Friday, April 9, 2010

Montgomery Cliff Notes

Melvin and I arrived in Montgomery with a plan: rent a car, check into the motel, lunch at Martha’s Place (“jaw dropping peach cobbler”), maybe the Hank Williams museum, opening day of the Montgomery Biscuits, and then the Love Shack for what was reported to be an eclectic crowd and “white” (not tomato based) barbeque. But Martha had locked the door for two days so she could appear on The 700 Club, a Christian television talk show my mother’s parents were fond of in Ohio. Her appearance on the show (Bio' and 19 minute feature here and here, respectively.) is no doubt a testament to the soul food we might have had, but that didn’t fill our bellies and the Love Shack got bumped up to lunch.

Walking in from the warm and humid afternoon, the Love Shack was pitch black, not so much a barbeque joint as the kind of bar where it is wise to keep track of the back door. After our eyes adjusted, we had to adjust our expectations as well. There was no sign of the mysterious white barbeque, the main ingredients for which are mayonnaise and cider vinegar. We might have gone on to Plan C if it wasn’t already mid-afternoon, so Mel got a popcorn shrimp po’ boy and fried green tomatoes. I ordered what was billed as a Philly cheese steak but the meat was wrong, as it so often is, and the whole debate over Cheez Whiz versus provolone was moot; maybe that stuff on top was white barbeque sauce.

Hunger is the best relish and, washed down with a couple lagers apiece, lunch was just fine. Then Diane, the bar maid and everything else out front, cold cocked us with Kamikaze shooters. She also gave one to the biker at the bar who not only wisely refused to drink it but had never even heard of such a drink. People order these things by the pitcher? We exited into an afternoon that somehow had become impossibly bright. Back at the motel, Mel caught up on work and I passed out, the kamikaze being stronger than my nap on the plane.

The Montgomery Biscuits, the Double-A Southern League affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, play in Riverwalk Stadium. The ball park includes part of the former 1898 offices of the Western Railway of Alabama, with sympathetic new construction and vernacular touches like ceiling fans above the suite seating. The ownership seems to have found the right mix of price points from lawn seating to box seats to private party areas and luxury suites. As the late arrivals filed in, it was about three-quarters full. There are two train lines beyond left field and they went by all night.

The game itself had only occasional excitement. Both teams had 10 hits, but neither scored more than one run in an inning. We might have gotten more into the game but after the sun went down, the wind picked up off of the river and the warm afternoon turned into a chilly evening. Melvin and I once endured a 19-inning, must win game over Labor Day weekend in Portland, Maine, on the Sea Dogs’ way to an Eastern League championship. We didn't want to repeat that ordeal and by the seventh inning on Thursday, we were rooting for whoever was at bat and in a position to let us go some place warm. The Bay Bears obliged in the tenth, winning the inaugural contest 3-2.

MiLB Reports: Recap Box Score

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