Honeymoon in Bali: Baseball-less for 2 Weeks
MLB reports: For those that know me and for those of you meeting me for the first time, I send my warm hello and how are you. I am writing this article on my 3rd flight of the day – the red eye at 3:15a.m. EST, Monday March 7th from San Francisco to Toronto. I am on approximately 2 hours of sleep and my system cannot ascertain the time or day of the week at this point. Do not feel sorry for me, I got to enjoy a beautiful honeymoon in Bali with my amazing, wonderful wife. Wife, quite the word to say and the novelty has not worn off yet. But rather than inundate you with mere travel highlights, like an old time grandma slideshow from Florida that will put you to sleep, another twist. I breathe, sleep and eat baseball. That’s it. Baseball is the only subject that I tweet and write about. So for my latest entry, I prepared a report on the state of baseball from my 2 weeks of travel. I have noted the highs and lows of my travels and future recommendations if you are ever on a trip like this one of your own. As I write the accounts of my adventures, please note that I am glassy eyed, smiling and expressing myself in a very tongue-in-cheek fashion. This is for all my baseball tweeps – my return to the real world. My return to the baseball universe.
On Sunday February 20th, at approximately 2:00p.m., I was summoned in the hall for the start of the portrait shots. With a final tweet on my trusted blackberry torch, I was signed off from the baseball world for the next 2 weeks. My amazing niece Michelle (twitter handle @officialmlbfan) was gracious enough to intern for me from the day of my wedding and through my honeymoon to look after @MLBreports. I’m sure she did a great job; she is an up-and-comer who has a lot of passion and interest for the game. I will admit that I did not go on a computer for the entire honeymoon except for the past Friday. It turned out my flight home was cancelled and I had to rebook my flight on-line. I sneaked a quick peek on twitter and spent 5 minutes reading Michelle’s tweets. Great reporting tweets, I was the proudest uncle in the world. Plus I snuck in tweets about 5 of news stories I read and did a #FF for Ryan Tatusko of the Washington Nationals. This spring represents a huge opportunity and upcoming year for Ryan and my thoughts and prayers are with him. But aside from that brief interlude, when my blackberry shut off for the start of the pictures, my baseball contact came to a screeching halt. No internet, television or newspapers. Nada. I become a baseball hermit.
The wedding itself was the greatest day of my life. Karly was the most beautiful princess I had ever seen. The ceremony was emotional to say the least, without a dry eye in the room. I probably had the most tears of all. After a wonderful night of dancing, eating and partying, Karly and I made our way to the airport at 6:00a.m. Next stop on the Monday (ironically being family day), was an 8:00a.m. flight to Washington. With barely an hour between plane flights from Washington to Korea, we had precious little time in the Washington airport. With 3 flights to Bali, I figured that we would be visiting our fair share of airports on this trip. As we made our way to our gate, I scanned quickly the few open shops for any sign of baseball gear. With 3 books and 3 copies of baseball America in hand, I was fairly sure I would be safe for reading material. Finding new baseball merchandise never gets old for me. Right before our gate I lucked out. No Harper gear (augh), but I did locate gorgeous Strasburg jersey t’s on the rack! Jersey t’s, for those that are not familiar with them, are t-shirts with a team logo on the front and a player name and number on the back. A perfect medley of baseball jersey and t-shirt, thus a jersey t. 2 colors were available, red and navy blue. The store was down to only large and x-large for the red shirts. That was cool as I wanted a blue shirt anyways. With my Strasburg jersey-t in hand, I passed on the sweatshirts and caps. I wanted to be save the funds for all the baseball merchandise I would be finding on my trip. Big mistake.
My visit to the next airports in Korea and Bali would be indicative of the state of baseball for the entirety of my travels. A bare, non-existent, black-hole- void of any baseball. Not one item or bare nugget of baseball could be found in either airport. I had finished off at this point all of my copies of Baseball America on the flight to Korea and started to read Ron Darling’s book: “The Complete Game” on the flight to Bali. I left all my copies of Baseball America on the plane ride to Korea thinking that I would not have the time or will to re-read them again and that 3 baseball books would suffice for the rest of the trip. In the worst case scenario, I could always find another baseball book or magazine in an absolute emergency at any Bali bookstore. Second big mistake. Near the end of my 2nd week of the trip I was hungry for those recycled Baseball Americas like a druggie without a fix. For as bad as the airports were, searching for any sign of baseball throughout Bali was like looking for curling or snowboarding. Absolutely non-existent.
I have to say that I was quite proud of myself. I stayed away from the internet for the entire trip except for the brief period spent re-booking the return flights. For television, I did actually try to make it work on our 2nd last day. Unbeknownst to us, Karly and I were staying in Bali during the start of their new year and biggest yearly festival called Nyepi, the Balinese “day of silence”. On this holiday, slated on the last Friday night of our trip through to Saturday, nobody was allowed to leave the hotel as all the streets were closed. Police were even patrolling the area apparently and returning people to their homes if they were out and about. Friday night was the festival of dragons and characters that were created through floats paraded in the streets. As it rained fairly hard that night, we missed the festival. I figured, what the heck, let’s try out the television. Channel 4 was labeled ESPN and I looked forward to watching a spring training game or two. 3rd mistake. The television barely worked and had very poor picture quality. From what I could see, the visual was soccer in a language that I did not understand. It was not ESPN. It was not even ESPN Deportes. Baseball television viewing was not going to happen. What about MLB.com which broadcasts most spring training games you ask? Did my hotel have Wi-Fi? Of course…but I did not being my laptop. 4th mistake and the baseball follies and misadventures would continue from there.
