Author Archives: David

LSU getting new company?

The 72nd edition of the MEN’S (that’s the NCAA insisting the women be given equal footing) College World Series has been plagued by rain. Omaha isn’t New Orleans when it comes to precipitation, but it gets quite a bit more than some locales (Hays and Russell come to mind first for me), and there is a chance Mother Nature will intervene.

She did this week, forcing the winner’s bracket games of Monday (Mississippi State-North Carolina) and Tuesday (Arkansas-Texas Tech) to be pushed back a day. The CWS is back on track after Oregon State defeated the Tar Heels last night to send UNC back to Chapel Hill.

The Beavers now must defeat MIssissippi State twice to advance to the championship series. Last year, Oregon STate was in the driver’s seat in bracket one, only to lose twice to LSU, the team the Beavers beat in the second round.

Arkansas holds the upper hand in bracket two after defeating the Red Raiders. The Razorbacks are 2-0 in their Southwest Conference reunion tour, having defeated former archrival Texas Sunday. The Hogs await Florida or Texas Tech tomorrow.

If the Bulldogs and Razorbacks each advance, it will guarantee the SEC will crown its sixth national champion in baseball. The winner would join Georgia (1990), South Carolina (2010, ’11), Vanderbilt (2014), Florida (2017) and some other school which has won six. Of course, the Gators could also repeat and keep the crown in the SEC, but keep the number of schools to win it at five.

That school which has won six is, of course, my alma mater. The Bayou Bengals won it all in 1991, ’93, ’96, ’97 and 2000 under Skip Bertman, then added the sixth in 2009 under Paul Mainieri.

Arkansas and Mississippi State, like the other four schools in the SEC West NOT named LSU, have none. This is particularly galling for Texas A&M, whose two most bitter rivals, LSU and Texas, have six apiece.

The Bulldogs reached the championship series in 2013, only to be swept by UCLA. It is surprising to a lot of people State hasn’t won it all given the school’s rich baseball tradition. Baseball in Starkville was a huge deal long before the other nine schools got with the program. LSU got with it when Bertman arrived in 1984, and then the rest followed suit, although it took the likes of Kentucky and Vanderbilt into the new millennium to finally be up to full speed.

Mississippi State’s run this year has been nothing short of sensational. The Bulldogs suffered an embarrassing sweep by Southern Miss in Hattiesburg to open the season, and less than 48 hours later, coach Andy Cannizaro, a former LSU assistant who played in the CWS for Tulane in 2001, was forced to resign.

It was revealed Cannizaro carried on an affair with a female staffer in the Bulldogs’ football office. The woman apparently dropped the bombshell after she left Starkville to join her boss, Dan Mullen, at Florida.

It was bad enough Cannizaro cheated on his wife. It was much, much, much worse that he cheated on his wife while she was pregnant. Geez, keep it in your pants!

Gary Henderson, who once was in charge at Kentucky, was named interim coach by State athletic director John Cohen, himself a former Bulldog coach and standout player. The Bulldogs had a losing record through the first half of the season, but recovered well, ending the regular season by sweeping Florida in Starkville.

The Bulldogs were one-and-done in the SEC tournament courtesy of LSU, then lost 20-10 to Oklahoma in the first game of the regional at Tallahassee.

However, State came all the way back through the loser’s bracket, then won a scintillating three-game super regional at Vanderbilt, scoring four runs in the top of th 11th of the deciding game.

In Omaha, the Bulldogs won 1-0 vs. Washington, scoring the lone run in the bottom of the ninth, before pounding the Tar Heels 12-2.

The Razorbacks had a strong tradition in the Southwest Conference under Norm DeBriyn. For most of the late 1970s and 1980s, the Razorbacks, Longhorns and Aggies held the SWC lock, stock and barrel in baseball, with the others far, far behind. It became so hopeless SMU dropped the sport in the mid-1980s, not long before the NCAA handed the Mustang football program the death penalty.

Once Arkansas left for the SEC in 1992, the fortunes of the rest of the SWC, especially Rice, went up, while the Razorbacks struggled mightily against LSU and Mississippi State in the SEC, and were also well behind Auburn. Alabama soon caught and passed the Razorbacks when it hired Jim Wells in 1995, leaving Arkansas battling Ole Miss for the bottom of the West.

