There are a few times a year when a baseball fan's will is tested.
The biggest, of course, is the offseason, a bleak four and a half months without meaningful games (spring training doesn't count).
The second biggest is the All-Star break, which means four whole days with only one meaningful game (that shouldn't be meaningful, thank you Bud Selig) and a home run derby, both of which are fun to watch, but still nothing compared to the pennant race.
And finally the third, which can happen any number of times throughout the season, a cross-country road trip.
A road trip like this can affect either east coast or west coast teams, and both in different ways.
As the Phillies departed Philadelphia for San Diego after sweeping the Washington Nationals over the weekend, I found myself planning out my week days in advance just so I would be able to sit down and watch my favorite team.
Let me give you a short background of my life: I don't live a typical normal life because I work the second shift. I live in the Philadelphia area, so that means I'm working from 2 PM until 11 PM EST Monday through Friday.
Doesn't sound like the best shift to be a baseball fan when most of the games start at 7:05 PM, right? You'd think I'd be better off with my team three hours behind and not seeing the first pitch until after 10:00 EST.
However, things at work really slow down after 6 PM, so I usually don't miss very much. If I don't have the game on TV, I'll listen on the radio in case things do get busy.
After work, I take about an hour to do a light workout and perhaps another hour after that to catch up on all the other happenings in the sports world. Usually I turn in at about 2 AM.
So as you can see, I've developed a pretty good routine that adequately allows me to support my team and keep myself in stable condition physically and monetarily.
But this schedule doesn't work when the Phillies are on the west coast, like they happen to be this week. I've completely changed my lifestyle for the next four days just to show my support for my team.
I worked out before work today. I woke up a little later just in case the game went into extra innings and I had to stay up later. I didn't eat breakfast until noon. Luckily I was rewarded with a Brad Lidge save against the San Diego Padres at around 12:30 AM Eastern.
I've done a similar routine to this in past seasons, and usually I've been rewarded for my efforts. Even last season, when I stayed up to watch the Phils get swept by the Dodgers, I reaped a reward...at the end of October.
When I started thinking about how tough this is on myself—OK, it's not actually that tough, it just feels weird—I started thinking about what it has to be like for west coast fans when their teams travel east.
A normal west coast first-shift worker might come home at 5:30-6ish to eat dinner and then tune in to watch the game at 7. But if their team is on the east coast, the game might be over by 7.
It's the other side of the equation, almost like a parallel universe. If you think about it, it's almost like a six hour swing.
And I think I have it tough... If anyone from the west coast is reading this, I would love to hear your thoughts on east coast road trips.
Someone once told me that sports affect different people on different levels, and I'd like to think that I'm affected by sports on several levels.
One, I obviously love it when my team wins. It makes me feel good.
Two, I get a sense of accomplishment when I can do something like this and follow through with it while not really changing what I'm doing or anyone around me.
Three, deep down somewhere my team knows that they have fans like me who will do whatever it takes to support them, and that makes me feel better than anything.
Baseball has always had a grueling regular season, and the players aren't the only ones who feel the pressure of it. There are plenty of fans who also make sacrifices for their team.
You'll hear a lot of players say that it doesn't mean anything to play the game if you can't please the fans while you do it. I feel that I owe them that much to support them as best I can.
So if they're near to home or far away, it doesn't matter. I'll be watching. Because not even a road trip can separate me from my team.