Well, there seems to be a flurry of news surrounding the Pawtucket Red Sox today. But, not much of it has to do with the impressive 5-1 win over Lehigh Valley last night at Coca-Cola Park. Steven Wright had the good knuckle ball going and baffled the IronPigs for six innings of one run ball. He struck out six and allowed just two singles.
Brandon Snyder paced the offense going 2-for-4 with a homer (his 2nd), a double and three RBI. Bryce Brentz added a two-run single in the 5th to add the fourth and fifth runs of the game. Pedro Beato continued his great start throwing two scoreless innings out of the bullpen with three strikeouts and Anthony Carter recorded his first scoreless frame in a clean 9th to close out the win.
The 5-1 start for the PawSox is the best in franchise history, but they have a long way to go to catch the 1994 Pawtucket squad that started 30-7.
So, here’s what we know in regards to the player movement. Shortstop Jose Iglesias will be in Pawtucket tomorrow when the PawSox play their first home game at McCoy Stadium. SS Stephen Drew was activated from the DL (concussion) forcing the option on Iglesias. And, according to Manager John Farrell, DH David Ortiz will join the PawSox tomorrow for a 20-day rehab assignment. He is recovering from right Achilles’ tendinopathy that originally happened last July 16th while he was running the bases. Big Papi has gone 4-for-8 in 2 extended spring training games the last two days.
Also, starter John Lackey was officially placed on the DL (strained right biceps) and reliever Alex Wilson was recalled from Pawtucket to take his place on the roster. Wilson had pitched in two games with the PawSox allowing 3 runs in 2.2 innings of work with 3 strikeouts. This is his first promotion to the big leagues, and we wish him all the best while he is with the Red Sox. Alfredo Aceves will take Lackey’s place in the rotation for the time being.
No corresponding moves have been made; thus, Pawtucket is playing with one man down in the bullpen for at least tonight.
As for tonight’s game, Boston’s 4th best prospect Allen Webster makes his second start of the season. He was impressive in his first Triple-A start last Friday in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre going five shutout innings allowing just two hits with five strikeouts. He goes against the 4th best prospect in the Phillies system, righty Jonathan Pettibone. Should be a very well pitched game based on the numbers. And in saying that, we’ll probably have a 9-8 game. Thanks for the broadcaster’s jinx
Drew Sutton and J.C. Linares will be getting a much needed rest after struggling out of the gate. Justin Henry will make his first start of the season in center field (67 games in CF with Toledo last season) and Jon Hee will start at third for Sutton.
Another note, outfielders Bryce Brentz and Jeremy Hazelbaker flip flopped last night from right to left and vice versa. They’ll do it again tonight. For Brentz, last night’s start in left field was his first since 2010. Hazelbaker had played 135 prior games in right. Both players new about the switch well in advance of the game and both were just fine with it. Hazelbaker had a 5-game hitting streak snapped with an 0-for-4 last night while Brentz has hit in every game in 2013 to this point (six games).
Here’s the lineup for tonight’s rubber-match.
Jeremy Hazelbaker RF
Brock Holt SS
Ryan Lavarnway C
Mark Hamilton DH
Bryce Brentz LF
Brandon Snyder 1B
Justin Henry CF
Jonathan Diaz 2B
Jon Hee 3B
And Webster on the mound
Here’s a little look into what it looks like around Coca-Cola Park…
Thanks for reading…Go PawSox…TONS of excitement surrounding the home opener tomorrow at 7:05pm! BUT, first this is first…time to finish off this road trip the right way…with a WIN! Join Bob Socci and I as game time is at 7:05pm with the pregame show starting at 6:50.
On the heels of their first loss of the 2013 season, a tough 14-5 defeat to Lehigh Valley last night, the PawSox will look to righty, and opening day starter, Steven Wright to get them back to their winning ways. Wright went four innings on Opening Night in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and the knuckleballer struck out five and walked four.
Talking with Wright before the season about the optimal pitching conditions, he said, “No wind. I’d prefer it warm rather than cold just for my finger-tips, but definitely no wind.” He’ll get most of his wish as it is expected to be 74 degrees at game time in Allentown, PA, but the breeze if blowing out to center field. It’s not whipping out like yesterday, but it will affect fly balls.
