Road Trip: Mobile – From the Bird’s Nest
In order for me to get into the whole Mobile trip, I've got to backtrack just a bit to the night before.
We had a game in Houston. After the game, we rushed down to the bus and as it turned out, didn't need to rush. The food order that had been placed for the bus ride home hadn't arrived (and wouldn't arrive.). We stood outside and talked a bit. I thought about getting on the bus and starting to write my game story for our website, but decided to wait until we were on the road.
About ten minutes into the trip, I got out my bag and went to get my computer out to start working. My bag has three zipper compartments, plenty big enough for my small computer, power cord, mouse, baseball scorebook and a notebook. There is a smaller fourth compartment for writing utensils and a few odds and ends.
I checked all three of the zipper compartments. Three times. No computer.
I had the mouse. I had the power cord. No computer.
I had apparently left it in the press box.
I called the SID and left a voicemail asking her to call me to make arrangements to return it. And proceeded to be really PO'd all the way home.
Now, I have another, much larger computer at my office. So I'd have something. But it makes for a pretty heavy bag and takes up a lot of space, which is why I bought the second computer, which has an 11.8 in. screen
Next morning I finish packing for the trip and went ahead and removed the power cord and mouse and left it on my work table. I stopped by the radio station and picked up the other computer and put it in my bag, with the mouse and power cord. I was about to walk out when I saw a bag of M and M's on my desk. I decided to bring it and opened up the smaller compartment.
And, there was my computer.
And, I felt like the dumbest person in America.
So, I unpacked the big computer, mouse and power cord and went back home to get the power cord and mouse for the smaller computer, just shaking my head over my stupidity. I honestly felt dumber than I did when I thought I had left it behind.
It was a bit after four when we got to our hotel. I gotta say I'm not terribly fond of the Mobile Marriott. It seems something happens every time we stay there. They've screwed up my bill in the past, among other things. More on that later.
I was rooming with photographer Brad Kemp. I had communicated with Steve Peloquin, who was in town for softball and we made plans for dinner. Although Steve and I work together, he's usually gone by the time I get to the office, so I don't see him as much as you might think. After we got settled, Brad and I went downstairs and met up with Scott Farmer and his wife Jackie, Bobby Neveaux, Matt Hebert and Craig Melancon. While waiting for Steve we had a beverage...well...a couple of beverages. We all decided to have dinner together and Scott suggested a place called Ed's Seafood Shack in Spanish Fort. It was about a twenty minute drive, located right on the bay. We got a table outside overlooking the water.
Now, if you read these blogs, you know Steve has some interesting eating habits. Since a little health issue a while back, Steve eats better. He eats a lot of chicken and fish and fewer burgers and other fast food. But he still doesn't eat anything green and still eats faster than any other human being. Most of us had seen him in action, but Craig and Jackie had not.
Craig and I each ordered a dozen oysters. Steve and a few others ordered a cup of gumbo. And, we all got to see Steve in action. It's no longer a big deal to us that know him...the great entertainment is watching those who have never seen him eat. Craig and Jackie didn't disappoint.
I had a dozen on the half shell and the fried shrimp dinner. There was so much food I couldn't eat it all. I will go back again.
After dinner we visited a bit and I got to meet some parents of softball players who were also staying at the hotel. It was a relatively early night.
The next morning we had breakfast and I made arrangements to ride to the softball field with Scott and Jackie. We arrived in plenty of time and settled in to witness the winners bracket game between the Cajuns and Texas State.
At which time I was treated (?) to the worst exhibition of home plate umpiring in the history of sports.
It wasn't that she didn't know the strike zone. She didn't HAVE a strike zone. Unless, of course you pitched it right down the middle of the plate. It was an embarrassment to the conference, as this is supposed to be the best the league has to offer. Which makes it a miracle Mike Lotief isn't in jail. Mike managed to not get thrown out, even when she called an obvious foul ball down the third base line fair. The Cajuns won 9-7 but the inability to call a pitch a strike meant the seven inning game lasted 2:36.
