Cincinnati — James McCann has experienced it.
He was part of the University of Arkansas team, featuring Houston Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel, that went to the College World Series in 2009.
“For guys who have never experienced Omaha,” he said, “especially the Latin guys who didn’t go to college here seeing that atmosphere — people rent out houses for the week even if their team isn’t there.
“They plan on their team being there, but if they don’t make it, they still go and have a great time. You don’t see that at any big-league venue. It’s just a different atmosphere.”
The Tigers are going to get a taste of that atmosphere next season. Commissioner Rob Manfred announced Thursday that the Tigers and Kansas City Royals will play a regular-season game at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha leading into the 2019 College World Series. The game will be June 13, and will be televised on ESPN. It will be the first MLB game ever played in Nebraska.
“I think it’s neat,” McCann said. “When I found out it was us, some of my most fond college memories are playing in Omaha. Talking to the guys who have played there, the consensus is, you don’t feel that atmosphere, that total team desire until you get to the big leagues and you play for the playoffs or World Series.
“It’s just different when you leave college and go to the minors and you are grinding out those long days the bus rides. You look back at Omaha as something like, ‘I can’t wait to play for a championship like that again.’”
The logistics of the game have not been specified. Presumably it will be a Royals home game. Omaha is about a 2½-hour drive from Kansas City.