Bash of the Titans
As Coolio once so eloquently put it, "Ain't no party like a West Coast party cause a West Coast party don't stop." Day two at the College World Series was all about the West Coast. We had UC-Irvine against Arizona State in the opener, and Cal State Fullerton versus Oregon State at night. Yes, Arizona State is not actually on the coast, but we'll count them because they play in the Pac-10.
Beyond great college baseball, the West Coast is also known for its rap music. Though I'm more Biggie than Tupac, I'll always respect the sounds that came from out west. Oregon State catcher Mitch Canham has more than just a respect.
A supplemental first-round pick by the Padres in the recent MLB draft, Canham has been composing rhymes for the last couple of years. His anthem, "O-State Ballaz" described the Beavers march to the title in 2006, and he has updated the song for 2007. As you can imagine, we made a point to get this on camera. Canham was a little hesitant, but he kindly gave us a sample. If you like what you hear, you can get some more of Canham's flow at www.ostateballaz.com.
I had been wanting to get Canham's rap on video for a couple of weeks, so it was very satisfying when we actually made it happen. We couldn't rest on our laurels, however, because we had a major mission for today, and that was to investigate Titan House.
Before we could do that, we watched Arizona State nip Irvine in the opener by a score of 5-4. Before the game I caught up with Matt Gorgen, the twin brother of Irvine starter Scott Gorgen, who we featured on video last week. Matt was scheduled to pitch for a team in the Cape Cod League this summer, but he asked the team if he could delay his arrival to watch his brother pitch in the CWS. The team said if he went to Omaha instead of reporting to the Cape, he would lose his spot on the team. As you would expect from any devoted brother, Matt told the team he was going to Omaha. He said the team has released him, but he remains optimistic he will find another team to pitch for on the Cape this summer.
Scott wasn't as sharp as he was last week against Wichita State, and he allowed three home runs in taking the loss for the Anteaters. Once that game was over, we finally go to see what Titan House is all about.
Titan House is a tradition that began back in 2003, and it is a house across the street from Rosenblatt that is rented by the Cal State Fullerton alumni association as a social spot for Titan fans. The idea was born back in 2001 when Tulane fans, who were partying in a private tent, started giving Fullerton a hard time for not having their own space. Because Fullerton was such a regular visitor to Omaha, they decided they needed to have a spot for their fans to kick back when the Titans were not playing.
Count the rings.
Carlos Leija, Fullerton's executive director of alumni relations, told us that they originally rented one house for two years, but have settled in at 3464 S. 13th St. The school has a standing agreement with the owners of the house that the owners will vacate every time the Titans advance to the CWS for as long as the Titans remain alive. No matter how long the Titans last, the rent is $7,000.
The alumni associate gets $2,500 from the school as seed money, but almost everything else is paid for by donations from fans in attendance. Leija estimated that roughly 250 fans will come through in a given day, but the Titans don't discriminate. There were a number of Arizona State fans partaking in some adult beverages sponsored by the Titans, and UCI coach Dave Serrano's father was there as well. Serrano used to coach at Fullerton, so it's not such a big surprise.
Even Robin Ventura hangs out at Titan House.
Leija could hardly contain himself as he described the scene at Titan House in 2004 after the Titans won the title. He organized for a giant speaker system to be installed, and he had "We Are the Champions" blaring as the team paraded the CWS trophy onto the back lawn.
It's true, ain't no party like a West Coast party.
For the most part, the fans we spoke to were shocked that the Titans even made it to Omaha. This isn't a vintage Fullerton team as far as the masses are concerned, but they might as well enjoy it while they are here.
We even found two Fullerton alums, Dave and Mike, in town for Mike's bachelor party. I had told someone just the other day that I thought the CWS was a great spot for a bachelor party (yes, I'm a baseball nerd), and these guys are one step ahead of me.
Unfortunately, most of their buddies balked at the idea of five days in Omaha for a bachelor party, but Mike's fiancee loved it.
"I told her I wanted to go watch baseball in Omaha for my bachelor party," Mike said. "And she was like, 'Sounds great!' "
I am guessing he would not have gotten the same reaction had he suggested Las Vegas. But as evidenced by Dave's shirt seen below, Omaha apparently has the same motto as Las Vegas.
Don't worry, your secret is safe with us.
One aspect of West Coast baseball that surprised us on this trip was the fact that they don't get much fan support during the regular season, at least not when compared to their counterparts in the SEC, ACC and Big 12. Titan House, however, can go toe-to-toe with any other shrine to college baseball that we've seen.
On the field, however, things did not go as well for the Titans tonight. They trailed the Beavers 3-2 with two outs in the ninth when third baseman Evan McArthur skied a pop-up to left field. Clearly dejected, McArthur moped to first base thinking the Titans had lost. But the ball got caught up in the wind, and OSU left fielder John Wallace could not make the play. I'm sure McCarthur feels terrible about this, and he will be lambasted elsewhere as well, but he should have been on second base when the ball dropped, but he didn't run. This error was compounded when pinch-hitter Jon Wilhite subsequently singled to right, which would have scored McCarthur had he run out his fly ball. Joel Weeks grounded out to shortstop to end the game, and the Titans lost 3-2.
It was a tough one to swallow for the Fullerton faithful, but I doubt that will stop the revelry at Titan house.