June 16th, 2011

Frisco “Bus” ‘Riders

The RoughRiders are about as centrally located as it comes in the Texas League.  However, that doesn’t mean that the bus rides are always short.  Frisco radio broadcaster Aaron Goldsmith lets you ride shotgun on the RoughRiders’ journey Wednesday night from Midland to Corpus Christi.  Before you begin reading, a quick bathroom break is of course recommended. 

9:50 p.m. Thanks to a 6:30 p.m. first pitch, I’m off the air now and can quickly wrap up my

Post-game clubhouse dinner never looked so good.

Post-game clubhouse dinner never looked so good.

post-game work and pack my radio gear to load on the bus.

10:14 p.m. Before every bus ride you have to fuel up – and not just with gas.  After you’ve played for three hours - or in my case talked for three hours – food is a must.  Here’s what was put out for us in the clubhouse in Midland.  I get some BBQ chicken thighs, mac and cheese, and a few small bags of trail mix to take on the bus.  All the players pay “dues” to the “clubbie” who provides the pre- and post-game spread.  Since I don’t pay daily dues, I gave the clubbie $7 for my share of food (I’m that wealthy).

10:33 p.m. After quickly chowing down, it’s time to load up.  Most of the players are already on the bus and, as you can see below, cards is a favorite way to pass the time.  Hitting Coach Brant “Brownie” Brown has already put season one of Las Vegas into the DVD player on the bus for some entertainment.  Brownie is a major movie buff (his favorite is the Matrix)He always brings a good selection of movies each trip.

L to R: Tommy Mendonca's arm, Richard Bleier, Jake Brigham, Mike Bianucci.

L to R: Tommy Mendonca's arm, Richard Bleier, Jake Brigham, Mike Bianucci.

10:40 p.m. Carlos, the best bus driver in the Texas League – and it’s not even close – puts the gearshift in drive and we pull away from the clubhouse and hit the road for Corpus Christi.  Steve Buechele, the ‘Riders manager, is on his laptop, as is Pitching Coach Jeff Andrews.  They’re both working on their post-game player reports that they usually do from the clubhouse.  On get-away-days, however, they’re forced to type from the bus.

11:07 p.m. I’m surprised it took this long, but I finally break out my noise canceling headphones.  A pricy investment, but worth every penny.  Between the movie, the air conditioning, and the noise from the road, the bus is very loud – even if no one is talking.  The one thing giving the noise a run for its money is the temperature.  The bus tends to get incredibly cold.  Even though it was 99 degrees outside when we boarded, I have a pair of grey sweat pants pulled up over my kaki shorts.  (I sense a wedgie mounting an attack within the next few hours).

11:40 p.m. Love my iPhone.  With the MLB At Bat app, I’m listening to the final innings of the Mariners vs. Angles game (the only game in progress at this hour).  I’m not a fan of either team, but after calling four games solo in Midland, it’s nice to hear a voice other than my own (I’m sure others would agree).

1:13 a.m. My first “wakeup” of the trip.  Something you get used to.  On an eight hour trip I’ll probably fall in and out of consciousness at least a half dozen times.  This time it’s for something somewhat rare.  Carlos has pulled the bus over at a rest stop and Boo and Brownie scamper off quickly to use the restroom.  The M’s/Halos game is long over.  No idea who won.  I wonder if people fall asleep like that when I’m broadcasting?  A question I fear asking.  I switch quickly to iTunes and am out again in a few minutes.

2:13 a.m.  Strangely, exactly an hour later I’m up for no particular reason and am thrilled to see that all the cabin lights along with season one of Las Vegas has been turned off.  Heaven.  Sometimes the lights and movie du jour stay on until as late as 4 a.m. making it harder to sleep.  I glance in front of me and see the silhouette of our Strength and Conditioning Coach, Eric McMahon.  He’s wearing a ballcap, sunglasses, and headphones.  Why the sunglasses when it’s dark?  A veteran move.  Especially for us guys who sit near the front of the bus, it helps to darken oncoming headlights, making it easier fall asleep.  Unfortunately I’m officially awake.  With five hours to go, it’s trail mix time.

3:51 a.m. Driving through downtown San Antonio.  Too bad we’re playing the Hooks.

By the time I get off the bus, there's not much left.

By the time I get off the bus, there's not much left.

4:19 a.m. Finally about to fall back asleep when … wedgie.

5:58 a.m. Our Athletic Trainer Carlos Olivas lovingly taps my leg which is stretched across the isle.  This, in the world of minor league bus rides, is a wakeup call.  We’re here.  He darts off the bus because someone has to be in charge of everyone’s room keys.  He’s off to the front desk to check everyone in while I try to wake up.

6:02 a.m. As the players rush pass me to get off the bus I pack up my bag and gather my stuff.  I walk off the bus to find that along with the RoughRiders, the humidity made the trip to Corpus as well.

6:07 a.m. I’m in my room on the 16th floor.  Radio guys always get the Penthouse.  Tonight is game one against the Hooks.  Time to get some sleep.  The bus leaves the hotel for the ballpark this afternoon 4:30.

A view from the Penthouse: Sunrise over the Gulf

A view from the Penthouse: Sunrise over the Gulf

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