Friday, August 15, 2014

My Day At The Ballpark

This past Wednesday I did something I haven't done in quite a while. I went to see the Cincinnati Reds play at Great American Ballpark. 

I hadn't planned on going to a Reds game this year but last weekend I heard the Red's announcers on TV mention that the Red Sox were going to be in town for a two-game series.

I checked the schedule and found out that second game on Wednesday was a day game with a 12:35 PM start time. That early start would make it possible for me to drive to Cincinnati and back in the same day. I decided to go for it. 

I went alone but that's not unusual for me. I enjoy doing a "road trip" by myself every once in a while. My last one was in May when I went to Atlanta to meet Lou Mongello. 

I left my house at 6:30 AM central time. Having been to the "Queen City" at least 10 times since I've been living in Kentucky I knew how to get there. It's easy. Just drive 200 miles on four different highways and you're at the stadium. 

I enjoyed the trip snacking on cheese filled Combo pretzel snacks and drinking diet Dr. Pepper. I listened to several of the podcasts on my IPod and part of my Rewind 2011 soundtrack program. 
It took me a little over 3 1/2 hours to get there with a couple of restroom stops. Cincinnati is in the eastern time zone so I got to the city's riverfront area about 11AM. 

After finding the public parking garage with the handicapped parking spaces; it was just an elevator ride and a short walk to enter the ballpark's plaza area. 

I had ordered my ticket online the day before so I went to the "Will Call" window, got my ticket, and headed for the front gate. 

My seat was in the back of section 134 about halfway down the right field line. Because of the limited tickets available, to get a decent seat, not in the upper deck, I had to buy a handicapped seat. As it turned out the game was not a sell out but there were nearly 33,000 people there. 

Once my ticket was scanned I headed into the concourse on the field box level. I found my seat which wasn't really a seat at all. It was a folding chair in between a pair of regular stadium seats. Given the price I paid for the ticket I was very disappointed that I only got a folding chair. But I was paying for the privilege of seeing the game not for the seat. 

Here's a selfie showing the view from my seat. 

I have posted a short video I took before the game on my RHFactors You Tube channel. Here's the link:
GAB video

As I sat in my seat eating a hot dog I noticed that the were about half of those coming in were wearing something that indicated they were Red Sox fans. 

As you will see later in this post I was wearing my brand new "Reds" t-shirt. 

One of the reason I decided to make the trip to GAB was the pitcher who was scheduled to start. Homer Bailey is the Reds' #2 starting pitcher and has pitched 2 no hitters each of the last two season (2012 & 13). I thought the odds of seeing something special, or at least a well pitched game, were good.   

But while listening to sports radio on my way to Ohio I found out that Bailey had been scratched from his start (he would be put on the 15-day disabled list two days later). 

Mike Leake would be the starter for the Reds, instead. The Red Sox starter was someone I'd never heard of before. I think he's a rookie. 

Now if you would have told me at the start of the baseball season that I would go to Great American Ballpark in August and neither Dustin Pedroia or David Ortiz would be in the starting line up for the Red Sox but not because they were not injured, I would have been surprised. But that's what happened. 

I didn't care though because they are two of the MLB players at the top of my MLB "enemies" list. I don't like them in the least little bit. I wasn't the least bit disappointed about not seeing them play. 

Pedroia would pinch hit in 7th and play the last 3 innings in the field as part of a double switch when the Red Sox brought in a new pitcher. At least he didn't get a hit. 

I knew that Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips would not be playing for the Reds because they are on the DL. But I was disappointed when my favorite Cincinnati player, Jay Bruce, was not in the lineup either. Oh well that's the chance you take when you go to see a game. 

After 3 1/2 innings the Reds were trailing 3-2. With the bottom third of the Reds batting order scheduled to come to bat in the last half of the 4th I decided to go to the concession stand to get a snack and a drink. 

While standing in line to get my snack I heard the crowd erupt with excitement; not once but twice. 

Skip Schumaker, a Reds outfielder, and pitcher Mike Leake each hit solo homers to give the Reds the lead. Two home runs hit (one by a pitcher, which doesn't happen very often) and I missed them. 

But there is a silver lining to that cloud. On my way to get my snack I saw one of the Reds mascots standing around taking pictures with fans. 

Now I have been to at least half a dozen Reds games and had never even been close to any of the mascots. In case you are not familiar with them, here's a pic of what they look like.

Left To Right: Rosie Red, Gapper, Mr. Red, Mr. Redlegs (in back)
I got in line to get my picture taken with the mascot. The character's "handler" was a nice young lady who gladly took the picture for me. Here's me & Mr. Redlegs. I'm on the right. 

Leake would go on to give up the lead in the top of the 5th when he gave up a 2 run homer to Boston first baseman, Mike Napoli. 

The last 4 innings went quickly as the Red Sox didn't get a hit after the 5th. The Reds' offense was just as ineffective.

The pitching highlight of the game came in the top of the 9th when Aroldis Chapman, the Reds' closer came out of the bullpen to strike out all 3 Red Sox. 

It was amazing because, according to the radar gun reading displayed on the scoreboard, Chapman reached 3 digit speed at least 4 times; topping off with a pitch at 102 MPH. 

The Reds got their first two hitters on base in the bottom of the ninth. But second baseman Ramon Santiago failed to move the runners over with 3 bunt attempts. The next two hitters flied out to end the game. 

I enjoyed the game but, of course was a little bit disappointed that I didn't see a walk off win by the Reds. They did came back that way, on the Yankees in the first game I ever saw at GBP. I was kind of hoping they would do it to the Red Sox. 

Other than Jay Bruce, a couple of things I didn't see during this game, that I wanted to see, were a replay challenge and an extreme defensive shift. 

There were no controversial calls that were close enough for either team to request a review. With Jay Bruce and David Ortiz not in the game the teams never used the extreme defensive shifts that have become so popular this season. 

One final note from my time at the ballpark. When a player comes to bat during the game, the big centerfield scoreboard displays a lot of stats and info about that player. 

It was from that info I discovered that Red Sox 3rd baseman, Will Middlebrooks, and Reds Outfielder, Billy Hamilton, share my birthday.

After the game, I headed to the nearest exit which spilled out into the plaza where I first came in. I took the stairs down into the parking garage on the way back to the car because there was a long line for the elevator. 

It took a while to get out of the parking structure, through the downtown area and back onto I71. But soon I was headed back to Kentucky on my way back home. 

I made good time driving back home. I stopped at my favorite Pilot truck stop along I-65 at Lebanon Junction. 

It's the place I bought my first fish puppet on my way back from the Vent Haven convention back in 2008. This time I found another puppet that I liked. It's an alligator. 
I know in past posts I've mentioned that I wanted to reduce my puppet collection. But I have been wanting an alligator for a long time. In addition, I plan on using it to play with Aria and her turtle puppet in the future. 

So there you have my day at the Great American Ballpark. I had a great time and the trip really was great way to relax.  

The next couple of days are going to be a bit emotionally stressful as Paula and I try to provide the love and support Brandi and James through their difficult time. So I'm glad I got a "breather" and a chance to enjoy a major league baseball game, in person for the first time in 3 or 4 years.  

No comments: