As the MLB World Series approaches, I am reading a new book about the College World Series. At times I think I'm reading about the Cape Cod Baseball League. The main characters in The Road to Omaha (2009 St. Martin's Press) are the main characters we all know and love from the Cape. Buster Posey, Gordon Beckham, Brett Wallace, Aaron Crow, Yonder Alonso, Jason Castro. The names are right out of my 2007 CCBL All-Star game posts.
If the Last Best League is the narrative of the Cape League. This is the narrative of the College World Series. It links college baseball history, Omaha, The Blatt, personalities and tournament drama into a smart and highly readable sports book.
In The Road to Omaha, author Ryan McGee focuses on the 2008, ten-day, eight-team College World Series. In '08 the unlikely Fresno State Bulldogs defeated the Georgia Bulldogs to become best of show. I still remember vividly watching the finals on ESPN.
The references to Fresno State's assistant coach Mike Mayne are particulary fun for me since Mike's son, former Major Leaguer Brent Mayne, is someone I've worked with on his baseball blog -- The Art of Catching.
With so many stars of the Cape League playing with and against each other, McGee is compelled to let readers in on the fact that many of the best players in 2008 had gotten to know each other the summer before on the Cape.
He calls the Cape League the place where "the best college players get to play in the summertime. (Most end up humbled by having to trade in their aluminum bats for old-fashioned wood, but it hadn't affected" Castro and Posey.
The 288-page chronicle of "hits, hopes and history at the college world series" is dense but but McGee is the kind of writer who knows how to weave personalities and personal stories throughout to keep it interesting.
A must read for all college baseball fans.