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Berry Tramel

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Los Angeles travelblog: Long night's journey into day

by Berry Tramel Modified: May 9, 2014 at 11:20 am •  Published: May 9, 2014

Traveling is fun. I enjoy going places. Watching ballgames is fun. I have a great job. If anyone ever catches me griping about my job, permission granted to upbraid and issue a plague upon my house.

With that said, Thursday was a long day. A very long day.

I got home from Thunder-Clippers Game 2 around 2 a.m. I was up at 6:30 a.m. Our church has a men’s Bible study every Thursday morning I try to make; I had been in Memphis two straight Thursdays, so I didn’t want to miss again, if possible. So I was up early, got back home, went about the business of getting some things done.

Some writing out of the way. Getting packed. Stopping by to see my mom, since I’ll be gone Sunday. Get to the office for a google hangout at 2 p.m. and tape some Press Row video with Jackie O. at 2:30 p.m. Finish up writing, do my Sports Animal radio segment and head to the airport for a 6:50 p.m. flight to Los Angeles International. That was the plan.

The plan worked well until Johnny Damon, my travel partner, stopped me as I was leaving OPUBCO headquarters. Southwest had notified us that our plane was late. Dallas weather prevented our flight from getting to OKC. The flight had been shifted to 8 p.m. So we hung around the office until 6:30, then took off for the airport. And the flight was delayed again. The airport was full of people waiting for their planes to land. Our flight was pushed back to 8:15. 8:30. 8:40. 8:50. 9 .m. 9:10 p.m.

Finally it landed, we took around 9:20, landed in Denver, we stayed on the land, they reloaded and off we took for Los Angeles. Landed at 11:40 p.m. California time. That’s 1:40 Oklahoma time. By the time we got our bags and rental car, it was 12:45 California time. We hadn’t eaten dinner, so we got something to eat. Checked into the LAX Marriott about 2 a.m. California. I laid my head down around 2:30. Which was 4:30 a.m. Oklahoma time. I had been up for 22 hours, after getting four hours sleep.

On a totally unrelated note, man, I’m starting to feel old.

But we had a good day. Lots of adventures. Here’s what we saw and heard.

MIDNIGHT SPECIAL STORY

It’s 12:30 in the morning, LA time. Johnny Damon and I are on the National Rental Car shuttle as it weaves around LAX. We’re the only customers on board. Suddenly, it stops, and a familiar face gets on board. At least I think it’s familiar. I’m pretty sure.

So I go over and ask this guy, “Are you Ken Rosenthal?”

Ken Rosenthal is the former Baltimore Sun baseball writer who now is a reporter for FOX and it’s national broadcasts. Works the World Series and playoffs and Games of the Week for FOX.

It was indeed Rosenthal. Which means, I had to ask. “Do you know Jim Traber?”

Traber is forever telling Ken Rosenthal stories. Actually, Traber tells Traber stories, in which Rosenthal is involved.

I told Rosenthal I do daily radio with Traber, and Rosenthal’s face lit up. He had an immediate Traber story, sort of a version of a story Traber tells often.

When Traber was with the Orioles in the 1980s, he was sent down to Triple A. And just ripped the organization. Which ballplayers never do. Especially rookies or young players or  anyone whose future literally is held in the palm of the organization’s hand. So off goes Traber to Rochester of the International League. And the next day, some Oriole gets hurt. The Birds bring back Traber, who has to sheepishly return the next day mumbling his apologies.

And Rosenthal had one more Traber story. Seems that Cal Ripken Jr. liked to playfully pick on Traber. The Orioles called Traber the “Whammer,” which Traber has told us all about. But I don’t remember this story. Seems that Ripken, just out of the blue, would yell, “time to bash the Whammer.” And they would pick up Traber and toss him to the ground and just wail on him.

Someone remind to ask Traber about that. Doesn’t seem like all that politically correct of a story.

