Category Archives: Dispatches

The Night the Reds offense Put me to sleep at the Ballpark

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[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com]

I went down to Cincinnati last night with my buddy Joe to see Bryce Harper take some cuts. I was one of the 38,812 last night in a stadium that seemed packed to the rafters. A stadium that was so very quiet all night long because the Reds collected just four hits and as they so often do when the stadium is a sell-out; they just let down.

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Jayson Werth didn’t get any knocks last night, here he is after reaching base on a walk.

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One of the cool parts of the game was a Bald Eagle flying in from center field after the National Anthem. I think his name was Sam the Eagle.

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Alfredo Simon just didn’t have it last evening. He went 4 and 1/3, gave up nine hits and three earned runs. Denard Span owned the Reds last night, tuning them up for four hits on his own.

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Man, Jay Bruce is really struggling. He didn’t really sting anything all night long, and he’s down now to .219 on the season. I don’t know what is wrong with him. I hate to say it, but perhaps he just needs a change of scenery. There’s no reason for a player of his caliber to be having a season like this. Star players simply do not struggle in this matter. It’s painful to sit back and watch him endure.

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The biggest thing that Bryce Harper did last night was robbing Billy Hamilton of extra bases with a web gem, top-ten catch. It appeared that he re-injured himself at first. Always the fear with Harper. We’ve got video of the catch below:

Harper went 1 for 4 with a hit off Alfredo Simon, a walk, and a run. I didn’t realize during the game that he actually tweaked his stance again.

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Here is the Budweiser Party Deck out in Right Field. It was a happening spot last night on a beautiful Friday evening just off the river. One of the only spots that Reds fans could generate any excitement. One of my friends who texted me while I was at the game remarked that ‘beer sales were probably up last night’. He had to have been correct. I had six on my own in about forty minutes. That combined with the Reds offense made me feel really tired.

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Baseball Gods: help Jay Bruce turn this thing around.

Sometimes you’re just proud of a player

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[Box Score]

It’s a funny thing. Jay Bruce is still our favorite player. Other guys might be more exciting, other guys are a more captivating watch, other guys are just plain better; and he’s not the superstar we were certain at points he would be. He’s a good player. But we’ve said it before, Jay Bruce is just our sentimental favorite. There’s no one that can take that place and hold it in baseball, no matter how low his batting average gets. No matter how inconsistent he remains. No matter when the end comes of him wearing a Reds uniform.

We couldn’t wait to get to the park to see him play today, just like that first magical night when he made his MLB debut. And then the next night when we went back. We talked with our wife about how Bruce has actually been with the Reds now for parts of SEVEN seasons! It seems like yesterday that we were watching Bruce in big league game numbers one and two. Today, was Bruce’s 899th big league game. It was the first game we’ve gone to with our pregnant wife. It seemed like when we started watching Jay Bruce we were still immature children. Life – and baseball – can blend time and be weird like that. Nonetheless I was excited to see Jay Bruce play today, just for some reason I had a feeling about something.

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We got out of our car and parked in a choice spot. The sun seemed to be shining on the Redlegs from the time we got out of the car, as it was a beautiful day for baseball. Was it foreshadowing that the sun would shine upon the Reds on this day?

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I told my wife that Yovani Gallardo was Jay Bruce’s ‘type’. That he could get one today off him. If you can fight through what my iPhone did to the Reds jumbotron here, you can see he had great career numbers against Gallardo. He would groundout for an RBI in his first at-bat, fly out against the wall in left-center in his second AB, and hit a rocket line out to center in his third. His fourth at-bat wouldn’t come against Gallardo, but rather Will Smith. And Jay Bruce won the Reds the game.

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Here’s a picture of the Reds Smokehouse out in the right field corner. The food options are a little pricey, but they feature really cool special menu items that change with each opposing team that comes to town. For the Brewers, they were serving beer-soaked bratwurst.

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I just realized the All-Star Selection show was tonight when I saw this advertisement for the All Star Game at the stadium. Todd Frazier and Devin Mesoraco are All Stars for the first time.

I would like you to remember back to the Reds season preview post we did for a moment. Here’s what we said:

Ryan Ludwick returns from injury. He’s really aging, so I don’t expect much. I think the Reds will get less than people want to see out of Ludwick and Cozart and they’ll be pleasantly surprised with how much Mesoraco and Todd Frazier hit. Frazier is one of my breakout player candidates in all of baseball. He has an ugly swing but I think he’s simply too talented to flop completely and that park will aid his numbers in a great way.

