Take the Long Way Home

Good day from Chicagoland, my home for the first 18 years of my life.  There are a few inches of snow on the ground as I type this, giving the Windy City .00000006% of the snowfall of Syracuse for the year.   Ba zing.  I’ll be here all week. 

You all may or may not know–or care, for that matter–that I currently live in North Carolina for part of the year.  I do play-by-play for High Point University men’s basketball, a small Division 1 program in the Big South Conference.  If you’re not familiar with the Big South, please drop a cable to your favorite turtlenecked Big East coach who makes his home in Indiana.  His team lost to Big South-champion Winthrop a few years ago.

High Point’s final game before a break for the holiday was Tuesday, December 21st against the University of Georgia in Athens.  The Panthers played a solid first half and trailed 34-24 after 20 minutes.  The 2nd half was rather….look over there!  Is that Chad Mottola?  Final score 85-38.

After the game, three of us hopped in a car and began to drive back to Winston-Salem from Georgia.  I wouldn’t describe the route as “as the crow flies.” That is, unless the crow, in a fit of despair after once again being duped by the giant straw thing in that field over there, was six appletinis deep.  Yes, crows love appletinis. 

As we motored down State Route 29, the GPS became very perplexed by the proceedings.  She put us on Highway 106 for a moment, then recalculated, then some other godforsaken road, then recalculated.  I understand that GPS stands for Global Positioning System.  I just always thought the user had a hand in selecting the position.

After a course which could be generously labeled circuitous, we hit Interstate 85.  Because haute cuisine is not typically an option after weeknight basketball games, we rolled the dice with a hybrid gas station/Wendy’s for dinner.  By the way, gas station/Wendy’s combinations are approved by gastroenterologists everywhere.  Approved in the way that dentists approve chewing on seashells or tire salesmen approve of lining your driveway with porcupine quills.   Side note: One serving of Wendy’s sweet and spicy Asian boneless wings contains 2490 milligrams of sodium.  The USDA’s Recommended Daily Allowance is 2400 milligrams.  Might be easier to punch yourself in the heart 15 times.

We made it safely to Winston-Salem just shy of 3 A.M.  I entered my house to find…..a thermostat with no reading.  And my own breath.  It was below freezing.  Though I’ve always wanted to go to Europe, a nocturnal trip to Helsinki wasn’t exactly ideal at that point.  Needing sleep, I bundled up and slid under the covers, hoping to somehow not become a stalactite overnight.

At 6 A.M. I woke up shivering.  I couldn’t stop.  So, I packed up my things and drove to Wake Forest where I holed myself up in a study room.  I alternated between head-on-desk sleep and lie-down-on-hardwood sleep.  Both serene options. 

My flights later that day, though, were rather smooth.  I made it safely to Chicago.  Three quick things about O’Hare/Delta Airlines:

1) All flights into O’Hare airport land at a gate which is at least 14 miles away from baggage claim.  I understand that a flight from Greensboro wouldn’t be a priority, but Wednesday night I flew in from Atlanta and still got off the jetway to find gate E12, the end of the terminal.  I think I saw a flight from El Dorado arrive at E2.

2) Delta Airlines on-flight wi-fi.  Big fan.  How come other companies haven’t done it, I wonder?  While Delta’s is free, it seems like a better money-making enterprise than charging for bags.  Have you seen what charging for bags has done to airplanes?  People do everything they can to avoid paying by gate-checking their luggage.  Golf clubs, yachts, split-levels.  Gate check ’em!

3) I gate-checked my backpack Wednesday night to try to save room on a totally full flight (still awaiting my Passenger of the Year Award).  I got off the plane and found no gate-checked bags.  I came to find out the gate-checked luggage was zapped down to baggage claim.  One passenger who had done the same thing I had grumbled “bait and switch.”   Glad Delta decided to save its employees some time by wasting the time of its passengers.

4) The handrails on an escalator at O’Hare were sponsored by Hampton Inn.  I have been inspired.  I will now have a Jergens ad on my right palm at all times.


Have you been keeping up with the offseason Nats news?  IL All-Star Jeff Frazier and Michael Aubrey are two power bats in the fold who may be Chiefs next season.  Also, the Nats signed pitcher-turned-outfielder Rick Ankiel to a 1.5 million dollar deal.

Keep up with all the news on the Nats and the Chiefs at syracusechiefs.com.  Or, follow us broadcasters @ChiefsRadio on Twitter.

Us broadcasters, by the way, has a different meaning as of recently.  Mike Couzens, my broadcast partner of last season will be moving on to other opportunities.  It was a pleasure sharing a booth, a bunch of laughs and some ballpark food with him last season. There is no doubt in my mind that he will have a tremendous career. 

His chair will now be occupied by Kevin Brown, another native New Yorker.  You can typically find Kevin rooting for the Yankees, calling SU basketball for WAER or playing Freecell at an unoccupied computer.  Heck, he might be using your home computer right now.

From me and Mike and Kevin and everyone in the Chiefs front office, Happy Holidays.  We look forward to talking with you, blogging with you and seeing you in 2011.


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