Author Archive

(Third) Rate the IL Hotel: Louisville

 

It’s time once again for the game which always leaves a mint on your pillow……

 

WHEEL!  OF!

 

NO, NO!  Guess we shouldn’t have blindfolded that studio audience from down the street and brought them here in an unmarked van.  It’s (Third) Rate the IL Hotel!  And here’s your host, the man whose thermostat is always on auto…..Jason Benetti!

 

Thank you, thank you.  Time once again for (Third) Rate the IL Hotel.  If you’ve just joined in on the jocularity, what have you been doing?  In our game, we take the most recent hotel the Syracuse Chiefs have stayed in and (somewhat) arbitrarily assign a score from 0 to 100.  This week, it’s the Galt House in Louisville, Kentucky.

 

Pros:

1) Roomed as roomed can be.  Open the door to a single room at the Galt House and it’s like entering a hotel pasture.  The rooms are huge.  I’m not expert at square footage (get me a trapezoid and I’ll give you the footage lickety split),  but I think room 1934 was about 6200 square feet.  The bed is in the middle of this expansive space, leaving yards upon yards of tan-carpeted emptiness.  If you had a playground ball, you could set up a mean game of four square.  Come to think of it, the hotel should really rent out ping pong and foosball tables.  A quaint cottage industry.  (Aside:  Do people who sell quaint, country houses use the phrase “cottage industry” to describe their line of work?  Bet it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out.).

2) Three sheets on two.  The second floor of the hotel contains a bourbon bar.  Classy.

From the suite level at Louisville Slugger Field….

3) The Beautiful and the Galted.  Walk through the corridors of the Galt House.  Soak in the taupe-wallpapered walls.  Feel the red-and-black hues of the casino-floor carpet.  Sit in the green pleather armchair in the corner of your room.  Tell me you don’t feel a little like Jay Gatsby.  I’ve been calling people “old sport” all week.  Even the insignia in the elevator looks roaring ’20s.

 

Cons:

1) The Two Towers.  Louisville’s Fourth Street ends at the Galt House.  The road runs underneath a bridge which connects the pair of Galt House structures and cul-de-sacs at the terminus.  As you drive up, the buildings grow and grow to obscure the rest of the skyline.  The towers are not at all eyesores.  The only issue is that they are towers.   In a hotel typically full of convention-goers like the Galt House, it is an unpleasant undertaking to stay on, say, the 19th floor.  Getting to the bottom or top can take five or ten minutes.  Especially when someone wants to go–hypothetically–to floor three from floor four.  Someone in an orchid dress on Wednesday, May 30th.

2) Concerted effort.  The Galt House is situated on a river.  So, it has a beautiful waterfront view, perfect for lovers.  And outdoor concerts.  There was one of these festivals after a long travel sequence on Memorial Day.  I don’t know what the band was playing, but somehow the sound was quite loud on the 19th floor.  Does sound rise like heat?

3) At your own risk.  The last two seasons, I had a rental car for me and the coaches in Louisville.  We parked the car in the garage attached to the hotel.  This garage’s lights are as illuminating as your average Danielle Steele novel.  It’s a little nitpicky, but I find the garage to creepier than Steve Buscemi on Halloween.

 

Rating:  81.  A job well done.

 

Coming up next time, a look at the lodging in Indy.  For comments about (Third) Rate the IL Hotel, email jasonbenetti@syracusechiefs.com.

Fab Four Friday: Episode Six

Welcome to another foray into Beatles history with Chiefs pitching coach Greg Booker as our guide.  This week, after navigating Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,  Booker has taken is more mainstream with the group’s 1963 title track Please Please Me.  It’s a song that very nearly never got recorded…

Greg Booker:  When they put out the single, on the label of the first American release, Beatles was spelled with two “t”s.  They misspelled Beatles.  You’ve gotta realize they weren’t even really big in the U.K. yet.  The British Prime Minister at the time, Gordon Brown, revealed later that Please Please Me was the first record he ever bought in his life.  The run-ins they ended up having with the government over there, later on the Prime Minister at the time said he really liked it and that was the first record he ever bought.