Dave Van Horn, who led Nebraska to the College World Series in 2001 and ’02, returned to Fayetteville, where he played for DeBriyn, and immediately returned Arkansas to national prominence. Arkansas has been a consistent presence in Omaha since 2004, but has yet to break through and reach the finals.

Arkansas is now one win away from its first championship series, and its first trip to the final since 1979, when DeBriyn’s Hogs lost 2-1 to Cal State Fullerton, which was coached by a young fellow named Augie Garrido.

The Razorbacks’ road to Omaha wasn’t as dramatic as that of the Bulldogs, although Arkansas had to win a third game in its super regional vs South Carolina.

I’ve postulated about whom LSU fans would root for in an All-SEC championship series. If it’s State vs. Florida, I’d say the Bulldogs, because (a) State is in the West and Florida the East and (b) the Gators beat the Bayou Bengals in last year’s final. If it’s the all-west final, I don’t know, but I’d lean to State. Some LSU fans still wish Arkansas would have gone to the Big 12 instead of the SEC. But that cat is out of the bag.

LSU fans should stand and cheer if either Arkansas or Mississippi State (or even Florida) wins it all. It would again reinforce the SEC as college baseball’s sine qua non. Then again, Oregon State did outscore LSU 26-1 in two regional games. Unless Texas Tech somehow pulls it off, the Bayou Bengals can take pride in knowing they’ve gone up against the best once again in 2018.

2026 World Cup sites? ROOF ME!

The 2018 FIFA World Cup (it is trademarked) began yesterday in Russia. The host nation obliterated Saudi Arabia 5-0. The host nation has kicked off the World Cup every tournament since 2002, and while the groups for the World Cup are randomly drawn, the organizers always try to give the host nation an opponent perceived to be the weakest among the other three in Group A (the host nation is automatically drawn as position “A1”; this will be Qatar in 2022 and probably the United States in 2026).

Kansas City’s powerful sports talk radio station, WHB (810 AM), talked about the World Cup and association football quite a bit yesterday. The big news locally was Kansas City is one of 17 cities across America which are still in the running to host World Cup matches in 2026 when the event comes to North America. The U.S. will host 60 of the 80 matches, including all matches beginning with the quarterfinals. Canada will host 10 matches in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, and Mexico will host 10 in Mexico City and two other locales.

If it were up to me, all American sites would be in northern climates and/or have a roof (retractable or fixed).

The Cardinals’ stadium in Arizona, the Cowboys’ stadium in north Texas and the Texans’ stadium in Houston would all be easy picks, since not only do those stadiums have a retractable roof, but all can easily accommodate a full-sized FIFA field, which is 105 meters long by 68 meters wide (approximately 115 by 75 for those who hate the metric system).

Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium cannot fit the 105×68 field. It would have to cut some seating in the end zones to make it work. It isn’t a bad idea anyway, since Arrowhead’s seating capacity of 79,000, give or take a few hundred, is too much for a market of its size. Arrowhead would be just fine in the 65,000-70,000 range.

However, I do not think Kansas City is an appropriate choice. Go outside today and see why. As Kool and the Gang crooned in 1980,  TOO HOT.

Back to my picks. I’ve already identified Arizona, north Texas and Houston.

New York City may be hot and humid in the summer, but it’s got to be better than Orlando or Miami. You can’t possibly leave off out one of the world’s ten largest cities, the world’s most diverse city, and the epicenter of media. MetLife Stadium, home of the Giants and Jets, is the obvious choice.

Los Angeles also has to be in the equation. In fact, three stadiums in the area could be used: Rose Bowl (Pasadena), Coliseum (south central Los Angeles) and the new stadium in Inglewood being built for the Rams and Chargers. I’ll go with the Rose Bowl and one of the other two sites.

Gillette Stadium, home of the Belichick/Brady evil empire in Massachusetts, is a fine choice.

Chicago has to be on the list. It was fantastic as a host in 1994 and it will be even better now that Soldier Field has been modernized.

