The Benchwarmer: The Road Trip

Photo is courtesy of Matt Shock Written by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)

Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)

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Disclaimer – The events contained in the following posts may or may not have actually happened. The names of individuals and institutions may or may not have been changed to protect the identities of those involved. What I mean by this is that every word is true, and that the people and institutions in question are absolutely real. I’m not protecting anybody.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Our first road trip of the season took us to sunny Danville, Virginia. Looking back on it now, Danville, Virginia really wasn’t all that sunny as much as it just wasn’t Mansfield, Ohio in February.

For those of you that haven’t experienced Mansfield in February, it goes like this. Mother Nature gives you two options, both of which typically occur within 12 hours of each other. It’s either 70 degrees with beautiful sun, or 5 degrees with blizzard like snowfall and wind that gives you instant frostbite.

Naturally, the balmy temperatures at the friendly confines of Dan Daniel Stadium made us all question why we even bought Under Armour that season. (Two months later, a road trip to Cleveland would solidify my decision to purchase said Under Armour, and every other piece of winter gear I owned or ever would own.)

Anyhow, two interesting things happened on this trip, one of which involved me physically threatening a teammate and the other involved Coach Hack getting his first ejection of the season. I can’t figure out which story is more entertaining, so I’ll make it like one of those “choose your own adventure” books I read when I was a kid. For the story of me threatening to physically harm one of my teammates, begin reading at the start of the next paragraph. For the story of Coach Hack’s first ejection of the season, skip to the bold type below…but be sure to come back up here when you’re done.

Now to understand why I threatened to physically assault one of my teammates, you must first understand a little known difference between me and Marvin Hudson. I tend to prefer my environment to be slightly chilled. I figure that God made clothing for a reason and who am I to shed unwanted layers when mechanical climate control devices are at my disposal. Marvin on the other hand, prefers to have his surroundings match the environment found inside a sauna at the local YMCA (minus the fat, naked old men of course). He also figures that God made clothes for a reason, so who is he to add unwanted layers when mechanical climate control devices are at his disposal.

Well let’s just say that as we were winding our way through West Virginia on I-77 (which for those of you who don’t know, it’s kind of like spending two hours continuously riding a roller coaster) with Marvin cranking both the hip hop beats and the heater at full blast, I was beginning to feel just a little bit car sick.

To be fair, I did my best to just tough (and sweat) it out. I had shed every piece of clothing I could think of (without making things uncomfortable for everyone in the van of course), and every time I’d casually reach up and turn the heater off in a desperate attempt to hold in my dinner, good old Marvin would crank the heat back up again. This little routine of ours continued on most of the way through the state before I’d finally had enough.

Just as my latest bout with nausea was finally starting to subside, I saw Marvin reaching for the heater controls. I instantly flew off the handle and screamed, “If you touch that heater one more time, I swear to God I’ll break your damn hand!”

Now afterwards, I did apologize and explain that I was ready to hurl. I even offered to give him my coat if he needed it; I’m not one to leave a man freezing mind you.

All was right with the world.

But as luck would have it, this was a college team at a super small school with a super small budget…so we all had to sleep four to a room. Of course, you can probably guess who I ended up sharing a bed with…you guessed it…good old Marvin Hudson.

Coach Hack was ejected from the fourth game of the season in much the same way that Tom Hanks was ejected in A League of Their Own…he blatantly insulted the physique of the home-plate umpire.

Wait a minute…back up…he caused us to forfeit our fourth game of the season by insulting the umpire. He got ejected for riding said umpire like Seattle Slew for virtually every call of the third game of the season and then proceeded to do so well into the fourth game.

You see, our assistant coach hadn’t been able to come on this road trip (I told you this team sucked, and coaching was a big part of our success) so we were all stuck coaching first base like it was some co-ed softball league. At any rate, when the home plate umpire finally had enough and decided it was time for coach to leave, coach was stuck trying to figure out who would manage the team in his absence.

I naturally volunteered for the job. I figured that since I had sat in the dugout chewing sunflower seeds for three straight games, I had more than enough managerial experience to coach the team.

Anyhow, coach ignored my offer and apparently took a little too long to decide who his successor would be for the rest of the game. This of course pissed the umpire off even more and he threatened to call the game if coach didn’t leave the stadium immediately.

Coach calmly stood up, explained that he was trying to figure out who he was going to leave in charge of the team, and for emphasis he added, “So just waddle your fat ass back over to home plate.”

As you may have guessed, our first road trip ended within the next five seconds.

Now I had always seen managers argue with umpires on TV, but you can never hear the conversation. All you can do is see the show. Well this here situation was very different. I had both seen and heard what went down, and I was instantly in awe of coach for his great performance.

From that point on, I made it my goal to get ejected from at least one game before my season was over. I’ll save you the suspense…it never happened.

All in all, my first road trip as a college baseball player was an eventful one, and I’ll never forget it.


The Benchwarmer

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