Wednesday, February 2, 2011
MiLB LIFE: Bus Rides
Minor League Baseball and bus rides go hand in hand. Bus rides are an inevitability of Pro-ball, resulting in some people even referring to MiLB leagues as Bus Leagues. You board the bus, you pick a seat, and you drive to your next game- it's up to you how you want to spend those next two, five, eight, fourteen hours. Just hope you're not next to the fat kid. Or the smelly kid. Or the loud kid. This is gonna be a long ride.
Regardless of length, I start every bus ride the same way. I board the bus about fifteen minutes before our departure time- early enough to have a wide variety of seat locations to pick from. I usually walk about two-thirds of the way down the aisle toward the back, selecting a seat to my right (the left side of the bus if facing the windshield). I aim for a seat exactly two rows behind a TV monitor, a distance I've found to be perfect for optimum viewing pleasure. I make sure no one has already laid claim to that seat, and then I unload all my goodies.
A bus ride is only as enjoyable as the things you bring with you. For instance, my bus ride survival kit looks something like this: latest issue of Men's Health, copy of Mind Gym (or whatever book I'm reading at the moment), iPod and headphones, Subway footlong or peanut butter sandwich, protein bar, pack of Stride gum, G2 Gatorade, water, family size bag of pretzels, sweatshirt, and, perhaps most importantly, a pillow.
When I have my seat headquarters set up, I make sure all of my belongings are spread out over both seats. Once everything is in place according to convenience and comfort, I become the best actor I can be. I'm out cold, totally zonked. I'm fast asleep, sprawled out over both seats. The key here is to make it as inconvenient and unlikely as possible for someone boarding the bus to request the open seat next to you. You want their thought process to be, "The kid's asleep, and his shit's everywhere. It'd be a pain in the ass to ask him to move over."
Dirty move? Maybe. But if I'm gonna be riding this thing for the next ten hours, I'm gonna do everything in my power to get my own seat.
It's important to not be too stubborn, however. If you get a sense that you're probably going to have to share a seat, or "double-up", you're better off snagging someone you like early on as opposed to trying your luck and getting stuck with someone worse later.
Once everyone has boarded the bus, almost every ride is the same. You get the rambunctious jokesters in the back, the quiet book worms up front by the coaching staff, the kid directly behind you screaming sweet nothings to his girlfriend on the phone, and the hungry kids claiming they didn't eat breakfast begging you for some pretzels.
The movie- usually a C+ caliber choice that no one besides the kid who brought it wants to watch- starts off at a whisper, but after some teammates scream "Volume!" 10 to 20 times, the bus driver gets the hint and cranks it up. The movie inevitably ends up playing at a ridiculously loud volume for the duration of the film, or ride- whichever comes first.
I spend the trip skimming a magazine, plowing through pages in my book, chit-chatting with seat neighbors, snacking, and listening to music. Even when my iPod isn't playing, I keep the noise-cancellers over my ears to drown out the obnoxious combo of the boys in the backseat and the 2-star movie playing in the background. When possible, I try to get a nap in- I've found nothing passes the time like a solid nap.
I've developed a pretty good bus ride system- but I'm hoping I'll be able to make the adjustment to the private planes and first class travel of the Bigs when the time comes.
MiLB LIFE Series
Wasted Hat Collection
Dealing with Heckling Fans
Being the New Guy
My First Call-Up
A Typical Game Day [Part One]
A Typical Game Day [Part Two]
Being the 'K-Man'
A Taste of the Minor League Off-Season
New Helmets Issued, Players Respond: "Are You Joking?"
The Fines of Kangaroo Court