Road Trip to Cooperstown: Raleigh to Scranton

The original plan called for Jeff to join me on my jaunt to Cooperstown, but circumstances beyond anyone’s control made that impossible, so instead I stuck around a little longer on Friday and we went to the State Farmer’s Market in Raleigh for an early lunch. Although this put me about 6 hours behind schedule, the extra time with friends I hadn’t seen in over a year was well spent. Also — and perhaps this is the steady diet of beef jerky and granola bars talking, but I don’t think so — the fried chicken I ate at lunch was the best I’d ever tasted.

After lunch, we said our goodbyes and I found my way back to the freeway out of town. Actually, I got lost and paid a very kind and helpful homeless man $2 to show me the way — one of many times a stranger had come to my aid on this trip.

Back on the road, I now realized that reaching Oneonta tonight would not be possible. My new plan had me staying in Scranton, Pa. Why Scranton? Because that’s where “The Office” takes place, of course.

I listened to NPR, constant companion on a long road. Heard the amazing story of cancer survivor Eric Drew and a show celebrating Stax Records. I was pleased that the latter focused quite a bit on one of my guitar heroes, Steve Cropper. Even if you don’t know Cropper’s work, you know his work (he co-wrote and played on Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” among others). Listen to Jimi Hendrix on songs like “Little Wing” or “The Wind Cries Mary”; that’s the Cropper influence.

I was told that traffic in Washington and Baltimore would be bad, so I cut away from I-95 at Fredericksburg, Va. Driving along US-17 and listening to k.d. lang, I ran into some ferocious winds, followed by a thunderstorm. My wipers couldn’t keep up with the water, so I pulled over at a pizza place. Being from Southern California, I hadn’t thought to prepare for weather (rain in the summer?). I sat in my car and tuned back to NPR for information. The storm was headed east; I was headed northwest.

After 20 minutes or so, I got back on the road toward Winchester, where I picked up I-81. From there, I shot through tiny corners of West Virginia (my 47th state — a secondary motivation for the chosen route) and Maryland before entering Pennsylvania.

After a brief stop in Harrisburg for a plateful of salt with some eggs and potatoes on the side, I continued toward Scranton. Because I hadn’t planned to stay there, I hadn’t made reservations. The most promising area appeared to be near PNC Field (home of the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees), so I decided to give that a shot. Unfortunately, traffic from the just-completed game made navigation something of a nightmare and I soon found myself back on the freeway.

I tried two more places down the road, but no luck. At the first, the man behind the counter literally was too busy counting his money to talk to me. At the second, I could get a “jacuzzi suite” for about $200. That sounded nice, but perhaps a bit excessive for one person and 6 hours of sleep.

I called home, and my wife scoured the Internet looking for places. Meanwhile, as it was now approaching midnight, I had become a bit cranky. A couple in the parking lot noticed my foul mood (I was making little effort to conceal it, I’m afraid) and, after listening to my story, suggested I try Clarks Summit.

After thanking them, I made my way to said town and stopped at the first place I could find. Yes, a room was available but it was “special” and I should look at it before paying. Room #318 was recessed from the hallway, had 7-foot-high ceilings, and smelled like a mix of industrial cleaner and pineapple. Two of the three lights didn’t work and there was some flooding in the bathroom. I’m certain that if there had been a fire, no-one would have thought to check on me. Still, the room had a bed, and by now, that was more than enough for my purposes.

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34 Responses »

  1. 1 … thanks for the link … I’m not sure what’s more “YIKES”: the news about Bush or the news about Schmidt … and the comment about the analysis posted to is certainly interesting …

  2. Geoff-

    I TiVoed the Stax show. It’s even better with visuals, particularly once you hit the 1970s. If you can tell me how to get it from the TiVo to a DVD, I’m happy to burn it for you. Presuming, of course, that my ancient burner could do the job.

    My guess on the three remaining states for you: Maine and the two Dakotas.

  3. #3: Sweet. My TiVo skillz are severely limited, so I’m no help there, but I appreciate the offer.

    As for the remaining states, those would be Alaska, Kansas, and Rhode Island. I bought a convex mirror and some duct tape in Kansas after we got hit by the truck, so now I’m down to two. :-)

    Funny you should mention Maine. I actually saw my first minor-league game there. Easter Sunday ’87, Maine Guides vs Columbus Clippers. Jay Buhner was the Clippers’ big star at the time. That reminds me, I need to go back and update this:

  4. 2.

    Yeah the HBT thing is interesting. I remember reading that following the draft and didn’t know what to make of it. If I remember correctly HBT had Micheal Maine’s mechanics rated really really highly (I want to say 3rd right behind Price and Porcello) as opposed to Schmidt’s which they hated. That might not be accurate but I think that’s what I remember from it. It would be a real shame if we passed up a ton of talent to scoop up another injured “pitchability” type!

  5. Interesting analysis of top money teams vs. low money teams, including the Padres.

  6. Anybody willing to do Meredith and a prospect for Igawa?

  7. I don’t think it’s a good idea to trade anyone from the major league bullpen at this point. Give Cassel/Estes/Stauffer/etc. a shot instead. They can’t be worse than Wells was (although Ledezma certainly was!).

