Folsom: doubleheader in Memphis | Local News

As a sports fan, one thing I always appreciate is being able to watch multiple sports on the same day.

I once watched a Texas Tech-Baylor football game in Waco, Texas in the afternoon before driving two hours to Dallas to see the Dallas Mavericks in an early season clash with the National Basketball Association.

I attended Major League Baseball and NBA games on the same day in Texas and Georgia. In 2014, my wife-to-be and I traveled to Portland, Oregon to watch practice for the Major League Soccer All-Star Game before driving nearly three hours to Seattle, Washington to see the Braves. Atlanta play the Seattle Mariners that night (she still married me).

Another favorite was a 2012 visit to Louisville, Ky., where I watched a University of Louisville football game, horse racing at Churchill Downs, and a Bruce Springsteen concert all on the same day.

So, when it looked like there might be a major delay in the start of the MLB season due to a lockout, I started looking for games involving minor league teams. I was especially intrigued to see that the Memphis Redbirds, the Triple A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, would host the Gwinnett Stripers, the top minor league affiliate of my favorite team, the Atlanta Braves, on the weekend of April 9. . -ten. During the same weekend, the Memphis Grizzlies, one of the best teams in the NBA, would play two home games. So it seemed like a great opportunity to see a two-sport doubleheader.

Even with the lockout resolved and MLB starting its season last week, and the big league Cardinals playing at home the first weekend, we still decided to head to Memphis on Saturday morning to see the Redbirds at 3 p.m., followed by the Grizzlies at 5 p.m. .

I had passed through Memphis several times over the past few decades, even staying there a few times, but, with the exception of a Rolling Stones concert in 1999, I never did much there. This would be my first time seeing the famous downtown Beale Street.

We took Interstate 55, which I hadn’t traveled before between St. Louis and Memphis. One thing that fascinates me is that south of here, the area just east of the Mississippi River in Tennessee, is wooded and hilly, while west of the river in Arkansas, the land is made up of desolate farms.

But here it is the opposite. Missouri, on the west side of the river, has lush rolling hills, while Illinois is farmland (although at least it’s corn, which looks better than the cotton fields of Arkansas) . I always wondered where the flip in land took place.

I realized on the way down that the trees were starting to get shorter and the hills were starting to flatten south of Cape Girardeau. By the time we crossed the Arkansas state line, it looked like the Dust Bowl.

Took about 4.5 hours to get to Memphis with a few stops. We parked just off Beale Street between the FedEx Forum, home of the Grizzlies, and AutoZone Park, where the Redbirds play. Parking ended up being only $12 for the whole day, which is pretty good for two games (although traffic is slow out of the parking lot at night).

We immediately headed to Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous, a barbecue restaurant we had seen on many food TV shows. One thing I liked about Rendezvous is the check-in system. You give your name to a hostess and then wait either in the lobby or outside where they loudly announce “Maria, table for two” (I mention this because we went to another restaurant we wanted give it a try that night and gave up due to their confusing queue outside (the restaurant will remain unnamed but cooks its burgers in century-old grease).

Since it was Memphis, my wife and I had a $33 rib dinner for two at Rendezvous. The ribs had a great vinegar taste, although the outside was a little tough, which wasn’t bad in this case. It’s hard to say if they were better than good St. Louis ribs.

From there we headed to AutoZone Park for the first game of our doubleheader. This was one of the minor league stadiums on my bucket list. I’ve wanted to see it since it opened in 2000. AutoZone Park overlooks part of downtown with a retro stadium feel.

We have great seats behind home plate. Ticket prices were a bit high at $20 and the cheapest seats weren’t much cheaper.

We got to see several of the Cardinals’ top prospects, including Ivan Herrera, who is expected to replace Yadier Molina as the top receiver. Unfortunately, the Stripers had none of the Braves’ top 30 minor leaguers, opting for guys who had been in the majors before, like Delino DeShields Jr.

With the basketball game starting at 5pm, we had to leave the baseball game after five innings, which was really enough for the first game of the season.

I wanted to see young Grizzlies star Ja Morant play, and he more than lived up to expectations, blowing through the outclassed New Orleans Pelicans. It was Morant’s first return game from injury since March 18. Mediocre fan that I am, I didn’t even know he was away, so we were lucky enough to see him, especially with our reasonable $31 tickets. They were bleeding from the nose, but with a good view of the court.

The rest of the team was good too. I knew the Grizzlies were playing well in the game, but I hadn’t realized how well until I looked at the score (which was hard to find with the ever-changing video boards) after three quarters and saw the Grizzlies in rise 119-80. Memphis’ 55 points in the third quarter were the fourth of any quarterback in NBA history, so it was a fun game, even if it was a blast.

One issue I had with the Redbirds and Grizzlies stadiums was that the seats weren’t the most comfortable. According to WalletHub, Memphis is the second “biggest” metropolitan area among the 100 largest in the United States. Only McAllen, Texas, which has no relevant sports teams, is more overweight.

Both games had lower attendance than they might have been, with plenty of empty seats in the upper deck of the Grizzlies game, even with the big team. The Grizzlies and Redbirds may want to get to know their potential audience better and get larger seats.

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