Not too far from the river in West Salem, Oregon, there’s a joint called Annette’s Westgate Cafe that does scrambles by the pound and hash browns by the slab. Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Ryan Thompson will be by any day now.
Somewhere off Florida there is a boat and a fishing spot neglected for the past weeks and months, and Austin Meadows, Rays outfielder, intends to fill a bait bucket and rectify that.
Kiké Hernández, the Los Angeles Dodgers utilityman, has a couple dogs that need attention.
Isolated for the good of themselves and the game for more than a month, warned against even the slivers of normalcy that still existed for two months before that, the Rays and Dodgers emerged last week from the protective bubble that had held up until the final hours.
Their release into civilian life after 100 days of fortitude was delayed only slightly for most, that due to Justin Turner’s positive test, as chartered flights left Texas bound for Florida or California. And some of their more social plans may have been delayed further if they were in contact with Turner.
The Dodgers had arrived in Arlington three days into October, checked into their hotel, played 16 baseball games, won a World Series, checked out of their hotel and left Arlington with three days left in October. The Rays played two games in St. Petersburg, 12 in San Diego, six in Arlington, and last week Habitrailed their way back to St. Petersburg.
It is a beautiful life, the one with luxury hotels and private travel and all the baseball you could ever play. It is also, perhaps, given enough time, ice cream delivered by the dump truck. Sooner or later a guy’s gonna complain about the dead grass.
So, we asked men from the two teams — and one umpire — who survived longest in the bubble what they were most looking forward to upon their release.
Hernández raised an eyebrow.
“You said, ‘Released,’” he said, “and it sounded like prison and I didn’t really hear the end of your question.”
We changed the wording of the question for the rest.
Hernández: “Probably ordering Postmates, just off the top of my head. Probably seeing my dogs again. Getting to see my dogs again will be great. Sleeping in my own bed. I don’t know, there’s a lot of things that I’m really, really, really looking forward to. I’m also having a baby soon, so that’s something I’m really looking forward to. But as of now I am focused on winning tonight and celebrating a lot. That’s it.”
(The Dodgers won that night and he celebrated a lot.)
Rays shortstop Willy Adames: “Spend a lot of time with my family and my friends. I want to just go there, obviously I don’t have to worry about wearing a mask or coming back to the ballpark and if I have the COVID or not. Hopefully I don’t ever get it.
“I think the thing I’m going to enjoy the most is just being there with my family. With freedom. And don’t have to worry about everything. Just relax with them and have a good time. And I’m looking forward to eating in a restaurant too.”
His family was in Arlington for the World Series, but being in the ballpark was not necessarily the same as being in the bubble.
“They’ve been here since the 22nd,” he said. “But I haven’t been able to give them a hug or see them up close. It’s been a little hard. The other day they were on the second floor of the stadium and I was down on the field and I was like, ‘I can’t even give you a hug and you’re, like, 30 feet apart from me. And I can’t even give you a hug.’ So it’s been hard, but, you know, you gotta make those sacrifices in the situation we’re living in now. I feel good I’m doing that sacrifice and they’re here. Hopefully we can finish the job and go home in a great way.”
Rays catcher Mike Zunino: “Man, I don’t know. I put some thought into it. I’ve been fortunate enough to have my family with me on this trip. But, yeah, a little bit of normalcy? I was actually thinking about it on the bus ride here, it’s been about 40 days since I’ve driven a car. So that’ll be interesting when we get back at this point, to drive back home. It’s been an experience for sure. I’m very fortunate to have my family, my kids with me. I know there’s a lot of guys here that, when this is all said and done, it will be really nice to reengage with their families.”
His children are a year-and-a-half and 7 months old.
“A little bit of freedom besides the hotel room would be great.”
Dodgers pitcher Tony Gonsolin: “I haven’t really got that far, honestly. Priority No. 1 is get my work in today. And priority No. 2 is to go out there and throw the baseball.”
Nothing? Not a special burger? Not pet a cat? Nothing?
“Not yet, honestly. You know, priority No. 1 is taking home that championship.”
Rays pitcher Charlie Morton: “Seeing my family. It’s not even close. Just being there for my wife and kids. And just being able to sit down at breakfast or dinner together. Because that’s everything to me. … I’m looking forward to getting out our smoker and throwing some meat on there. And obviously though, nothing is really going to change from where we were before we came out here. We’re still going to be responsible at home. But, I’m looking forward to the time with my family.”
His wife, Cindy, and their four children did not travel with him in the bubble.
“We tried to keep our two oldest ones in school. That was pretty important. I actually saw them for the first time before Game 3. They were able to come down close to field level and I waved at them and I saw them and they had a sign.”
Umpiring crew chief Bill Miller: “First and foremost, I am most looking forward to seeing my family for the first time in seven weeks. I will also add that I’m looking forward to eating off of a plate. Having done ‘grab-and-go’ since September 23, the chance to go to a grocery store and make myself a sandwich will be welcome. Once we get home, all of the major league umpires will just be grateful for completing a safe season of the game we love.”
Dodgers pitcher Dustin May: “Well, I just bought a house, so I’m going to have to furnish it. So that’s what I’ve been kind of thinking about the whole time. That’s about it.”
The house is in Texas. May grew up outside Dallas.
Thompson: “Wow. Um, probably just go enjoy a breakfast somewhere. Where I can just sit and have four or five cups of coffee and do a crossword and just hang out with family. Be out in public. Obviously, I’m not looking at going to the bars, the clubs. That’s not my style. I just want to be able to go enjoy a good breakfast. I’m struggling having to just eat the same thing over and over again in the hotel. Breakfast is my thing. I’m a breakfast guy.”
Annette’s is his spot.
Dodgers third-base coach Dino Ebel: “When we get out of this bubble I can’t wait to see my daughter and my four grandkids. I haven’t seen them since the start of the Angels series [near the end of September.] And getting a Starbucks coffee.”
Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow: “I don’t know, like hugging someone, I think? Or seeing family? Just being able to be a normal person again. So I had COVID at the beginning of the season, too, so I was quarantined even longer. So it’s been a pretty long while since I’ve been a normal person. Probably too like going to a social place and maybe sitting at a bar or eating at a restaurant possibly, I don’t know. That’s still up in the air. But, honestly, going back to being relatively normal and seeing and hugging family, would probably be the No. 1 thing.”
Dodgers first-base coach George Lombard: “Just getting home! See my house and yard! I love working in my yard. I planted a bunch of orchids on trees. Though as much as I love my house, we close on a new house in a week. We will be busy working on that all offseason.”
Meadows: “Going on my boat, probably. Getting out and going fishing, maybe eating some fast food. Going to normal restaurants, being a normal person. We’re trying to enjoy the bubble life as much as we can. They were really accommodating out in San Diego. We were all able to hang out together, we got to know each other’s families a lot more. So that was good. But my boat’s back in Florida and I’m definitely missing it.”
Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger: “Sitting on my couch, watching football and hopefully having a ring on my finger. That’s what I’m most looking forward to.”
A few nights later, he learned he’d have a ring on his finger.
More from Yahoo Sports:
Yahoo Sports is committed to finding you the best products at the best prices. We may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Pricing and availability is subject to change.