[Fans begin streaming into Fox Cities Stadium (home of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers)]
[Wheaton's Chris McDonough nabs a Fighting Bishop (N.C. Wesleyan) on strikes]
[Electronic scoreboard announces Wheaton's first game opponent]
Some random observations about Appleton and the College World Series--
--I'm not sure whether the residents of greater-Appleton take a happy pill each morning, but I've never observed a more congenial area of the country. It's rare, upon entering a convenience store, walking downtown, or renting a car, not to be greeted by a pleasant demeanor and a convivial response from the folks we met in this part of Wisconsin. Having spent more than my share bemoaning the boorishness of society at large, I must say I wasn't prepared for the friendliness from this beautiful part of the country. With Madison as the state's capital, and the state's history for embracing progressive causes, maybe Wisconsin is the place for me? One dubious note; Joe McCarthy is a native son of Appleton.
--Wisconsinians (?) love beer, cheese, brats and did I mention, beer? Speaking of beer, a local variety that I grew fond of during my brief time in the state, was Leinenkugel, or "Leinies." My favorite Leinie was their Honey Weiss, a wonderful wheat ale.
--The absence of any coffee chains other than Starbucks, such as Dunkin' Donuts, Honeydew Donuts, Tim Horton's, etc. While downtown Appleton has a couple of neat privately-owned shops, I relied on the coffee at the local Kwik-Trip to start my day.
--Someone named Jeff Lindsey, a research engineer for Kimberly-Clark (one of the area's large paper producers), maintains a website where he has posted a plethora of helpful information about Appleton. I found his restaurant reviews and many of his other information about the city, informative, helpful, and accurate.
--Why doesn't Maine have a Woodmans? Woodman's is a mega-store that is employee-owned. Their prices are low, their selection is huge (I've never seen a dairy case with more brands and flavors of ice cream in my life). BTW, since their employee-owned, when you buy from them, some of the profits go back to their workers, rather than into the pockets of someone like Sam Walton, if you catch my drift.
--Staying at a budget hotel doesn't have to be a disaster. In the past, we've had some real horror stories associated with the Motel 6's, Travelodges and other budget chains (like the crack deals taking place outside our room at the Motel 6 in East Halsted, Illinois, back in '94). These experiences have turned me off to staying in the budget lodging category. However, while the La Quinta where 14 Wheaton families following the team stayed (as well as most of the Marietta parents) was economy personified, the place was clean and quiet (except for one night when the Wheaton gang commandeered the pool area). At $49/night, it served its purpose. I'm sure that the fact that it was in Wisconsin had something to do with it.
--Unfortunately, we ran out of time, as Wheaton's appearance in the championship round prevented me from making a trip to the Green Bay Packers' Hall of Fame.