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Baseball Road Trips

I had the oil changed Saturday, and I had a new pair of P175/65R14's put on last night.

The odometer on my '99 Corolla reads 101,004, but it's always treated me well, and I have little doubt that with the proper preventative maintenance, it will be up to the long and taxing month and a half I have planned for it.

Kissimmee--more specifically Osceola County Stadium, spring home of our Houston Astros--lies something like 190 miles north-northwest of my front porch, and I've decided to make that drive coming and going at least three times over the next six weeks, in addition to the jaunt to Port St. Lucie I'd told you about previously.

This coming Saturday, I plan to attend the second workout after the pitcher/catcher report date, and I will be bringing along my newest toys--a Canon S3 digital camera, and a Sony ICDP320 digital voice recorder--so that I can record anything of note, and (of course) post it here.

Saturday's will be a day trip only, but depending on how things go, I very well may turn around and do the whole thing over again on Sunday.

Regardless, I will certainly be back in Kissimmee on Saturday the 24th to cover the third mandatory full squad workout, and if things look good then, I may even grab myself a room at the Stadium Inn and Suites, a short drive up Bill Beck Boulevard, and an even shorter one up US 17/92, from OCS. That'll make it easier to catch the workout on the 25th.

And then I'll also be attending the game March 10 in Kissimmee vs. the Phillies.

To be honest, I'd be a little more psyched if the Astros had issued the spring media credentials I'd requested, but seems to me that simply by being there and keeping my ears up, and my camera in use, I should be able to convey some of the experience of being at camp to you the readers.

And it's still not rock solid, but Alyson Footer has agreed to meet with me, if I can get my schedule to synch with hers.  

And of course, Jose Jesus de Ortiz will be there, too.  Maybe I can hook up with him.

Reading Ortiz' blog over the last 24 hours or so about his drive down to Florida with Chris Sampson has not only gotten me charged up about my upcoming weekends, but has also reminded me of some of the lunatic baseball road trips of my younger days, when catching a game from the High A Osceola Astros in Kissimmee would launch a coffee-fueled cross-country trek highlighted by Days Inn motels, Waffle Houses, and of course, plenty of Astros minor league baseball.

My most insane trip was in 1994, I believe.  I left Miami after work on Friday, and after stops in Lakeland, Florida, and Jackson, Mississippi to catch the O-Astros and the Texas League  Jackson Generals, I was in Davenport, Iowa, on Wednesday. That's gotta be near 2000 miles in five days. Ridiculous.

But John O'Donnell Stadium is entirely constructed of red brick, and is situated on the Mississippi River, lying in the shadow of the huge Centennial bridge across the river. I found it to be a throughly excellent place to catch a game. I even remember the name Paul O'Malley, who started for our Quad City River Bandits that night.

Other trips took me into New Orleans to see the Zephyrs, into Round Rock to see the Express, and of course, into Houston to see the 'Stros..  But even after the long road trips stopped being an annual occurrence, I still was able to get to Kissimmee once a year or so to catch the Astros' team there--they renamed 'em the Kissimmee Cobras in '95--until they basically moved the team to Lexington after the 2000 season.  

This weekend will be the first time I'll be back at OCS in seven years. They've remodeled the place since I was last there, but it will still seem like a blast from the past.