Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Cy- Road Trip Life

It's that time of year again! Cy is taking over the blog today to give you a little firsthand look at the finer details of life as a minor league baseball player ;)


When the bus starts pulling away from Appleton on the way to a road series somewhere in the greater Midwest area there is always one strand of thoughts in my mind and the minds of many on the bus: "Did I pack everything?  I know I brought my jersey, but I bet I forgot my belts.... I know I have my coat and cleats but do I have all my hats? Ehh... oh well, too late to worry about it now." A movie is generally playing on the small bus TV's right away to help kill some time.  Baseball movies are common, as well as comedies.  About half the guys watch and the other half either sleep, listen to music, or watch a show or movie they brought along.  Once the movie is over the bus usually quiets down... but not always.  This is why I bring along a pair of headphones and ear muffs.  Sure, the ear muffs are designed to protect ones hearing while shooting guns or working around jet engines but when the bus gets rowdy they do the job just fine.  Most guys have a similar idea but opt for the noise canceling headphone version, which look a little cooler but also cost substantially more.

Generally we have been stopping to eat along the way at this little truck stop diner joint that is pretty good.  Most of the time I sit with some of the boys and we shoot the breeze over some french toast, chatting about who is being loud on the bus or recounting funny stories from the last few games.  After we eat it's back to the bus and the headphones come back on.  I usually crank a little country music through them, and recently have been playing Aaron Watson's new album The Underdog very regularly the past few trips.  If you haven't heard that album do yourself a favor and look it up, the guy has some good stuff with just enough twang for my liking.

Finally we arrive at our destination. The way we do it on this particular team is to head directly to the field when we get into whatever town we are playing in, play the game, and then check into the hotel that night.  This works very well because often hotels can't have all our rooms ready for us to check in to right away (because we require so many with the amount of people we bring) so instead of rolling the dice we just check in late.

Once you get to the field and enter the locker room you had better have your wits about you.  The locker you pick that day will stick with you for the remainder of the trip and a bad choice can mean for a rough weekend.  The ideal locker is one that is located close to food, showers, and bathroom as well as power outlets and, if possible, empty lockers.  These are usually located in corners but it can be a double edged sword.  Guess the number of lockers available wrong and you could be stuck sharing a corner with a larger, sweaty, hairy individual which, lets be honest- few dream of doing.

On the field, a good stretch and conditioning session are in place to wake up your stiff limbs from the bus ride.  After that we play catch, and depending on the day, I might throw a bullpen.  One thing that cannot be dodged is shagging fly balls in batting practice (BP).  This is where pitchers like me are really unsung heroes.  Without all of our athletic ability chasing down fly balls outfielders could only dream of catching, and starting pitchers running a bucket full of balls back into the hitters every so often, hitters wouldn't get a chance to hit.  And if hitters couldn't hit the team wouldn't be able to score runs and if you don't score runs you can't win games.  So pitchers shagging BP causes the team to score runs, its that simple.  Where would they be without us? (This is mostly sarcasm)

After BP is my favorite activity of the day, crushing the pre-game spread!  It usually works out where pitchers come in a little before the hitters after BP where we all grab a plate and crudely slap together a PB&J with a side of animal crackers and/or gold fish.  It is a minor league meal and its the kind that fuels the team when we take the field each and every day.

During the game if you aren't keeping a chart (game statistics) you get to have lengthy in depth conversations with other pitchers about almost any topic under the sun.  From these conversations I have come up with one of my favorite sayings regarding getting to the big leagues: Take all your natural talent, things you learn, development, and anything else you can acquire, learn, or steal that'll make you better and throw it in a pot.  Heat it up with your work ethic and stir it together with a minor league lifestyle.  If it comes out good enough, ride that concoction like its a $2 pony to the big leagues.  Get every ounce you can out of it and throw new things in whenever you get the chance. 

After the game, we head to our hotel for the night. Hotels can be very hit or miss, you might be at a nice hotel one trip and the very next you are trying not to get bed bugs at some rundownplace in the bad part of town.  What I have learned from this is to always check the hotel name before you leave, so you know if it would be beneficial to bring along some type of antibacterial spray, extra sheets, a sleeping bag, or all of the above.  The moral of the story is you don't want to be the guy that everyone talks about for getting some type of disease from a hotel (even though it was years ago), trust me it happens...

So far this season, all of our road trips have only been 3 game series. Since they are so short, Hannah hasn't been coming on the road trips with me. On longer trips, she will come for part of the time and be able to stay with me at the team hotel. She can't stay in my room with me, but I am allowed to book a separate room at the team rate and stay with her since she is my wife. I just have to let the team manager know ahead of time.

So that's kind of what a minor league roadtrip is like.  It can be a little rough at times but a good amount of fun as well.  There is nothing quite like getting a paycheck every 2 weeks for playing baseball. Even if it technically puts you under the poverty line, it is something that can be oh so worth it if you are one of the lucky few that plays in the big leagues. 


Hope you enjoyed hearing from the bearded guy himself :) Pretty interesting huh? The Timber Rattlers are part of the Midwest League, and all of their road trips are bus trips. The team will travel 9,447 miles over 13 road trips this season to play teams in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and Michigan. Some trips are just 3 days, while some are close to two weeks long. What a life!


1 comment:

  1. Great post, Cy! I don't envy all the travel you guys do but am glad to hear you have friends to pass some of the time with.
    Yeah, Aaron Watson - love his album! I've been listening to it for a couple of months. :)

    Hi, Hannah!