Wright will be pitching to Dan Butler tonight as Ryan Lavarnway gets a night off. The latter caught Wright’s knuckleball in his first start and had two passed balls. Butler will be using a glove that resembles a first baseman’s mitt and one that Wright gives personally to the catcher receiving his pitches that particular night.
The outfield will have a different look tonight as Bryce Brentz and Jeremy Hazelbaker flip-flop from right to left and left to right, respectively. Brentz has struggled a bit with his throws to the plate early in the season, but that is not the reason for making the switch. Manager Gary DiSarcina revealed before the season started that he’d be rotating his outfielders to get them work at all positions. The PawSox have employed J.C. Linares in center field, but he, too, is just a novice at the position. So, don’t be surprised to see, or hear, or some movement among the outfielders and their positions.
Brock Holt is back in the lineup. He has been battling a bruised right foot after fouling a ball of it on Opening Night last week. He participated in a full pre-game work out yesterday and reported no discomfort.
So, here’s tonight’s lineup for Game 2 against Lehigh Valley.
Jeremy Hazelbaker RF
Brock Holt SS
Drew Sutton 3B
Mark Hamilton DH
Bryce Brentz LF
Brandon Snyder 1B
Justin Henry 2B
J.C. Linares CF
Dan Butler C
Steven Wright on the mound
One final note, the PawSox began the season 4-0 for the first time in franchise history. Even with the loss last night, their 4-1 mark matched the best five-game start in history by the 1994 team. That squad put together the best start in club-history going 4-1 after 5 games, 10-3 after 13 games, and eventually 21-5 and then 30-7 (through May 14, 1994). That’s a TON of W’s! Gives this bunch something to shoot for…
Thanks for reading…the pre-game show will be on the radio at 6:50 with the game starting at 7:05 and can be heard live by following this link…http://www.iheart.com/#/live/3223/?autoplay=true
Here’s my picture of the day from Coca-Cola Park…
The PawSox completed their four game sweep of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre yesterday by a 6-2 score. New England native, Terry Doyle pitched 6.1 innings of scoreless baseball allowing just one hit. He battled his command a bit walking five and hitting a batter. But, one of the oddest things about Doyle’s start was that of the 87 pitches he threw, only 44 were strikes. Had he not come out in the 7th and thrown a first pitch strike, then get a fly out, Doyle would have finished his outing with more balls than strikes. Very odd as he did not allow a hit after the lead-off batter in the 1st reached on a base-hit bunt.
Jeremy Hazelbaker chipped in a pair of hits and Justin Henry was on base four times on a single and three walks. Mark Hamilton paced the offense going 3-for-5 with a double and two RBI. Ryan Lavarnway added a two run single in a three run 3rd inning.
We continue our road trip in Allentown, PA for a three game set with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. On paper, the ‘Pigs are one of the most prospect laden teams in the league. The have six of the top 10 according to Baseball America. But they have jumped out to a slow start losing 3 of 4 to the Syracuse Chiefs (Washington Nationals).
Tonight, highly touted prospect Rubby De La Rosa makes his Triple-A debut for the PawSox. It still shocks me that he has never thrown a pitch at this level, yet he has had 14 games of major league experience. He’ll be limited to 50 pitches and will be backed up by Graham Godfrey out of the bullpen. De La Rosa is coming off of Tommy John Surgery from August 2011.
The lineup is the exact same one as yesterday (minus the starting pitcher)…
Jeremy Hazelbaker LF
Justin Henry 2B
Drew Sutton 3B
Ryan Lavarnway C
Bryce Brentz RF
Brandon Snyder 1B
Mark Hamilton DH
J.C. Linares CF
Jonathan Diaz SS
and De La Rosa on the mound
On a side note, Brock Holt, who has been out of the lineup since opening day due to fouling a ball off the top of his right foot, could be back on the field tomorrow. He took batting practice and infield today and looked sharp.
Still no official word on whether Big Papi will be at McCoy Thursday night for the Home Opener, but will keep you posted if we hear anything.