Bada-bing bada boom.

 

 

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We’re on our way to the game and I’m listening to Sirius MLB Network radio and Jim Bowden tells us that the Reds owner is in the clubhouse and something big is going down. Joey Votto was actually headed to the disabled list, again. So this is the only Votto sighting we had today.

Mat Latos went eight strong innings and carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning. Todd Frazier had two hits and Devin Mesoraco had three. But the take-home from today was Jay Bruce.

On a day when baseball selected it’s All-Stars, Bruce wasn’t on the list. He has had better seasons, and he will certainly have better seasons. His stats are pretty and his teammates have dropped like flies all season around him, he’s even had knee surgery. But he’s continued to grind – because that’s the type of player he is. Even within the game today, he had to grind. He drilled a couple of balls right at people and just when it seemed he couldn’t buy a hit and the average is plummeting, he steps up in the bottom of the 8th inning and hits a towering home run off a lefty that made George Grande sing, voice cracking like a schoolgirl.

I’ll always love Jay Bruce. I have no way of knowing how many pages to the scrapbook I’ll be able to add to before the game has decided time has run out for us, but today was yet another. Our time has not come yet. I’m still really thankful Jay Bruce is playing in my big league city and hitting in the middle of the lineup. Sometimes, it’s easiest to love those who have their glaring imperfections because they’re like the rest of us. It’s easy to love Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera right now. These guy are the perfect ballplayers. We’ll still take Jay Bruce with his warts and these big moments that mean all that much more.

Baseball Weekend in Washington DC

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[Box Score - Friday]
[Box Score - Saturday]

I can cross another bucket list item off my list, and another ballpark. Another city down, one less to go before I see them all. My experience in DC was a good one, so get ready for a photo heavy post with lots of commentary about baseball and everything else in between I experienced.

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A PERFECT Summer Night at Great American Ball Park

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[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com]

Last night was a fun game that I attended with some guys from work, and it featured a little bit of something for everyone. The highlight of the night was this majestic opposite-field blast from Jay Bruce, his 13th home run on the season:

And that wasn’t the only long ball we saw. Zach Cozart and Todd Frazier had upper deck jobs (I missed Frazier’s because I was grabbing a beer for my buddy) and Joey Votto snuck one out the other way.

I also loved Starling Marte’s unreal catch to rob Brandon Phillips of extra bases – at least – you could say I ‘appreciated’ it.

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I’ve never really taken a shot of the Great American Insurance building behind the park. Here it is in all of it’s glory.

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Bruce warming up before the start of an inning. And I think the kid on the right field line who warms him up every inning *might* be the nephew of Walt Jocketty or Bob Castellini. Something is up with this kid. He throws worse than a woman. He is scared to death of the ball. Anything thrown his way where Bruce puts anything on the ball and the kid looks like he wants to run out of the way and allow a fan to take the brunt of it. He short-hopped Bruce multiple times. He is a special brand of hideous.

You are a big league team; and that’s the best you can do with a ball boy? Something is rotten in Denmark with this.

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Here’s Andrew McCutchen. Love watching the guy play. He did his thing with a couple of line drives for base hits, and took his usual bean ball to the middle of the back later in the game.

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“Strikeouts for LaRosa’s” is new at the ball park this year. It’s a deal where you get a free small LaRosa’s pizza when Reds pitchers strike out 11 hitters or more in a game. The Reds didn’t give anyone strikeout pizza last night but that’s okay because I’m on a diet and LaRosa’s is kind of overrated. It’s like the Cincinnati equivalent of Donato’s.

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We had fourth-row seats out in right field behind our version of The Mick. It was a great night for a ballgame. I’ve sat in a lot worse then mid-80 degree heat and all night the weather stayed clear.

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And any perfect night at the park is capped off with Aroldis Chapman coming into the game throwing 99 MPH heat, and ended with him striking out a hitter with a 101 MPH fastball. He also threw inside on Neil Walker before striking him out in absolutely demeaning fashion.