 

MEXICAN SEAFOOD

Land in OKC some time after midnight in need of something to eat, and your options are limited. All-night diner or a breakfast place, I suppose. But the gal at the National counter gave us a quick recommendation. “El Puerto Escondido,” a Mexican seafood joint just down the road.

I love seafood. Mexican seafood, Italian seafood, Seafood seafood. I’m good with all of it. This place sounded right up my alley.

So we stopped in before we got to the hotel. And I was a little disappointed. No seafood enchiladas. They had seafood galore. They had enchiladas by the score. But no seafood enchiladas. I almost trotted out our old Bob Colon story. The late Oklahoman sports editor once went to a fairly affluent restaurant and ordered grilled cheese. He was told, no grilled cheese. So he asked if they had bread. He asked if they had cheese. He asked if they had a cooktop. You know where this is going.

But I didn’t. I just ordered a shrimp rancheros dish. Johnny Damon had chicken enchiladas. He said they were good. Mine was pretty good. I wrapped my shrimp dish into tortillas and sort did a makeshift enchilada. Anything would have been good at that point.

All day, I had a Sonic junior double cheeseburger at 1 p.m., half a Scholotzky’s sandwich at 8:30 (Johnny Damon and I shared), and Southwest peanuts. I was on the hungered side.

We were about halfway through our dinner, when one of the National employees who had sent us there walked in for some takeout. Good to know they practice what they preach.

 

THAILAND PRIMER

Waiting back at Will Rogers, we watched the NFL Draft in the food court with a couple that lives in Thailand. Oklahomans — he’s an OU petroleum engineering grad, working for Chevron — but they live in a Bangkok suburb. And he educated me on Thailand. From the did you know department:

1. Bangkok is fairly modern. Houses, for instance. I would have guessed nothing but apartment buildings. I mean, New York City, Manhattan at least, is virtually all apartments. But Bangkok has houses.

2. Thailand’s second language is English. Every street sign and commercial sign includes English.

3. The Thai people are friendly and hard-working, we were told. The minimum wage is $10 a day, usually for a 12-hour day.

4. The Thai food we eat here and the Thai food over there is somewhat similar, only much hotter over there.

5. You can buy most American staples in a big supermarket, just be prepared to pay. $10 for a box of cereal, for example. Better to buy vegetables and things off the markets on the street, though the raw meat is a pass, they said.

6. Still a third-world country. Everyone’s trash is just tossed onto the street.

I don’t believe I’ll be traveling to Thailand any time soon.

 

EXIT ROW

One advantage to staying on the plane when it makes a stop is you generally get the exit row. The exit row is, I don’t know, six inches extra of leg room. Which when flying is about the equivalent of moving from a 800-square foot house to a 4,000-square foot house. Makes all the difference in the world.

I was so tired, I nodded off both legs of the trip. But I can’t sleep on planes. No place to put my head. I pulled out my laptop, got some work done, caught up on some newspaper reading. The flights actually didn’t seem that long. And it could have been worse. In Denver, we were joined by members of the Thunder video crew, David Jones, Matt Wells, those guys. David’s our old pal who worked with us at OPUBCO. They were scheduled to leave OKC a little afternoon. Their flight was delayed, they got to Denver, spent a few hours, then got on our plane. Considering we got to LA when they did, and they got to Will Rogers something like seven hours before us, we had no room to gripe.

 

DRAFT DAY

We got to watch 16 picks in the NFL Draft before we took off in OKC. Johnny Manziel hadn’t been picked. We thought he might go to Dallas, but no. The Cowboys had that 16th pick. So we checked our phones in Denver to see where Johnny Football landed. Cleveland at 22.

The draft is a great thing to watch when you’re doing something else. Driving around town, listening on the radio. Or stuck at the airport. It’s not high-quality entertainment if you’re at home, watching from the sofa. Not enough going on. But if you’ve got stuff going on around you, it’s great.

And every airport TV was on the draft. Not on the Heat-Nets. I don’t know if that was an affirmation of the NFL or a denouncement of the NBA’s Eastern Conference.

 

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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