11:30 a.m. on game day. The team just enjoyed a private sit-down breakfast and we have the next 5 hours to relax before we head to the field. One of the biggest differences between this year’s team and last year’s is the mindset that we have. Last year we were a little awe-struck and anxious, but this year everyone is calm, cool, and collected—even the freshmen! That’s about it for today, please check back for my next round of “Pontifficating.” Geaux Tigers and you stay classy Baton Rouge!
Entry No. 1: June 12, 2009
First of all, I want to take a chance to thank every LSU supporter and anyone else who is reading this column for giving me the best five years of my life. It seems like only yesterday that Wally passed away, but I would not have been able to get through it without all of the support that you have given me and my family. The purpose of my “Pontifficating” is to help you understand myself and my team’s experience here at the CWS through a player’s point of view. I hope you find it interesting and enjoyable.
Well, after a strenuous three days of practice back at the Box, then hopping a plane, we finally made it to OMAHA! We arrived here at about 5 o’clock last night, then immediately left and went to practice at a nearby high school. One of the coolest experiences for the young players was to see how many fans were actually at the practice we had last night. The truest statement someone ever told me was that Omaha and Rosenblatt Stadium were actually the Alex Box of the North. People here treat us like we are back home in BR, and it’s pretty cool to see. After practice, my family and I were able to enjoy a nice wind down dinner around the hotel.
This morning came early with an 8 am wake up call for breakfast. After breakfast we departed for Rosenblatt for our first practice on the field. It never gets old to walk out of the bus and look at the letters ROSENBLATT STADIUM erected upon the blue cathedral like awning hanging over the field.
Sean Ochinko immediately walked up to me when we got off the bus and gazed at the stadium as he said, “We’re back baby. But we’re here to win it this time.” We then had a nice batting practice session on the field as numerous guys were depositing balls into souvenier city before the rain came down and we had to pack up.
After practice we had our autograph session, and now Buzzy and I are sitting in the room relaxing a bit before Opening Ceremonies tonight. I hope you check back for my next round of “Pontificating.” I’m Nicholas Pontiff and you stay classy Baton Rouge!