June 3, 2005 -4:10 p.m. – enroute to the Marriott, Oklahoma City
Soooo breakfast turned into a late lunch, Mexican fiesta style, with my current entourage – 2002 NCAA softball champs in former Cal pitcher Jen Deering and former right fielder Kristen Morley, their friend Karen, a former Cal professor and current hard-core Cal softball groupie, and my self-appointed reporting mentor, Sports Illustrated senior writer and Cal grad Mike Silver – at La Luna right off the Northwest Expressway.
I knew it was going to be a good meal as soon as the chips arrived, complete with salsa, guacamole, melted cheese, AND water with crushed – not cubed – ice. And as soon as the Corona’s came, complete with salted rims and two limes in glasses the size of my face I wasn’t even sure I should order food, in the fear that the awesome eating experience might be ruined. But, I went with my gut – the one begging me to feed it for the first time in 20 hours – and wasn’t disappointed. The taco plate was fabulous.
A few pictures with our waiter later, we were back on the road, cruising in our rented Buick Century, rocking out to Sublime, hip-hop, and Hendrix on our way to the team hotel, the Northwest Expressway Marriot.
Upon entering the lobby I encountered my latest traveling hurrah – also known as ANOTHER hurdle in my attempt to settle down in Oklahoma – the receptionist doesn’t have a reservation under my name. So I’m currently hanging out with Mike, both of us writing away – check out his WCWS blog at (see below), if for no other reason than my name being in it – waiting for my friend Renee back in Berkeley to get off of work at 2 p.m., run back to my car, and find the reservation number for the hotel that I oh-so-conveniently left in the cup-holder of my 1994 Saturn. Smart Kate, smaaart.
Hopefully I made a reservation at the right hotel, as opposed to the OTHER Oklahoma City Marriot that lies down the road about five miles, wouldn’t that just complete the past two days of traveling debauchery! Although at this point, I’d be perfectly fine with leaving that on my list of things to NEVER complete. Then it’s onward to a happy hour of sorts with the crew and some of the Cal softball girls. Not to worry though, they won’t be drinking…at least until next Wednesday night.
Speaking of spirits, word at the hotel this morning was that the team was feeling good – catcher Haley Woods was all smiles, shortstop Chelsea Spencer was a bit grumpy, but the crew attributed that to it being too early for any sane human being to be happy to be awake, and pitcher Kristina Thorson…who I am from here on out referring to as K-Thor…was already itching to get back to the field.
Hey! Look who just showed up! It’s the Goth Girl herself – which I think is little more than an awesomely acted-out façade to scare her opponents – K-thor, just back from practice at the complex. Yesterday’s run producer is here too, Ms. Aloha, also known as centerfielder Kaleo Eldredge.
Okay, on that note, I think it’s time for me to do some investigative conversing. Keep sending good thoughts to the O-K. And if you haven’t already, clear your schedule for tomorrow at 11 a.m. CT when our Bears take on the ‘Cats from ‘Zona. The crew and I are planning our outfits, insults, and seating arrangement – just in case you didn’t know, superstitions are EVERYWHERE in the softball world - now.
Until later tonight, GO BEARS!
Mike Silver's Blog can be found here:
9:52 a.m. – Downtown Sheraton, Oklahoma City
Man I tell you, even after four years of surviving on 4-6 hours of sleep a night, and surviving quite well I might add, sometimes nine hours in a bed so big I’m only familiar with it because of the few times I’ve shared a King with three other Cal Bears on our annual LA football road trip - feels so gooood.
The hot shower and in-room coffee are helping to make this morning rather lovely as well. Minus the bill that magically appeared under my door sometime while I was OUT! – you like the softball terminology there, don’t you? – I’d say day two at the WCWS is going to be another great one, hopefully with a few less traveling challenges.
Though I am car-less … and the fields are somewhere around 5-8 miles away … I’m sure my new best friend Candace and her family will be able to help out. And if not, I imagine Oklahoma City will be home to at least one taxi service.
Before I head off to the fields and move over to the hotel where all the teams are staying – Marriot, here I come! - I’ve got to get some food in me this morning. I guess clothes would help too. Hmm…which Cal shirt to wear today?
Until next time…GO BEARS!
|JUNE 2, 2005 - 6:42 a.m. - Oakland International Airport, Oakland CA
Its going to be one hell of a tournament for the Cal Softball team, I already know it. How? Well, after reaching the Oakland Airport at 4:45 a.m. to give myself ample check-in time for my 6 a.m. flight to Denver, I was greeted by the one word NO air traveler on a tight schedule ever wants to see at the gate. Denver DELAYED.
