Love of the Game

Rice's Jeff Niemann
Courtesy of Rice Sports Information

Texas is home to some of the most elite college baseball teams. In 2002, the Texas Longhorns took home the NCAA baseball national championship. In 2003, the Rice Owls took the title home. Now, the 2004 trek back to the College World Series begins. Early money says that Rice (preseason No. 1 in every poll) and UT (preseason No. 6) should still be around come June. But remember the cliché of the sports hack: You win some, you lose some, and some get rained out. Luckily, there are no rainouts at Minute Maid Park, whose roof will allow you to watch the Minute Maid College Classic in comfortable dryness, no matter the weather. Featuring nine games over three days, the field includes Rice, Texas, the University of Houston, Texas Tech, Kansas State and Ohio State (who'll be glad just to get out of the freezing temps at home). UT and Rice's big matchup happens Saturday at 7 p.m. It's a big baseball valentine to those who are sick of the major-leaguers' shenanigans. 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Friday, February 13, and Saturday, February 14; 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday, February 15. For information, call 877-927-8767. $12; $6 kids; free for those age three and under. -- Eric Norvell

Raiders of the Lost Park

SAT 2/14

Trudging along the Lone Star Hiking Trail in the Sam Houston National Forest with a machete in hand is about as close as the average Houstonian can get to feeling like Indiana Jones. This weekend, members of the Houston Sierra Club will conduct maintenance on the Tarkington Section of the trail, and they want you to join the adventure. Granted, the only precious objects you're likely to discover are a couple of rusty aluminum cans, but even Indy was known to strap on his whip solely for the sake of a good cause. If you've got a lopper or a swing blade, be sure to bring it. And proceed with caution: You never know what kind of danger lurks around the next bend. 8 a.m. Saturday, February 14. Meet in the parking lot behind the International House of Pancakes at I-45 North and Greens Road, roughly 60 miles north of Houston. For information, call 713-664-5962. Free. -- Keith Plocek

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