Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Funny Thing about Time

I'm currently in the middle of whirlwind trip to the east coast. I work a part-time job for a baseball statistics company and occasionally they are in need of people to cover minor league games. I am in my only week of summer vacation and I realized there was a need for a scorer in Portland, Maine, so I figured "Why the hell not?" I flew into Portland late Monday night and will be flying back out Thursday evening. I've read somewhere that it takes the body one day to adjust for every time zone travelled. If this holds true, right about when I adjust to Eastern Time, I'll be on a plane back to the Pacific.

I've travelled a number of time zones before without much trouble. I learned a trick where in the plane, you adjust to what it will be when you land. So if you're landing late at night, try to stay awake in the plane so you're tired and go right to sleep. If you're landing in the morning, sleep on the plane. This has done me well, and on a couple of trips to Europe and one trip to Australia, I've hit the ground running on the first day and barely looked back.

However, maybe due to the short trip or the fact that I keep telling myself that three hours isn't that much, I find myself having problems this trip. It doesn't have to do with being tired or unable to function, it's more of a confused Twilight Zone-esque sense of "What the hell time is it?" constantly going through my brain. Right now, I think it's 11:00 AM. My computer says it's 8:00. Seems simple enough to adjust for, but it's not.

Anyway, here's the funny thing about time zones. I find myself constantly using the fact that my body is on a different time to justify or make excuses for just about everything. My first thought when I landed at 10:00 PM was the my internal clock said it was only 7:00, so I could drive for a few hours (I needed to be in Hartford, CT by noon the next day). And I was more or less correct. I drove a couple of hours to Worcester, Mass and found a nice little La Quinta to check into at about 1:00 AM. Then I set my alarm for the morning. To be on the safe side, I set it for 7:15 so I could be on the road by 8:00. It didn't really dawn on me that my internal clock, which had me wide awake at 1:00 AM, would consider this wake up time to be 4:15 in the morning. I realized that when it went off.

Added to this confusion was the fact that I saw two baseball games yesterday - at noon in New Britain, CT and at 7:00 in Manchester, NH. Day games mess me up anyway and this was coupled with hours of driving on each side. Then the game in Manchester was delayed by a couple of hours, so it didn't start until 9:00 local time. Around midnight when the ninth inning was starting, the guy I was sitting with said "Well at least you're three hours behind, so this doesn't seem that late." And at this point I looked at the clock, realized it was only 9:00 back home and tried to wonder why I was so damned tired. Then I realized that when you only sleep for five or so hours and then are up by 7:30 in the morning, midnight's going to feel late no matter what time zone you're in.

Another odd thought I had that first night, as I was driving through a darkened Maine and Massachusetts, was wondering who I can call. I thought of calling Sancho in Texas and I had the oddest feeling that it was only 8:00 where he was. How did I think Texas was four hours behind the east coast? Simple. I guess I've always thought of the central time zone not as two hours ahead of the Pacific, but as one hour behind that other time. The time on the other coast. The time that ESPN and Comedy Central run on. So here I was driving around at midnight, knowing that it was 9:00 on "the other coast," so, naturally, it must be 8:00 in Texas. And I call myself smart.

So I'm about to take off now and explore the coast of Maine. I need to be in Portland for another baseball game tonight, which I believe is starting at 7:00, but for all I know it might be 4:00 or 10:00 or it could be yesterday. As an aside, I will be landing at SFO at midnight Thursday night and will still have two hours of travel ahead of me. I haven't told myself yet that I will think it's 3:00 in the morning. So, shhh, let's keep that a secret.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Go Rays Go

I'm rooting for the Tampa Bay Rays to take it all! Before you think I'm nothing more than a johnny-come-lately bandwagoner, let me explain a few things. First, the Angels are still my favorite team. Second, I can, in fact, name a number of players on Tampa Bay. And third, I have 1,500 reasons to root for them.

Back in March, I made my annual March Madness trip to Reno. While there, I often times look at the futures for all of the sports to see if there's some fun longshot that would be worth rooting for. This year the Rays jumped out at me. I'm not going to lie and say I knew they would have the best record in the majors at the beginning of June. But when I saw the listing, they had the longest odds to win the World Series - substantially longer than Kansas City, Toronto, San Francisco, and plenty of other completely lousy teams.

And this is where my knowledge of their players came to my aid (if that's what it was). I drafted BJ Upton with the #1 pick in a keeper league (simulation baseball) back when he first appeared in 2004. I kept him in my league through 2005, when he spent the entire year in the Minors and had to waste a roster spot on him. So I've been following and rooting for him for a long time. I had heard great things about Evan Longoria, and of course, my Angels had been rumored to be pursuing Carl Crawford in a trade. On the pitching side, I saw Matt Garza pitch in New Britain, CT two years ago. In that year, he started the season in Single-A and proceeded to dominate all three levels of the minors and make the Majors by August. Dominant stuff. And of course, there's Troy Percival, the best closer in Angels history (K-Rod's good and all, but I hold my breath in the 9th inning a lot more often now than I did through most of the 1990s). I certainly thought Percy was done, but I was rooting for his comeback attempt.

So there I was in Reno, thinking "Energetic hitters, young starting rotation, veteren bullpen, solid defense (once Iwamura replaced Upton at 2B)." They reminded me a little of the Rockies from last year. And the Rockies made the World Series. So, after texting a number of friends with messages like "I think I'm freaking insane, I want to bet on the Devil Rays," I finally put $10 on them to win the World Series at 150/1 odds.

The two or three people that knew what I was doing kept laughing in April. Hey Wombat, your Rays won again. In May, one remarked they were watching ESPN and the analysts were all saying "Nobody saw this coming," and he thought "One person did." Now all I get are a lot of "How did you know?" and "I wish I had gone along with you."

Now, to be fair, I did NOT see this coming. I just thought they were better than they had been and I liked some of the players. But now that they have a 2 game lead in the AL East (and a 6 or so game lead in the Wild Card), all i can say is that I'm rooting for them. I think they're young and exciting, they built a solid team and play sound baseball. And I've got $1,500 riding on them. Go Rays!