Recapping this road trip: The St. Louis edition

A delicious rib plate from Pappy’s Smokehouse in St. Louis/Twitpic

Well, I’m flying into Baltimore as I write this, gearing up for a visit to the Ravens’ rookie minicamp on Sunday. That means my visit to St. Louis to check out the Rams rookies is over, though you can read about what I thought here. It was my first trip to see the Rams, and it was a good one.

You’ve seen the football update, and you’ll read more on the team later this week. But what about the trip itself? Glad you asked …

Want some highlights?

First impressions: I can understand why Rams fans are excited, even coming off such a miserable season last year. They have a QB, a stout defensive line, and some executives in Les Snead and Kevin Demoff who are charismatic and have vision. Coach Jeff Fisher and the front office seem optimistic, too, especially about their massive draft class and big crop of free agents. If they can get the team believin’, watch out. They’ll steal a couple this year.

Best food: Um, as the kids say, duh. Pappy’s Smokehouse was fantastic. I had to race there after “Total Access” because they close early, and when they run out of food, they stop serving. Yes, a restaurant that runs out of food. So, I jumped in my car and sped to St. Louis from the Rams’ facility in the ‘burbs and just made it. They were out of beef and pork when I arrived, but they had ribs. Thankfully. Top 5 ribs I’ve ever eaten, and that’s saying a lot. The meat was just sliding off the bone and the sauce was perfectly, gently applied. Oh, and the deep-fried corn was a nice touch. I should have stolen some of the sweet sauce for home.

Best random observation: I drove by Busch Stadium, where the Cardinals were playing in front of a sold-out crowd. So why were there hundreds of fans dressed in red just waiting outside the gates in the third inning? Hoping people would leave and give them their tickets? Wanting to listen to the roar from up close? I actually have no idea. But there they were.

Best local flavor: I love reading the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and if I was a Cardinals fan, I’d love it even more. There was some great Rams stuff, too. This article by Jim Thomas on a rookie who was almost killed in a knife fight was crazy. And this column by Bryan Burwell on the potential stadium enhancements was educational.

Best line: Janoris Jenkins, the mercurial cornerback, met the media and said all the right things. He sounded rather soft-spoken. Anyway, one reporter seemed to be trying to get him to say something nice about himself and asked what kind of player he was. “A complete corner? Physical corner?” the reporter asked. “Uh,” Jenkins said. “I’m a corner.” No hyperbolic bragging from that dude. Good sign.

Best random thing: At Pappy’s, I got out of my seat to get more sweet tea, and they tried to take away my plate too early. I wasn’t finished. I asked them kindly to allow this man to eat, and they seemed embarrassed. As an apology, they gave me an entire rack of ribs to take home. Incredibly nice and random. But I was only staying one night. So, what to do? Well, the concierge at my hotel seemed pleased with the rack of ribs she landed when I returned.

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