“How Can We Help?”

 

This is part two of a three part series.

 

On April 27th, the deadliest tornado outbreak since 1925 ripped through the Southern United States. As of April 30th, 249 people were confirmed dead by the Emergency Management Agency. The large majority of those deaths occurred within 100 miles of Birmingham, my home, and the home of the Birmingham Barons professional baseball team.

 

How do residents of a city, permanent or temporary, react to an event like that? They help.

 

Within hours of the storm, the Barons’ front office hatched a plan. Free admission would be given to any game during the current homestand with the donation of a case of bottled water or six canned goods. While I have no idea how much was donated, not my department, but I do know that the majority of the patrons who donated, donated more than the minimum.

 

Our front office was doing their part to help, the players wanted to do something too. The storm happened on a Wednesday, by the next day, we had a plan. We weren’t 100% we’d be able to execute it, but it was a solid plan.

 

A few players approached manager Bobby Magallanes with an idea, Bobby ate it up, and we moved forward. The players’ idea was to cancel batting practice one day and drive to volunteer at a devastated area. Tuscaloosa, Pleasant Grove, Pratt City, and Fultondale were the likely locations.

 

Bobby and general manager Jonathan Nelson had a conversation about it, and the wheels were in motion. Director of stadium operation James Young approached me on Friday. He talked to the Red Cross people in charge and we were likely going to be going to Pleasant Grove on Monday before the game.

 

Plans changed slightly, and James had us set up to meet at the ballpark at 10:45am to carpool to the Scott School in Pratt City, AL to work at a Red Cross disaster relief center. Pleasant Grove was still not to a point where visitors could enter the city. It was still controlled by the National Guard.

 

At 10:45 on the sunny and warm morning of Monday May 2nd, sixteen Barons players wearing their white home jerseys, our manager, three wives, a few members of our front office, visiting clubhouse manager Jan Dunlap, and I left for Pratt City, not really knowing what to expect.

 

I don’t want to use the word “chaos” to describe what we saw when we got ther, but “organized chaos” wouldn’t be too far fetched. The left turn lane onto the road that the school is one was backed up at least a quarter of a mile. Traffic was barely moving. There were many Birmingham police and Air Force and National Guardsmen with automatic weapons.

 

Once you were able to turn onto the road, you didn’t quite know what to do. The caravan used an array of methods to in order to park; jumping a curb, driving the wrong way, and moving tree limbs to create space. We all eventually got parked, then it was a matter of getting everyone together and trying to figure out where we were supposed to be going. As Jared Price, Brian Omogrosso, and I were waiting by the front of the school, directly in front of the line of traffic, for the rest of the group, a guy in an idling SUV asked where he was supposed to go to drop off cases of bottles water and juice he was donating. We looked at each other, not knowing the answer, and said, “We can take it for you.”

 

The three of us unloaded the back of his vehicle, walked inside, fought the hustle and bustle of people, and found the classroom that was designated “Bottled Water.” We dropped off the water and went back outside. There was kind of an unspoken “Hey! We found a task that we can do! Let’s stick with it!” We shouted at another truck idling in traffic, asked if they had a donation. The driver pulled onto the curb, let down the tailgate, and we unloaded probably 30 cases of water that were in the back of that one pick up! We continued to do that for a few minutes, doing our part to unload donations, alleviate traffic, and break a sweat.

 

Somebody, I can’t remember who, grabbed us and told us we had to go inside to register as volunteers. We filed in to a hot room and filled out a form with the usual “Name/phone number/address/emergency contact” questions. From there, I ended up being shuffled to the back parking lot of the school to help load, unload, and sort.

 

The basic principle that was happening was the unloading of donations at one end of the parking lot. The donations were brought inside to be sorted into separate classrooms for women’s clothing, men’s clothing, shoes, baby clothing/diapers, cleaning supplies/hygiene, and bottled water.

