Monday, January 23, 2012

#BIAHRoadTrip The Diary Part-XIII: The Tulsa Double-Header

1:45 PM Day 18
Somewhere on US-169 East
Oklahoma/Kansas Border
Total Miles: 2638

Road Trip Part-I
Road Trip Part-II
Road Trip Part-III
Road Trip Part-IV
Road Trip Part-V
Road Trip Part-VI
Road Trip Part-VII
Road Trip Part-VIII
Road Trip Part-IX
Road Trip Part-X
Road Trip Part-XI
Road Trip Part-XII

This post is brought to you by the Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa South in Tulsa, OK.

(Troy Speaking)

Rob has already gone in to detail about our experience in Joplin, MO but I have to share my thoughts on this experience as well.

I've been fortunate enough in my life that I haven't had to deal with much tragedy. A loss in the family here or there, but other than that, I've been pretty lucky. I'm sure that many of you are in the same boat.

But what we witnessed in Joplin, was one of the most surreal things I've ever seen.

Anytime you think your life sucks, or if you have a bad day, have a look at this video, and tell me that you have it bad.

You don't.

Again, I'll let Rob paint the picture, but here's a recap from my perspective.

While we were in town, we helped three construction workers build the foundation and flooring for a house in town that had been purchased by the local church community.

Two of the guys had their houses destroyed in the tornadoes, but you wouldn't have been able to tell through conversation. Matt McGee, the Joplin Habitat for Humanity team leader, was honestly one of the nicest, funniest guys I've met on this entire trip. His positive energy exemplified the type of people that make up the Joplin community.

My construction experience is thin. I've done a bunch of landscaping, but the carpentry gene in my family is non-existent. I was asked to leave a woodworking class at camp once because my carpentry skills were so poor.

Therefore, I stayed away from operating any of the heavy machinery during the day, but Rob, who had boasted his vast construction experience before hand, tried his hand at the circular saw.

It got stuck on the first try.

If that wasn't enough, he struggled to operate the rather simple caulk-gun. The others were handing it with ease, but Rob could not seem to get the caulk out of the tube and lay it down on the floor beams in a straight line.

I wouldn't trust this guy to build a LEGO house, let alone a real one.

For lunch, per the recommendation of one of the guys, we went to Hackett Hot Wings, which was voted "Best Wings" in 417 Magazine.

It certainly lived up the hype.

Overall, this was one of the most uplifting experiences of my entire life. I wanted to stay longer. I wanted to do more. And if you know anything about me at all, you know I'm not usually like this.


We left Joplin in the mid-afternoon and headed directly to Tulsa, OK.

I was interested to see what Tulsa was like because surprisingly enough, I almost moved there in January of 2010. Seven months after I graduated from college, I was offered a video production internship for the Tulsa Drillers (Rockies AAA-affiliate) for the entire season.

If I had taken that job, I am certain we would not be where we are right now. Rob would still be writing about basketball, but I'm not sure in what capacity. Don't get me wrong, he's a phenomenal writer, one of the best in the industry. But, well, I'm the one who steers the ship. (I think.)

Luckily for B.I.A.H., the recession struck and the organization told me a week before I was suppose to leave that they could not afford to provide the housing and stipend they promised me. As a recent college grad, I didn't have the funds to move across country, pay rent and work for crackers.

In hindsight, I still should have taken the job.The Drillers are a top-tier Triple-A organization with state-of-the-art facilities.

Listen, I'm so proud of what Rob and I have been able to accomplish, but, well, here we are, 24 months later, and we still struggle to get past the "blogger" label.

But well, here's to hoping that "everything happens for a reason".


When we got to Tulsa, we rolled up to our destination, the Hilton Garden Inn South which was no more than ten minutes from downtown Tulsa. Of all the hotels that we've stayed at, the beds at the Hilton Garden Inn were by far the most comfortable. Once Rob hit the mattress, I don't think he ever got up again.

Another perk was the plethora of power outlets available in the room. This might not be a big deal for a lot of people, but for us media-types, it was HUGE. For one reason or another, hotel rooms usually have only one or two power outlets in the whole room. But not the Hilton Garden Inn. This made the process of charging our devices much easier. It's just one of those "little things" that can make a difference to some people.

Did I mention that each room had a refrigerator (first one of the trip) and and a kitchenette?

