Father’s Day, getaway day and life on the road
It’s Father’s Day, so first and foremost, I’d like to wish all the fathers out there a happy Father’s Day. I finally realized how much this day really means after my wife, Anna, and I had our first baby in February — February 7 — a little girl named Rylyn Mae.
The responsibility that goes with having a little girl is huge and it’s something I’ve been realizing more and more and more because they’ll tell you the way your little girl views men the rest of her life is predicated on the father. That really amps up the pressure. You really want to be sure you’re doing the right thing for her by your values system. You want to raise her with the values she’s going to carry the rest of her life. It’s not a joke and you don’t get any do-overs.
With Father’s Day, it used to be that my wife always had to prod me to call Dad and make sure I wished him a happy Father’s Day. I did that because I felt like I had to, but now I see how special that phone call is. For me, it’s the best day. It’s the best day. I would rather celebrate Father’s Day than my own birthday if you gave me a choice. It’s a proud day for all the fathers.
During the Father’s Day game against the Astros, we wore blue wristbands and a blue ribbon on our jersey to promote prostate cancer awareness (Major League Baseball did the same thing, too, on Mother’s Day, only it was to raise awareness about breast cancer and everything was pink. Very cool). Anyway, a few of us decided to wear these, too. What can I say?
And it’s getaway day. Getaway day, in the big leagues, is a long day. It’s better when we play a day game on getaway day, but it’s a long day, starting with the night before when I’m trying to spend the last little bit of time with my family before I go on the road. And I’ve always got to finish packing, which can be a pain sometimes, I think everybody knows that.
The morning of getaway day, I’ll get up, go work out, come to the field, go through our pregame routine, whether we’re hitting on the field or not (a lot of times, for a day game after a night game, we won’t take batting practice on the field. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t). Then we have the game, and you’ve got to be in to that, obviously rooting your team on and hoping for the win. After the game, we deal with the media, eat dinner and then it’s time to take the bus out to the Kansas City International Airport.
Now when we get to the airport, everybody has to go through security. For commercial flights, they may randomly check 10 to 12 people, but for our flights, they check 100 percent of the people on that charter. I mean everybody goes through the wand, the bag search, all that. And then it’s into the plane and on to the next city.
Plane rides are pretty fun. We’ve got a good group, obviously. The veterans sit wherever they want, whether that’s in the middle of the plane, the back of the plane, wherever they so desire. Then the young guys fill in from the front and work their way on back.
Our flights are pretty sweet. We have a reconfigured plane so there’s a little bit more room. As you move toward the back of the plane you get a group of guys who are the card players. The first thing they want to do when they get on is start playing poker to pass the time. I’m not been much of a card player. I’m more of a sit-and-relax type of guy. I’ve never been much of a card player, not much of a gambler.
I’ve never been much of a gambler but I went on vacation in the Bahamas to Atlantis (and I actually kept track of this because it was so pathetic), and over a four-night stand, I sat down at the $25 blackjack table and played 33 hands. That may not seem like a lot over four days but the reason I only played 33 hands was because I won once, I pushed twice and I lost 30 times. I had back-to-back nights when I sat down, cashed in $200 and lost eight straight hands of blackjack.
And, oh, by the way, I know how to play. OK? I’m not a hit-on-18 guy, it’s not like I have no clue how to play. I know how to play blackjack … and I stank. But it was probably a good thing because I also have an addictive personality, so if I’d have had a lot of success, who knows? That ruined me of gambling. After that, I had no interest, no interest, in gambling. Some people might say, hey, look at that money as entertainment and if it lasts you all night, well, you had fun. For me, it was a debacle. And it was no fun laying down that money and watching it go away in three minutes.
So, no, cards do not appeal to me on the plane.
Then you’ve got the movie watchers. Midwest Express, our airline that flies us everywhere, they provide little portable DVD players — a lot of guys have their own — and some movies.
I’m a movie watcher.
Actually, no, I’m not a movie watcher. What I do on the plane (and what I’ve been doing since the beginning of the year), is trying to convert our team to “Arrested Development” watchers. I ran into that show this off-season, got the first season on DVD for Christmas and it is, hands down, the funniest show on TV. There’s not even a close second.
So I’ve been touting that show all through Spring Training and one by one, guys have started to come over. Jeremy Affeldt wanted to watch it with me (I have an open seat next to me on the plane and guys come back, they sit next to me, we throw it in and we watch the show), so it started with Jeremy, then it went to John Buck, who knocked out the entire first season with me on one road trip, and now Tony Graffanino is the guy. That’s become our team show.
In fact, when USA Today ran a “Save Our Shows” campaign, I wrote a letter to them explaining that it was the team show and I got everybody to sign it. I even overnighted it so it would come in a big envelope and they would take a look at it. USA Today did nothing with it. They didn’t give it the time of day. I guess they didn’t appreciate it.
Anyway, the show got renewed for a third season, so I’m pretty happy about that.
Then you get to the next city, get on the bus, take it to the hotel, get to your room — sometimes later than other times, depending on how long the flight is — and it becomes a very long day, so there’s no question that on getaway day, you want to win that game. You want to win them all but losing on a getaway day makes for a really long flight. Hopefully, we can win today on getaway day.