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Weird time for travel and Raptors getting their rest

I’ve had more than my share of delays and a few goofy passengers and other travel oddities but, man.

Check the last little while.

My good friend TV Jim shows with this story about the guy who opened the damn door and climbed out on the wing because he was fed up with waiting for a delayed Ryanair flight.

My good friend Sportchic showed with the tale of the Alaska Airlines flight that had to be cancelled because a rat – a RAT rodent, not a rat who dropped a dime on a fellow passenger – got on the plane.

And I found all by myself the story about the All Nippon Airways plane that flew for eight hours from LAX to Tokyo before it had to turn around because they had somehow allowed a non-ticketed passenger to get on the wrong flight.

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That’s some major league travel weirdness over the last little while and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time until something truly stupid or odd happens to me.

So far, the only crazy things have been a couple of aborted landings at LaGuardia – about 40 feet off the ground and all of a sudden the dude hits the gas and we basically take off again – and those can be stress-inducing.

Had a couple of medical emergencies that forced unscheduled landings.

Once I was headed on a Raptors trip across the country – I think it was like Washington to L.A. or somesuch – and we had to stop in Abuquerque so someone with a medical issue could be treated.

And once on an NBA charter going from San Francisco to Cleveland for an NBA Finals game, a guy from the Chronicle was so beaten up by kidney stones we had to stop in Denver so he could get off. And we sat there for hours it seemed before we could continue on this old, rickety plane that we found out later was generally used to transport American troops, who don’t apparently need any amenities. No video, no power, no wireless, no nothing.

How old was the plane? It had ashtrays in the arm rests. Yeah that old.

Credit to my NBA friends, though, the flights later in that series and every year since have been on outstanding charters with much comfort.

But two stops and a few aborted landings hardly matches a rat, a guy opening the door and a guy somehow getting not only on the wrong plane but with the wrong airline.

So when I start whining about flights, remind me of these instances and how relatively lucky I’ve been. Deal?

Got a fair amount of mail that I’ve yet to start on because I am basically lazy but if you’ve got questions I can at least attempt to bluff at answers for Sunday morning.

Go on over to askdoug@thestar.ca, type to your heart’s content and we’ll see where we go from there.

As I recall, the monitors here are not TV compatible so how am I gonna track the Teen Pucks while the Raptors game is going on?

The Raptors? There was an optional practice yesterday at Marquette and optional means they aren’t required to deal with the prying media so we got to bail on it, too.

So there was no news, there was Nothing But Net and that’s it and we’ll be back with the usual shenanigans today.

If there’s one thing the Raptors have done more this year than in many before, it’s take time off and it’s done with a two-fold purpose.

Rest, of course, has become the in vogue thing around the league, there are sleep consultants and physiology consultants and they make sure everybody’s getting as much down time as possible.

The Raptors, and every other team in the league, still take every day after a back-to-back off but with games more spread out and two days between games far more frequent than ever before, extra full days with no official practice have happened more often than before.

I imagine it’ll help in the long run, like April, May and June and I imagine the players appreciate it, too. A lot of them still get in the gym every day on their own but not having scripted practices at specific times does give them some freedom.

The other thing the extra off days do is satisfy contractual demands. There are a certain number of days teams must have completely off – that means no travel out or in so days after back-to-backs don’t count, yesterday didn’t count because it included travel from Chicago – and having them knocked off before April is every coach’s desire. That way, they can get some hard work in at the end of the season without having to jam in days off to satisfy the union-league agreement.

Man, it was like minus-14 in Chicago when we left, minus-15 or so when we got to Milwaukee, it’s going to be the same today and I don’t imagine it’s going to warm up when I head back tomorrow, is it?

We need the NBA schedule-makers to get us south at this time of year rather than to the middle of the frozen Midwest tundra.

Speaking of back there, I’m bailing on this trip after today, Dave’s picking them up in Brooklyn on Sunday. It’s the last game off until the season ends, whenever that is, and I figure it’s as good a time to take a break as any.