Atlanta has proven it can fit the FIFA-sized field inside its Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which has that retractable roof. You’re good.

So far, that brings my list to nine. Who would get the last bid?

If there is a good way to install grass indoors, then I would seriously consider New Orleans, Detroit and Minneapolis.

My native city would be my first choice among the three. Yes, there is a bit of homer in that choice, but also the Superdome in my humble opinion is a superior facility to Ford Field and US Bank Stadium, and there is so much for the international visitors to see and do in the Crescent City.

Indianapolis? I don’t know if it can fit the FIFA-sized field in Lucas Oil Stadium. If so, it is perfect since it is centrally located and excels at hosting sporting events on a large scale. Also, the retractable roof is a big plus in my book.

Denver? Great city but would some nations balk at playing at altitude (4,850 meters)?  And wouldn’t the Rockies balk about the possibility of a three-week road trip during the middle of the MLB season?

As for the altitude argument, TOUGH. If you’re that worried, see if the University of Wyoming will let you train in Laramie, where it is 6,600 meters. South American countries have it worse when they have to play in Bolivia, where La Paz is above 10,000 meters, the highest capital city on earth.

Seattle? Isolated but a great association football city. I’d rank it above Minneapolis and Detroit, but behind Denver.

San Francisco (49ers stadium in Santa Clara)? Again, great cosmopolitan city. However, traffic between San Francisco and Santa Clara is a nightmare on a good day. On a bad day? Good luck.

Okay here’s my 10 in order of preference:

  • Glendale, Ariz. (University of Phoenix Stadium)
  • Arlington, Texas (AT&T Stadium)
  • Houston (NRG Stadium)
  • East Rutherford, N.J. (MetLife Stadium)
  • Foxborough, Mass. (Gillette Stadium)
  • Pasadena, Calif. (Rose Bowl)
  • Los Angeles (Coliseum)
  • Chicago (Soldier Field)
  • Atlanta (Mercedes-Benz Stadium)
  • New Orleans (Mercedes-Benz Superdome)

The next group in order of preference:

  • Indianapolis (Lucas Oil Stadium)
  • Denver (Mile High)
  • Seattle (CenturyLink Field)
  • Detroit (Ford Field)
  • Minneapolis (US Bank Stadium)
  • Santa Clara (Levi’s Stadium)

Uruguay and Egypt are scoreless through 64 minutes. What’s wrong, Uruguay? That’s ridiculous.

KC in the rearview mirror–for now

I am back in Russell. Actually, I’ve been back a little more than 25 hours. I arrived at 1224 North Brooks at 9:05 yesterday morning. I went straight to bed because I did not sleep the night before. I wanted to get home before it got really hot. I did that and I slept most of yesterday.

I would be sleeping a lot today, but I have to go to Hays to see Crista at 2. I need this. REALLY need this.

The days in Kansas City were a total mixed bag.

THE BAD

The hotel in Liberty

If you read my last blog post, you would know I was upset by not being able to turn the thermostat below 65. I lived with it.

If I ever go back there again, I won’t go in the summer, nor will I ask for a larger room, because the air conditioning has a very hard time cooling a large space like that. It was larger than my room in the basement in Russell, and the air conditioning struggled very badly.

Also, the faucet did not flow very much in the guise of trying to conserve water. I am used to a full flow. However, the water was hot.

Even worse, I discovered I left my mouse and trackball for my laptop in the room when I got back to Russell. Using the touchpad is a pain in the butt! I hate it. I am going to Walmart this afternoon to get a mouse. I cannot take it.

The driving and traffic

I learned once again why staying in Platte County and not Clay is much better for me on my visits.

Missouri Highway 152, which connects I-435 and the Zona Rosa area to Liberty, is always a pain in the butt to drive. There are several red lights in Clay County, and if you get stuck at one, it adds time to the drive.

I hate stop and go driving, so I burned the gas and took the Terpsichorean route of I-35 south to I-29 north then back towards Barry Road. At least there are two good convenience store stops on I-35, the QuikTrip at Pleasant Valley Road and the 7-Eleven on Antioch. It may have been longer time wise, but I kept moving.