That’s it for today…pre-game starts in two hours on WHJJ 920am. To listen to the game live, click here…http://www.iheart.com/#/live/3223/?autoplay=true
Just a quick visual trip around the home of the brand new Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
7,500 actual seats, but 10,000 can fit inside with the grass seating in right center field. Overall cost was $43 million to almost completely renovate the facility.
It’s been a great trip. 3-0 so far and going for the sweep this afternoon. Terry Doyle on the hill for the PawSox.
Lineup for today’s finale with the RailRiders:
Jeremy Hazelbaker LF
Justin Henry 2B
Drew Sutton 3B
Ryan Lavarnway C
Bryce Brentz RF
Brandon Snyder 1B
Mark Hamilton DH
J.C. Linares CF
Jonathan Diaz SS
Terry Doyle pitching
Boston starter John Lackey began his first outing of 2013 optimistically. Through four and a third innings, the right had stuck out eight batters and had allowed just a two-run homer to JP Arencibia. For all intents and purposes, a very promising start for the “Nation”.
But in the 5th facing Colby Rasmus, he tried to throw a 1-2 slider and the result was not a welcome one…http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2013_04_06_slnmlb_sfnmlb_1&mode=gameday#gid=2013_04_06_slnmlb_sfnmlb_1&mode=gameday
As nasty as it looked for a guy just a year removed from Tommy John Surgery, Lackey was diagnosed with a biceps strain in his right arm. Very good news. He did offer, “It was a little scary when it happened,” but vowed that it wasn’t as bad as it looked and felt more like a serious cramp.
The folks from the PawSox were in full speculation mode on what would happen should Lackey need to be put on the DL. We shall see in the coming days.
We’ll get more details as they become available.
First of all, sorry for the lack of a post for a week…not sure how that much time slipped by, but my sincere apologies.
Secondly, break up the PawSox (no not really)! Back to back games with five-run innings, the Sox are scoring their runs in bunches and the pitching has been solid so far. I’m liking the complexion of this team so far.
Observations from the Week that Was
Media day on Tuesday was a great experience. At least 60 members of the media (newspapers, TV and Radio) showed up to McCoy on a chilly evening to meet the ball club and take in an enjoyable night. Bob Socci and I did a number of interviews with players and they can be seen here: http://www.milb.com/multimedia/vpp.jsp?sid=t533
Wednesday was the Welcome Home Luncheon at the Marriott in Downtown Providence. I had the honor of emceeing the event and the turnout was terrific. Over 300 people were in attendance to meet and greet the team as they embark on their quest to repeat as Governors’ Cup Champions.
Featured speaker, John Tudor, stole the show during his chat with former PawSox and Red Sox player Bob Montgomery. Tudor, a former 21 game winner in 1985 with St. Louis, came up in the Boston system and pitched in Pawtucket from 1978-80. He was candid in his thoughts about umpires, baseball as it is today and how it differs from the game that he played 25 years ago and openly admitted that he would not have been as successful if he played in this era.
It really is interesting talking to players from different age groups to see how the game has evolved. Whether it’s the strike zone, the weight programs, the pitching, the hitting and, especially, the technology incorporated into the game today.
For an in-depth recap of the Welcome Home Luncheon read more here: http://pawsoxradio.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/welcome-home/
Thursday began the season! Opening day at the brand new PNC Field in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre was, in a word, interesting. The ball park renovation turned out great, from what I’m told since I had no frame of reference of the previous park. New seats, new suites and pretty much new everything but the playing surface (they replaced that just a couple seasons ago). The RailRiders may have had 35 first pitches and the fact that Reggie Jackson threw out the last one kind of got lost in the shuffle, sadly. Hal Steinbrenner even made an appearance and said a few words to the crowd prior to the game.
The new facility is still not 100% complete, but to their credit, they opened the gates and I’m not sure if any of the fans noticed some of the projects that were still incomplete.
As for the game, it was a thriller. 3-3 into the 10th inning and the PawSox erupted for five thanks to homers from Jeremy Hazelbaker and Justin Henry and RBI doubles from Ryan Lavarnway and Bryce Brentz. 8-4 was the final and Pawtucket was 1-0.