First Trip to PNC Park

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[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com] [Pittsburgh Post Gazette]

Another ballpark has been crossed off the list. Another bucket list item fulfilled. The fact that I got to see my favorite team win 6-0 and Johnny Cueto threw a one-hitter was just icing on the cake of what was a great night in my charmed life.

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The day started immediately with a trip to Primanti Brothers. I would give it five stars out of five. We parked our car and went to the original location, and I would recommend that anyone going to Pittsburgh for the first time does the same thing.

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Here’s the famous mural of Pittsburgh folk on the wall in the original Primanti Bros. I could sit and stare at it for hours it’s so well done. This is where you get a sense of the rich tradition that this town has from it’s sport. Clemente is a God-like figure in these parts. He sits in the middle of the mural, symbolically.

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Look at Jimmy Leyland there! This is just awesome. Let’s do one more.

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Willie Pops Stargell says hello.

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I didn’t get a shirt because I didn’t carry any cash with me (stupid move). But I did get a couple of items that were pretty damn solid.

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Best sandwich I’ve ever had in my life, the corned beef at Primanti Bros. It’s a little over six bucks I think. So good in fact that I had one also after the game (in which I only remember a little bit).

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And here’s Iron City Light. It’s really not that light and does have some bite to it. Kind of reminded me of when I used to steal my dad’s Michelob out of the fridge. Those Michelob’s weren’t all that tasty but they were the only beer there. I don’t know, I drank these because I was in Pittsburgh. Then I went ahead and had about six more.

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We stopped at this cigar bar after Primanti Brothers. What I remember about getting to this great place – which is called ‘Leaf & Bean’ for the homemade coffee they brew – is that you have to walk through a cool little market district to get there that has a lot of family owned businesses and farmer’s market type stops along the way. Very cool little section of Pittsburgh.

We talked shop with some cigar salesman who were very hospitable to my friends and I. For purchasing our cigars they allowed us a shot of some really good rum. And then pretty soon they were talking hockey, cities, and baseball with us and just letting us pass that rum around the table. Great cigars too. A perfect way to start any ballpark tour.

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And then it was time to head to the ballpark.

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When it was finally time to head to the stadium, we had to walk across the Roberto Clemente Bridge.

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In my opinion, this here above is one of the most beautiful views in all of baseball. This is where you finally start to get an idea that you’re about to see a special stadium.

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And once you get across that bridge, here is what you see. I missed the Willie Stargell statue and could have gotten a pick of it on the walk back to our parking garage after we spent the night; but I had a skull rattling hangover and my cell phone camera was dead and somehow; and this is the craziest part of all, but yes somehow I had maintained by camera all night long only to have lost the batteries within it. You tell me how that happens.

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Alright so according to MLB The Show 13 this is supposed to be ‘Bucco Blasts’. I know this because, well; I also have a Pirates franchise going on the game. I think this is one of the coolest items in any stadium.

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So when we entered the stadium we actually had the chance to bullshit for Sean Casey for a little bit. He’s always been a great guy, I remember actually talking to him back when I lived in Cincinnati when he would climb into the Diamond Club seats at Great American and take pictures with fans. He’s truly one of the best guys who have ever played the game of baseball.

And I owned him in fantasy baseball in 1999. What a summer that was for him. He was riding in the high .380’s in that summer. And right then I thanked him for 1999. He got a big kick out of that and right away he remembered what a year that was for him and the Reds. I then asked him if he still talks to Adam Dunn at all, naturally. He said he saw Dunn in Spring Training and they still stay in touch. He said he went out with Dunn in Spring Training and couldn’t handle it. “I’ve got three kids at home and Dunner tried to close down every bar, I can’t hang with him anymore.”

I then asked him how much longer he thinks Dunn will play – he said pretty quickly he thinks Dunn has one more season left in him, tops. This is a man who knows and has been around the game. Time will tell if he’s right.

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Would you look at that skyline! Just look at it!

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Here’s the pirates jacking around before the game. Andrew McCutchen center stage.

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One of the best all around players in baseball on display for us. Andrew McCutchen went 0 for 2 against Johnny Cueto with a hit by pitch. He didn’t come to bat a fourth time because the Pirates only collected one hit. I kind of wanted to see him do something big, but just to say I saw him play live in Pittsburgh is a pretty cool deal and worth the price of admission.