The drive to the spa was no better. Had to go through downtown, and with I-70 west of Broadway demolished for reconstruction, traffic is that much worse. If i had stayed in Platte County, I could have gone 635 to Metcalf and then Metcalf to 75th to the spa. Live and learn.

THE GOOD

The back wax

Yes it was painful, but Andrea, the lovely lady who took care of me at the salon in Prairie Village, was very patient and very kind. She made me feel much better about it. When I finally got a look at it the next morning, I felt that much better. I have to go back in late July/early August, but now I know what to expect.

I originally wanted to get my chest waxed, but Andrea suggested I hold off, and if I really wanted to do it when I came back later in the summer, she would. But so far, I am very happy with having a hairless back.

Lunch before the back wax

I ate at Joe’s Kansas City BBQ for the first time. Robb has been drooling about the place to me for quite some time, so I decided to give it a shot, since its location at 47th and Mission in south KCK was on the way to the salon.

If the line was out the door, as it is on many days, I would have passed. However, I found a parking spot, and when I walked in, the line was quite short. Therefore, I ordered half a slab of ribs and potato salad.

Best ribs I’ve ever eaten. The meat was so tender it fell right off the bone when I first took a knife to it. Then I discovered I didn’t need the knife due to the tenderness. The sauce at the table, Joe’s original and a spicy brand from Cowtown, added flavor to an already delicious dish.

The potato salad was great. And that’s coming from a guy who hardly eats potato salad.

Joe’s was so awesome I went to the location on Roe Avenue in Leawood following my back wax to pick up some brisket, as well as beans and potato salad. I ate it for breakfast the next two days. It was just that good.

Next time I’m there, I think I’ll fast for a day or two and then pig out on pork, sausage, ham and turkey to get the full experience. I also need to bring back potato salad for my parents. They love that stuff.

Two of my favorite bartenders

I began the trip by visiting Dana Tenpenney at Brewtop. That did me a lot of good. I don’t get to see her enough. Not to mention the food at Brewtop is pretty good.

I ended by visiting Minsky’s. I spent a few hours there, and it was pretty good. Had a great pizza and played lots of trivia to make up for the two months I didn’t.

Lindsay Harris wasn’t there when I first got there. She was running in some sort of extreme 10-kilometer race in Lexington (not the one John Calipari calls home), but she came in at 5. She was glad to see me and told me I had better not go four months without seeing her again.

THE REALLY, REALLY GOOD

No more NBA–at least until October

Had Cleveland won once at home, Game 5 of the NBA Finals would be tonight. Thankfully, the Warriors swept, and now I don’t have to hear about the NBA for a while, at least about games.

The Capitals won!

The Stanley Cup now resides in the capital of the United States of America and not Sin City. That’s a big win in my book. I vomited enough to fill the Missouri River after the Lightning, Hurricanes and Ducks won the Cup in recent years. I was prepared to the same if the Predators won last year and if Vega$ did this year.

Where I wasn’t

It could have been much, much, much worse than Kansas City. I could have been sweating my brains out in Beloit covering the 8-man football all-star doubleheader. I hated those games. Really hated them. And I still do, even though I don’t have to be there. You don’t want to know some of the things I have to say about the coaches who put this on. The kids who are out there are braver than I could ever hope to be.

Hays, I’m on my way. I need you, Crista!

Return to the eastern fronta

After 104 days away, I am back in Kansas City.

I made a huge mistake by booking a room at the new TownePlace Suites in Liberty. The traffic on Missouri Highway 152 is bad enough, but I knew about that going in.

The hotel will not let guests set the air conditioner lower than 65 degrees.

I thought seriously about going down to the front desk and blowing my top, but I haven’t. I did tell them I did not like the fact I couldn’t set my thermostat lower than 65. I understand the idea about conserving energy, but a hotel should be about the comfort of the guests, not saving a few dollars here and there by not allowing guests to set their thermostat to 60 if they want.

I’m going to see if the room is any cooler when I get back this evening. If it isn’t, you can bet that hotel will be on my blacklist.

