Matt answers: I have told hundreds of people that I drove out to Spring Training this year and every single one of them responded with the same question. "Why the hell would you do that?" I figured I'd take the time here to let everyone know exactly why I decided to drive so maybe I won't ever be asked again, or at least not as much.
Two years ago while playing in single-A at Lake Elsinore, California, I had my car with me and loved every minute of it. Not having a car makes life miserable. Just think if you didn't have your car with you everyday. You might make it a day, maybe two, but to survive eight straight months without a ride would probably drive you crazy. I hate having to depend on other people for things, and I hate to ask people for rides even more. I've done two years in Portland, Oregon without a car and I never want to do it again.
In July of that 2007 season I was called up to Double-A in San Antonio, Texas. I needed to fly out the next day to meet my team in Midland, Texas, so I had a company ship my car. I hate the idea of handing my car over to complete strangers. At this time my car was only a few months old and I had spent a good amount of money on it. It was the one gift I bought for myself after getting drafted and I'm really anal about making sure nothing bad ever happens to it. I wouldn't have let my grandmother drive the thing at this point, except maybe for one of her quick trips to Stop and Shop, so I sure as hell didn't want some random kids taking it across the country.
If you haven't had a car shipped before, it's a pretty simple process. They show up with one of those huge trucks you see driving down the highway with tons of cars strapped to it. It depends how far they are traveling, but usually taking my car across the country will take about two weeks. Because I was only going from southern California to Texas they told me it would take a few days at the most.
I stuffed most of my belongings in my car and watched them strap it onto their truck. They said they'd see me in Texas in two days and drove away. I jumped in my host families car and got dropped off at the airport for my flight.
After arriving in Texas and playing for almost two weeks I called my car service to find out why the hell it hadn't arrived yet. I got a few different excuses like, we hit traffic, we had to pick up another few cars along the way, we didn't know how to start your car, and we needed to change drivers. I really did hear the excuse that they didn't know how to start the car. I started to worry when I heard this one, but in the end they were professionals (so I thought) and I gave them the benefit of the doubt and waited. They told me the car would be there the next day.
A week more had passed and I was just getting home from a road trip when they finally showed up and left my car at my apartment and took off. At this point I hadn't played my XBOX in almost a month and really wanted to play some Madden. If you have read my blog before you know that I love video games, and a month away from them is a long, long time. Before I ran down to my car to grab my XBOX I joked with my roommate, "Dude what would happen if I opened my car and my XBOX was gone?" I said it joking around, never actually thinking it wouldn't be in there.
I ran downstairs to my car and opened the trunk where I had my XBOX, about 30 games, my DVD collection, all my electronics, my clothes, and a bunch of other stuff. I was basically moving all of my belongings to Texas in my car. When I opened my trunk I couldn't believe what I saw. Someone had stolen pretty much everything. The only thing they left for me was some of my clothes.
I guess they must not like my style of clothing!
A few weeks earlier I had played in the Single-A All-Star game in Stockton, California. I know it is only Single-A, but it was my first All-Star game as a professional. Whoever took my stuff ended up taking my All-Star jersey that I was given, along with a plaque, an All-Star bag, and a bunch of other signed baseballs and things from some of the guys on that team. None of these things could be replaced, which was really upsetting.
I opened the driver's door and jumped in looking for any other clues of abuse I could find.
I found a women's hair clip in the center console. "That son of a bitch used my car to take his date out!" Now I was really pissed. I called my girlfriend and anyone else that would answer to tell them about the clip I had found. She let me know that it was her hair clip and no one took a girl out on a date. It made me feel better, but not very much. I turned the car on to make sure it started OK. I looked at the odometer to see if they had driven it anywhere. Turns out they put more than 800 miles on the car. I paid them $1200 to ship my car about 1000 miles and it turns out they put almost that many miles on the car. I could have driven myself to Texas, saved my $1200, and actually had my possessions when I got there.
I got on the phone with the company and told them exactly what happened. They said it wasn't there fault, and there was no way I could prove they stole anything. They said that someone must have opened the car and stolen my belongings while the car was parked overnight. Last time I checked I don't think a thief would take a car off the back of a truck, drive it 800 miles, steal all of the belongings in the car, and then take the time to put the car back up on the truck before they took off.
That doesn't make much sense to me.
Either way, I really didn't have any proof, and they said they weren't liable for anything. I ended up filing a police report and had some of the things covered by my insurance company. I never did get back any of my all-star stuff.
Well, now you know why I am forever afraid of shipping companies and why I probably won't be shipping my car anywhere else. 40 hour drive from Boston to Peoria it is.
Matt Antonelli is a second baseman in the San Diego Padres farm system. Do you have a question for Matt? Drop him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or here in the comments section!