Last night, Game #2…my feet are finally touching the ground. I’m back to reality and back in the swing of the season. Sometimes it just takes a couple days, thus the delay in sitting down and writing a blog!
Allen Webster, a talented 23-year-old pitcher, made the start and at times look like a 23-year-old pitching in Triple-A for the first time. He battled through fits of wildness and deep counts, but at the end of his outing, he threw five innings of shutout ball allowing just two hits with five strikeouts. He was in line for the win with a 3-0 lead into the 7th, but SWB battled back to tie the game on a three-run double by Thomas Neal.
The PawSox plated five runs in the 8th (the second straight night scoring five runs in an inning) thanks to an RBI fielder’s choice by Brentz, an RBI single by Brandon Snyder and a three-run blast by Mark Hamilton.
At the end of the day, the PawSox won 9-4. After striking out 14 on opening night, Pawtucket struck out 12 more last night including reliever Chris Carpenter striking out the side in each of the two innings he threw.
2-0 feels pretty darn good to say the least.
PawSox Insider airs LIVE from 2-3pm today on our flagship station WHJJ 920am. Bob and I will chat with shortstop Brock Holt, reliever Anthony Carter and PawSox Beat Writer Brendan McGair of the Pawtucket Times.
If you miss the Insider Show, they it be archived on Pawsox.com. And tune in tonight as the PawSox try and make it three in a row to begin the 2013 season. Lefty Chris Hernandez takes to hill for Pawtucket in his season debut.
Thanks for popping in!
Only six days remain until the regular season begins for the Pawtucket Red Sox. It’s hard to believe that the last victory of the 2012 season was to clinch the Governors’ Cup in Charlotte (yes, I know they played a few days later in Durham against Reno for the AAA title, but I did say, last victory) September 13th.
The roster in Boston is starting to get trimmed quickly and they’ll have their 25-man Opening Day Roster set by Sunday afternoon. Those decisions will directly affect what the PawSox roster will look like when the season starts April 4th in Scranton. But, the team will be in Pawtucket before the 4th. So moves will be made and in a hurry.
We do know that our starting rotation should feature knuckle-baller Steven Wright, talented prospect Allen Webster, returner Chris Hernandez (the lone lefty) and New England Native Terry Doyle. Righty Rubby De La Rosa might be in the mix as well. All spent time with the big club during Spring Training and enjoyed success for the most part.
The bullpen will be loaded based on the Red Sox moves as well. Anthony Carter, Jose De La Torre, Alex Wilson, Chris Carpenter, Oscar Villarreal and Pedro Beato all should be in Pawtucket at some point. Other names may surface, but those arms are powerful and productive.
Even though no official word has been sent down from the Red Sox (as of the time of the this posting) about Jackie Bradley Jr.’s status being with Boston, the Pawtucket offense should be strong led by 2012 International League MVP Mauro Gomez, Bryce Brentz, Jeremy Hazelbaker, Ryan Lavarnway, Brock Holt, JC Linares and Alex Hassan. Again, more names will surface once the official roster is announced in a few days, but the complexion of this team, at least in the beginning of the season, is very solid.
As mentioned, the team will be arriving in Pawtucket late Sunday night and will have a work out for the media on Tuesday.
Wednesday, the PawSox annual “Welcome Home Luncheon” will be held at the Providence Marriott for fans to come and get to know the team before the season starts on the 4th.
John Tudor, who had an outstanding 12-year major league pitching career, will be the featured guest speaker as he will chat with former Red Sox catcher Bob Montgomery. Tudor, who was raised in Peabody, MA and resides in Middleton, MA, was drafted by the Red Sox in 1976. He pitched for the PawSox for parts of four seasons (1977-80) and in 1980 teamed with fellow lefties Bruce Hurst and Bobby Ojeda to form one of the best young pitching staffs in minor league baseball.
Tudor made his Major League debut with the Boston Red Sox in August of 1979. He was eventually traded to St. Louis and turned in a spectacular 1985 season posting 21 wins, a 1.93 ERA, and 10 complete game shutouts in leading the Cardinals to the World Series. He won a World Series ring with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988. Overall during his Major League career he went 117-72 with a fine 3.12 ERA.