(In contrast, Saturday's eleven inning baseball game lasted 2:35.)
After the game, Scott, Jackie and I had lunch together and then went back to the hotel where we had an hour or so to kill before heading to the baseball field for Friday's game.
After a gut-wrenching 3-2 loss to South Alabama, it was back to the hotel. I told Tony Robichaux there wasn't a doubt in my mind we would win the next two games. Tony said, "I'll hold you to that."
I went upstairs where I had some Yuengling in the refrigerator and brought it down to the lobby to write my game story. I shared with Matt Hebert and Brad. There were lots of Cajun fans there and after I finished writing we talked about the rivalry, the electricity in the ball park and the game. Considering what a tough loss it was, the fans didn't seem terribly upset. I think they thought the same thing I did... that we wouldn't lose again.
We stayed downstairs until they closed the bar (imagine that) and then went upstairs for the night.
The next morning Brad and I were having breakfast and were joined by Mike Hill. Mike is a long time Cajuns fan who recently retired from the bench where he served as a federal judge. Mike used to umpire and really has a great grasp on the game of baseball. We talked about the game and I mentioned I had gotten a tweet from Kevin Sytko, the former Jaguars' third baseman and Sports Information Director for baseball. I reminded Mike of the 2003 game which had the controversial fair/foul call in the ninth inning, the call (foul) that cost the Cajuns a chance at the SBC championship. I said the home plate umpire and Sytko, who was playing third, were the only ones in attendance who thought it was a foul ball.
And Mike, who I've visited with for years, said something he had never said to me before.
"I thought he got it right. It was a foul ball."
If Kevin Sytko is reading this, he just peed himself.
I rode with Scott and Jackie again to the softball field where the Cajuns were playing for the championship. The home plate umpire from the day before was at third base, where, presumably she could do the least amount of harm and the Cajuns won the game easily, 12-0. Afterward I went to the post game press conference to hear Coach Mike's comments and congratulated him on the title.
Afterward I walked to the front of the Mitchell Center, where the RCAF was hosting a tailgate party. It was very cool when the women's team bus stopped at the gathering and the team came out to join in the fun. Everyone sang the fight song and some of the players danced with the fans. I couldn't stay long, though, as I had another game to get ready for.
Following the eleven inning win it was back to the hotel. Again, I chose to write in the lobby, but I was hungry so I ordered some food. There were a lot of people doing the same, along with ordering a lot of drinks and I knew it would take a while to get food. I wrote my story and visited with some fans. And, after about 40 minutes I went and checked on my order.
"It's coming," the bartender said.
So I visited some more and had a beverage or two. Now it had been well over an hour since I placed my order. I went back to the bar and asked about it and the bartender got a not so good look on her face. She went in the back and came back out a minute later.
"They left," she said, referencing the cooks.
Ah, the Marriott strikes again.
About an hour later I was ready to turn in and said my goodbyes and went upstairs. Brad went to take a shower and I was pretty much asleep when he came out.
I had a terrible nightmare. I was in a room talking to some friends. There was a terrible noise behind a door and we were all sure there was a monster behind it. As we talked about what to do, the noise continued every few seconds. Then the dream faded but the noise remained. I woke up.
The noise was still there.
Brad was snoring. Loudly.
I laughed out loud, rolled over and went back to sleep.
Sunday morning we ate, packed and left for the ball park around 10:30. After the game, Hal Williams, who handles game management for South Alabama and has for a long time, brought me a Yuengling, which made me like Hal more than ever. After Jeff Schneider finished his game story, Hal brought us on a golf cart to the building where the team was showering for the trip home. We got a really nice ride through campus, which is one of the prettiest in the entire league. He showed me where the on campus football stadium and indoor practice facility would eventually be built.
The ride home was mostly uneventful, but we got word there was a stoppage on the Interstate around Grosse Tete because of construction. So it was a detour to US 190 which made the trip longer. We got home around 10:00.
With two wins, a softball title, a new opinion on an umpire's call from 13 years before and the assurance that monsters were not attacking.