 

 

Link to CBS 42 Video

 

The food products were taken to the kitchen to be sorted there. There were boxes being loaded with the right proportions of canned goods, snack food, fruit, breads, and other food items that a family of a given number would need. The food boxes were brought out to a table outside the door. The donors would walk through the school to pick up the clothing, cleaning supplies, and hygiene products, then receive their food box at the table by the back door on the way to their cars! What looked like chaos at first, was one of the most organized and efficient processes that I had ever seen!

 

At first, I fell into the group of guys that were helping recipients load their supplies and food boxes at the back door. Then a lady walked out of the kitchen shouting “I need three strong men back here! I need three strong men back here!” Tyson Corley, Drew Garcia and I,  ran back behind the food tables to the kitchen. The volunteers were sorting the food donations into the food boxes, we, along with other male volunteers, were going to carry the canned-food heavy boxes to the food table. We fell into place and became another step in the process. The work these volunteers were doing was unreal, it reminded me of Wall Street. People were shouting, “I need more canned goods over here!” and canned goods would be passed. Someone else would shout, “I need juice!” and bottles of juice would be passed over.

 

After a half hour or so, the food sorting room became a little crowded. I made my way back to the loading/unloading area with the majority of the other guys. We would grab a food box or bag of supplies for the female recipients, bring it to their vehicle, then on the way back we would walk through the donation area, unload a few vehicles, then make our way back over to the loading area.

 


BaronsPratt2.bmp

Barons Players L-R: Justin Edwards, Dan Remenowsky, Tyler Kuhn, Brian Omogrosso. Janet Dunlap in the center.

 

With all the hustle, hurry, and military presence, not many of us got to see much of the devastated area that day. There were a couple of people, including GM Nelson, who had to carry aid to people’s houses or vehicles a few blocks away. When asked what it was like, the general response was “It was bad.” Short of a big downed tree across from the school and a few missing shingles on the roofs of the houses near the school, there wasn’t much you could see from where we were.

 

These players that came, came to work. Nobody showed up expecting to sign autographs, shake hands, and kiss babies. The first words out of everyone’s mouth were, “How can we help?”  We actually worked so hard that day, that our strength and conditioning coach gave the guys who volunteered a free pass for the day’s weight lifting.

 

The End

 

This is part two of a three part series about the effect the tornadoes that swept the South on April 27th have had on baseball and the communities in the area. 

Part One: “If There’s a Tornado, Can We Come in Here?”

Part Three: Day Two in Pratt City, Alabama

“If There’s a Tornado, Can We Come in Here?”

This is part one of a three part series.

The Birmingham Barons’ 11:00am game on Wednesday, April 27th in Huntsville was cancelled. I was at home in Birmingham at the time. I knew we were supposed to be getting some pretty rough weather later in the afternoon, but it was just warm and cloudy at that time. I figured it got to Huntsville first and washed away the game.

The team bus arrived back at home around 2:00 that afternoon. That was when I found out the real reason the game was cancelled. The Huntsville Stars were aware of the weather headed to North and Central Alabama and decided to cancel the game to be sure that my team could make the bus ride home safely, not driving home in the storms. The bus driver told me about the rain and wind they encountered on the way home. He had to pull over for a while to let the wind subside before driving his large metal sail over the elevated Tennessee River bridge, thus avoiding the “Barons Team Bus Blown Off Bridge’ headlines. But it was still warm, dry, and cloudy at our ballpark. The Huntsville Stars and the Birmingham Barons knew we had some serious weather headed our way, but I still hadn’t figured it out.

Sometime around 3:30, as I was unpacking from the road trip in our quiet underground clubhouse, a female voice startled me.

“Excuse me, sir. If there’s a tornado, can we come in here?”

I looked up to an older woman poking her head in to the clubhouse door that leads to the parking lot. It was obvious she was from the neighboring RV park that’s out past the right field line at Regions Park

“Ummmm….. Yeah, I guess. I don’t know what the actual procedure is, but you can totally come down here.”

I later found out what normally happens during severe weather. The park ranger unlocks the gate on the first base side and the people from the RV park hang out on the concourse.

No chance was I going to make the residents of the RV park dodge flying mustard packets and beer stands while I was safely watching tv under millions of tons of concrete. I posted the following status on the Inside the Clubhouse Facebook page:

“Apparently I will be hosting a tornado party for the people in the neighboring RV park tonight. I hope they bring beer and snacks.”

