One of the things that I like best about baseball is the road trips. Playing at home is great, sure – you’ve got the home fans, a familiar playing surface and a much easier commute. But there is nothing, absolutely nothing like the fun you can have on a baseball road trip.
After ten, or fifteen, or fifty hours on a bus together, guys get pretty punchy, pretty familiar with each other and pretty bored. I can’t describe the feeling, I guess – so let me sum it up with one example. The baseball road trip environment is the one where one guy creeps up the aisle behind another guy who’s watching a movie and sees how long he can rest a part of his naked anatomy on the guy’s shoulder before he notices. Then the guy notices and yells, startled, and then tries to punch the other guy in the balls while he trips back down the aisle and everyone giggles and screams and hollers like they’re seven years old and someone just got pantsed.
Not everyone likes this kind of atmosphere. It’s crude, it’s immature, it’s petty, and very often it’s genuinely unkind, sometimes even cruel. I understand those reactions. If you’re one of those people, I say “you’re right – that’s a valid complaint. Also, don’t play baseball.”
On one road trip to Washington, D.C., after seeing the mall and the Smithsonian and everything else good and great around the city, some of us started to get bored. It was the second day we’d been there, just around that time when guys start getting slap-happy and someone does something crazy. Well, this particular time, that person was Lance, our left-fielding leadoff man, working in coordination with Mark, the backup catcher.
They bought Ex-Lax – neatly packaged in miniature chocolate bars.
But the execution of the plan was the real genius. They picked a target: Rob, the closer, the butt of a lot of the team’s jokes and a man with a beast of a temper. And then they struck – moving up from opposite directions, Lance with two full bars of Ex-Lax chocolate and one of Hershey’s.
“Hey Rob,” chirped Lance, “you want some chocolate?”
Rob was not buying it. “Yeah right,” he said. “You put something in there that’s gonna make me throw up or something.”
Mark popped over his other shoulder at the perfect time. “What? Rob, you need to relax, man. Not everyone is out to get you, you know,” he said, and grabbed a piece of chocolate from Lance’s hand.
Rob watched carefully as Mark put it in his mouth and chewed slowly. And that was that. They had him. Before fifteen minutes were up, one bar of the Ex Lax was in Rob’s stomach. The recommended dosage was one square – or two in cases of extreme constipation. Each bar had six squares.
Rob didn’t sleep all night. He was in the bathroom. All. Night. Long.
What made it worse was that his roommate, in fear of having his stash of porn discovered, had put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door, which meant the maids had not replenished their toilet paper that day.
By midnight, Rob had run out of toilet paper and switched in desperation to hand towels, then bath towels.
He did his best to make his tormenters suffer with him though, screaming periodically from on the toilet, “Lance, I’M GOING TO FUCKING KILL YOU!” Several times, after a few minutes of silence, the following yelled exchange occurred:
Lance: How’s it going in there, Robbie?
Rob: I’m going to beat the shit out of you, asshole!
Lance: [giggles] Oh, poor baby!
Rob: Ghaaaa! Fuuuuuck!
I don’t know what else to say. I laughed as hard as I could for each item in the next impossible sequence:
Rob’s roommate, who had left the sign on the door, got his karmic due when he took a shower in the tub where Rob had thrown the pile of used hand towels, which clogged the drain and left him unknowingly standing in a puddle of poop-water.
Rob was visibly waddling the next morning as he carried his bags to the bus, and when he tried to chase down Lance in the parking lot, he pulled up after four steps with a cry of pain.
Lance somehow managed to convince Justin, the 350 pound first baseman, to eat SEVEN squares of Ex Lax. For the next two days, Lance would ask him every hour or so, “So Justin, how you feeling? Pooping much lately?” And the answer was always no.
When Justin finally found out what he’d eaten, he just shrugged and said, “yeah, I’d been a little backed up, but since then, I’ve been fine.” Unbelievable.
On the trip home, I learned what the term “fruitbowl” meant, as well as discovering that it is possible for one man to urinate 40 ounces in a 7-11 cup. But I guess that’s a story for another time.