Milwaukee Brewers 3 – Cincinnati Reds 9
Great American Ball Park – Cincinnati, OH
September 5, 2017
With Cincinnati long faded out of sight in the rear-view, it is time to do some reflection. What did I learn from this trip, the last one of 2017? What did I learn in the nearly 13,000 miles on the road as I traveled from stadium to stadium? Well, the first thing I have to say is, I apologize to Cincinnati. I had preconceived motions of what it was and even what it wasn’t. But I learned what this tri-state area, Ohioan city really is first-hand, and I am not ashamed to admit I was wrong. I will elaborate more later on, but what else did I learn on the road?
- Sometimes things go wrong. I was challenged twice by plans changing. In the grand scheme of things, these aren’t terrible odds, especially since I hadn’t had to face that before. The Cleveland game was rained out in May, and my July trip to Cleveland (again) and Cincinnati went south due to a health emergency. Which segues nicely into…
- Take care of yourself. This isn’t just a road lesson, but a life one in general. The fact that I had to be confronted by this on the road made it all the more frustrating and eye-opening. To let something as simple as taking care of my body come int he way of doing something I love was foolish.
- Distance in your head means nothing compared to the actual distance you are traveling. To be alone for most of these adventures (outside of having Evie with me) meant to be alone with my thoughts. And when you are alone with your thoughts and have more than a thousand miles to travel, your mind and mental health can play tricks on you. Likewise, it takes time to travel that long and your desire to do the activity versus your actual desire to be on the road at that time is similar to how you act when you are hungry – your eyes are bigger than your mouth/stomach.
- Every city, stadium, fan-base, and person is the same… and totally different. We are all uniformly unique. I know this oxymoron may sound like a wannabe philosophical mantra (and a poor one at that), but I feel like my experiences have validated that statement. I’m not the go-to expert, but with an above-average resume to my name, I think this claim is true. I keep traveling and seeing these places because of their differences, but I also leave thinking how much similarity there was and have that loose connection to the city/team/people.
- I am thankful for the things I’ve seen and experiences I’ve been able to have. Taking road trips, even if they cause some mental anguish at times, has allowed me to see places most people skip when they take the quicker way to get there. I’ve found some amazing places, seen beautiful sights, and captured intense memories not just at my destination, but on the journey itself. While it may not be reasonable every time or even healthy (avoidance is not a healthy resolution), road trips have allowed me to have experiences I would not want to trade away for extra time elsewhere.
- Cleveland truly is cursed. Or maybe it has cursed me. I don’t believe in actual curses, but to be disheartened again in 2017 would have been too much. I specifically avoided booking a third game at Progressive Field in order to avoid being let down yet again. I can attach that stadium to a future Detroit-Toronto trip and all will be well. Heck, if the Indians have a hard time selling tickets with a team this hot, I don’t think I have to worry about not being able to see a game.
I probably have other lessons learned from the my travels, but things keep coming to me and I want to be able to move along for the same of this entry.
So where were we? Ahhh, right, Cincinnati – a semi-respectable-in-size city that is mounting Kentucky. I had heard tales of Cincinnati (and even Kentucky) that painted a rather bland and uninteresting picture. Most of the things aren’t terrible offenses, but it was more of a “bore you to death” or “death by a thousand cuts” type of personality that Cincinnati had acquired in my head.
I was not expecting a thriving downtown area, nor was I expecting a respectable indie/millennial/hipster scene (one that I partake in by enjoying vegan restaurants and record stores), and I definitely didn’t think the people around there would be so kind, open, and accepting (almost progressive, if you will). But I was wrong. On all accounts I was completely wrong.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a perfect place, and is not Utopian dream for any of the criteria listed above, but it is not lacking. Every group of people has a certain segment contrary to the masses – some folks here fit my stereotypes – but a similar number of people in any other town would have fit the same mold. I could continue trying to dispel these thoughts/rumors/stereotypes about Cincinnati, or I could offer a challenge…
(And listen to Ohio’s greatest group of musicians, Devo. You know them, at least their one song. Now go enjoy more of their music!)
Check EVERYTHING out for yourself, especially Cincinnati. As a vegan, straight-edge, progressive, millennial, white dude who enjoys baseball games, I can say that I had a great time. It wasn’t my mecca, so I don’t think I am the only demographic that can enjoy the area. Let me know once you go there and tell me your experience.