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And there he is in centerfield in front of those ‘PIRATES’ hedge bushes. If you hit a home run into those bushes as a Pirates player on MLB The Show 13 you unlock a code or trophy of some type.

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And our boy Jay Bruce had a signature game with us in attendance at the yard. Here’s his 8th home run of the season – this cost us a round of beers after we had just bought a round. This is the happiest I’ve ever been to buy back to back rounds of cold ones.

The Memorial Day that Belonged to Joey Votto and the Reds

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I’ve been to what seems like hundreds of baseball games. After being at today’s Indians-Reds game, I’ll never forget the Memorial Day game-winning home run that I saw a future Hall of Famer hit with my wife and our two friends (unfortunate for them, they are Indians fans).

Take a look at the home run and the context of it so you can gain a full appreciation of how incredible it really was.

I got texts after Votto hit the home run that he was actually choked up off the knob of the bat. He hit it into the opposite field stands – something he does often but isn’t appreciated enough. He hit it off a left-handed reliever. And of course, as soon as it left the bat you knew that the hometown team was going to win the ballgame. It wasn’t a walk-off shot, but teams don’t come back from the kind of home run that Votto hit earlier today. It was the baseball equivalent of the dagger. Every Indians fan in the park knew it.

For all the talk of prospects and Trouts and Cabrera’s and Harper’s and players around baseball, the Reds have one of the best two or three in the entire game playing at their park and he’s going to be there for another decade.

It felt like about 95 degrees in the right field Sun Deck today and I thought we were going to be sitting there a while after Jason Giambi demolished this ball off the centerfield batter’s eye to tie the game 2-2.

So the pools are all open. Memorial Day happened. Summer is here. I saw the Redlegs win 4-2 today, and 5-2 on Saturday with my wife, dad and sister.

The lasting image that will stay with me from the weekend was Joey Votto in that cool camouflage uniform, leaving another opponent in his wake.

Stephen Strasburg vs. Johnny Cueto on a Sunday

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[Box Score]

So I went back to the ballpark today and it was a hot one. I came home with a sunburn and a feeling of satisfaction after the Reds worked over one of the finest talents in the game of baseball today.

It was the second time I have seen Strasburg throw live.

Click through the jump to see Strasburg’s bullpen session as well as other photos and commentary.

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One of the most entertaining games I’ve ever attended

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[Box Score]

First off, in this game there were six home runs hit. Five of them were by the Nationals.

Now that’s exciting, because most games you attend don’t feature six home runs in today’s game. Great American ballpark played like Great American. Even my wife said the game was exciting and made it through three hours and thirty minutes of baseball with a fair amount of whooping and hollering.

For a recap on the rest of the day and more photos, click through the jump.
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Game 21, 2012: Reds make it a Perfect Saturday at the Ball Park

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com] [Better Off Red] [Mark Sheldon]

Couple of random take home points about yesterday’s game, which was one of my favorite Reds games I’ve been to:

  1. It was the best game that Jay Bruce has had that I’ve been to, if you’re not counting his MLB debut. The home run was a bomb. The defensive double-play assist. The double down the line. Four RBI’s. Huge day for Bruce.
  2. Johnny Cueto was dominant, and working quickly. The game was just 2 hours, 23 minutes. He went seven shutout innings and after the first he never really was under any type of duress.
  3. Zach Cozart made the play of the year–probably the finest play I’ve seen made live at a game. From the seat of his pants. Check out that play HERE.
  4. We got to see Aroldis Chapman pitch. He struck out Chris Snyder with a 99 MPH fastball to end the game.
  5. The Reds wore the red jerseys for the rare Saturday, 4:00 PM start home game. I like the 4:00 PM start quite a bit I think. I like 1:00 PM Saturday home games more, but the Reds seem to do it once a year, tops.
  6. We saw the same guy in the crowd catch two consecutive foul balls in this one. Never seen that before.
  7. This game came during Mike Trout’s return to the big leagues and prior to watching Bryce Harper’s MLB debut later on in the night.
  8. The drive to Cincinnati seems a lot shorter after driving to Wrigleyville last weekend.
  9. I appreciate Logan Ondrusek almost beyond words. It’s great having a guy with that kind of stuff in our bullpen.
  10. [blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/#!/DiamondHoggers/status/196269480123441153"]
  11. This was one of the best Saturday’s I’ve ever spent at the park. It reminded me so much of this April 27, 2002 game I was on hand for. It’s funny because I didn’t realize it was about 10 years to the day.
  12. I got to the ballpark and somehow the batteries in my camera died. All the pictures below are off my iPhone.