It should be a terrific event, not only with Tudor and Montgomery, but also to meet this year’s crop of PawSox. Tickets are still available for Wednesday’s luncheon, visit pawsox.com for more information or to reserve your place.
Have a terrific Easter weekend with your families and we’ll catch up Monday when we have an official roster ready to go!
Six more days until the season opener and 13 from the home opener at McCoy! Can’t wait to get going.
Today is the day. I teased it yesterday, but today, yes, today is the day.
The 2013 Scorebook is printed and ready to be etched (or four-color penned in my case) in the history books.
Who is to say what kind of history…good, bad, indifferent…but whatever happens, I know it’ll be a first.
The evolution of my personally designed scorebook began in 2007 when I was starting my first season of broadcasting with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in the California League. I didn’t want to just go up to the local sporting goods store and purchase a standard scorebook. I needed something that was original to me.
My mentor, Kansas City Royals TV/Radio Broadcaster Steve Physioc, once told me when we were working together with the Angels that he always liked having all his information in one place. If he had to go fishing through a bunch of papers or notes to find a statistic or story, the moment might pass to be able to use that piece of information because he’d be sifting through stacks for paper. So he had designed his own scorebook and could write notes and stats all over it and they’d be all in one place. What a brilliant idea. Lots of information all in one place. There is already enough racing through my mind when calling a game, why complicate things when I don’t have to.
I took this approach when, in ’07, I went to our Director of Entertainment, Jon Mercier, with an idea. He took it and ran with it. The original was great. A beast, but a great scorebook. A perfect design for what I needed. But, when I picked it up, it didn’t fit inside my travel bag…it was too wide. And, we only made the score sheet go to the 10th inning. This became a problem when we played a 16 inning game within the first week of the season. Two key missteps for me, a rookie.
So, we made a couple adjustments from ’07 to ’08 and that design has been golden since. The new design goes to the 12th, the individual boxes are truncated and my hand writing continues to get poorer and smaller. At least I can read it, right?!
I still have every scorebook from every season. It’s fun to go back and see some of the players that have played on teams I’ve called or opposing teams. The 16 inning game that I referenced featured a young catcher batting 9th named Pablo Sandoval (2012 World Series MVP). David Freese (2011 WS MVP with the Cardinals) played for Lake Elsinore (a Padres affiliate, was traded for Jim Edmonds following the season) and a young catcher name Carlos Santana that played for the Dodgers affiliate in Inland Empire (traded to Cleveland for Casey Blake). Even some of the guys that played in Lancaster (then a Red Sox club in ’07 and ’08) that may be curse words in “The Nation” now: Bubba Bell, Zach Daeges, Aaron Bates (who hit four homers in a game that year), Mark Wagner, Jason Place, Reid Engel, Justin Masterson and Mickey Hall. Even the likes of up-and-comers Daniel Bard (who’d like to forget Lancaster ever existed), Ryan Kalish, Lars Anderson (who went to the same high school I went to, but I’m a few years older), Daniel Nava (he was just Dan back then), Josh Reddick and, my personal favorite, Zak Farkes (no relation to Scut Farkus from A Christmas Story). And those are just from my first two years in the Cal League. I’d need a much longer blog to get into the crop of talent I came across in the Texas League from 2010 through 2012.
I digress. It’s always nice to take a trip down memory lane and know that this year it’ll all start fresh with a brand new set of players and teams.
Eight days to go, but who’s counting anyway? This guy!
Nine days! Yes, only nine days are left before the beginning of the PawSox season. And, Easter is Sunday?! Where did the time go?
The roster is still in flux, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t gearing up for the season to start.
Bob Socci is taking his turn in Fort Myers this week and has already lined up a couple great interviews for the Insider Show Saturday. I’m told it was a little chilly down there today. Maybe it’s a good thing to get the players ready for the first month in the North East.
I spent my afternoon voicing pregame reads for the sound system that feeds into the parking lot and concourse. The reads are to let fans know what to expect at the ballpark, the PawSox opponents and upcoming special events. More voice over work in the WHJJ studio on Thursday as well!
I also got my first look at the game notes. This 19 page document really gets me excited for the season. Maybe it’s the baseball nerd in me, but all the stats, stories and general information makes me want to get in the booth and call a game right now.