Jason Benetti:  On the misspelling thing, remember when Stephen Strasburg was here, Trent had the card up outside in the tunnel and his name said “Stasburg.”

Booker:  I do remember that.  It reminds me when I was playing with the Padres and we had just signed Steve Garvey from the Dodgers as a free agent.  The first jersey he put on, his name was spelled “Gravey.”  You got this big production about signing really one of the first big free agents in Padre history and his name reads “Gravey” on the back.

Benetti:  Well, they did always say he was a meat and potatoes guy.

…..with proper spelling.

Booker:  He had Popeye arms, I know that.  We’re talking today about the song itself Please Please Me, but it’s just another one of the many songs early in The Beatles days, and it changed drastically toward the end of the ’60s the length of their songs,  on the album Please Please Me, the longest in time was Anna Go To Him at 2:57.  Please Please Me only ran for 2:03.  At least were under two minutes.  They had to have filler songs because their songs were so short.  I still like a lot of their later stuff, but I tend to go back to their earlier stuff as far as preference.  The songs were short, they were to the point, they told something.  The arrangement and the music was, instead of filling-in stuff in garbled-up instrumental stuff and weird sitars which made no sense to me.  I like the short storytelling-type things.

Time to listen in:

Booker:  Great harmony to begin.  He’s talking about my girl.

Benetti:  Yours?

Booker:  His, I guess.  My girl’s in North Carolina.  If you look back, a lot of their early stuff didn’t have a predominant drum.  He was just keeping beat.  In here, there’s a really quick three-second thing that Ringo does on the drums that was a big hit back then and is one of my favorite parts of the song.  Right here.

Benetti:  Just to drive it to the bridge.

Booker:  It’s simple, but that is huge in that song right there.  I love that.  Pete Best used to play this before Ringo came along and I think if not this song, but right in this time, is when George Martin said, “You have to get rid of the drummer.”

And they did.

—————–

If you have any questions or queries or qualms involving Fab Four Friday, drop an email to jasonbenetti@syracusechiefs.com.  Your email may be used in an upcoming Fab Four Friday mailbag.

Jason

Fab Four Friday: Episode Five

 

It’s time for another end-of-the-work-week tour through Beatles history with Chiefs resident Fab Four historian, pitching coach Greg Booker.

 

This week, we delve into the 1967 psychedelic classic Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.

 

Greg Booker:  Julian, John’s son, had a crush on Lucy in elementary school.  Julian Lennon met this girl named Lucy O’Donnell that was in his class.  He took a fancy to her and drew a picture.  He took it home to John and said, “Dad, this is Lucy in the sky with diamonds.”  John said, “Wow, what a great title.”

Jason Benetti:  They didn’t have to go far for inspiration, did they?

Booker:  I don’t think the state of mind they were in, they needed to go very far.  They were already out there.

 

For decades, Julian and John Lennon didn’t make public who the song was about.

 

 

Lucy Vodden nee O’Donnell

 

It’s no surprise that a song by The Beatles would be shrouded in secrecy.  Meanings behind their tunes are debated deep into the night still around the world.

 

 

Time to listen in along with Book to Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.  Join us:

 

 

Booker:  George plays the–it’s an Indian instrument–tambura.  That’s the sound you hear in the background.  George loved Indian stuff.  To be able to incorporate that stuff…

Benetti:  Doesn’t sound like a love song.

Booker:  It leads you to thinking the other way.  See how it picks up all of a sudden?  Good harmony there.  They’re so underrated in their harmony.

Benetti:  Think they’re better than The Beach Boys?

Booker:  I don’t know.  They’re super too.  I guess I could cop out by saying they’re totally different.  How do they come up with these words?  Newspaper taxis up here on the shore.  For him to take a drawing from his son, how do you come up with that?

Benetti: He bases it off of Lucy, but this has nothing to do with a girl.  It’s got her name and it’s got diamonds.

Booker:  There’s nothing in there about his son and his school girlfriend or school.  He never touches on anything that would lead you to believe that it was a girl named Lucy his kid liked.

Benetti:  Contrast Taxman.  It’s all about the tax code.

Booker:  This keeps you wondering.  Keeps you guessing.

Benetti:  You think they wanted that?