My buddy, DJ, texted me within a few minutes of the status post. He didn’t have power since the storms that rolled through the previous night (The storms Tuesday night knocked out the power at the stadium, destroyed the aluminum bleachers at the soccer fields beyond left field, and left about 100,000 Alabama residents without power.) DJ asked me if he and our pal Travis could come weather the storms with me. It really was turning into a party.

This was about the time that I realized that we may have some serious trouble headed our way…. maybe I should turn on the tv and see what’s going on.

Weather coverage was on every channel. By the time I turned on the tv around 4:00, meteorologists were already tracking three tornadoes on the ground in Western Alabama. They were talking about having never seeing formations like they were seeing right now. Not in over a decade had three tornadoes of this magnitude been on the ground in the same vicinity. I guess I turned on the tv at a pretty good time.

DJ and Travis arrived about 30 minutes later (with tons of sodas) and the RV park residents with the park ranger started to trickle down about the same time. Ken and Jan Dunlap, our visiting clubhouse staff, were in the visiting clubhouse. Apparently our visiting club hotel told the Mobile BayBears that they weren’t safe at the hotel and should go somewhere else if they could. They came to the visiting clubhouse, along with a few city employees who were working in the ballpark area. I got a call from one of our Barons player asking if I was at the clubhouse. Within a few minutes, there were five players, a wife, and an infant.

I kinda introduced myself to our new ballpark inhabitants. There was an older man from Colorado Springs, a couple from Kingsport, TN, a younger gentleman from Birmingham who just lived in his camper, a couple who was just driving their RV from Texas to Atlanta who saw downed trees and figured they stop and see what’s going on, and a few others.

Ken, Jan, and I had evolved from clubhouse managers to tornado shelter managers for a shelter that was housing an entire professional baseball team, a dozen RV park residents, three Barons interns, five players from the home team (and a wife and infant child,) a few city employees, and a couple longtime friends from across town.

We all were gathered around tv’s at approximately 5:00 when the largest of the tornadoes they were tracking rolled through the heart of Tuscaloosa. It was nearly a mile wide.

Let that last paragraph sink in. Reread it, if you must.

Tuscaloosa is the fifth largest city in Alabama, with over 90,000 residents. The University of Alabama is in Tuscaloosa, it houses 30,000 students. Granted, there weren’t many full-time Alabama residents in the room, not that you had to be a local to realize the ginormity of what was going on, but each of us knew somebody or many people in Tuscaloosa.

T-Town is about sixty miles or an hour drive southwest of Birmingham. That tornado, along with all the other tornadoes and potential tornadoes, was headed on a northeast route. We figured it wouldn’t be too long before something bad was upon us.

We continued to watch the radar as that twister kept moving northeast and eventually north of us. The TV was showing us the view from a skyscraper in downtown. From that angle they were showing, it looked like it was going right through downtown Birmingham. About a half hour later they told us it tracked north of downtown and straight through the suburbs of Hueytown, Pleasant Grove, and Fultondale.

My five year old son and his mom live in Fultondale.

The news channels only mentioned Fultondale in passing. I waited and waited to hear reports of the extent of the damage in Fultondale. Stayed pretty calm the whole time. I try to call and text my son’s mom and her mom, but phone service was pretty much gone north of town. Still stayed pretty calm. The tv still didn’t say much about Fultondale.

I finally received a text at 10:28pm, over three hours after the storm had passed. Everyone was ok.

In the meantime, I introduced our temp tenants to the pregame spread, two tornadoes passed within five miles of my house, a tornado came close to DJ and Travis’s side of town, the worst of the weather passed, and our temp tenants left the ballpark basement.

Regions Park escaped with no damage. It barely rained. Well it barely rained water, but it did rain debris. There was a steady flow of bark, leaves, and other things falling from the sky. Someone found a 5X7 of a family at an airport. Judging by the hairstyles, it was probably from the mid ’90’s. We also found a 3′ by 1′ piece of wallpapered wood panelling. I’d have to guess that this stuff came from mobile homes 30-100 miles away.