Speaking of which, I dropped my custom made scorebook off at the local printer to be made today. I can’t wait to fill that baby out. I’ll show some pictures tomorrow of some of my work (if you can read the chicken scratch) from years past and the fresh scorebook yet to be written upon. It’s a thing of beauty and even a very prideful thing for me. A broadcasters scorebook is borderline sacred.
I’ll dive into this topic a little more with tomorrow’s blog with pictures too.
The Red Sox had an off day today, but announced they had released first baseman Lyle Overbay. That means there are three possibilities for the starting first base job in Pawtucket: Mauro Gomez, Mike Carp or Mark Hamilton. Reports say Carp may have the inside edge on the back-up job in Boston, that leaves the reigning International League MVP in Gomez and a former first rounder in Hamilton (previously with the Cardinals). Regardless, I think the PawSox will be in good shape at 1st.
We’ll take a look at some other potential players tomorrow and through the week leading up to opening night on the 4th in Scranton.
Thanks for reading
After spending an excellent week in Fort Myers following the PawSox, my return to Pawtucket was an adventure to say the least.
In Florida’s defense, Saturday March 23rd was their busiest travel day of the year. College and high school spring breaks coinciding at the same time and spring training… the perfect storm. Something I should have known when I booked my travel back home.
One thing to note before I dive in, I am big on preparation. Whether it is to call a game, go to the grocery store or travel, I am organized and prepared. I am also patient and adaptable. So, if things go awry, I roll with it because, for the most part, I can’t control everything. Yesterday was a true test of all of these factors.
My first flight was scheduled to depart Fort Myers at 12:05pm, a brief connecting flight in Charlotte before arriving in Providence at around 4pm. Not a bad travel itinerary.
I arrived at Southwest Florida International Airport at about 10am planning to post up with a book and relax before the first leg of my travel. I needed every second of extra time as it took an hour to get through the security line.
We boarded our flight on time (they gate checked my bag all the way to Providence so I wouldn’t have to worry about it, sweet), pushed back and on the runway the captain came over the intercom. “Folks, our on time arrival in Charlotte has now hit a wall. Air traffic control has lost their computer system and is only allowing planes to take off after the previous plane is 15-20 miles away. We are 12th in line and we hope to be out of here in about 30 minutes.”
A collective gasp from the passengers occurred and panic began to set in with folks with connections. I thought to myself, ‘we can make up time in the air and with so many people on this flight on the Providence flight, they’ll hold the plane a couple minutes’. I, ever the optimist, had hope.
We finally get in the air 30 minutes late, and with an already tight 40 minute connection, there would be no time to dilly-dally in Charlotte.
My next flight was scheduled to leave at 2:30pm. Our plane landed at…2:28pm. There was no chance. The flight attendants told us not to even try, the plane would be gone (with a ton of empty seats) and they could assist us at the next gate because there was another flight at 4:15pm. No big deal, just a little extra lay over, grab a quick bite and be back at six instead of four. No biggie. The airline was trying to rectify the situation.
They sent us to a different gate and I asked the attendant what they could do to help. Bless this girl’s heart as she was dealing with a lot of angry folks and a slammed airport. I stayed calm and inquired about the chance of getting on the next flight. “This next flight is totally full, but you are on the standby list and some other flights are delayed, so there’s a good chance you’ll be ok.” So, I sat down, grabbed a bite to eat (a little Thai Chicken Pizza from California Pizza Kitchen for the first time since 2009) and read some of my book.
Boarding time approaches. I stand and wait by the desk to see if I can get on this flight. I see the tickets being scanned and the number rapidly decreasing filling the available seats. Once everyone on the flight is checked in, the number sits at three. I’m thinking I’m in good shape. Three names not Levering are called. Ahhhh, major deflator. Just to see how close I was to getting a seat, I looked at the monitor to find…my name is not even on the standby list. WHAT?! The sweet girl at the counter didn’t put me on the list? This doesn’t make sense. So, I asked what happened, asked how close I was and she said, ‘Ah, you just missed it.” I mentioned the names on the screen and she said please go to Customer Service to see when the next flight is. Patience is starting to run thin…paper thin.