The Bartman Seat

Aisle 4, row 8, seat 113.

To think one man’s curse was the main attraction of my afternoon at Wrigley. This is where it all went down. Where the Cubs were so close (with Dusty Baker at the helm) yet so far away. I remember that October 14th night in 2003 like it was yesterday. Sitting on my futon on a Tuesday night after a fall practice having a few Natural lights with my buddies. I didn’t think anything of it at the time. I didn’t care about the Cubs or the Marlins.

From that night forward, I would be in pursuit of a visit to this seat for almost a full decade before claiming the destination finalized.

I’m very thorough, you see. It wasn’t good enough to walk up to the Bartman seat and snap a simple picture. I had to get it from every possible angle. I don’t even remember if I sat in the damn thing I was so giddy and excited. Pretty soon others surrounding us realized exactly what I was doing, and exactly what spot I was in. They started to copycat, and take pictures of the seat before climbing in it one family member at a time. No one ever really said a word of what the seat was or represented. I can tell you one thing though: when I told the usher I wanted to see the Bartman seat; he led the way like he had done it 1000 times before.

I touched the railing and tried to soak it in. Bartman was looking at this before Moises Alou came over and threw his tantrum. I wish I knew where Bartman was right now. I would do just about anything to meet the guy. If you ever read this Steve, you only did what myself or millions of others out there would have done in the same situation. Real fans don’t fault you. And if I can play Nostradamus for a moment, I think that someday off in time awaits when Bartman comes out of hiding and is embraced by Cubs fans everywhere.

The Cubs are going to have to win a World Series for this to happen. But it will happen. As I wrote last year, Bartman will be forgiven then and brought out of hiding. I hope I’m around to see it. I hope I’m in Chicago for that matter.

One last look at the Bartman seat, with Mrs. Diamond Hoggers in the background probably telling me to get a life or asking if we can go check out something else.

I had to visit this spot of the baseball world and get it on the blog. As sad of a part of history as it is, it remains an enormous part of baseball-lore and will forever. I’m glad I got to see it.

Our First Wrigley Field Trip

I finally made it to Wrigley Field. It took me nearly 30 years in my life to make the trek some 6 hours and 15 seconds north, but I made it. It didn’t matter that I saw my Reds lose 6-1 in front of a crowd of 38,405.

It was the number one thing on my bucket list. As I looked up into the sky this past Saturday afternoon, I could have died right there a happy man. Here is the story of my day in Wrigleyville. And to think I was in Chicago the day Phil Humber threw his perfect game.

This was moments after my first view of the Wrigley Field marquee. I know I was acting like a child because our friends that live in Wrigleyville were laughing at me. I snapped a bunch of pictures and basically acted like most first timers probably do. Actually, maybe more excessive than that. But there’s no words to describe what I felt when I first saw it.

All I know is I’ve wanted to be at this spot for as long as I can remember. I first remembered seeing it in the intro to “Perfect Strangers”.

We decided to post up at the Cubby Bear. We had about an hour and half to kill, and there’s nothing better than drinking a few cold 312’s across from Wrigley Field with it in plain view out the window. As for the Cubby Bear, there were a fair amount of Reds fans on hand doing the same thing. Also, the best chilli I’ve ever had in my life; including Skyline. Sorry Cincinnati. It’s true.

Another full on view of the marquee just before we were ready to head inside.

This is a giant macaroni noodle. It’s significance is unknown by me at the present time, but I’m guessing Wrigley owns Kraft or something like that? Or there’s some type of long-standing partnership existing. It’s just cool and others were taking pictures of it so I made like the tourist I was and decided to get it before I dug into the meat and potatoes of the stadium.

Check out these old timers playing brass instruments outside the stadium before you enter the park! Now this is a ballpark!

When I went inside, I told my wife the first thing we were doing is heading to the Bartman seat. If Wrigley Field was bucket list item numero uno, this was easily 1a. More on this to come in the following post, but I can cross off Steve Bartman’s seat off my list as well.