 


debris.jpgWe have a pitcher who is from Gadsden, AL this season, Kyle Cofield. Gadsden is a little over an hour away, he’s local, but he’s not local enough to drive home everyday. He’s been staying with a friend of his who has a house across town….. in Fultondale. Cofield came in a little early Thursday morning. He said that his buddy’s house had some damage, but most of the buildings in the immediate vicinity were crippled or gone.

Cofield showed me a few pictures he had on his phone. I used to live in Fultondale too, I knew exactly where he lived, and exactly where the pictures were taken. Judging by what Kyle and my son’s mom have said and the pictures they’ve shown me, my family dodged disaster by no more than a couple of miles.

 

The End

 

This is part one of a three part series about the effect the tornadoes that swept the South on April 27th have had on baseball and the communities in the area. 

Part Two: “How Can We Help?”

Part Three: Day Two in Pratt City, Alabama

Follow and Like Inside the Clubhouse

Don’t forget, you can see real time clubbie info by following me on Twitter as @MiLBClubbie. I tweet often and post quite a few pictures too. Just another way to get behind the scenes access to minor league baseball.

 

http://twitter.com/#!/MiLBClubbie

 

You can also ‘like’ “Inside the Clubhouse” on Facebook. Here, you can find links to every post, in case you somehow miss one for some reason, see pictures of ballparks and events from around minor league baseball, and discuss the “Inside the Clubhouse” posts. You’ll catch little tidbits of information that you won’t see anywhere else, too.

 

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Inside-the-Clubhouse/176884499019311

Location, Location, Location

Lockers. Everybody needs one. They’re important. You’ll be spending a couple hours a day there for six months, seventy games, and a handful of rain delays. Who decides which player get which locker and how do they decide? In the minors, I have encounterd three methods.

1. The manager decides. The manager may have a certain idea of who he wants where, usually he makes his assignments based on position, experience, or culture.  If there is a young stud prospect shortstop on the team, he may want to put him by the veteran middle infield. The thinking is that the youngin’ can learn how to act professionally or gain some positional guidance from the vet.

He may also want to break up the cultural divide  that sometimes creep into the clubhouse, thus, promoting team unity. He might put the order; country boy, Dominican, Cali boy, country boy, bonus baby, quiet reader, party animal, married guy with a baby, etc… You are more likely to see this method at the lower levels of the minors with the younger players.

2. The clubhouse manager decides. If the clubbie assigns lockers, he’ll put in in some kind of order that’s convenient for him. Probably either numerical or alphabetical. Hanging laundry is one of the last things we do at night. When you have a basketful of jerseys with no name on the back, it’s a little of work to first have to mentally match a name with the number, then match a locker location with the name to hang it up. 1, 2, 3, 4 is the easiest system there is.

3. The players decided. When players get to choose their own lockers, a lot of thought goes into it. Do they choose one near the tv? Near or away from the door? On the end? In the corner? Near the ping-pong table or away from it? The same one as last year or on the opposite wall? Who do I want to be my neighbor? Do I want to be near the couches or the card tables? By the stereo or the other side of the room from it? If a player wants a locker that someone else, possibly a vet who got to pick first, has chosen, a trade or cash transaction may go down.

 

In Birmingham, the power to assign lockers is mine!…. Kinda by default. In 2009, my first season here, I put locker nameplates up before the team arrived. I went with the alphabetical-by-position approach. A couple guys switched, but there was no mutiny.

Last year, the power was mine again, but I decided to let the players choose. On one of the last days before the team broke camp and I had a relatively certain roster, I started texting and calling guys who were here the previous year, seniority. I started by getting in touch with the guys who had been here the longest and/or been the best tippers in the past. Seniority pays, and so does gratitude. The guys made their choices based on the couches, the ping-pong table, the corners and the ends, and their potential neighbors. It took about half a day to get in touch with everybody and organize so everyone could be where and next to who they wanted.