Booker:  I think more times than not.  Especially late ’60s.  I mean the White Album.  Who can make sense of the White Album?

Booker:  Helter Skelter was a ride in England, I guess.  Get to the bottom, go back to the top.  But, other than that part of the song, you wouldn’t know what in the world it was.

 

 

If you have any Fab Four Friday thoughts, please email in to jasonbenetti@syracusehciefs.com.

(Third) Rate the IL Hotel: Toledo

It’s time once again for America’s second-fastest growing sensation…..just behind that Chia Pet stuck under Niagara Falls…..

(Third) Rate the IL Hotel!!!!!!

Now here’s your host….the man whose fire escape plans are always affixed to the back of his door…..Jason Benetti!!!

Thank you, thank you.  Boy is it a lovely day to rate a hotel.  If you’ve just joined us on our program, it’s easy to catch up.  We take the most recent hotel the Syracuse Chiefs have stayed in, flesh out three positives and three negatives, and assign a mostly arbitrary and somewhat meaningless score to it from 1 to 100.  This week, our challenger is the Park Inn Toledo.  If you’re in town for a Mud Hens game, the Park Inn is easy to find.  It’s the one overlooking left-center field.  Onward and upward:

Pros:

1) Bears on my pillow.  When Kevin and I walked into the hotel room, we found these:

Nothing is more refreshing after an eight-hour bus ride than a quick sugar fix by way of gummi bears.  Even better, there were more sweet little creatures left on the bed the second day.  I’m interested, though, in how the Park Inn people and the Haribo people came to this relationship.  Was the gummi bear company soliciting hotels where it could place its product?  Or did the Park Inn people cold-call candy-makers in an effort to make its customers happier?  “Alright, Sno-Caps.  There’s no way this is gonna work.  I’m texting Junior Mints.”

2) Fair is fowl.   The Park Inn Toledo is renowned in some circles for its ducks.  In most rooms, a plastic-sealed rubber duck sits and waits for the next entrant.  While there really is not much practical value to a rubber duck, it is a rather quaint and cute addition.  Plus, sometimes the little quacker’s investigative power saves the day….

3) Location.  As mentioned, the Park Inn is located less than two blocks from Fifth Third Field, the Hens’ gameday home.  This is fantastic news, especially when the team you’re watching plays back-to-back games at 10:30 in the morning.  The hotel is so close that Chiefs manager Tony Beasley–whose room faced the park–said he was going to do something recognizable with his drapes before he left one day so he could recognize his room from in the dugout.

Cons:

1) ….in five minutes or less, or your room is free.   The Park Inn’s rooms are rather normal for a hotel.  There’s a bathroom, two beds, a desk near the window and assorted furniture (usually a pair of chairs arranged in a corner in an L-shape).  There’s also a tall wooden TV cabinet.  When, Kevin and I entered our room early Saturday morning, I was struck by the faint odor of stagnation/cigarettes in the room.  We decided that the smell was inconclusive for smoke, so we decided to keep the room.  Kevin immediately went for the rubber duck.  After opening it, he placed it on top of the TV stand.  The duck’s eyes were shocked to find this:

The Park Inn Toledo’s room service is so good, it gets your pizza through the door days before you arrive.  Plus, to keep you sharp during your stay, they hide the pizza somewhere in the room to allow you to stimulate your mind.  That’s customer appreciation.

2) Don’t go away.  After the 2 P.M. game Sunday, the dinner search was on in downtown Toledo.  So, I asked a gentleman at the front desk for a recommendation of a restaurant at which to eat.  His first suggestion was the hotel sports bar.  This establishment was in view from where we were talking.  If I wanted to go there, I’d have taken 30 steps.  That’s like Columbus asking the Queen what she wanted colonized and having her respond, “Madrid.”

3)  Scents and sentries.  Here’s a look at the area around the lobby’s elevator bank at the Park Inn:

Well hello, Genghis Khan.  Didn’t realize you’d be here.  If you can make it past the stone guards and get into the elevator, it’s fun to play “perfume or no perfume” before stepping inside.  That’s where you guess if an over-atomized member of the housekeeping staff has recently been inside the capsule.  The only true winners are the ones who guess “no perfume” accurately.