This is about the moment I kept saying to my wife “can you even believe we’re really here?” I guess it’s one of those moments every die-hard baseball fan who reads this blog can relate to. Wrigley Field is unlike any other ballpark on this earth. This little Midwestern gem sits in the middle of a neighborhood. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live in Chicago and be able to walk over to the game some weekend afternoon. There’s probably a good reason I wasn’t born into that position, because I would find myself doing it far too often.

I continually found myself taking in each moment slowly, trying to savor it all. Suddenly I realized yet another different quality than I had at any other park I’ve been to. There was a song playing, but it was all by the organ. It was beautiful. And I knew the song but I just couldn’t think of it. As I looked around at everything I’ve waited three decades to see, I had to guess the song. It was Whitney Houston’s “Dance with Somebody”. I don’t think I ever enjoyed the regular rendition that much.

There she is folks, the beauty in all of her glory. Look how green the ivy is.

Pretty good view of the left field Wrigley rooftop with ‘Hey Hey’ on the left field foul pole. Someday I’ll be back to sit in those bleachers where Sammy used to hit em’.

Just another shot from around Bartman central that I had to have.

Here’s something else that makes it an old-time ballpark. I imagine I looked pretty weird snapping a picture while taking a leak, but oh well. I had to do this to give you an idea of the full experience. The next thing I knew I was thinking about the guy who did the Pete Rose headfirst slide in one of these a few years back. At least I’m not him.

Just another pregame shot of beautiful Wrigley. It was a cool day but the sun was shining.

Check out the old style rafters above, as well as the pillar built into the seats. It’s different from the stadiums that go up today, but that’s what gives all the character. I’m told there’s something else different about this stadium than other parks. The visitors clubhouse isn’t down below the dugout like most parks but above where you see right here. I never knew that until a fan who had done a Wrigley tour shared that with me as I was taking this picture.

Here’s the right field Wrigley rooftops. Free advertisement here, someday I’ll be checking out Wrigleyrooftops.com and setting up a game from there. I hear it’s $120 for all you can eat and drink. It might have came in handy for us on this day.

One of my favorite shots of the entire day.

There’s the legendary manually operated scoreboard in deep center field. And it keeps accurate time!

Waiting for the game to start, little did I know that the Reds weren’t going to be hunting for a sweep come Sunday at this point.

I ended up sneaking down a little closer (and in the sunlight) for the first inning to get some good pictures. It was amazing how friendly all of the fans in the stands were to us. I attribute this to the Cubs just not being competitive for so long. The people don’t feel threatened. They’re just die-hard baseball fans. Knowledgeable. There to take in the atmosphere just like me.

And here’s Downthelinerooftop.com, in case you want to sit in the rooftops in foul territory.

To think we live such a life in such a place. That’s Joey Votto running and warming up on the field by the way.

Paul Maholm seems to have the Reds number. And when I showed up at the park wearing my Jay Bruce jersey, I was upset to find that Dusty held Bruce out of the lineup because he was 2 for 15 lifetime against Maholm. What he needed to be told was that I came all the way from Ohio to see a Bruce Bomb at Wrigley Field, and Jay’s two hits off Maholm lifetime were both dingers.

Votto getting ready for his first inning at-bat. It was a long day for Joey. It seems like he homers every time my wife and I are at the park together. It wasn’t meant to be on this day. Votto went 0 for 3 with a walk and a couple of strikeouts.

Future Reds Hall of Famer at the plate.

And again. My wife and I don’t do shots anymore. We stopped doing that a long time ago. But I told her I bet her that Joey Votto would go deep today. She said not going to happen. I told her if it happens, we’re doing shots after the game, my choice. Joey saved her from a hangover.

Mike Leake, little do you know you’re about to get pounded all afternoon, Wrigley Field style. I don’t like Leake’s stuff one bit. After 10 hits and five earned runs over 5 and 1/3, Leake would hit the showers. He just wasn’t fooling anyone.

Here’s the main attraction for the Cubbies, Starlin Castro. He had a couple of knocks and added a triple.

I think Starlin Castro is going to have an Alex Rodriguez type of career in Cubbie land.

Dan Patrick sung the seventh inning stretch. One of my favorite pictures of the entire day.

