Life on the road is exhausting. Travelling with a baseball team for four months out of the year may not be a permanent road trip, but spending every other week bouncing from dreary hotel to dreary hotel with long bus rides in between can be grating after a while.
All that said, I really rather enjoy it. It’s fun to explore new towns and experience the region and its many different aspects. It’s interesting to see all the other ballparks in the league and it’s refreshing to sleep in and not have to worry completely about work the way I might when we are playing at home. I can’t get too complacent about my job, but it’s not as demanding during road games.
A successful road trip, though, requires a number of things to go right. Number one: you have to stay at t a nice hotel. I’m not asking for five stars, just give me a bed that’s not infested with bugs. Secondly, the hotel has to be in a nice area. I don’t have a car, so if I can’t find food and hopefully some interesting sights within walking distance, the hotel is not properly placed. Finally, the baseball experience has to be enjoyable. After all, that’s why we’re here, right?
There is one wonderful place where none of those things is accounted for, the magical land of Southern Illinois. Since I’m always so keen on complaining, I will explain.
I’ve been travelling with the ThunderBolts for two years now and during that time, I have never seen a win at Rent One Park in Southern Ill. That’s a big 0-6. 0-7 if you include last year’s All-Star Game in which the West trounced my beloved East.
To put it simply, the game experiences there are miserable. The inning breaks always last too long. Why? I don’t know, but I am always left with 30 seconds to kill. That isn’t fun. And the PA announcer is too loud. Yes, that seems like a minor complaint, but you have to understand that when you stick a microphone out your window to pick up the crowd noise, except all you can hear is the PA announcer drowning out everything including myself, you have to turn the mic level down. By the point it’s quiet enough, you can’t hear the crowd. At all.
And what’s with all that heat?!! Yeah, I’m a cantankerous old buzzard, but seriously, it’s always really hot out there.
Now I’m not saying that there are no positives about Marion, IL, but the sign that welcomes us to the town reading “Abandon all hope ye who enter here,” might send out the wrong message. Then again, it is a very appropriate message.
Last summer, wallowing in the despair of being trapped in Southern Illinois, I took a walk. i don’t know where I was going. There isn’t anything of interest within the walking distance of even the most voracious pedestrians, especially at night, after a game, but I needed to walk. I wandered by the DMV, which had a sign outside identifying the Secretary of State as Jesse White.
It can’t be! I thought. Jesse White is our Secretary of State, not this wasteland. And that’s when I had my Planet of the Apes moment. I was home all along; I never left my home state.
Damn you! God damn you all to hell!
The reality is that it really doesn’t seem like we’re in the same country let alone the same state. My hope and happiness completely disappear when I enter the confines of Marion. As if everything else weren’t bad enough, our hotel brought tears from my eyes. I think it was contaminated. Maybe the best thing I heard about the Southern digs came from another broadcaster in the league. “Make sure you bring a full body suit to sleep in at that hotel,” he warned me. I thought he was kidding. My mistake.
One thing I’ve discovered is that it’s hard to get work done when there’s no Internet in the hotel on the road. In Southern, I couldn’t get much done.
Just lay back and forget about it, I tell myself. I don’t have to go back again. it’s been two days since we left. I can feel my sanity slowly returning. Now we just need a win. Please?