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An inside look at life on road

Posted: Sunday, July 07, 2002

Ever wonder what it is like to be on a road trip with the Oilers? Luckily, I am able to provide some insight into the experience after spending my second week in Anchorage.

During this six-day trip, our schedule included games against the Anchorage Glacier Pilots, Anchorage Bucs and Mat-Su Miners. Obviously, our first priority on the road is to win as many baseball games as possible, but there are several other challenges that we face as a team. They include finding something to do all day, surviving on minimal meal money and being able to put up with each other for an entire week.

Every road trip starts with the bus ride, which in this case took between three and four hours. The bus itself is rather old, but it does its job in getting us back and forth.

Walking down the aisle on a bus ride, one will find players doing whatever they can to entertain themselves. This ranges from cards, to music, to sleeping to conversations. By the end of the trip we are all sick of the bus because we take it everywhere, every day. But overall, it is an adequate form of transportation.

As a team, we try to find anything we can to get us out of the hotels we are staying in, which usually are not of the highest class. For example, this week I stayed down the hall from the "Fantasy Room" at the Mush Inn Motel in Anchorage.

Some of the activities we partake in on the road include weight lifting, team lunches and bowling. On an average day, the bus will leave at approximately 11 a.m. for the afternoon activities, and will return to the hotel at about 1:30 p.m.

We depart for the games around 4, and are settled in for the night near midnight, following the game and dinner. Meal money is at a premium, so Arby's five for five deals and Applebee's half-price appetizers need to be taken advantage of.

The road trips represent a great opportunity for us to get to better our knowledge of each other, and become closer as a team. Doing so only helps our performance during games.

Most times the trips are a great deal of fun, especially when we are winning. The situation for us as Oilers is especially good because we receive luxuries that some other teams in the league might not enjoy, like ice cold drinks on the bus.

Not only does the enhanced camaraderie allow us to be more successful on the field, but our game-time approach also changes. Playing in a new park in front of new fans presents a challenge for us as a team, but hitting first allows us to jump on the opposition early.

Oftentimes playing on the road helps a team play more relaxed. The goal on any toad trip is to finish .500, and so far we have reached that goal on both trips. Although no matter how successful or fun a road trip is, no feeling is sweeter than arriving home at the end of it, because we can sleep in our own beds and get ready for a homestand.

This column is the opinion of Chris Graziano, who is working part time for the Clarion this summer. Comments can be directed to clarion@alaska.net.



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