Rating:  68

Stay tuned for the next edition of (Third) Rate the IL Hotel!!!

(Third) Rate the IL Hotel: Columbus

 

It’s time once again for America’s fastest-growing sensation…..put your hands together……no, not like that…..no…..you’re calling a time out…..that’s a dove…..OK, clap.  There you go.  It’s (Third) Rate the IL Hotel!!!!!!

And here’s your host….the guy whose toothpaste is always complimentary and whose compliments are always pasty……

Jason Benetti

Thank you, thank you.  It’s our pleasure to bring you the best in International League lodging on (Third) Rate the IL Hotel.  If you’ve just joined us for the game, what happens is this:  we give you three pros and three cons of the latest hotel the Syracuse Chiefs have stayed in.  Then, we arbitrarily and randomly issue a score between 0 and 100.

Today’s subject:  The Hyatt Downtown Columbus!

A 20-floored beast, the Hyatt is the nexus of convention center activity in the capital of Ohio.  If you’re riding an elevator with someone and that person doesn’t have a nametag, you win a prize.  Off we go:

Pros:

1)    Just nice.  It’s a clean hotel.  Hallways are neat.  Modern.  There are no cleanliness issues.  The furniture all seems new.  A few players have mentioned that the hotel is “big league.”  I remember Trent Jewett, in 2010, saying that his suite was so big that he could have played football in it.  This is in contrast to some hotel rooms I’ve encountered in the low minors that aren’t fit to host a game of jacks.
2)    The radius of dreams.  The Hyatt is more centrally-located than Omaha, Nebraska.  Within an eight-minute walk:  A Starbucks, Buca di Beppo, Gordon Biersch, three sports bars, Boston’s, Ted’s Montana Grill, a BD Mongolian Barbeque, Max and Erma’s and a farmer’s market.  Bonanza.
3)    Liquidity.  In the first two days, the hotel has offered free water flavored with real: watermelons, lemons, honeydews and oranges.  You ever try that?  Do it right now.  Take your water (I know it’s nearby unless you live inside Lawrence of Arabia) and dunk a piece of fruit in it.  That’s glorious.  Angels sing when fruit and water are mixed.  Genius.
Cons:

1)    ….twice on the pipe if the answer is no.  Sometimes great deficiencies are exposed with one small misstep.  The first night at the Hyatt, I forgot to place the privacy placard on the door handle.  So, at roughly 10:30 in the morning, one of the hotel cleaning people began rapping on the door.  The dear lady’s knuckles must be rather like Fonzie’s jacket, because she knocked and knocked and knocked, all the while shouting “housekeeping!”  I tried vocally to bust through the wall of knocking and screaming by saying “No, thanks!”  I couldn’t.  She must have knocked  twelve times.  Realizing she couldn’t hear me because of the noise she was creating, I marched toward the door.  As I did so, she plowed into the room with her key card.  What good does knocking and shouting do if you aren’t interested in the reply?  Then, two days later, another maid knocked twice, said nothing and then barged in.  We’ve got to have a uniform knock-and-announce rule for maids.  The police have one:
Law-enforcement officers, before searching a residence, are required, 1) to announce the officers’ presence and 2) to provide residents an opportunity to open the door.  18 U.S.C. § 3109
Let’s go, hotel subcommittee.  Make it happen.
2)    Wired money.  Like video’s relationship with the radio star, expense reports killed people without access to them.  If you are a traveler to Columbus and you’re not there on official business, the Internet will cost you.  $9.95 a night.  If you’re a business traveler, that’s no skin off your neck.  So, the hotel gets little backlash, assumedly, because corporate coffers are coughing up cash for computers.  That’s an absolute cash cow.  Also, what is a cash cow?  Does it graze on dollar bills?  Is it a macramé animal?
3)    Elevators.  This is a really small thing, but the elevators rumble a little when they start up.  Maybe the hotel could just glance at the wiring and make sure everything’s OK.
Score:  91.  Tremendous.

 

Next up, the Park Inn Toledo!

If you’ve got a comment, please drop it to jasonbenetti@syracusechiefs.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 10,893 other followers