I don’t like that there is a bathtub and not a stand-up shower, but I can live. I can also live with no fold-out rack for my suitcase.

I’m thinking seriously about going to Target and getting a fan just like the one I bought for my room in Russell last month. It won’t go to waste because I’d use it in the basement.

The good thing about that location is more choices for dining. Zaxby’s isn’t too far and Chick-Fil-A is right across Highway 152. Plus there are grocery stores galore in the area.

Right now I’m at Brewtop in the Shops at Ambassador. I wanted to see Dana Tenpenney, whom I first met five years ago when she was working at Buffalo Wild Wings. Her husband, Ronald Groves, was finishing up lunch when I walked in. Dana is one of the many Buffalo Wild Wings alums I don’t get to see enough of. I had a black and bleu burger which was excellent.

I’m meeting Robb at 4:30 at Buffalo Wild Wings. I’m wondering what kind of reception I’ll get there. I have been to Buffalo Wild Wings twice, both in Salina, since my last visit in Kansas City February 18, which was also the last time I saw Dawn.

It has been exactly two months since I’ve played Buzztime trivia. That has to be a record since I became a religious player in May 2013.

The Royals don’t play until 9:05 tonight since they’re in Anaheim. Means Buffalo Wild Wings won’t be so bad. And the NBA Finals are off too. God I hope the Warriors just end this stupid thing in Cleveland. I’ve had enough of LeBron James this, LeBron that, LeBron blah blah blah LeBron blah blah blah blah blah

Miserable May, be gone!

May is almost over, at least in the Central Time Zone of the United States. Thank God.

It was a horrendous month for me. No visits anywhere–not to Kansas City, certainly not to Louisiana, and not even to Buffalo Wild Wings in Salina. I only got my hair cut twice with Amber, visited Crista twice, and then had Peggy stop in Russell to meet me at Subway on the 6th. Other than that, it was a very bad month.

Maybe it was better I haven’t blogged since my trip to Louisiana. It has been that bad since the evening of April 17, when my parents and I devoured the crawfish my dad and I brought back from Baton Rouge.

May ended on another bad note, with the start of the FOURTH CONSECUTIVE NBA Finals between Golden State and Cleveland.

I hate the NBA, except when Milwaukee plays. I really hate LeBron, because he blames white people for most of society’s ills. I’m not a fan of Golden State, for duplicating the Heat and putting together the best team money can buy by prying Kevin Durant away from Oklahoma City.

The Warriors won. Good. Hopefully Golden State will sweep and we won’t have to hear about this shit any more.

I’m going to have to say a lot of prayers for the Capitals. The last thing I want is for the Stanley Cup to be in a teeming shithole like Las Vegas.

The Brewers are in first place and many MLB teams I despise are having bad years. At least that’s something.

The world’s worst blogger is not dead. Any of you who thought I was, that’s okay, I understand. I didn’t give you any reason to think I was alive.

 

Bye Baton Rouge…but I’ll be back soon

My stay in Baton Rouge is down to its final two hours, maybe less. My dad and I will depart the Courtyard on Acadian a little before 8:00 and make one last stop in the city to buy crawfish at Tony’s Seafood on Plank Road.

We should be out of Louisiana no later than 1:30. Tonight’s stop is McAlester, Oklahoma. By Tuesday evening, I’ll be back in Russell.

The last few times I have been in Kansas City,  I couldn’t get out fast enough. I knew it was time to head west and didn’t waste any time doing so.

This time, I wish I could stay another week. Maybe another month. I got to see so many people I had not in nearly 13 years, but there are still many I didn’t see and I still want to. Some are no longer living in Baton Rouge (Herb Vincent), and some were too busy to make it out to Alex Box.

I last was in Baton Rouge in 2010, but I saw hardly anyone I knew. This time was much different. It reminded me of the different lives I led before and after Katrina. Not that the life in Kansas is terrible, but I lived longer in Louisiana and knew people for a lot longer. Other than Peggy, there aren’t any in Kansas I knew nearly as long as I knew in Louisiana.