As a note, spring training did start during my 2-week honeymoon period. Aside from opening-day and the World Series, spring training is the 3rd most important national holiday period for a die-hard baseball fan. But alas, with almost 2 weeks in, I am yet to see one pitch of any baseball action in 2011. I land in Toronto at 7:00a.m. Monday morning and will be at work by 9:00a.m. I have a wedding ring, beard, but no baseball viewing this year under my belt. Tomorrow night that will all change as I will either watch or listen to games thanks to mlb.com. But until then, I sit on a plane ostracized from the baseball community at large. Through a quick twitter run I learned that Jason Castro is likely out for the year for the Astros. Jake Peavy is well ahead of his recovery time for the White Sox and pitched 2 successful innings against the Angels. Miguel Cabrera has drawn the ire of Maggs in Tigers’ camp. But that’s it. 2 weeks and essentially oblivious from the baseball world. I was asked by many people if I was concerned that my honeymoon ran concurrently with spring training. My answer was always no. With a wedding and honeymoon, spring training attendance was not going to happen for me this year. In truth, I have never yet been to a live spring training game in my life. One day, but not this year. Once I comeback, I will be caught up within a day. Plus there is still over 3 weeks of spring training games to go. I will only get 1 wedding and honeymoon in my life. My time to get married was now. No regrets.
So during the 2 weeks of my honeymoon adventure, did I experience any baseball related stories? The highlight of the trip from a baseball perspective was wearing my Nick Swisher jersey-t and visiting Ketut Liyer, the medicine man and healer featured in the Julia Robert’s movie “eat, pray, love.” The picture of Ketut analyzing my shirt was priceless as he was captivated, almost mesmerized by Swisher. That picture is one that I will refer back to and enjoy for the rest of my life. I will send it to Swisher himself and my tweeps and hope that get the same enjoyments. But otherwise, I found a 1986 baseball t-shirt from Japan in a Bali shop that fit like a shmedium (too small for a medium, too big for small) that was inaccurately labeled as a large. Other than that, not a single trace of baseball on the entire island. The trip was successful from a productivity standpoint in my baseball realm. I completed the 3 aforementioned copies of Baseball America, read and completed reviews of 3 baseball books- Dirk Hayhurst “The Bullpen Gospels”, Batting Stance Guy “A Love Letter to Baseball”, and Ron Darling “The Complete Game”. I read my notes and interview with Oney Guillen in preparing an upcoming article on the well-known baseball persona. As I write this article, it marks my last entry of the trip. But most of all, I am pleased to say that I was so relaxed and inspired by the tranquility of Bali, that I finally started my baseball novel and was able to complete 21 pages. My lifelong dream, or one of them at least, is to write and publish a book. I hope the starting point of my work will one day lead to the completion of such a book. As with anything in life, time and luck will tell.
For our return flight home, Karly and I were to travel through Hong Kong and San Francisco before landing back in Toronto. With the rise of popularity in baseball throughout the world, including the 2 editions of the WBC, I expected to find some glimpses of the sport in Hong Kong. After striking out in Korea (great pun), I met the same fate again. I was provided with the sports section of the English edition of a Hong Kong newspaper which had 2 baseball articles. An inside look into Cliff Lee joining the Phillies and his status going into the season and a profile of a minority shareholder in the World Series champions San Francisco Giants, who happens to be Japanese and the only non-American owner in the game. But other than that, no jerseys, shirts, or books. No other baseball finds in Hong Kong. I settled to purchase at the airport a book on mastering twitter (surprise) and a magazine on blackberry apps and tricks (bigger surprise) to get me through the 11-hour plane ride to San Francisco. My hopes of international baseball merchandise would need to wait another day. To the day that I could be like Tuffy Rhodes or Colby Lewis… except that I would be trekking to the stands of the stadium to watch a live Japanese baseball game.
As Washington had started my honeymoon journey, San Francisco ended it. Being World Series champions, I had no doubt my credit card would get a decent workout at the airport. A black Buster Posey jersey-t, world series champions 2010 t-shirt with the roster on the back, and a Lindy’s fantasy magazine, my adventure was done…from both the honeymoon and baseball perspectives. The trip itself was the vacation of a lifetime that provided me with moments and experiences that I will never forget. I loved every minute and was so fortunate to spend every truesecond of it with my wife. For the baseball fans though, I have some tips for those of you taking similar future adventures. Make sure you pack plenty of baseball magazines, newspapers and books. You can never have too many. Don’t throw out any materials as you may require same for later reading at all times including airports stop-overs. Baseball reading will be your best friend. Bring your own baseball t’s and hats to stay in the baseball spirit even when you are away. My beloved Detroit Tigers 2005 All Star Game baseball cap that got left in a cab in Bali was replaced by a Hard Rock Café Bali cap. Not the same, I know, and the hat will never come back. But for every lost Tigers hat, there is a Nick Swisher jersey-t/Ketut photo opportunity for the taking. Finally, bring a laptop/notebook computer that carries mlb.com and a smartphone blackberry/iphone/android device if you have it. No, you will not expect to use it, especially if you are on a honeymoon. But with free Wi-Fi and the occasional sleepless nights, baseball watching, reading, writing and tweeting are beloved treasures that will always come in handy. If you ever get a chance to go to Bali, my advice: GO! You will love it. In the interim, see you all back bright and early Monday morning. Baseball continues 24/7, with or without me. Starting in several hours I look forward to being back within its world again. I missed you all and baseball very much – it will be good to be back.
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Posted on March 11, 2011, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged bali, baseball, eatpraylove, honeymoon, indonesia, juliaroberts, ketut, mlb, nyepi, springtraining, wbc, wedding, worldseries. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.