Carlos Marmol is one of my fantasy baseball closers. I like his tools and his skills a lot. He has great stuff. The one thing I disregarded is that Marmol isn’t going to save a lot of games this year. The Cubs aren’t going to win a lot of games, and even in this appearance it was a non-save opportunity. He’s still one of my favorite pitchers in baseball and I got to see him in the 9th on the mound at Wrigley. Unfortunately my team was butter to his hot knife.

Get ready, Reds. Carlos Marmol is gonna send them home happy with their fourth win of the young season.

And Marmol was dealing. If you got up to go to the bathroom like my wife did, you would have missed Marmol’s 13 pitches altogether. Guy was pitching like he was double-parked. And he quickly dispersed of three Reds hitters in order to seal the win down, dismissing thousands of Cubs fans to their afternoon date with a local watering hole of their choice.

Here’s one last look at Wrigley Field from behind home plate before I exited the turnstiles. What a day. What an experience. I don’t know how long it will be until I return, but I will be back.

We finished up the afternoon over at Murphy’s Bleachers bar. Which should be a whole new post all in itself. There I met a couple of salesmen Reds fans from Iowa, a bridal party–and the brother was on hand said he was really good friends with Patrick Kane. I met about 100 other strangers who seemed like my best friend for 10 or so minutes. I sang “Go Cubs Go” while wearing a Reds jersey. A few beers make you do funny things. My wife asked me when we’re moving to Wrigleyville.

One of the greatest baseball and life experiences I had ever been a part of was in the books.

Finally Making the Trip to Wrigley Field

Due to the kind act of my step-brother, tomorrow I’ll cross one main item off my sports bucket list.

I’m going to Wrigley Field. And as an added bonus I get to see the Reds play. Life is good.

Going up to Wrigley Field is one of those things along with going to Shea Stadium a few years back, somehow making it to Chavez Ravine, and hitting up Beantown and Fenway Park; I’ve been daydreaming about since I was a kid. So many lull afternoons spent watching WGN growing up because it was the only game on. Wrigley field seemed like this far off mystical place that I was told existed, but I never thought I would be able to record my own experiences about it.

I can’t believe I’m going to get to visit the Steve Bartman seat (Section 4, Row 8, Seat 113). The Cubby Bear and Murphy’s Bleachers.With the places that exist in that city, and the lush sports history that I can’t get enough of; it’s probably a good thing I haven’t allowed myself to discover Chicago until now.

I’ll have a full report on my dispatch to Wrigley Field up sometime soon. This day can’t end quickly enough.

bautista

Our Trip to Cleveland to see Joey Bats

[Box Score]

[Toronto Star]

Originally, my wife and I were going to attend Opening Night in Cincinnati. My uncle mentioned that we were invited the day before Easter to see the Tribe play the Blue Jays in Cleveland. I wanted to see Jose Bautista–after all I’ve never seen him play. I owed this to myself.

It was enjoyable, cool early April afternoon and I’m glad we went North rather than South on this first MLB Saturday of the season.

I won’t lie, it’s always going to be “The Jake” to me. Nevertheless, I’ve had a lot of good memories at this park. There’s something special about a weekend afternoon game in Cleveland. Maybe it was the Bertman’s.

I didn’t get to see Bautista hit a bomb or anything, he went 0 for 4 with a walk. He homered the night before and was probably all tuckered out from playing the longest extra inning game (16 innings) to open an MLB season in history the night before.

A view below of what used to be Pronkville. An area that used to be in some demand now has few inhabitants. Notice the Horseshoe Casino advertisement, due to open up in May. I hope it’s kinder to me than Las Vegas has been over the course of my young life.

Ubaldo Jimenez brought his ‘A’ stuff on this afternoon. This was the longest game that I’ve ever been at before in which a pitcher has carried a no-hitter. Jimenez took his 6 and 2/3 innings before allowing a single to Brett Lawrie that also let the shutout get away from him due to a walk and a wild pitch.

I came away impressed by Jimenez, he was mid 90’s on a cold afternoon and if he can get his control going better he’s going to have a nice season.

Cleveland cityscape. It’s a cool city I suppose, though I rank it behind Cincinnati and Indianapolis in a lot of categories.

Tell me that isn’t a weird line score. My uncle and I were discussing if there were to be a walk-off homer and no other base hits in the game and the game ended 2-1, has that ever happened before? Had to get the bizarro world linescore on the blog.

