Omaha: Day 2

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An aerial view of cheetahs from the sky safari, a gondola lift that passes over the parks collection of African animals.
An aerial view of cheetahs from the sky safari, a gondola lift that passes over the parks collection of African animals.

With baseball still a day away, I took the opportunity this morning to see what else Omaha had to offer in terms of entertainment. Rosenblatt Stadium sits south of downtown just off of I-80, and the Henry Doorly Zoo shares the same parking lot.

A docent at the Omaha Doorly Zoo kisses a chimpanzee through the glass. Docents and other volunteers help greatly at the Zoo, which is a non-profit organization.

I was really impressed with the level of interaction I was able to have with the animals. I stood in front of a window as a 400 lb. gorilla beat its chest and slammed itself into the glass and I walked along a corridor as an alligator swam in its tank next to me. I rode a ski lift over the giraffe and rhinoceros exhibits I haven’t been that close to lions since I was in Africa.

There are already enough animals in the College World Series, what with Longhorns, Gators, Bears and Gamecocks, but I took a half-hearted attempt at comparing Texas’ starting lineup for Friday to animals that matched their looks or characteristics. I promise to be more normal once they start playing baseball.

Children play in front of a penguin tank at the Omaha Doorly Zoo.

Taylor Jungmann, RHP, meerkat
He’s really not going to like this, but there was a meerkat colony at the zoo and the resemblance is striking. Taylor may actually punch me in the face the next time he sees me.

Tant Shepherd, first baseman, lobster
His teammates call him a lobster because of his giant first baseman’s glove, and I’m not one to mess around with team chemistry. I’m still getting over the fact I just wrote Taylor Jungmann looks like a meerkat.

Jordan Etier, second baseman, Tazmanian devil
Etier is dynamic at second base and unpredictable at the plate, but the thing that he does that reminds me of a tazmanian devil the most is the way he spins around in a small tornado while running the bases.

This is the first year the College World Series will not be held next door to the Doorly Zoo. Officials there expect higher than average attendance over the next week as a result. 

Brandon Loy, shortstop, spider monkey
Loy bounces around in the six hole and can cover more ground than any infielder in the conference, but I haven’t seen him hang from a tree by his tail yet.

Erich Weiss, third baseman, ostrich
It’s easier for Weiss to fly than it is for an ostrich, but he may not want to with all the extra fees airlines charge these days.

Jacob Felts, catcher, rhinoceros
His catcher’s equipment is similar to a rhino’s armor-like skin, and Felts probably spends just as much time rolling around in the dirt as one.

Jonathan Walsh, left fielder, mountain lion
This is by far the most flattering comparison I’ve made so far. Maybe Walsh can help me out when Jungmann comes after me.

Paul Montalbano, centerfielder, hyena
Paul strikes me as one of the happiest players on the team, no matter if he’s hitting well or in the middle of a slump.

The Zoo’s aquarium will be expanding in the next few years. It’s already one of the most crowded attractions.

Mark Payton, right fielder, badger
Payton’s from Illinois so he may not like the comparison to a Wisconsin mascot, but he fits the fits the bill nicely. Mark has a tough, scrappy attitude while in the field and at the plate, something he probably got from his hockey days, and even though badgers are small they are definitely not to be messed with.

Kevin Lusson, designated hitter, tortoise
He came on slow this season, but Lusson might have the most power in his bat on the team.

Augie Garrido, head coach, owl
Physical comparisons aside, coach Garrido conducts himself like a wise owl, even the way he perches himself at the steps of the dugout during games.

Photos by Andrew Edmonson.