We grabbed burgers from the restaurant in the lobby, and they were pretty damn good, and not just for "hotel standards" either. We've had our fair share of burgers on this trip, and these were some of the best.

Oh, and in the morning, the hotel has an omelet bar. Trust me, it's as cool as it sounds.


The first game of our Saturday double-header was Oklahoma State vs. Kansas State in Stillwater, OK. As mentioned, we were staying in Tulsa, so we had to drive 80 miles due west for the 1:00PM game.

The drive was actually kinda cool. Rob was buried in his laptop the entire drive, so it was essentially just me and the open (and we're talking OPEN) road. Central Oklahoma is remarkably pretty, which is surprising, considering I spent my entire life in a Atlantic coast metropolis.

But there was one part of the drive that wasn't pretty.

The tolls.

Tolls have been kicking our ass on the trip. Every toll we've encountered has been totally different than the tolls we are used to.

These tolls were actually the standard "giant bucket" tolls both of us are used to. The only problem was that neither of us had any coins, and none of the tolls were human-operated.

Well, that's false. We did have coins, but we had to use them all at the first toll.

That right there is four dollars worth of nickels and dimes. Does anyone else find it odd that a toll would require drivers to pay four dollars in COINS? These tolls asked for large dollar amounts, coins only, and did not provide credit card machines (Like Chicago did) or toll-people.

Nonetheless, I'll be receiving at least two tickets from the Oklahoma highway authority in the near future.


The Oklahoma State vs. K-State game was what we expected. A sloppy, mostly one-sided affair. The officiating was some of the worst we've ever seen, and the fans spent much of the game going after the referees.

Gallagher-Iba Arena is a great place, and I can't imagine what it was like back in 2007 when the 'Pokes went to 3OT with Kevin Durant and the Longhorns. But Cowboys are just not very good now.

The arena was probably 70% full, and Rob projected that 30% of the crowd was made up of K-State fans.

I would like to spend a quick second to mention how inhospitable the parking/ticket/security people were at Oklahoma State.

They were down-right hostile. Maybe they do things different in the Midwest, but well, this wasn't our first rodeo. When we drove up to the parking lot, hoping to ask for directions to the media direction, we could see the disgruntled worker mouth "What the **** do these ******** want?" right at us.

The lady at the arena entrance was just as rude. Rob went to point out his name on the sign-in sheet, and she tried to brush his hand back while giving him a stern glare.

Yeeesh. I guess we're not wanted around these parts.


I was expecting a good atmosphere for the nightcap of our doubleheader. After all, Oakland and Oral Roberts have been the two most dominate Summit League teams for the past decade.

But I'd be lying if I said I expected to see a game that had a post-season feel to it. But that's exactly what happened.

I've been to many sporting events, some big, some small, some important, some irrelevant. But this game was arguably the most well-executed event I've ever been to.

From the student section to the media timeouts; from the on-court performance to the band. Anything and everything in between. It was well-executed by the players, fans and Oral Roberts staff.

It wasn't the loudest arena we've been to, nor was there a moment of unbridled madness. But from start to finish, it was electric.

The student section was on-point the entire game. They were loud, creative, and cohesive. The band opened with Alice in Chains "Man in the Box", and even threw in some Mighty Mighty Bosstones.

Even the media timeouts were electric. After the first three media timeouts, I felt like I was on an episode of "Double Dare". There was a "rubber chicken toss" a "big pants race", and even "giant crowd volleyball".

There was absolutely nothing "mid-major" about the game production at the Mabee Center. Even Oral Roberts head coach Scott Sutton was impressed. he remarked that Saturday night's game against Oakland was the loudest, intense crowd he's seen at the Mabee Center in 15 years. Coach Sutton wasn't the only one felt that way. The reporters in the press conference couldn't stop talking about the game atmosphere. The media Relations office felt the same way. I knew that we were in for a treat, but I had no idea that we were going to be in the house for a "best ever".

Oh, and Dominique Morrison signed a poster for me. #Swag.


We are now on our way to Lawrence, KS to experience the Phog Allen Field House. On Monday night, we will be in the house to see the Kansas Jayhawks take on the Texas A&M. The Aggies are the only team we will see twice on this trip. When we scheduled this trip, that seemed like a good idea. Not anymore.


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