"Put me in coach, I'm ready to play...today."
I love baseball. More importantly, I love America's first professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Reds. Opening Day in Cincinnati is one of the biggest events of the year, as it should be. People take off work, kids get out of school early, and everyone focuses on the baseball game. There are certain things you can always look forward to when attending Red's games. The smell of fresh cut grass, teaching kids about the benefits of steroids, and lots and lots of drunk people. It never fails that the Red's get everyone's hopes up early in the year. But usually we'll see a Ken Griffey Jr. injury, horrible relief and closer pitching, and then some guy from AAA comes up big at the end of the season to be sure and instill "hope for next year".
We had great seats for Opening Day this year. Thanks Phil.
So there we were, Opening Day. What a setup. The New York Mets had a huge offseason and acquired the likes of Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez. The Reds gave up ahome run in the first inning. "Here we go again.", we thought. "Same ol' Reds". But in the bottom of the first, the Reds scored three runs on ahomer by Adam Dunn (see also "stud"). Well, we might have a game afterall. But we still had 8 more innings to get through, so I decided to start one of my favorite activities: people watching. It wasn't too long before I found a gem. He was a few rows in front of us and he was "that guy" all day long.
"Man I'm sure glad I'm not hanging drywall today."
I first noticed this gentleman whenthe stars and stripespeeked out from under his ball cap. Everyone attending the game that day gotten an American flag to wave during the National Anthem, but this guy had a vision. "What if I use it to keep my neck cool for the rest of the game" Brilliant. How do you think our soldiers overseas would feel, or those who fought so fearlessly in wars past if they knew that the symbol of freedom that they were shedding blood and giving up their lives for was being used by some hillbilly in Northern Kentucky to keep his neck from getting any "redder" I thought this might be the guy to watch for the rest of the game. Five minutes later, he tried to start "the wave" (see circa 1985). We are locked on target.
Pedro Martinez proceeded to shut down the next 15 batters, striking out 13 of them. By the 7th inning, the Mets were back on top 6-4. I had to get an update on our friend a few rows up, and sure enough I called it, the shirt had come off.
"It's such a nice day, maybe I won't go home and beat my illegitimate children afterall."
The innings kept rolling, the Reds kept getting out, and this guy kept drinking. He was starting to get loud and yell at everyone from the cotton candy girl to the umpire behind the plate. This guy was getting hammered, and I started to realize why they chose to use plastic beer bottles at the stadium. Phil was getting prettyintoxicated himself at this point, but at least he behaves himself and keeps it fun. He's one of the funniest "non-comics" I know, and a big Reds fan. He's the best.
Phil and I in the stands.
In all fairness, the bald guy wasn't the only one deterring my attention from the game. The guy behind me was even worse. Why is there always some white trash father who decides to take his mullet-head kids to the baseball game and proceed to explain everything they're ever learned about baseball which usually boils down to video games and memorizing "Bull Durham" Every pitch, every play, this guy feels the need to explain to his entire row what just happened. And you can't turn around and correct him everytime. One time I wanted to just turn around and awe his children with something even he didn't know. "You see kids, that pop-up to the shortstop is called a 'can of corn'. It's a term that refers back to the old grocery store days when the clerks couldn't reach the items on the top shelf. They'd have to use the end of a broomstick to knock the can off of the shelf and then they'd catch it in their apron...'can of corn'." (see EA SportsTriple Play Baseball2004 for Playstation). What's our other friend up to...
"Say it to my face."
Don't ask me what he's yelling about, I have no idea. but I had to snap a quick pic. Have you no shame sir So here we are in the 9th inning, Reds still losing 6-4. The Cincinnati Reds unfaithful started to leave the park. Not us. The first guy up, Austin Kearns got a base hit to lead off the 9th. Adam Dunn stepped in and sent his second home run of the game over the fence. I told you he was a stud. All of a sudden, it's 6-6. The place is ROCKING! This was the first time I saw people stop and return to their seats when they were about to leave. Suddenly, the stadium was packed again and people are going nuts. Enter Joe Randa. Joe Randa's first game as a Cincinnati Red since being picked up from the Kasas City Royals in the offseason. He'd had a great game so far, but with one pitch, Joe Randa put a ball over the left field wall giving the Cincinnati Reds their first ever walk-off home run in the history of the club. One word: pandamonium.
The tall stacks came alive as the Reds start the season 1-0.
What'll happen from here Who knows. The Reds are in one of the toughest divisions in baseball. But who cares really There will still be white trash people with their shirts off getting drunk and using "Old Glory" instead of sunscreen. There will still be home runs and overpriced parking. And we'll keep going to the games, cheering for the Reds, buying peanuts and cracker jacks. And to be honest, I don't care if I ever get back.
Hope to see you out there...