I could have gone with the easier do-it-myself numerical approach, but doing it this system was fun! It was also a good way for me to reconnect with some guys I hadn’t seen or talked to in a few months. When I player walked in and saw his locker exactly where he wanted it, winks and smiles were exchanged.

I think my method is good for the team, too. A guy may be in the dumps a little about his second or third season in Double-A, but getting that clubhouse real estate exactly where you want is a relief. The season’s long enough, comfortability is a must-have.

I’m going to do the same thing this year. As soon as I get my hands on a somewhat final roster, I’m going to make some calls. I’ve already had a text exchange with one player who said he knows he’s coming back.

He asked me politely for his old locker back, and said “See if you can put [Player A] and [Player B] near me too.”

I replied “[Player A] and [Player B] already asked me not to put them by you.”

See? I told you it was fun!

 

Empty Clubhouse.jpg

I Want to be a Lifer – Infield Singles

I accomplished a good bit in my second day at the ballpark, I’m kinda proud of myself. Proud enough to sit back, pop open a cold cheap beer, and watch some replayed spring training baseball. May as well be a little productive and produce a blog, right? Let me briefly introduce you to a couple of guys I admire, two guys whose names you will see here many times this season.

 

—————————————————————————————————————

 

Ken Dunlap is the Birmingham Barons Visiting Clubhouse Manager. Ken’s worked in the Barons’ clubhouses in some capacity since 1994, the Michael Jordan year. He is truly the most interesting man alive. His stories are top notch. Most of them can’t leave this ballpark basement, but one of my favorites is safe for me to retell.

Pete Rose Jr. played for the Birmingham Barons in 1995 and ’96. Those were back in the days before cellphones. Every clubhouse had a pay phone or two that always had a line of players, and was always littered with spent long distance calling cards. The phone would ring ever ynow and then with incoming calls too. Rule of thumb was who ever was closest answered it. The pay phone rang one afternoon, Ken answered it.The conversation went like this:

“Hello, Barons’ clubhouse?”

“Hey, is Pete Jr. around?”

“I’ll get him for you. Can I ask who’s calling?”

“Tell him his dad’s on the phone.”

Ken Dunlap was on the phone with THE Pete Rose. This was the mid 90’s when Rose still at the top of national news stories. Even if you weren’t a baseball fan at all, you still knew who Pete Rose was. Not to mention the fact that he is one of the greatest players of all time and holds that all-time hit record.

Pete was slightly before my time, but he was one of the best in the game back when Ken was coming into his prime as a baseball fan. It’d have to be the equivalent me talking to Ken Griffey Jr, Roger Clemens, or Cal Ripken. Wow.

—————————————————————————————————————

Curt Bloom. If you ever run into this guy at Regions Park or any other park in the SL, stop him and talk to him. 2011 will be CB’s twentieth year as the radio voice of the Barons. Unlike myself or Ken, his job is to actually watch the games and talk about him. Every home and away game the Barons have played the last twenty years. How many? Roughly 2800 games.

But he doesn’t only watch and talk about the games, he meets and learns every player that comes in this clubhouse, often a few that are in the opposing clubhouse too. How many is that? Barons, plus a handful of visitors, I’d guesstimate at least 700, easy.

You can imagine the stories that this man has in his brain. The great part is, the man is a paid talker, and he is damn good at it. He can take those stories out of his brain and send words out of his mouth like few people I have ever met. All you have to do is stop him, talk to him, and let him take care of the rest.

—————————————————————————————————————

Back to the Action – Infield Singles

Today was my first day back at the ballpark. You’d think I’d be excited to be back at the baseball job after five months at sub-awesome jobs. You’d be correct. I’d love to say I missed everything about this place, but I’ll settle for saying I missed almost everything.

 

—————————————————————————————————————

 

The first thing that hit me when I took the elevator to the clubhouse level, before I even saw the field, was the smell. The smell is awesome. It’s a mix between musty lack of circulation, cut grass, and leather. Even though this ballpark hasn’t seen baseball since the first of September, the smell of leather never leaves.

