SAN FRANCISCO — It was the best of times; it was the worst of room service. When this World Series is finally taped into Pat Sheridan’s scrapbook, that’s the way he’ll remember it.

How many days has he been living in a hotel room? One hundred and thirty four? Can that be right? Just think. That’s 268 little chocolates on the bed at night.

“I know you’re supposed to be happy to be in the World Series and everything,” Sheridan said before the San Francisco Giants were ousted in Game 4 against Oakland Saturday night, “but to be honest, this has been a really hard season for me. I’m living out of suitcases. My toothbrush is in that little toiletries bag. I’m grateful to be in the Series and all, but I can’t wait to go home.”

Home for Sheridan, as many people know, is Michigan. He was raised there, in Wayne, and now lives in Farmington Hills. Well. Actually, he has a house in Farmington Hills. That is, if he remembers how to get there. He may just pull up and wait for the valet.

Sheridan was traded from the Tigers to the Giants on June 16. You know how trades are. You’re never sure if this one is the last one. And Sheridan has kicked around a bit. Because the rent in San Francisco is ridiculously high
— “and nobody here is willing to give you a three-month lease” — he did what a lot of ballplayers do. He checked into a hotel.

He has been there ever since.

“The Clarion,” said Sheridan, as if rattling off the name of his youngest child. “The Clarion by the airport.”

Now. I don’t know about you. But anyone who has traveled knows that when someone tells you “I’m staying at the Clarion by the airport,” your first reaction is not, “Wow. You lucky stiff. If only you could live there a few months.” Usually, your reaction is more like, “Oh. Early flight tomorrow?” Or, “Oh. The Hilton was sold out, huh?”

Poor Sheridan. June. July. August. September. His room key was home. He checked out of the Clarion when the Giants went on the road, took all his belongings, then checked back in when the Giants returned home. “Hello, Mr. Sheridan. Welcome back, Mr. Sheridan.” He knew the maids by their first name. He didn’t even bother to look at the room service menu in the mornings.
“After a while, they just knew what I wanted,” he said. “They knocked on the door and said, ‘Here’s your breakfast.’ “

Finally, when the Giants made the World Series, he got to move.

To the Marriott.

By the airport.

Oh, the glamour of it all.

This has already been a most unusual World Series, of course. The earthquake has given it an asterisk. And the 10-day interruption wreaked havoc on everything from TV schedules to players’ vacation plans. Everyone has adapted differently. Everyone has had to make his little sacrifices.

For Sheridan, it has meant 10 more nights in the elevator, 10 more wake-up calls, 10 more bundles of laundry to be picked up before 10 a.m. Monday through Friday, returned by 5 p.m.

It is the flip side of baseball that nobody tells you about. The hotels. The endless road. Since leaving the Tigers, Sheridan has been home to Detroit exactly one day, for the birth of his daughter. The Giants were scheduled to play the Cubs in Chicago two days later and he figured great, he can stay in Detroit, spend time with his wife and child, and make the short flight over to the Windy City to catch up with the club.

Wrong.

“They called me at home and said they needed me back in San Francisco for the last game of the home stand. So I had to leave my wife and daughter, flew from Detroit to the West Coast, got there for the game, and they didn’t even play me. They played Donell Nixon in rightfield. Then, after the game, we got on a plane and flew back to Chicago. I was on an airplane something like 15 hours of the 24-hour day. And I didn’t even play!”

He shook his head. Sheridan has had his rubs this season. Although an excellent defensive outfielder, his bat has been cool, and he has bounced in and out of the Giants’ lineup. He was overlooked in favor of Candy Maldonado the first two games of this series. He griped about it, saying, “I’ve been in the American League. I’ve done pretty well against their pitchers. Why not give me a chance?”

He finally got it in Game 3, and, during his second at-bat, in the fourth inning, with two runners on and two out, he hit a sharp bouncer that seemed headed toward rightfield. But Oakland first baseman Mark McGwire make a magnificent play, leaping and spearing the ball. He threw Sheridan out by inches and killed a rally that had cut Oakland’s lead to 4-3. Some saw that as the turning point in Friday’s game.

By his next at-bat, Sheridan was lifted — again for Maldonado.

And he went home, to another chocolate on the bed.

Earlier in the year, when he was still playing with the Tigers, Sheridan had a hard time recognizing his teammates. So many new faces. So many injuries and minor leaguers. “One night we were playing and I asked one of the guys, ‘Hey. Who’s that pitching for us?’ And neither of us knew.”

And then the trade. He went from unfamiliar faces to unfamiliar surroundings. One hundred and thirty four nights in a hotel room. Now, with this Series swallowed by the Athletics, Sheridan is dreaming of something most of us take for granted: his own bed.

“A lot of guys talk about the traveling they’re gonna do in the off-season,” he said. “I don’t think I’m going near an airport. Not for a long time. I’m not complaining. It’s great being in the World Series and we make nice money, win or lose. But two teams, two leagues, and all those hotels, well, I’m ready to go home.”

With any luck, he won’t have to dial nine to get an outside line. CUTLINE

Pat Sheridan

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