By Brok Butcher - Arkansas Travelers starting pitcher
July 3rd, 2008
It's a hot and humid July night, I'm laying in one of the bunks on our sleeper bus that currently has no air conditioning. With around twenty five ball players on this bus, it is safe to say that the feeling is of a sauna on wheels. Half my team mates are shirtless with a glow of oil and sweat around their faces.
This sleeper bus is custom built with three sections consisting of thirty beds. As you enter the bus, the first section has four sets of triple bunk beds; the bottom bed is basically cushions on the floor that can fit no more than a two hundred pound person on an empty stomach. There is no room to turn over; the ceiling (where the middle bed begins) is about two inches from the face, basically a claustrophobics biggest nightmare. The middle bunk is a little bigger with more breathing room and the top bunk is basically the same square footage as the bottom bunk, the only difference is your about five feet above the floor of the bus. There are two flat screen TV's with almost every channel you could ask for.
There is a bathroom and a refrigerator dividing the first and second section with a sliding door. The second section is where the "suites" are located, all the bunks here are around the same size with built in cushions that gives you room to move around. Same layout as the first section, four sets of triple bunk beds, but have the luxury of more space, electrical outlets, and lights to read. The last section is where the coaches and trainers sleep, consisting of around six luxury "suites" with a TV in the middle of the room.
I am fortunate enough to get a "suite" in the second section, because I have more time in double A than the guys in the first section. That's how the beds are chosen, whoever has the most time in double A or higher gets the bunk of their choice. I barely made the cut and sneaked into the luxury section of the bus. It is unbelievably convenient to have a sleeper bus on a fourteen hour journey to Midland, Texas because you can actually get a decent sleep and can leave at eight o'clock at night instead of traveling all day on a normal bus while developing a bad back. There is a constant breeze on the bus with waves of flatulence that can power a diesel truck! Sometimes you feel as though you are bunking in an outhouse! But again, I can't stress how appreciative I am to have this bus.
Pitching has been rough, I would have to say it's the worst month of baseball I've had in my life. I'm thinking about mechanics, where my head is during delivery, staying over my back leg, finishing through the catchers mitt, having good tempo, staying closed................Basically I'm thinking too much! I have to remind myself that this is just a game and if anything, just have fun; the fun I had when I was twelve years old playing out of the pure enjoyment of the game. When times are rough, it tends to feel more like work which is the worst mind set one can have because the grind will get to you.
It is hard to be present to each moment when you have distracting thoughts, so I have learned to take the good with the bad, because the good isn't that good unless you've experienced the bad and vice versa. My next outing I have promised myself to be aware of the opportunity I have to pitch and to have fun. Hopefully my next blog will have better news, so until then, thanks for spending the time to read about my experiences through the minor leagues!