In May 2013 I was assigned to tell the story of Atlanta Braves’ slugger Evan Gattis. It took me on a two-day journey across the state of Texas.
This is Part 3 of the story of that journey. To read Part 1, CLICK HERE. To read Part 2, CLICK HERE. To read the entire story on a single page, CLICK HERE.
Ten hours of driving. Zero minutes of music.
These were my stats as I zoomed along I-20 on a 360-mile journey from Odessa back to Dallas. Somewhere in the 3 PM hour, I hit double digits in driving hours for the trip, and I had not yet listened to a single song.
I love music, of course, but I probably love it too much for a trip like this. I am an unabashed sing-along-in-the-car guy, and I will rock out in the driver’s seat under the right conditions.
But rocking out requires energy. I needed to conserve mine.
I decided early in the trip to take a page from the baseball lifers around me and remain even-keeled throughout. I already did not plan on getting much sleep, and if I fed off adrenaline, I reasoned, I would eventually crash hard at an inopportune moment. I needed to be on top of my game, from Wednesday’s touchdown at Dallas-Fort Worth to Friday’s departure back to Atlanta.
So, instead of bobbing my head to my favorite songs, I listened to podcasts. Instead of gulping down drinks with caffeine, I sipped on bottled water and green tea. And when I felt the occasional dip in appetite or energy, I sucked a few Tic-Tacs.
Quite the life, this road-tripping business.
I thought back to my off-camera conversation with Hernandez and Gerald Turner. We talked about Turner’s job as a scout for the Braves, and I asked him about his work schedule.
“From January to now,” Turner said, “I have maybe had six days off.”
“And those were probably days it rained,” Hernandez joked.
I posited to Turner that he probably tries to do whatever he can during these months to keep a semblance of normalcy and routine in his daily life. Turner quickly shook his head.
“There’s nothing you can do, man,” he said. “You’re traveling all over the place, you don’t know what the weather’s gonna be, and you don’t know when you might have to turn around and drive all the way across the state.”
A day later, Turner’s answer still surprised me. I could not imagine going months at a time without any kind of structure to my life. I thought of the discipline required to live a semi-nomadic lifestyle while still maintaining one’s health and sanity. I also wondered if the opposite was true: perhaps someone like Turner thrives off unpredictability and lack of structure. After all, he spends his life trying to predict the future, scouting high school and college athletes for a Major League Baseball team. Maybe that lifestyle has seduced him, in a way.