Hairy Buffaloes in Cleveland. My wife had to pee after we parked. As sorry as this Chief Wahoo looks, he would look sorrier before the afternoon ended.

What, we’re advertising on foul poles now? Cleveland has officially became a foul pole advertising franchise. You should be real proud of yourselves, Indians. I’m told by my friend who is a Tribe fan that these were like this last year, but I don’t buy it. I would have noticed.

Life imitates Hollywood. Shades of Major League when the Indians players show up to the park and there are ads absolutely everywhere.

We sat in the club, ate way too much food, and enjoyed a 12-inning Blue Jays victory. Sorry, Cleveland. It’s going to be another long summer for you. At least you have the warmth of the memories (speaking of, I met Carlos Baerga before the game) and the Browns to look forward to.

Scratch that. At least you had the 1995 and 1997 Indians, a lot more than any other fans can be promised to ever experience. Like Tom Petty says ‘the good old days might not return’ but at least there are good old days to look back on.

Cincinnati Opening Day 2012: The Perfect Opening Day

[Box Score]

MLB.com Highlights | Cincinnati.com

From Jay Bruce’s bomb off Edward Mujica to dead center field to Johnny Cueto shutting down the Marlins offense all day long, to the pregame beers and the post-game euphoria; this was probably my favorite Opening Day in Cincinnati to date. Bob Castellini saying that the All-Star game would be coming to Cincinnati was like a cherry on top.

My 8th straight Opening Day in Cincinnati will be my favorite for a while I feel like.

 

We started the day off at the In Between Tavern. Nice view of the stadium there in the background. We could have and probably should have headed over to the newly developed area directly across from the ballpark (Holy Grail, Kenny Chesney’s Bar, etc.) but we went old school to the first place we could walk into. And I’ve been at In Between Tavern a few times before Reds games in my life. A few times too many.

We guzzled some beers, met some folks from Columbus, and started talking 2012 Reds, memorabilia, and then the day’s first odd omen happened.

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I really had no clue. I just guessed. And ’53’ did pop into my head.

It’s slightly different than when I was a little kid, but there’s still nothing like that first view of the year of the field from inside the stadium. There’s something magical about it.

Here’s a good look at our seats right on the right field foul pole. It was $110 a piece for these. Probably should have went the StubHub route, but at least we were in. You never forget where you sat on an Opening Day. A lot of other games might blend together, but you will always remember exactly where you sat on Opening Day.

Here’s a view of the F-15 flyover at the end of the National Anthem. We had the best seat in the house for that!

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I crushed a few more stadium beers. The peanuts tasted as fine as they ever have. But I need something a little more filling to tide me over.

Mmmmm Skyline Chilli. How I’ve missed you. To think my wife has been doing Weight Watchers so strictly, and I’m off at the Opening Day Reds game crushing beers and slamming chilli dogs. I’m going to have to do intense cardio every day for the next month to burn off all the junk I took down yesterday.

Another kind of cool shot you could probably do without but I had to get it on here somewhere.

Second great omen of the day. I NAILED the scoreboard stumper in about 5 seconds. The question was ‘Five different catchers have started for the Reds at Great American Ball Park on Opening Day. Name them.’

  1. David Ross
  2. Javier Valentin
  3. Ryan Hanigan
  4. Ramon Hernandez
  5. Jason LaRue

Sometimes I nail the stumper, but I’ve never gotten it that quickly before.

The game had ended with Sean Marshall slamming the door, after Bruce’s crushing homer to dead center and Aroldis Chapman dominating a couple of hitters that stood no chance.

I was buzzed, and I was riding high. There was an atmosphere that I had never seen before outside the stadium when we headed back to the In Between Tavern for a victory beer before heading back to our car and making the trip home.

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And though there was some beer muscles going on when I said it, I do believe it. I do think the Reds are about to embark upon something special this season. Cincinnati deserves it as a city. The time has finally arrived. It’s going to be a summer of love, people.

Opening day in Cincinnati 2012 is now just a memory.

Votto’s first game under the extension (of course, he got a knock). Cueto’s seven shutout innings. Bruce’s blast to center to put it away. Cozart had a couple hits. Ryan Ludwick’s debut. Chris Heisey got a double off the wall. Chapman and Marshall’s domination. The beers. My buddy. High-fiving stranger after stranger in the streets after the game.

To think we get to live such a life.