My first season working in the clubhouse at the Hoover Met Regions Park was 2001. I remember when Chris Jenkins, the director of stadium operations at the time, took me down the elevator to the lobby between the clubhouses. I remember the carpet, I remember the excitment of hoping to get hired, I remember it being dark until he hit the light switch, I remember the sound of him unlocking the clubhouse door, and I remember the smell. After the 2001 season, I took an eight year hiatus from the Birmingham Barons to work with other teams and pursue other careers. When I returned to Regions Park on March 30th, 2009, it caught my attention that the smell of the clubhouse was the same as it was when I had left.

 

—————————————————————————————————————

It’s March 21st, my team arrives from Arizona on April 1st. That leaves me ten calendar days to get this place ready to rock and roll. Doesn’t sound bad, till you see my list of things to do and consider that I still have a forty hour work week left at one of my offseason jobs.

By the end of this week, I hope to have the coolers cleaned, carpets vacummed, 3000 pounds of weights put in place, table put where their supposed to be, cable and wi-fi hooked up, the fridge sanitized, towels rewashed and folded, the tunnel blown, the dugout hosed, the showers scrubbed, the plates purchased, fifty cases of bottled water bought, chairs in place, the ping pong table stocked and set up, chairs in lockers, hangers hanging, a new George Foreman grill hooked up, trash cans lined, food serving tables set, boxes upon boxes of bats organized and locked away,  balls locked away, my personal clothes hung, cardio equipment put in place, bench cups put in place, the dryer fixed, a washer replaced, a flat bed cart “borrowed,” TP filled, couches couchified, and pass lists copied.

If I get all of that done by Monday, next week I can organize the uniforms, hang the boxes full of balled up pants, put away the equipment truck (which delivers the trainer’s stuff, pitching machines, ball bags, hitting tees and screens, back up helmets, coaches’ luggage, more balls, more bats,….), assign lockers, procure hats, pass out socks and belts, buy the food, talk to the caterers, purchase the toiletries, and print and post the locker plates.

 

—————————————————————————————————————

The main problem that I’m having right now is a traffic-of-stuff gridlock.  

Examples:

The stuff that’s crammed in the managers office needs to go in the corner of the food room. The stuff in the corner of the food room needs to go into the training room.

The stuff on in the cage needs to go into the locker room, but it’s path is blocked by stuff that needs to go in the cage.

The stuff on the front wall of the food room needs to go on the right wall, which is occupied by the stuff our front office is storing there.

—————————————————————————————————————

Yeah, I’m getting excited now, it’s hit me a little bit. Baseball season is around the corner and I’m back at my career. To be honest, I’m a little surprised by how excited I’m not. I thought I’d be busting at the seams or trying not to pee my pants. Last year, I was a little more excited on “Back to the Action” Day than I was this year, but the real excitement came when my players arrived, I’m sure it’ll be the same this year.

I’ll probably ride the bus to the airport to pick the guys up this year. I didn’t last year, I had too much work to do. Last year, I was waiting in the parking lot when the bus pulled up. I was still a little nervous because I didn’t feel like I was ready yet. Still had things I had wanted to accomplish before the team pulled up. 

Then, I saw my dudes, and life was good. A few of my faves from ’09 were back. Matt Long, Johnnie Lowe, Jared Price, Jim Gallagher, Kyle McCulloch, Jhonny Nunez, Christian Marrero, and Charlie Shirek were all here again. Life was awesome. We had a few new guys who seemed friendly too. I hit it off with Dale Mollenhauer and Tyson Corley on the first day.

I can’t wait to see who we have this year. The Chicago White Sox know how to drafted superb men.

 

—————————————————————————————————————

 

I’ve been hit with this question a lot the last couple of months:

“Who’s gonna be back this year?”

I don’t know. I will not know for sure who is going to be back in Birmingham this year until they are on the plane from Phoenix. I could speculate with the best of em, but what’s the point? It may kill a little time in the offseason, but I’ll just wait and see.

 

—————————————————————————————————————

Another question I hear often:

“Who do you want to come back this year?”

Easy and honest answer: None of em. I would love to see each of the guys who have passed thru here in Chicago next year. Seriously. Yeah, I’ve have my favorites that I’d love to have in my clubhouse everyday, but I’d rather be watching them on television.