“Customer Service” was not tremendously helpful. After waiting in line for 30 minutes, they said, we have one more flight tonight leaving at 8pm flying into Providence, but it is over-sold. “You can wait on standby, but that hasn’t been too successful for you so far today”, was the next sentence out of this person’s mouth. Really?! Patience is down to dental floss.
There are flights to Boston and Hartford, but they are full (and wouldn’t be much help anyway). The best they could do was put me on a 6am flight the next day, connect through Atlanta and arrive in Providence at 11:30. But, they weren’t going to put me up in a hotel. I’d be on my own for that, because it was not, “the airlines fault for you being late”. Steam is starting to build, but, at the very least, something that could be guaranteed to get me back home.
I decided to wait it out. Most of the other folks that missed the first and second connections took the 6am option and grabbed a place to stay. My chances looked good just because I was going to wait.
I had some time on my hands, grabbed dinner, a couple beverages and finished my book (which I started on the first flight). The book, by the way, was Bottom of the 33rd, the story of the longest game ever played between Pawtucket and Rochester in 1981 at McCoy Stadium. If you haven’t read it, please do. It’s outstanding and available in the PawSox Team Store.
Book is done, belly is full and it’s time to pray. Boarding time for the 8pm flight, which by now, has been delayed until 9:40. Again, I stand by the front counter and watch the numbers decrease. It gets to two and I’m feeling good. I see my name 2nd on the list, and with two seats left, I’m going home. This number then moves to one because one of the seats was “broken”. The person in front of me on the list was actually not just one person, but a couple! But, their names were separated on the list, for some reason, and I was sandwiched in the middle. They didn’t want to be separated, for good reason, so they allowed me to have the final ticket.
I walked down the jet way relieved. This has been a heck of a day and I’m just ready to be back. I grabbed my seat, settled in and buckled my seat belt. No sooner than the metal snap of the seat belt hit my ears, one of the flight attendants looked at me and asked me to follow them. Oh No…they take me off the plane and say, “You can’t sit in that seat because it is ‘broken’”. Broken?? I sat in it and it was just fine. I even said, “I’ll sit in the lavatory if it gets me back on this plane”. No dice, they took me off the plane when the seat was fine.
I said, “I’m pretty much done then, right? Stuck here until tomorrow?” The gal then said there was one more flight leaving at 10:09. Wait…what?! There is another flight tonight? That hasn’t even been an option through this mess of a day. She stops me, calls over to the other gate and asks if they have a seat available. I wait, and this gal has a sensational poker face. She hangs up the phone and says, “You’re good, but RUN to the gate.”
I was not blessed with speed, but I beat cleats to that gate. They had a ticket and, by golly, I got on that flight. And there were PLENTY of seats on this one. The other folks that waited it out got on this flight as did a few others that missed connections throughout the day. I was still nervous that someone was going to pull me off this plane, so I buckled up and dug my heels in. I was not getting off this plane. They closed the doors and I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief.
A quick flight back to Providence and we arrive about midnight. My bag, that was gate checked in Fort Myers, made the trip on the 4:15 flight and was waiting for me in the airline baggage claim office. But it couldn’t be that easy right?! Not after this day. I arrive at the office and it’s locked. Locked?! What? This is a sick joke right? I’m two feet away from my bag and all that separates me from it and going home is a pane of glass. Many thoughts crossed my mind, but picking up the courtesy phone was the sanest one. Turns out the gentleman working in the office had to help at the gate that we arrived in, so after about 20 minutes, he showed up, handed us our bags and I was headed home.
What a day…what was supposed to be a simple travel day, turned out to be very crazy and a true test of wits. Somehow, I never lost my cool (came close a couple of times) and by sticking it out, I got home. It was a 14 hour travel day. One for the ages. An interesting end to a terrific trip and only 11 days to go until the season begins in Scranton.
Thanks for reading this rant/epic tale, if you’ve made it down this far. Baseball is right around the corner.
Oh by the way, Jackie Bradley Jr. just hit an opposite field homer against Philadelphia. Will we even see him in Pawtucket?! We shall see. Selfishly, I hope so. He’s been sensational this spring.