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Morning Briefing: Here’s another minor league bus story

Morning Briefing: Here’s another minor league bus story
Minor leaguer Jack Labosky and girlfriend Madi Hiatt renovated a school bus to live out of during Labosky's first full professional season. (Madi Hiatt / Associated Press)

Baseball fans have heard many times about the difficulties of life in the minors. Long bus trips usually top the list when players talk about what they hate the most about the minors. But one guy must not mind bus trips too much.

Jack Labosky, a reliever in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, came up with an ideal way to save money. He used his $3,000 signing bonus to purchase an old school bus, and has renovated it and plans to live in it this season with his girlfriend, Madi Hiatt.

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Labosky was chosen in the 22nd round of last June’s draft. He signed almost immediately and was assigned to Class-A Hudson Valley. He lived with a host family while Hiatt returned home to California. Labosky didn’t want to be separated from his girlfriend again this season (he hasn’t been assigned to a minor league team yet), so he came up with the bus idea.

"It's a little hippie,'' Labosky told the Associated Press. "Personally, I don't consider myself like ... the flower children of the ’60s, living in buses, stuff like that. I don't really consider myself on that level.

“I'm 22, turning 23 this summer,” he went on, “I don't really have much responsibility outside of baseball.''

And Hiatt liked the idea too.

“We just decided, ‘Why not?’ ” Hiatt said. “Why not just take a leap?”

They bought a 1999 Blue Bird International from a private Christian school in Lynchburg, Va. Doing the renovations themselves, Labosky and Hiatt removed everything from the interior of the bus and installed electrical wiring, water pipes, heating, air conditioning, a stovetop, a full-sized bed, a toilet and a shower. They also painted the bus white. Why white? Because it’s the cheapest paint you can buy.

“Once people see the finished product and they realize, ‘Oh, it’s pretty normal,’ they’re a lot more positive toward it,” Labosky said, “as opposed to being like, ‘Hey, I live in a school bus.’ That just sounds crazy.”

That’s what a victory is all about

After trailing by double digits at one point, 12th-seeded Liberty upset fifth-seeded Mississippi State in the NCAA tournament on Friday. It’s easy to figure out why that happened when you learn the secret weapon coach Ritchie McKay used.

In the post-game news conference, McKay was asked what he’d said to the team that inspired them to rally in the second half. McKay’s answer: "I told them if they won we could go to In-N-Out Burger."

Liberty is in Virginia, far, far away from the nearest In-N-Out. Friday’s game was in San Jose. Everyone knows In-N-Out has the best burgers (don’t bother emailing me to tell me your favorite. You’re wrong. In-N-Out is the best), so it’s no wonder they won.

And yes, McKay made sure team members got their fill of double-doubles and fries after the game.

But the power of a double-double can only take you so far, as Liberty lost to fourth-seeded Virginia Tech on Sunday.

No pressure

Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton used some psychology ahead of his team’s second-round matchup against Murray State, whose best player, Ja Morant, was getting headlines all across the nation after he led his team to a surprising first-round win.

Hamilton used a bit of reverse psychology, comparing Morant to some of the best players of all time.

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“What I notice is he’s one of the most exceptional players that I’ve had a chance to watch play,” Hamilton told ESPN. “He’s kind of a throwback to guys who have the ability to score points. But [he] also has the passion and the excitement about creating opportunities for his teammates, guys like a Nate Archibald who can lead the NBA in scoring and lead in assists at the same time. A guy like Magic Johnson, who got so much joy making the game easy for his teammates. Even a player like Muggsy Bogues, who has an uncanny way of making things easy for his [teammates].”

Morant missed 13 shots and was held to five rebounds and three assists in the 90-62 loss to Florida State on Saturday. Nice going, coach.

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