There are a few things I’m good at, but packing is just not one of them.
I’ve done some living out of a suitcase over the last several baseball seasons, so the assumption could be drawn that I might have gotten better at this over time. That would be a wrong assumption. I still worry every time I await my boarding pass at the airport that my luggage is overweight, I still look for ways to bring extra baggage without paying, I am not any better at packing light, and I always seem to come home with more than I had with me when I left.
So when my wonderful, thoughtful and caring mother asked if I had started packing for my big upcoming trip yet, it should come as no surprise that I answered in the negative. After all, I still have a whole Toronto Blue Jays homestand to get through before I fly to Vancouver, split time between the beautiful Canadian city and Seattle, and then head off to Japan.
She then went on to remind me ever-so-kindly (not really) that I would have to figure out a way to pack for a month. A MONTH. So, into panic mode I went.
By panic mode, I mean my internal dialogue said, “Shoot, she’s right. That seems pretty impossible.” And outwardly, I did nothing. I did not start packing and I probably pushed it even further out of my mind. I’ll figure it out.
As tough as I make it for myself to get through the season, even just on short trips and often trying to travel with far too many belongings, what I go through is nothing compared to the baseball players I cover. They make far fewer choices than I am allowed, the travel isn’t ideal, and they can be up and traded or moved at any time.
Recently in Buffalo, I talked to then-Bisons reliever Chad Jenkins, who is now once again with the Toronto Blue Jays, on this exact topic. He’s been moved up and down several times this season, but at the time – before another move was made almost immediately thereafter – he seemed be okay with all of it.
“Me and my suitcase are best friends,” Jenkins said. “It holds my entire life, and it’s got quite a few miles underneath it. It’s tough. It’s a new place probably once a month, I find myself somewhere.”
The full story can be found here, and I felt better knowing that even with all of his moves, Jenkins hasn’t gotten any better at packing either. I’m not alone.
Over the winter, I had the pleasure of speaking with Canadian hurler Jeff Francis about his career, and the logistics of moving an entire family before and during the season. And that was when he was a free agent, before the time he’s spent this season in the Cincinnati Reds, Oakland Athletics and New York Yankees organizations, all likely requiring more moves.
“It can be tough,” Francis said in November. “The last three or four years my family and I moved around a lot. Before we had children, my wife Allison and I would usually go to spring training by ourselves and stay in a hotel, so that made it a little easier to move. Then the last four spring trainings we took the whole family. We drive down and pack our life into one truck, and lock down housing as soon as we know where we’ll be.
“Then the same goes for April to September. We try to figure out where we’ll be, try to find a place to live and again, try to pack everything down to one truck full so we can either drive it or someone can drive it for us…It’s a bit difficult but we know it’s not forever. I know I am really enjoying playing baseball and the family is always really supportive of that, so I’m very thankful.”
Earlier this year I talked to Luke Carlin about the various moves he’s made over his 13 years in professional baseball, going from a single ballplayer over that time to travelling as a family of four.
“It’s tough,” Carlin said. “In spring training they don’t make [the trip], and we don’t move twice. You figure things out logistically as you go and some stuff works and some stuff doesn’t. It helps that, for instance I’m back in Columbus [with the Clippers] – this is my third year or fourth year here or something like that – so I’m pretty familiar with where we want to go and what we want to do…
“It’s not a debacle every year.”
They can do it. And it’s not even a debacle. So what’s my problem?
Part of it is that whenever I go anywhere, I start feeling ambitious. I think I am going to run and work out every day, so of course I need to bring running shoes, workout clothes, extra socks, you name it and I think I need it. Then I start thinking I might want to dress up and look nice sometimes so I have to bring different shoes and clothes for that. And of course, sometimes you just need some more comfortable options. I never use it all.
So as I prepare for the trip, getting in my media credential requests for the Vancouver Canadians and Seattle Mariners, and attempting to work out an interview with Seattle Seahawks tight end and former Canadian Junior National Team member Luke Willson, I will start thinking about packing.
I am still feeling ambitious though, training for my 10th marathon in November – the Santa Clarita Marathon – and hopefully qualifying for the Boston Marathon out of that one, so my running stuff needs to be packed. I also need to bring my computer, various gadgets, a large camera, and every article of Baseball Canada clothing I own.
I’m willing to take suggestions.