Life in the Minors
Best treatment for lack of sleep and extreme heat is a skid-snapping win
Sitting on my bed with my laptop in my hotel room here at the Comfort Inn in Chillicothe, Ohio, I am exhausted. The past 48 hours have blended into one day and the lack of quality sleep is taking its toll on me.
After finishing up a three-game homestand against the Florence Freedom last night, we were informed that our scheduled bus time for our 5-hour drive was 5 a.m. With our game ending around 10:30 p.m., we all had to shower up and then pack for our three-game set here in Ohio against the Chillicothe Paints.
For the players, packing at the ballpark simply consists of stuffing all their baseball gear into a travel bag. For coaches, it means packing all the binders with our scouting charts, packing the radar gun, making sure we have all the necessary equipment and supplies we will need during the trip, and wrapping any other loose ends.
By the time that was all said and done, it was already well past midnight and none of us were looking forward to having to return to the stadium in a couple of hours to board the bus. By the time I returned to my apartment, packed my personal luggage and got settled in for the night, it was nearly 2 a.m. Luckily for me, my fiancee, Michelle, was good enough to give me a wakeup call at 4 a.m., since it was just 11 p.m. back home in Hawaii.
As expected, I did not exactly feel refreshed when I woke up after less than 2 hours of sleep. But that is the lifestyle of minor league baseball. To make things worse, my Evansville Otters had been going through a tough stretch. For some reason, the powers that be in the Frontier League decided to kick off our 96-game season with 15 of our first 21 games on the road. After sprinting out to a franchise-record 9-0 mark, we hit the skids and dropped six straight.
I managed to fit in some sleep on the bus during our 5-hour drive to Chillicothe, but of course, it was not enough, as we made the entire drive through the morning sunlight, which beamed brilliantly into our windshield and throughout the entire bus. Thankfully, I had my iPod, my Bose headphones, my pillow and my blanket pulled over my head to help me fight the sunlight.
We arrived at the hotel around noon, leaving us little time to forage for food before re-boarding the bus for the stadium at 3 p.m. As is the norm on the road during the season, I went to lunch with hitting coach Bobby Bell. Bobby is an absolute crackup and great company, and I think we help each other relax during an early season that has been full of highs and lows.
After sitting down for lunch at the Applebee's down the road from the hotel, we walked to a nearby Walgreens to load up on bottled water. With the temperature in the area at around 90 degrees, we knew how important it would be to stay hydrated today.
The past six games have been very frustrating for Bobby, our manager Jason Verdugo and myself, as we have witnessed six poorly played games on our side result in a losing streak that all but negated our spectacular start. Struggles in all aspects of the game and a few key injuries have made the past few games barely bearable to watch.
We were hoping our guys could find a way to grind out a win after the players probably averaged around 2 hours of sleep -- and we did. With an outstanding performance from ace Justin Jordan, a strong defensive effort and enough quality at-bats to make any manager happy, we were able to snap our little slide and return to our winning ways with a 9-3 win over the Paints.
Isaac Omura swung the big bat for us with a solo homer to center and a pair of doubles. For the first time in a week, we played a solid game of baseball, and it came at the right time. We improved to 10-6 and retained our share of the lead in the West Division with the River City Rascals.
Tomorrow will be more of a normal day, as we have a bus to the gym at 10:45 a.m., time for lunch and then the bus to the field at 2:30 p.m. This column was my last task for the day before I get horizontal on my hotel bed and settle in for the evening.
Today was very long but worthwhile with the win. I'm sure the day will seem even better as I drift off to sleep with thoughts of another long win streak.
Brendan Sagara, a Leilehua and UH Hilo alum, is the pitching coach for the Evansville Otters.