  8. 9: I agree, bad Idea

  9. Anyone have any analysis for Ledezma? I only caught a few batters of friday’s game before I had to leave the house but from the 2 or 3 that I saw it looked like his velocity was good and I noticed that his arm angle looked like it should be tough against lefties but obviously that wasn’t the case. Does his stuff flatten out or what?He looked to me like he would be ok from what I saw and by the time I got in the car he was getting rocked. Anyone notice anything? Does he look like some adjustments or being around some quality pitchers might help?

  10. Re: 7…No joy here…

  11. 11: To me it just seemed like he had little or no control of his pitches and they only planned on having him throw 50-70 pitches anyway. They were not really flat, just little control so he was forced to basically leave things over the plate. I think they should let Cassel throw next time. He did a good job holding afer Ledezma left.

  12. Igawa is not a major league pitcher. I can’t believe the Yankees scouted him so badly. He pitches up in the strike zone and does not have good movement. He gave up 15 homers in 62 innings (most homers of any Yank).

    I would not even rank him Quadruple A.

  13. Nice read:

    Oh, and the Padres won the series over the weekend.
    Cool. I’m feeling good again. Perhaps, I must stay away from series more often. Will try again on the series starting tomorrow.

    Go Padres!

  14. re 14: I think that’s not exactly a complete analysis of Igawa. 51 K’s in 62 IP certainly is the mark of a big league pitcher. He probably will always give up the long ball, but 2+HR per 9IP isn’t sustainable based on his fly ball rates. He’s given up 104 fly balls, MLB averages say that should translate to 10 HR, not the 15 that he’s given up.

    How much better would be look with average luck, Petco for half his starts, in the NL and with the Padres defense behind him?

    I’m betting better then league average, on the surface at least.

  15. I think Igawa deserves a fresh start, and I think he can be an effective major league pitcher. But would I want to inject him into a playoff run? No way. I’d be happy to put him at AAA and let him earn his way onto the club. That’s what Cassel did, and he earned his shot. Maybe Dice-K and Ichiro can be excellent right away, but some guys need some adjustment time, and I think Igawa is one of those guys. Plus, he’s pretty young.

    If you’re going to get him, get him for 2008, and don’t trade a productive major leaguer for him. Maybe Ledezma?

  16. Cassell earned his shot? I think he was the last man standing at AAA, but his performance certainly did not lead to a promotion.

  17. No to trading Meredith for Igawa, yes to acquiring Igawa if it can be done cheaply.

    I didn’t see the start by Ledezma, but when I’ve seen him pitch in the past his problem has mainly been command within the strike zone. He can’t hit his spot, so he leaves balls over the middle of the plate.

    18: Cassel had a 3.54 era for Portland with a 3-1 K/BB ratio, good groundball ratios, and only 11 homers allowed in 134 innings. That looks like he earned a shot to me.

  18. Ahem….converting QS into W seems to be the Padres’ problem. That sounds right to me. Look at how good Boston and Angels are at doing the same thing. A few more early runs will do the Padres’ good.

  19. Don’t know how cheap Igawa could possibly be given his salary. Padres are not the Yanks and $5MM a year tied up in a very questionable pitcher seems to have an opportunity cost associated with it. Yanks are now talking that Igawa has to “reinvent” himself, in other words they are acknowledging he does not have major league stuff.

  20. 7:
    I’d do 3 rosin bags, a Josh Bard autographed bat and a pack of Big League chew for Igawa.

  21. Since he’s been with the Yanks, Igawa has spent more time farting around with his release point than actually pitching.

    Yanks had him in the majors to begin with, sent him down to extended spring training, brought him back up, and now sent him down. His last start for Columbus was OK, and he has looked good in spots. At his best, he appears to be a #4 starter.

    My guess: the guy is so screwed up with his delivery right now, there’s no way he’ll pitch well in NY.

  22. Well if you mean #4 starter as in behind Peavy, Young and Maddux then I agree, but guys with K rates that high don’t typically fare much worse then league average.

  23. On ESPN Radio today Steve Phillips said he thinks Cashman is trying to get something for Igawa but at the 11th hour will let the Padres have him for nothing because he just wants to get that mistake out of town so people don’t keep bringing it up. If we can get him for nothing but his salary I think it’s a good gamble but considering it was Phillips who said that it almost certainly won’t go down that way.

  24. 26 – I wouldn’t believe Steve Phillips as far as I could throw him (and I’m injured so that’s not far), but if they basically give him to us I say go for it.

    I’d rather throw Kai out there over Ledezma.

    I dunno Butchie instead.

  25. The Dodgers called up Hillenbrand today. I haven’t decided if he’s my favorite Dodger now, or if I still like Juan Pierre as a Dodger more.

  26. I was in deep Baja surfing during T Gwynn’s Hall induction. Anyone have any links or suggestions so I could re-visit what happened that day? Bummer…..but good waves.

  27. Has anyone perused the splits lately?
    OG on the road: .343/.409/.530
    OG at home: .241/.361/.293

    Blum’s the opposite:
    road: .191/.243/.291

  28. 29 … you can watch the video of the HOF induction ceremony from links here …

  29. Porcello is close to signing with the Tigers for $7.7 million. I can see why the Padres decided to pass. Still, it’s frustrating to see other teams invest in the draft like this and see Padres’ draftees go away to college because of a couple hundred thousand dollars, while the organization spends $3 million less than they said they would. I can understand not getting involved in free agent spending wars, but the money saved from avoiding a marginal free agent can buy more than 10 high upside prospects that slide because of signability.

    Here’s the Baseball America story on Porcello signing:

  30. 27 – I caught that.

    Getting dusted won’t be an issue.