Brian Gump: The Bus

Minor league baseball players spend an ungodly amount of time on the Bus. The league I am playing in, the Gulf Coast League, is a bit of an exception though. Most of our bus rides span about an hour with the longest taking almost two hours. To a baseball player, especially one who has played in college, this amount of time in a bus is considered mere child's play.

That being said, these last two days we have jumped on the bus around 7:30 in the morning to get our travel on. In my bus rides since I have joined the professional ranks, I have noticed a few odd things that happen here.

First, there are no assigned seats, yet everyone essentially sits in or around the exact same seat every time we travel. Second, the seating is fairly segregated, by choice, with the Latin players claiming the back of the bus and the Americans and other foreign players taking up the middle and front. And then, there are the coaches and trainers who sit in the front three seats on each side.

This may sound like an ugly scene of prejudice, but I assure you it is not, it is merely a case of people wanting to sit with those whom they can communicate with. I like to play with this whole system a little bit and do what I call "diversity day" in which I go sit in back half of the bus with "mis hermanos" and talk with them as best I can and play cards and share my music and listen to their music too. It always makes for a fun bus ride and sometimes more guys come back and join me in order to get in on the card games.

I took a cell phone picture on the bus today because I forgot to bring my digital camera with me.
There aren't many activities that take place on our bus rides, here is a list of the main ones:

- Sleeping: this is a very popular "activity" amongst the guys. It doesn't matter what time of day or what amount of time we will be on the bus, from a ten minute ride to a two hour ride, at any given time you can look around and spot numerous players counting sheep with their mouth agape and drool gathering.

- Card Playing: Cards are huge in minor league baseball, they get played in the clubhouse, at the hotel and on the bus. Some of the favorite games are hearts, 13, gin, poker, blackjack and war. I am going to go out on a limb and say that 13 is by far the most popular game.

- Ipod: Listening to music is the most versatile activity that one can find on the bus as it is paired with just about every other possible activity that one does on a bus, whether its sleeping, talking, playing cards, going to the bathroom or just simply listening to music, just about everyone has a pair of headphones on/in no matter what they are doing.

- Talking/joking around/story telling: Some of the best stories are shared on bus rides when a two person conversation peeks the interest of your fellow passengers and suddenly your one-on-one conversation turns into a public discussion about stories from college or urban baseball legends and their validity. Another curious phenomenon is that the rule of six degrees of separation does not apply to the surprisingly small baseball world, I would adjust it to more of a one to two degrees of separation. No matter where you go in the country, when you first meet a new teammate you will quickly find that you know one of their teammates that they used to play with, it never ceases to amazes me.

-Eating: Self explanatory, and probably the most satisfying activity of them all, especially if you pair your eating with music.

A few final thoughts on odd occurrences on the buses.

- On the way home from our games, a few of our Latin players have a tendency to forget they are on a quiet bus and begin belting out, in Spanish, whatever song they are listening to in some of the funniest voices you have ever heard, high pitched, like really, really high pitched voices. Think bad American Idol tryouts and you'll get a good idea of what I'm talking about. I think its pretty funny and get a lot of entertainment out of it, some of the other guys think its annoying and tell them to shut up, which of course is not heard because they are so into their music.

- One would think that having the Air Conditioning on after playing a game in heat and humidity of Florida would be awesome and refreshing. Well, its refreshing for about five minutes until your jersey that is literally soaked turns into what feels like a freezing wet towel because of all the cold air blowing on it. You quickly go from refreshed to freezing cold and have to suffer the rest of the way home. I guess I should start planning ahead and bring a dry shirt to put on after the game, huh?

- The boarding of the bus is always an exciting prospect because there is the possibility of you getting your own seat and not having to double up with anyone. There are a select few "floaters" that change partners every ride. I suppose I am a floater of sorts. There are some effective techniques that are deployed to help assure yourself your own seat without having to share if you do not feel like sharing a seat on that given day: Act like you are asleep (this is very effective because most guys are courteous enough to know not to wake a sleeping ball player), have a bunch of stuff on the seat next to you, smell really bad (either by reputation or by demonstrating you have a bad case of gas), be a very large person, be a coach or trainer, or be the starting pitcher. If you have any suggestions, let me know, were always looking for new strategies.

Quick shout out to Mike Bolsenbroek, one of our tall and lanky pitchers, that is one of my regular seat mates on the bus. Even though we don't always sit next to each other, you're my fave man; good times!

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