There was a slight misadventure last night. We wanted to eat at Ivar’s, the sports bar where I hung out many a day and night when I went to LSU and lived in Baton Rouge afterwards. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get service and left after a few minutes. We weren’t upset, just a little disappointed.

However, 18 more chargrilled oysters at Acme Oyster House more than made up for it. WAY MORE. I ate 30 chargrilled oysters in the space of 32 hours Saturday and Sunday. I could eat 30 DOZEN if I had the time. They are that good.

LSU won all three games from Tennessee. The first two were not close, 9-3 and 14-5. Yesterday, however, was a different story.

The Volutneers led 4-0 and 7-3, the latter lead holding up until the bottom of the ninth.

However, the Bayou Bengals came all the way back, scoring six times in their last at-bat, the last three coming on a home run by Daniel Cabrera, giving LSU its first three-game series sweep of 2018 and keeping it alive in the SEC title race.

If LSU manages to become a regional host, this game may be the one which put the Tigers over the top. The next two weekends find LSU at South Carolina and Ole Miss before it plays Arkansas May 4-6.

All good things have to end. It’s over this time. However, next time will come far sooner than 2031. Or 2026. Or 2020.

Play (soggy) ball!

I was reminded most of today why Louisiana is near the national leaders in rainfall year in and year out.

I woke up at 7:30 with Neil Diamond’s “Forever in Blue Jeans” blaring from my iPhone. Surprisingly, the thunder and lightning did not.

It was absolutely pouring. The sky was quite dark. There were severe weather alerts issued seemingly every two minutes, including a couple of tornado warnings for East Baton Rouge Parish. Thankfully, those warnings were not for where we were staying. However, it was nasty.

The rain seemed to end by 12:30, when my dad and I went to eat at Acme Oyster House. Oyster Rockefeller soup, charbroiled oysters, bread pudding. I can die happy now.

We went to the Mall of Louisiana to kill time, and by time we left the area, it started to rain hard again. It really rained hard when we were on Siegen Lane, and my dad thought there was no way there would be a baseball game tonight. I had some doubt, but from experience, I knew LSU would do everything it could to play the game. It was still raining hard at 5:00 when we went to eat at Outback, which is in the same parking lot as the Courtyard.

Lo and behold, the rain stopped by time we left the restaurant at 5:50. There is a lot of standing water on the streets, but the railroad trestle on Acadian between Interstate 10 and Perkins Road was passable.

Teams have taken infield–batting practice was conducted in the cages in order to allow more time for field prep–and the game will start at 8:00 as originally rescheduled. The good news about playing tonight is the game tomorrow starts at 4:00, so there will be plenty of time to sleep in and eat lunch.

One down, two to go

LSU defeated Tennessee 9-3. The Tigers hit four home runs, two by Jake Slaughter, in the first three innings to go up 8-0, then coasted the rest of the way.

The last LSU run helped me.

My dad got tired during the seventh inning and asked me to bring him back to the hotel. I agreed and we left in the bottom of the 7th. Fortunately I was able to map out a route which avoided traffic and we got back in good time. I then drove back to the stadium for the rest of the game.

I thought I might not make it back for the end, but LSU added a run in the bottom of the eighth which gave me some time to make it past Highland Road. By time I pulled into the parking lot, the top of the ninth had just started.

The Volunteers scored twice and loaded the bases again against two LSU relievers before the game ended. In all, 15-20 extra minutes were tacked on to the ending.

Bill is now on the field coordinating interviews with players and coach Paul Mainieri. After that’s done, he’ll interview Mainieri for the radio in the Champions Club on the ground level of the stadium.

Even though I ate a lot of brisket at TJ Ribs, I gave the jambalaya at the stadium a try. Good for stadium fare, but my mother makes it better.

It’s been a great day. But I am tired. I’ve been up for over 18 hours now. Fortunately tomorrow’s game is not until 2000 (8 p.m.), so I can sleep in.

I’ve got to hit the Walmart on College Drive to stock up on drinks and snacks. I don’t think I’m hitting Whataburger tonight. It’s too far to drive. Ivar’s is probably too busy.

I did get a little typing done between dinner and the game. Looks like it will all flow smoothly and allow the return to Russell to be easy.

