Marc Cohn wrote and recorded a song called "Walking in Memphis" in which he sings, "Put on my blue suede shoes, and I boarded the plane." That is what Marty Soileau and I did Friday minus the blue suede shoes in the latest installment of us following the LSU Tigers to a road non-conference football game. Past trips included stops in Seattle, Atlanta, Dallas, Morgantown, and Athens. The size of our group has varied over the years, but it has generally always been the core three; however, the third member of our crew Jake Deville got married this year and had to sit this one out. Jake; though, was there with us in spirit and through group text messages.
Our direct flight to Newark International Airport on United took off as scheduled. The back of the each headrest had a television monitor to watch DirecTV. I was thumbing through the channels and came across an episode of Bill Bixby playing Dr. David Banner in "The Incredible Hulk." I could watch the Chicago Cubs play the Pittsburgh Pirates in a pivotal matchup with postseason implications later that afternoon. That was until the free preview expired.
The rest of the flight went off without a hitch flying above the clouds. As we started our descent through the clouds, I looked out the window to see if I could spot Marvin the Martian on the wing. I did not spot the Martian Commander, but I did spot Citizens Bank Park, Lincoln Financial Field, and Wells Fargo Center as we flew over downtown Philadelphia.
We landed in Newark at 4:30 that afternoon with thoughts of going across the Hudson to see the Pope who was saying Mass at Madison Square Garden at 6:00. However, by the time we got the rental car and got on the road it was 5:00 with a four plus hour drive ahead of us. So we sent out regards to the pontiff from across the river and took the road through New Jersey and Pennsylvania for upstate New York.
After checking in at the Holiday Inn in Auburn, N.Y., we wanted to find Swaby's Tavern. The plans were put on hold for a while because we saw there was a party going on in one of the conference rooms at the hotel. We crashed the party where we each had a beer and a couple plates of food before exiting as quietly as we entered. We found out the next morning it was Nucor Steel's Casino Night. Swaby's Tavern was down the road from our hotel and was more like a museum with random items on the walls and around the whole interior including a giant Bigfoot and an electric chair.
The next morning we drove about half an hour to Syracuse where we met up with Trey Carraway and a couple other guys at Harry's Bar before the game at noon. We all hung out at Harry's before making the trek uphill through campus to the Carrier Dome. The undefeated Orange behind walk-on fifth string quarterback Zack Mahoney was ready for its game against the undefeated Tigers and proved to be a tough opponent in the early going. The game started out slow for LSU and reminded me of the game in the Superdome in 2007 when LSU beat Tulane 9-7. But then the Leonard Fournette show began.
The Auburn Citizen published an Associated Press article that says,
Fred Bierman in his Heisman Watch for The New York Times said of Fournette, he "is the clear front-runner and continues to distance himself from the pack. Next week? The worst rushing defense in college football in Eastern Michigan."
We made another stop at Swaby's Saturday night, and this time we saw things that we had not seen the night before such as a black panther above the front door and a photograph with a sign that read "Photo Handsigned by Mussolini 2 Months Before His Death Convicted By ‘His' People By Hanging." The night ended with karaoke night at McMurphy's Irish Pub in the hotel. I proceeded to get on stage and sing a stirring rendition of The Human League's "Don't You Want Me?"
Sunday morning we checked out the hotel and drove to The Bronx for a New York Yankee game in Yankee Stadium. The first thing we saw inside the stadium was a large picture of the recently deceased Yogi Berra embracing Don Larsen after his perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers. I then had goosebumps as we walked along the hallway past the entrance to Memorial Park that was lined with the retired numbers such as Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, and Mantle. That Sunday afternoon while sitting in section 413 we saw the Yankees earn their 9,999th win in franchise history.
Billy Wiltz in the Monday's New York Times spotlighted newly acquired Dustin Ackley and his role going forward as the Yankees are in a pennant chase. In his article Wiltz writes,
"Ackley, a left-handed hitter, further cemented his standing, at least against right-handed pitchers, by ripping a solo-home run into the second deck in right field Sunday, backing six shutout innings from Luis Severino in a 6-1 win over the Chicago White Sox."
It was a fun trip in which I learned a couple lessons going forward in life. First to paraphrase Frank Sinatra, I learned that if I can drive there in New York City then I can drive anywhere. If you drive the speed limit, you will get run over, and I was just amazed at how people do not mind switching into and out of lanes in traffic which was heavy across the George Washington Bridge and in Manhattan trying to cross the Holland Tunnel to get to our hotel in Jersey City. The second lesson learned is New York may be no place Huey Lewis rather be, but Ville Platte is always where it's at.