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Monday, October 27, 2008
Updated: October 29, 10:01 AM ET
Rays find a new hotel -- in Delaware

By Jim Caple
ESPN.com

PHILADELPHIA -- Forget Charlie Manuel and Joe Maddon or B.J. Upton and Cole Hamels. No one was scrambling more during Monday night's Game 5 than Jeff Ziegler, the Rays' traveling secretary.

His concern grew as the rains fell harder and the chances of a suspended game increased.

The Rays had checked out of their Philadelphia hotel in the afternoon in anticipation of a flight home after the game. Once the water puddles developed in the infield by the fifth inning, he realized alternative plans were necessary. But when he checked with the team hotel, he found out some distressing news. It had no rooms available. Or at least, it didn't have enough rooms to accommodate the Rays, their spouses and the traveling staff.

Ever try to book hotel rooms for that same night? It isn't easy.

Ziegler called one hotel in Philadelphia. And another. And another. And another. And another. In all, he called 14 hotels in Philadelphia and received the same answer from each one. No rooms at the inn.

How would George Costanza, baseball's most famous assistant traveling secretary, have handled this situation?

"He would have passed out," Ziegler said.

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Ziegler started doing Google searches and finally located the Hotel du Pont. "From what you can see on the Web, it looks amazing," Ziegler said in between arranging bus service from the hotel and the ballpark. "It's a five-star, top-flight hotel. I got on the phone and the first thing the woman said was, 'You're joking, right?' And I said, 'No, I'm dead serious. Turn on the TV to the game and you'll see what I'm talking about.'"

Luckily, the du Pont had enough rooms available. Unfortunately, the hotel isn't exactly in Philadelphia. Or in Pennsylvania, for that matter. It's in Wilmington, Del., about 35 minutes away. And Ziegler isn't sure that it has enough rooms available if the game gets delayed by rain again Tuesday.

But hey, at least the team had someplace to sleep other than the clubhouse. And it beat his backup to the backup plan: the team's usual hotel in Baltimore, about an hour beyond Wilmington.

"It's all part of the story, I guess, huh?" reliever J.P. Howell said while walking to the team bus. "We're busing it. A lot of families still have rooms here in Philadelphia, but wives and girlfriends and kids are going with us. Pretty interesting story going on. First time ever for the World Series. We'll stay there [Monday night] and maybe [Tuesday] because it's supposed to rain all day again, so we're trying to stick this out as long as we have to.

"I packed a few extra things just in case. We thought the first game was going to get rained out."

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.