I’m going to blog about my nice dinner at TJ Ribs in my next post. Whether it’s late tonight or tomorrow morning remains to be seen. If I don’t post again, have a great night and a better tomorrow. If I do post, I hope you’re still up to read (actually, I don’t. Sleep is exponentially more important than my blog.).

Too bad I didn’t see this nine years ago

I’m inside the press box at the new Alex Box Stadium. I had seen it plenty on television, but looking at it up close, it is impressive to say the least.

The press box is actually a press box, something it wasn’t at the original Alex Box. At the old park, the press box was open air and was two cramped rows, save for a little more room for LSU’s radio broadcasters.

Bill has his own booth, but he told me there are always a lot of people in the booth, which makes is as hectic as the old place. The official scorer–who happens to be my old pal Bryan Lazare–has a public address system to announce scoring decisions and pertinent statistics. In the old Box, the scorer had to use hand signals to convey decisions.

For the fans, the two biggest things are (a) an open concourse which allows fans to go to the concession stands and use the restrooms without missing much action, and (b) no obstructing poles in the grandstand, which was not uncommon in baseball parks built before World War II. Fenway Park and Wrigley Field still have them. Comiskey Park in Chicago and Tiger Stadium in Detroit were notorious for them.

Driving through campus to the stadium was sort of an out-of-body experience. I remembered the route from the Courtyard to Alex Box well enough, but many of the buildings I saw along West Lakeshore and South Stadium Drives were not there when I took my final class in the summer of 1999.

I’m glad LSU was able to build so much when there was good funding to education during the administrations of Mike Foster and Kathleen Blanco. Bobby Jindal cut education funding drastically, and although John Bel Edwards constantly states he wants to increase education funding exponentially, it’s hard to do with Louisiana’s budget in such dire straits. Just like Kansas, except K-12 education funding is the big problem in the Sunflower State, not that for higher education.

LSU and Tennessee are ready to begin. First “Baseball at the Box” since June 6, 2005.

Even if the Tigers don’t score a run this weekend–heaven forbid, but I don’t think that happens–the trip to Baton Rouge is already a smashing success. I’ll blog about it when I get back to the hotel.

Many, many, many (…) days of waiting over!

Two thousand eight hundred forty nine days since I last departed Baton Rouge, I have returned.

It became official just before noon when my dad and I crossed the US 190 bridge over the Mississippi River. The bridge is now painted silver like the Interstate 10 bridge. Previously, it was orange, which matched the bauxite dust from the nearby Kaiser Aluminium plant, long since closed. When it opened in 1940, the bridge was blue, but when the dust kept coating the bridge, it turned orange, so the state decided enough was enough and stopped painting it blue.

The trip from Texarkana included a bit of hilarity in Shreveport. We stopped for gas along the last exit out of Shreveport heading south on Interstate 49. There are two stations on the road, a Chevron on the right (eastbound) and a Shell on the left (westbound). The Shell was selling gasoline for less than the Chevron. There were no cars at the Chevron, yet at the Shell, every pump was in use and there were line waiting to get their gas.

All to save six cents per gallon.

You read it right: SIX CENTS. One nickel and one penny.

In other words, many were there to save no more than $1.08, which would be 18 gallons of gas times six cents. One guy had a full-sized pickup truck and a generator to fuel. Even if he needed 50 gallons, he would still save a measly three bucks.

My dad decided to wait in line, since we had already pulled in to the Shell and didn’t want to cross the highway to go to Chevron.

We  passed by the state capitol when we got to town, but traffic was nuts, so we decided to come back and try to get a picture Sunday. When we returned to Interstate 110 to get to I-10, traffic came to a crawl. Baton Rouge and traffic go together just like peanut butter and jelly.

In an hour, my dad and I will be going to eat at one of Baton Rouge’s most popular restaurants, TJ Ribs. We’ll be meeting someone from my past…

We have time. The game isn’t until 7:00. Tonight will be fine, but tomorrow is supposed to be very stormy as I mentioned earlier.

I will admit I’m nervous. I have not seen this person in a very long time. I have wanted to see them for a very long time.