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(Third) Rate the IL Hotel: Durham

It’s time once again for the game which stocks its closet with hangers you can’t steal…….(Third) Rate the IL Hotel!  Here’s your host for (Third) Rate the IL Hotel…..Jason Benetti!

Thank you Charlie Tuna.  It’s a pleasure to be here along with you folks for another edition of (Third) Rate the IL Hotel.  It’s been a long time……20-game homestands and All-Star Breaks aren’t great for ratings, that’s for sure.  If you’ve just joined along, we present to to you a recent hotel the Syracuse Chiefs have stayed in, list three pros and three cons and assign a rating between 0 and 100.  This week’s contestant is the Downtown Durham Marriott!


1) Internet improvement.  Two seasons ago, when the Chiefs went to Durham, I had keys for a pair of rooms at the Marriott.  I wheeled my suitcase into the first room and opened my computer.  The web wouldn’t load.  I called the front desk  The man there said the music wouldn’t play.  He also said that he’d reset the Internet.  That didn’t help.  So, as a test, I brought my computer to a different floor and connected to the Internet.  Worked fine.  See, some hotels have routers scattered on every other floor.  That leaves the evens (or the odds) with weak wireless.  That was the case in that situation.  So, I got a different room.  This time around, the Internet was great in multiple locations.  Nicely done on the fix.

2) Proximity to sustenance.  Kevin and I had our first ever chicken and waffles experience just steps from the hotel’s side door (see below).

Also, a few blocks away was a neat little free-range burger joint with absolutely delectable food.  Plus, the park is nearby.

3) Generally nice.  The carpeting is nice.  The walls are nice.  The towel carts are nice.  The drapes are nice.  There’s something to be said about being clean and nice.  No real big blemishes.  That’s perfect in my book.  Nice.  (No, I don’t want your thesaurus.  Nice of you to offer, though.)


1)  Water switcheroo.  They used to have a tankard of flavored water at the exit.  Now they don’t.  That’s like when grocery stores used to have Boku.  Now they don’t.  Terrible.

Goes well with capers.

2) Overreaching engineering.  The ice machine on our floor was unavailable.  So, there was a neato sign in front of the alcove in which it was housed:

Very informative, but let’s be honest, engineering wouldn’t be that cordial.  Do you know any engineers?  Would they apologize for any inconvenience?  That’s like Boris Badenov apologizing for chasing a flying squirrel.

3) Pillows.  Where do they teach that all beds need to have 6000 pillows on them?  If so, can I guest lecture?  Nine carpets on the floor make the floor lumpy.  250 scoops of hot fudge on a sundae make the ice cream taste goopy.  And 206 pillows tend to clutter a bed.  Stop it.

Rating:  91.  Very good.  Any effort made on improving quality of Internet is worth bonus points.

Chiefs are back from the break tonight with a 6 P.M. suspended game against SWB.  Catch it all on The Score 1260 or online at

(Third) Rate the IL Hotel: Indianapolis

It’s time once again for the game that’s sweeping the land as fast as a janitor who’s paid per broom-stroke…..(Third) Rate the IL Hotel!!!!  Now here’s your host, the gentleman whose elevator is always waiting in the lobby…….Jason Benetti!!!!!

Thank you Charlie O’Donnell.  It’s a pleasure to be here.  Check out your local Toys ‘R’ Us soon for (Third) Rate the IL Hotel:  the board game.  Traverse faulty Internet, find your own TV-stand pizza boxes and make it so the window can’t open in your own home.

If you’ve just joined the game, we take recent lodging that the Chiefs have stayed in, give you three positives and three negatives and (somewhat) arbitrarily assign a score between 0 and 100.

Today’s challenger is the Courtyard by Marriott Indianapolis.  Located behind the NCAA Headquarters, this hotel has everything:  Flavored water, a T.G.I. Friday’s and, look over there, it’s a front desk employee who looks like Miles from Lost.


1) The Detangler.  Quick quiz:  Which of the following is “The Detangler?”:

A) An episode of 48 Hours Mystery

B) Catwoman’s nephew

C) The conditioner at the Courtyard Indianapolis

D) A nickname given to New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz

Correct answer:

2) Courty-art deco.  The floors are deep, sanguine red.  There are black-and-white photos on the wall, sharply framed in a deep ebony outline.  There’s even one of these:

I’ve always wanted one of those.  It’s a marshmallow plant, right?

3) Under the cover of darkness.  Sometimes, the Chiefs’ travel leaves the team (and its other party members) in need of a good night’s rest.  One of the major components of good REM sleep is a lack of sunlight in the room.  In some hotels, the drapes don’t pull completely together.  This leaves a sliver of sunlight to peek through the covering.  At seven in the morning, then, the weary traveler feels as though he is being interrogated by a member of the Army Rangers with a tiny flashlight.  The Courtyard’s drapes are perfect.  They make the room feel like the inside of a trunk.


1) Like “the kitchen’s on fire,” but worse.  Let’s preface this by saying that the T.G.I. Friday’s I’m about to reference is attached to the hotel, but is not an official part of the hotel.  So, inclusion of this negative is rather like the act of auditing a class.  It’s good to listen to, but accountability is minimal.  I walked into Friday’s looking for a meal and a place to write the previous edition of (Third) Rate the IL Hotel.  I said to the gentleman at the host stand, “table for one.”  I very quickly became persona non grata.  He asked me if I wanted to sit at the bar–standard, it seems.  My response was no.  He then yelled behind him to another waitress, “One-top.”  Thanks to Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain’s  rollicking expose on the restaurant industry, I know that means “a table for one.”  I did not hear the woman’s reaction, but I can only assume it was negative.  The man came back to me and asked for my name.  It was going to be a wait.  Charade.  They had at least a dozen empty tables, I said.  His response was that the waitstaff was “overwhelmed” right then.  Yes, overwhelmed with a lack of delight about someone taking one of their tables without a group in tow.  I was seated five minutes later.  New rule:  seat people eating alone and we, as a subset of the population, we will agree to tip well.

