Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Off to Oneonta

The beauty of my arrangement with the Renegades is such that I don't have to be at any games, unless I'm in the studio. Sean Ford and I know the deal - I can back out of these road games if something comes up.

I wasn't sure I was up to making the drive to and from Oneonta, New York on Saturday - part of the "Rob Adams New York-Penn League World Tour '08", but I decided I should have a day to myself.

We're working on the T-shirt. This is just a mock-up.

Again, it's just a mock up...and remove "Staten Island." It's not happening this year. Some may say that's a good thing.

So after getting the oil changed on my car, and grabbing a quick lunch (pizza - great road food), I was off. Now for you "road geeks" out there (go ahead, you can admit're among family) there is virtually no good way to get to Oneonta from the East/Southeast. I know this from years of driving to Cooperstown and encountering this problem. Your basic options are (from Carmel/Mahopac):

1) Interstate 84 to I-87 (New York State Thruway) to NY 28 at Kingston, then NY 28 all the way. This is the most popular option, and the Catskills are great, but it gets boring quickly. Plus two lane roads with minimal breaks to pass are brutal, especially through farm land, and watch out for those speed traps!

2) I-87 (or Taconic Parkway) to I-90 to I-88. This is fine if you don't mind the tolls on the Thruway (that's I-87/90). The Taconic should be for experienced drivers only (we'll revisit here later).

3) I-84 to NY 17 (the "Quickway") to I-88. The option with the most mileage.

(Yes I know there are other combinations that can be used, but I said the basic options)

I picked, option 4) - which is whatever Google told me to do. I had some time to drive, so why not make it an adventure? I started out from Baldwin Place (just south of Mahopac) on US 6 at 1:30 PM and jumped on the Taconic to I-84. Then I went to NY 17. I stopped a few times for cheaper gas and to clean my windows. OK so far?

I've driven NY 17 before (this will eventually be I-86). It's tedious from Middletown to Binghamton, but the other choices aren't much better, so I turned up my "Driving Songs" playlist on my iPod and drove on. I occupied my brain by thinking about my different choices. Google told me to go to Roscoe (home of the "famous" Roscoe Diner) and took NY 206 from there, before taking County Road 21 to NY 357 to I-88 (convoluted enough for you?). As drives go, it was OK. I made it in three hours, but it would have been less had I not stopped several times to do things like clean my windows, check maps and so on.

Damaschke Field in Oneonta is about as plain a ballpark as you'll find. A recent renovation has added more seating, new amenities, new clubhouses, and a new scoreboard, but this is all about small town charm. Currently there are no bells and whistles like on-field games. This is just about baseball. New ownership is in the process of taking over, so we'll see what 2009 brings to them. They've made the commitment to stay in Oneonta through 2010, so that's a good start.

The pressbox is reached by climbing a steep seet of stairs to a small two-room building perched atop the grandstands. The Tigers don't have radio (though that might change also) so the press box is largely quiet.

There are no fancy signs for concessions - in fact, they're handwritten! And media food? HA! If I wanted dinner, I got it myself, on my own dime. Yet I don't have a single complaint about this place. I stood on the field and watched the Gades take BP, chatting and laughing with many people - from my broadcast partner Sean Ford, to current Tigers owner Sam Nader (who showed me his 1996 Yankees World Series ring), to new Tigers GM Andy Weber, to the players and coaches. I just took it all in, and enjoyed ever minute of it, not even thinking about the drive home.

Damaschke Field pictures are here.

Sean Ford and I would enjoy a fun broadcast, and the Renegades would hang on to beat the Tigers. I spoke with some more people after the game and said my farewells to start the long trek back to Carmel. This time I was going to keep it simple - all highways, with no back roads. It was about 10:30 when I finally drove out of Oneonta and back onto I-88.

New York is not quite known for their availability of easy-off, easy-on highway stops. Near Cobleskill, I decided it was time for some coffee, so I exited I-88 only to find that the Dunkin Donuts was three miles away. I got back on the highway, and found a "DD" right near the New York State Thruway at I-88's last exit.

Traffic was primarily light as I entered the Thruway and pondered my next step. Feeling cheap, I opted to take "Free" Interstate 90 through Albany to the Taconic State Parkway. The upside? Fewer tolls. The downside? Less places to stop for gas (and maybe take a nap) and driving the Taconic is not kind to the sleepy.

Oh I made it all right, but not without staring a deer in the eyes as she stood in the middle of the TSP. I made it home, but had to stop in the parking lot of a Stewart's gas station/convenience store (which was closed) to stretch, try to wake up, myself. I made it home, using every one of my powers to try to stay awake.

I made it home at about 1:30. Yep - three hours.

Worth every minute of it.

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