Thursday, April 15, 2010

Slight Winds

As noted, Melvin's work day in New Orleans was starting earlier than earlier planned. We left Jackson too early to have breakfast at Peaches', one of three soul food places in town we could have but did not eat at the night before. We also passed Manchac Lousiana too early for lunch at Middendorf's, a highly touted fish store and restaurant. An uneventful drive distinguished only by the section of I-55 built entirely on piles above a landscape that is water even when it isn't. We pulled into the Big Easy on time, primary objective accomplished.

Melvin went to work a conference I was also attending. I settled into the folk art-filled apartment of a friend who was not in town, picked up my registration packet, confirmed there were no (free) sessions on Saturday and went for a long walk down Magazine Street and through the Victorian homes and lush foliage of the Garden District. My destinations were three: the Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, one of the many above-ground cities of the dead unique (to my knowledge) to New Orleans; Mahoney's po' boy shop; and the new home of another friend, still under reconstruction. Oh, and I needed to pick up a roll of toilet paper, which I thankfully noticed before leaving my borrowed pad.

Although my guidebook said the cemetery was open 7:00-2:30 except Sunday, it in fact closes at noon on Saturday's. Plans dissolving before my eyes was becoming the unpleasant theme of the trip. Mahoney's did not disappoint, however. The catfish po' boy and fried green tomatoes were greaseless, as I had read. Since Mel was going to be tied up at the conference too late to allow dinner anywhere but at that night's ballgame, I also polished off a slice of the Sweet Potato Crunch pie and a couple pints of Abita lager. Fortified, I checked out the duplex "shotgun" a buddy bought a few months ago for mid-five figures. It needs work but that is still a somewhat boggling price for someone who lives in a city where studio co-ops in less popular neighborhoods start at a hundred grand more. Speaking of boggling prices, I then paid $1.30 for a roll of no-brand bathroom tissue in a corner store with more iron bars than the average city jail.

Not too long after, Mel called or texted that he and a colleague would be free at 4:30 and we could squeeze in dinner before the six o'clock start. To the degree the evening rush hour permitted, we rushed off to Charlie's Seafood in Hanrahan. Still full from lunch, I dined light; a Caesar salad with friend oysters. Besides its coming recommended, I picked this restaurant because of its proximity to Zephyrs Stadium. However, Google Map--which unlike Mapquest has never left me down--put the ballpark somewhere it ain't and we went east when we wanted to go west and arrived in the third inning, late for the second night in a row.

We had great seats, first row behind home plate. I applaud the Zephyrs for naming their stadium eponymously instead of for a bank or telecommunications company, but that's about all I can say nice about the ball park. Although downtown parks are the trend, Zephyrs Stadium is in the next town over, surrounded by surface parking lots. Architecturally it fell well short of what we're used to one level below the majors. We didn't see any particularly interesting food, odd in a town where every corner grocery serves up po' boys. Melvin reports decent enough beer. As for the game itself, the Round Rock Express came chugging down the track and never looked back.
Although the Express share a name with part-owner and hall of fame pitcher Nolan Ryan, it was hitting that won the game for them. CF Jason Bourgeois, RF Brian Bogusevic and 3B Drew Meyer combined for eight hits in 13 at bats (.615) scoring five of the eventual six runs. Zephyrs starter Brain Lawrence gave up eight hits in five innings but only two runs. The real damage came in the sixth when the Express scored four runs on four hits and a walk off reliever Chris Lawrence. Andy Van Hekken (above, pitching to Slidell Louisiana native Logan Morrison), starting for the visitors, also went five innings but the five hits he allowed was all of the Zephyrs offence and no one got beyond second base. Three Express relievers joined in the shut-out.

MiLB Reports: Recap Box Score

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