If you are wondering what I did, then take a look at this video I put together. Similar to my Milwaukee and Minneapolis videos, the entire Cincinnati experience was captured as best as I could.
As you can tell from the video, there was a lot to the Great American Ball Park experience. I took the 1 pm tour and also did the early batting practice offered by the Reds Hall of Fame, so my day was FULL of baseball, and let me tell you, it was GRRRRRRREAT!
The Hall of Fame area is so well done and offers the most fan friendly experience that I have encountered – especially since it is open more than just on game days. If there are two things that are obvious it is this: 1) the franchise is proud of its history, and 2) the team (and fans) are proud to incorporate the Reds (via logos and name) into every piece of the stadium. At times it almost felt over the top, but the sincerity behind it forgave those shortcomings. It didn’t feel like a team like the Yankees, where things are over the top and grandiose because of some “holier than thou” complex or just for the sake of throwing money at things. The logic behind the Reds doing what they do seems to come from a case of deep respect, pride, and caring.
Speaking of the tour, when we took an on-field view of both dugouts I spotted a baseball in the camera-well/authenticator area of the Reds dugout. It was slightly under a raised wooden platform, but my eagle eyes were scanning the areas on the off chance I saw any baseballs (hey, it’s what I do). I went in front of it, filmed it quick, and since no one seemed to care, I picked it up and just like that, I secured my first GABP ball and ensured I would not be shut out.
But I needn’t worry about being shut out, because this legendary ball park lived up to the hype. It truly was the best ballhawking experience I’ve ever had at a major league stadium. Normally when I go to a ballpark for the first time, I don’t expect to put up large numbers and am happy with learning the lay of the land. With such an extended experience (due to the tour and early BP) and the fact that the stadium is fairly ballhawk friendly, the learning curve lasted only a few minutes and the balls started flowing.
I won’t bore you with details of every single one, but I’ll share a few of my favorite stories.
- I got a ball wearing my Devo energy dome and even caught the toss-up using nothing but the plastic helmet itself. I think that may be the first/only time a Devo energy dome has ever been used to catch an OMLB.
- Oliver Drake saw my glove and I offered him a chance to use it. He not only accepted, but he brought a ball with him and tossed it to me (without me asking for one). He proceeded to use it for a few minutes and even caught one at the warning track. The experience AFTER the catch was included in the video above.
- I may not have caught them on the fly, but I still got a couple hit balls off the bounce – one down the LF line and the other int he LF “bleachers.”
- I also got a gamer – 3rd out toss-up – from Orlando Arcia. The Brewers were incredibly generous, yet again.
And how about a few firsts/records? I have a list of them, too. It amazes me how I can be years into this hobby and still come across a new “first”/”record”.
- First time seeing the Reds play. I have now seen all 30 teams play in person.
- First time snagging double digits outside of Target Field in the regular season.
- Tied my regular season single game high (15).
- NON-BALLHAWKING/BASEBALL: First time biking from one state to another. I stayed in a hotel 1 mile from the stadium, but it was in Kentucky. I biked across a bridge to Ohio/GABP.
And that is Cincinnati, Great American Ball Park, and my 2017 road trips in a nutshell.
Thanks for reading this long-winded post. Now to reward you with TWO pictures!
Podcast from the gates of this game…
Ball 1 – Easter Egg (tour ball)
Ball 2 – Raisel Iglesias
Ball 3 – Jesse Winker
Ball 4 – Easter Egg
Ball 5 – Dustin Hughes
Ball 6 – Josh Hader
Ball 7 – Unknown Brewer (hit ball down LF line)
Ball 8 – Robinzon Diaz
Ball 9 – Unknown Brewer (BP homer in LF)
Ball 10 – Oliver Drake (for using my big glove)
Ball 11 – Keon Broxton
Ball 12 – Security Guard
Ball 13 – Unknown Brewer (toss-up into my Devo energy dome)
Ball 14 – Orlando Arcia (Zach Davies strikeout of Tucker Barnhart, Stephen Vogt toss to Orlando Arcia)
Ball 15 – Usher (Brewers dugout)
MVP Thank Yous:
- Cole – for saying hello and giving me some helpful advice
- David – for keeping me company and being a positive influence int he bleachers
As you may have been able to tell, I am running low on storage space via WordPress. I have resorted to posting one collage per post, but I miss having extra pix, especially showcasing some panos from new stadiums. If you have a good work around or would like to see them posted somewhere else, let me know. If interest is high enough, I could be swayed to additional platforms.