Rainouts offer welcome respite on road


POSTED: Sunday, July 26, 2009

The past few days have been anything but normal for us here with the Southern Illinois Miners.

Over the course of a typical season, I would guess that a team may have three or four rainouts, at most. Most times, rainouts provide a much needed break from a grueling season. This season, off days have been few and far between, as we opened the year with 37 games in 39 days. Any rainouts we had during the first half of the season were very welcome.

For the first time I can recall, our team had rainouts three times over the past four days. The second day of our home series against the Washington Wild Things was washed out four days ago, followed by a doubleheader the next day.

Having a doubleheader on getaway day, or the final day of a series, is never an ideal situation. Getaway days are already long when a single game is scheduled, having to play two games before packing up and heading out of town on a bus just makes the day that much longer.

When it was all said and done, we spent 10 hours at the stadium, including pregame BP, the games, and time spent showering and packing up after the game, finally leaving the stadium for the night at around midnight. Unlike most getaway days, we didn't head out of town on our bus immediately after the game.

With a five-hour bus ride to the Chicago area, we left the next morning instead, pushing off at 7 a.m. I can't speak for the rest of our guys, but I was exhausted. By the time I got back to my apartment and packed my suitcase for our weeklong trip to play the Rockford Riverhawks and Gateway Grizzlies, it was nearly 2 a.m., and I knew that 6 a.m. alarm I set was going to come awful quick.

And it did. As I stumbled around my apartment trying to get ready to head back to the stadium, I knew it was going to be tough to get through the day. We would all be running on fumes heading into a key series with the Riverhawks, who were only a game behind us in the wild-card race.

Once on the bus, I did my best to get comfortable in a hurry. With my trusty travel pillow and blanket with me and my favorite iPhone playlist queued up, I lay back on my seat, stretching my legs out across the aisle as I always do, and quickly pass out.

We arrived in Rockford at around noon, unloaded our bus and checked into the Days Inn here. While I was at lunch at the Cracker Barrel with two of our pitchers, Mike Damchuk and Alex Rollin, and one of our catchers, Patrick Perry, a glorious, wonderful thing happened.

Facing the window to the parking lot at our table in the restaurant, we were given good reason to smile. It started off with the sky darkening ever so slightly. Then the wind came, and then a few sprinkles from the heavens.

Soon, we were watching a downpour. The rain we had heard would threaten our series opener arrived in style. The sun was able to peak its head out for a little while, but the clouds never really left. As we prepared to throw out the first pitch, the sky opened up again. We got our rainout.

As the announcement was made to us in the visitors' clubhouse at Rockford's Road Ranger Stadium, we heard a similar roar of rejoice from the Riverhawks' clubhouse next door. Apparently, they were excited about the rainout, too.

So instead of laboring through a nine-inning game, we were able to relax a little and enjoy some time as “;regular people.”; Our team bus made an eat stop at a nearby strip mall on the way back to the team hotel, and we all were able to get a good meal, instead of the usual fast food stops.

My meal of choice was at Outback Steakhouse. For others, it was the Olive Garden, or Buffalo Wild Wings. When I got back to my hotel room, I was exhausted still, but relieved. I will always take our chances against any team when we are rested and healthy, yesterday would not have been one of those days. But that's minor league baseball.

My fiancee often asks me how we can put up with such a grueling schedule day in and day out, and I always answer with a shrug and my coverall statement, “;That's just how it is. I guess sometimes we just pray for rain.”;

And sometimes we get it.