 

—————————————————————————————————————

 

One last thing.

Prior to the 2009 season, the Birmingham Barons played an exhibition game versus the University of Montevallo baseball team. Montevallo is a Division-II school from down the road in…… Montevallo.

The Barons pitched nine pitchers that night, one each inning, to give their guys a little work. The Barons one-hit the Falcons that night. Carlos Torres was the pitcher who gave up the one hit. After the exhibition game, Carlos Torres was promoted to Charlotte and later was promoted to the Big Leagues.

Carlos Torres was statistically the worst of nine pitchers that night, and he earned a promotion.

 

Life, Love, and the Single Clubbie

This will be the most personal blog I ever write. I was very hesitant to make this much of my life public domain, but it seemed like people want to know about not only my job, but my life and how it’s affected by my job. So, here is a look at

Life, Love, and the Single Clubbie

In my experience, there is one factor that can make or break a relationship above all others. Time. How much time you have to give to you significant other and how much time they have to give to you heavily influences both parties happiness and satisfaction in a relationship.

It’s a two way street. Not only do you have to have enough time to devote to the relationship, you also have to have a reasonable expectation of the amount of time your partner should have to devote to you. If one partner has a significantly less or more amount of time, no good. You’ve all probably been there.

“Why doesn’t my bf/gf want to spend time with me? [sobbing] I never see them!” Or, the opposite. “My bf/gf expects too much of me. I’m in school and I work. Stage Six Clinger.”

My life has two different halves; baseball season and the offseason. Not only is the weather different in both of seasons, the allotment of free time that I have is vastly different. During baseball season, I work ridiculous hours for five or six days. I’m almost completely unavailable during game days, not even for quick lunchtime rendezvous . However, after those five or six days, I am off work for three or four consecutive days and am completely UNunavailable….. I mean, available. I can do my own thing, or I can be completely involved with a female person. The amount of time that I have to give is limitless, for three or four days.

Is that kind of schedule conducive to building a healthy foundation for a relationship? I’m still trying to figure that out. “I guess not,” may be my honest answer.

September rolls around, and that’s when the seasons begin to change. After such an intense six month baseball season, I usually take a month vacation before I run out of funds and find a lame-o off season job (future blog teaser.) During that month, I have all the time in the world! I can do my own thang or dedicate as many hours as I want to a specific chica and/or chicas. I have a little money in my pocket, so I can even wine and dine pretty well!. We can take a little vacation type thing together and the relationship can be whatever we decide it should be.

Not too bad to lay the foundation to form a quality relationship, huh? Maybe, but the temp’s about to change from warm to cold.

The roadblock that I usually encounter is the change from vacation to the offseason. The offseason officially begins when I have to go back to a forty hour a week work schedule like a normal civilian. The jobs that I find (same future blog teaser) usually aren’t routine 9 to 5ers though. If any of you have ever work in restaurants, retail, or any other job where you don’t have a set schedule, you know that it’s not the easiest thing to juggle a work schedule and a relationship. Still, it’s only forty or fifty hours of work a week with a few off days thrown in there.

It’s not so much the time factor of baseball season or the time factor of the offseason that is the kiss of death for my relationships, it’s the TRANSITION between the two. It’s the transition between having entire days off for whatever to working odd hours and rarely having days off. Or it’s the transition from being available to hang out at night or in the afternoon to disappearing for five or more days. Girls don’t handle that change well, I don’t blame them, I don’t always handle it well either.

Over the past three and a half years, three seasons and four offseasons, I have never been talking a girl in March, and still been talking to her in May. Conversely, I have never been talking to a girl in August, and still been talking to her by October.

I didn’t want this post to sound too much like a personal ad, “Looking for baseball fan. Must be low maintainance, and have a flexible schedule.” I think I’ve succeeded at that.

I want to finish by saying that I am happy with my life. After a few years of doing this, I realize that I may be choosing my career over a conventional relationship. I wish it didn’t have to be that way. I wish I didn’t have to choose. But it is what it is. (Man I really hate that overused phrase.)