2) Service error.  We were over this briefly last time in Indianapolis.  The bank of elevators has a total of three in the fleet.  Two of them are regular guest elevators.  One is both a guest elevator and a service elevator.  You, as the guest, have no control over which one you get.  So, you may be forced to enter the module with this number grid:

I’d rather not ride with the linens.  It scares me when the back door opens and I can see into the laundry area.  I don’t need to know that my sheets are just one of a couple thousand sets.  Makes me feel like I’m going to contract something or other.

3) AC adapter.  Thanks in part to its ability to be cloaked in shadows, the room stays quite cold during the day while the team is at the ballpark.  It’s difficult, though, to sleep with the unit on because of the location of the vent which spews the Icelandic air.  The vent was mounted in the wall near where the window met the bed.  This leaves the sleeper to feel like he’s being breathed on by Jack Frost.  That’ll get you sick pronto.

Rating:  88.  If we find out, though, that the restaurant is owned by the hotel, the rating may fall to 23.

If you have any hotel thoughts, email  Look forward to hearing from you.

(Third) Rate the IL Hotel: Louisville


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




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.



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.



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

(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:


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.


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……’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:


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.

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

(Third) Rate the IL Hotel: 2012 Season Premiere


Ladies and gentlemen….boys and girls… and chips…..Max and Erma’s…..Rowan and Martin……

“We get the idea!”

Whoa.  Sorry.  Testy studio audience.  It’s time for America’s fastest-growing sensation which involves an arbitrary rating system and not Wayne Brady…..


And here’s your host for Rate the IL Hotel……Jason Benetti!

Good day folks and welcome to the show which never puts too many pillows on the bed, Rate the IL Hotel.  We’re glad to be around for one more season.  If we go much longer, we might be forced by the networks to do Celebrity Rate the IL Hotel.  Nobody wants to hear about Phyllis Diller’s experience at the Sheraton Waterside Norfolk.

If you’ve just joined us, Rate the IL Hotel is very simple.  We give you three positives and three negatives about a recent hotel the Syracuse Chiefs have stayed in.  Then, we assign a number between 0 and 100 to the hotel.

Today’s contestant:  The Hilton Garden Inn Allentown, Pennsylvania.

For those keeping track, we have not rated an Allentown establishment since 2010 when the Hotel Bethlehem was the preferred lodging of the IronPigs.  Since then, the Staybridge Suites has taken over as the hotel for visiting ballplayers.  But, last weekend the Staybridge was oversold and sent the Chiefs next door to the Hilton Garden Inn.  Here’s how it was:


1) It’s not the Staybridge.  The first time we traveled to Allentown last year, the Staybridge could only offer me and Kevin a smoking room.  Because we hadn’t steeled ourselves to spend the night under a craps table at the Bellagio, this was not ideal and has colored my view of the Staybridge.

2) Continental breakfast selection.  Waffles, pancakes, loads of cereals, tasty hash browns, at least four muffin choices.  A dazzling array.  The only negative was the melon-heavy fruit salad.  A little pineapple goes a long way.

3) Clean.  A few decades ago, the folks who ran White Castle had all of their employees wear white lab coats.  At the time, fast food was under fire for being generally unkempt.  So, the White Castle gurus thought being as pristine as possible–say, in a castle colored white–might draw customers.  There’s a chance the Hilton Garden Inn braintrust descended from White Castle CEOs.  This hotel–and every other HGI I’ve personally been to–has been clean as a whistle.  Beautiful.


1) Low elevation.  Hotel beds typically are raised above ground.  These beds were rather, say, terranian.  If I wanted to sleep in a dojo, I’d have checked into the set of Kung Fu Panda.

2) Breakfast anarchy.  I brought my plate to the table I chose near a window in the lobby.  Realizing I had no fork with which to eat hash browns, I got up.  After scouring the nook with the food for a while, I asked a staff member for silverware.  She told me it was on the table.  Thinking I had gone totally insane, I went back to the table and found nothing of the sort.  I asked the woman again and she handed me a rolled-up napkin with a spoon, fork and knife inside.  I got up again later in search of apple juice, but couldn’t locate a glass.  The woman I asked for one told me that it was on the table.  Feeling like Allen Funt was somewhere in the business office, I asked then and there that she just give me one.  I’m not the rube who falls for the “your stuff is on the table” routine twice.  Just once, thanks.

3) Coupons.  Our team got breakfast vouchers.  I attempted to hand mine to the woman manning the front desk (aside: can a woman man a desk?  Or does she woman the desk?).  She wouldn’t take it.  Told me to leave it on my table.  Well, let’s be honest.  They don’t know how many people were at each table.  The human memory can store +/- seven things at once.  Good luck.

Rating:  82.  Nice work.

Join us next time on Rate the IL Hotel!!!!



P.S. Special thanks to Brandon Massey, Chief graphic guru for the great image.  I’ve never looked better with two glasses of shiraz.

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