Upon checking with the United agent to make sure I was in fact awake and standing in the Oakland Airport, which sadly, she assured me I was - I was hoping for the bad dream scenario momentarily she informed me that the flight to Denver wouldnt be leaving until a little after 7 a.m., touching down in Denver around 10:15 a.m., conveniently placing me all of ten minutes behind my connecting flight to Oklahoma City.
The next connection didnt fly out of Denver until 12:25 p.m. bless Oklahoma for being such a well-traveled city meaning I would make it to World Series land around 3 p.m., an hour after the Cal vs. UCLA game was scheduled to begin. A challenge. I love it. Bring it on.
Three trips to the United counter later Tina H., I STILL love you for all your help with my newfound traveling buddy, former Cal standout third baseman and member of the 2002 NCAA Championship squad Candace Harper in tow - I managed to find a seat on a 10:40 a.m. Frontier Airlines connection, set to let us off in the O-K a little after 1:20 p.m.
|7:50 a.m. - United Airlines Flight 422, somewhere over Nevada
Now, if we can just make the connection. We got out of Oakland at 7:15 a.m. and are on schedule to arrive in Denver at approximately 10:15 a.m. Three escalators, a shuttle, and my flip flops stand as the next hurdle in Candace s and my journey to the tourney. But as she (pictured left at the flight counter) sits attempting to nap herself into a calmer state in the seat in front of me she told me in the airport shes more nervous about MAKING it to the first game today than she EVER was about anything during her playing days Im relaxed and smiling. Because every time Ive been involved with an athletic team, whether I was playing, cheering for, or reporting on them, every time something came up to set us back, success was our reward for making it.
Plus, I heard the hot tub at the team hotel hasnt been working since they got to Oklahoma on Monday. In my opinion, the defending champion Bruins better be ready for the game of their lives or things could get nasty, early. Being the Bears most hated opponent doesnt bode well for them either. Coffee and juice cart time. Heres to the game at noon going into extra innings. Go Bears!
|11:18 p.m. - Sheraton Oklahoma City, Oklahoma City,
Well, despite making it to Denver at 10:15 a.m., squeezing our way off of the flight, onto the shuttle that would take us to the concourse containing our gate and hailing a golf cart in full sprint once in the terminal, desperate to make the Oklahoma connection waiting for us to the stares and whoas of numerous nearly-avoided travelers - the amazing dash was all for naught. Upon reaching the gate out of breath, but happy, the agents informed us the flight was booked. Guess our tickets didnt count because they werent blue. Damn white check-in passes.
So, it was back to the original flight scheduled to leave Denver at 12:25 p.m., which
would place us in Oklahoma around 3 p.m. Meaning wed be late, at the very least, to
the 2 p.m. Cal vs. UCLA match-up. But to our surprise, the fun was just getting started.
With mouths open and tired bodies sagging over our suitcases we reached the departure
screens to find a disturbing yellow type letting us know our 12:25 flight to Oklahoma
City was scheduled to take off - at 2:30. The day
just couldnt get any better!
|Candace and I looked at each other, dejected at our lack of
living-on-the-edge traveling success and without exchanging any words knew exactly what we
needed. Within minutes we were plopped in front of a television watching the Arizona vs.
Tennessee 12 p.m. game at Leftys Bar and Grill in the B Concourse of the Denver
Airport, pints in hand.
Four hours and too many beers later we were FINALLY on our way to Oklahoma, after being forced to sit through UCLA grabbing a 2-1 lead over the Bears in the top of the 6th inning. By the time we were buckled in, the game was over, UCLA 2 Cal 1. So maybe I was a little too excited this morning. Despite the loss, the feeling is still there though. Candace has it too.
And as I sit in room #603 no phone calls please, Im working at the Sheraton in downtown Oklahoma City tonight, exhausted from a ridiculous day of delayed flights and unnecessary in-terminal exercise, its still there. That feeling. Something good is going to happen and its going to happen to our Bears.
Word on the street following the game was that both Cal and the Bruins looked sluggish. The fans needed help. The stands were half-empty. Looks to me like a job for yours truly.
Luckily, the Bears have tomorrow off to get their heads ready for another Pac-10 dogfight, as they take on Arizona at 11 a.m. Saturday morning, with the loser going home. While I have a night of good sleep waiting for me.
As Candace said to me while gripping my right thigh and gasping for anything to calm her down during our choppy descent into Oklahoma this evening though, its all about the uphill climb. Down to our last out at Regionals, then battling back again at the Super Regionals last week, now this.
Its going to be a great tournament. Believe me. Things are just getting started. Until next time, its bedtime. Go Bears!
©Copyright 2005, TheBearInsider.com and Scout.com. All rights reserved.
If you haven't done so already, subscribe to The Bear Insider so you can participate in this online community and get access to the members-only content from the nationwide Insiders network.
Bear Insider staff writers visit the Insider discussion board regularly, and are available to discuss questions you may have about this article and Cal Athletics.