I saw the greatest Home Run Derby of all time last night live and in person at Great American Ballpark. Here are some notes, and you can click through for the photos.
That national anthem, sung by Marlana VanHoose was awesome. Should have known after hearing that it was going to be a special night.
And if the anthem wasn’t enough; in the first round when Sean Casey caught that random ball off the bat of Josh Donaldson; the Redlegs should have known it was going to be a night of good fortune.
Last night was the loudest I have ever heard Great American Ballpark in any capacity. The crowd was rabid, ferocious, and absolutely wore themselves out for Todd Frazier. I screamed at points until my throat felt like leather.
They’ll talk about what Todd Frazier did last night forever in Cincinnati. This will be one of those things that is replayed forever in Cincinnati sports lore and in Home Run Derby moments, and I was there to see it.
It was amazing how bad the weather was before – and after the derby – yet it was perfect for that several hour window to watch all the All Stars take batting practice and of course watch Todd Frazier create the signature moment of All Star week.
Bryce Harper hit about three moonshot home runs in batting practice in a row into the teeth of a pretty good crosswind blowing right to left in right field.
I almost got a foul ball from Todd Frazier’s nephew during batting practice. Yet, some guy using a glove slapped it out of my grasp. Opportunity gone forever.
I really liked the new Home Run Derby format. Without it, we weren’t given the dramatics and buzzer beaters.
Pretty sure I saw grown men crying in the crowd after Todd won the Derby and Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ was blaring on the loudspeakers. A special moment. It is hard to get chills anymore at a sporting event, but I had them last night.
All Star Fanfest was really cool – probably the best collection of sports memorabilia I’ve ever seen as part of a charity auction in one room of Fanfest – but we were only able to stay for a short while because we wanted to get in to the stadium when the park opened.
The Reds are about to decapitate their team core; yet in this disappointing season of losing, Todd Frazier lifted the Reds and their franchise for a night at the center of the baseball world. As we left the park, we were yelling about being winners with other fans. I saw drunk people running down 5th & Vine street traffic giving high fives to cars. Cincinnati loves an All Star game.
It’s so hard to believe it’s the All Star Break. Where the heck has this summer gone? I think having an eight month old makes the summer feel like it’s five minutes long.
That said, the festivities take place in our home state this year. Because our wife is lovely, she surprised us with tickets to the derby. This won’t be our first derby – we went in 1997 when it was at Jacobs Field when some guy named Nomar Garciaparra won the Rookie Home Run Derby and Tino Martinez won the real thing – but we are definitely excited since it’s been some 18 years since we’ve seen an event like this live.
Chris Berman will be there on the mic to drown out our conversations with friends and other fans. The derby is sponsored by Head and Shoulders. We just now realized that we just don’t watch ESPN anymore for baseball coverage. Back when we attended our last derby, Berman and company from the Worldwide Leader in sports were almost as famous to us as the players participating in it.
This year, the field leaves a little to be desired but there’s still a lot to like. We kind of hope Anthony Rizzo wins the thing, or the Toddfather in front of the home town crowd. It’s kind of cool that old Albert Pujols is doing the event again and still relevant in a home run hitting contest. It’s still a little bit of a bummer that Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton, and Mike Trout can’t be part of the contest; but it’s a damn good time and we just want to see guys hit some Nintendo game shots in that bandbox down in the Queen City.
A full report of all we see and experience to come!
It didn’t look like a paid attendance of 33,379 on a decent but cloud-covered night in the Queen City when you looked up in the stands. But those who turned out to see the Reds take on the Marlins in this mid-June contest got what they wanted, a Reds win. The Reds are now 2-0 this season when we attend the game.
I took my wife, sister, and dad to the game. When my dad and I were walking down to our seats the PA announcer came over the loud speaker and asked for a moment of silence in honor of fallen Cincinnati Police Officer Sonny Kim. The announcer said Kim had been killed in the line of duty earlier in the morning, marking the first police officer killed in the line of duty since 2000. Very sad story and solemn start to the night.
It was a great night though, the weather held up and my family had a great time. My dad said it was the best seats he had ever had and a perfect start to Father’s Day weekend. If this is the last game I get to attend with my dad, we had a great time.
I banked so heavily on Christian Yelich having a big year for me in fantasy baseball, and he’s hitting .233 on June 19th’s ending. He went 1 for 4, and was rang up looking to end the first inning just after this picture was taken.
Proud to say I got to see Giancarlo Stanton play during this legendary season he’s having. He went 0 for 4 though.
The fastest man in the big leagues aside from Billy Hamilton, Dee Gordon. He’s hitting .355 and leading the National League in hitting in stark contrast to Yelich.
Mike Leake was real good last night. He had a no-hitter into the 6th inning when Derek Dietrich singled to break it up through the left side. Leake went seven innings, allowed only two hits, walked three and struck out seven. Leake improved to 4-4 on the year.
An overcast day – the final day on the calendar in May – was as good of a day as any to make our first trip of the year to the ballpark to see a game live.
The Reds didn’t disappoint their home crowd as they have on so many Sunday’s in the past. The Nationals bullpen melted down in the bottom of the 7th inning, allowing six runs that took a 2-2 ballgame to an 8-2 game which was the final score.
As for things we saw at the park today that we’ve never seen before, Joey Votto drew a three-ball walk. We saw it, and had the silent thought ‘hey that was only three’ but Votto dropped his bat and trotted down to first so quickly we thought we were just tired.
One of the best places to eat at the park these days is Mr. Red’s Smokehouse. When I started making trips to Riverfront Stadium, they had nothing like this. Now the Reds welcome a piece of the menu from every opposing team in baseball. A really cool idea.
We had the crablegs sandwich for lunch – dubbed the “U.S. Capital Crab”. It was very good but almost too salty with all the damn Old Bay seasoning on it.
Who says Bryce Harper doesn’t like to sign autographs. He signed for every kid that was doing the Redlegs Run-on. I’m sure each Red liked seeing the Bryce Harper signature on the ball by the time the kid arrived at their spot.
The Reds have started to do a cool new feature when they announce the staring lineup. Michael Lorenzen hit 8th today. That seems to be a trend all around the National league right now.
The Reds we know at the core might not be much longer. Granted, there are a few reserve names penciled in there. But several of the guys on this list may not be wearing the uniform much longer. If indeed this was the last time we get to see a Jay Bruce or Brandon Phillips play in a Reds uniform, we wanted to make sure we had this here. You just never know.
There’s Todd Frazier next to Billy Hatcher in the National anthem. The Toddfather had himself a day. Towering bomb to left to kick off scoring and two other hits.
Michael Lorenzen had a really nice day. He was throwing the ball well and not missing his spots by much, spotting up the fastball at 92 to 94 MPH. He walked the bases loaded in the top of the seventh which led to the only two Washington runs and was subsequently pulled. But overall, this guy has a nice arm and fluid delivery.
Draftkings’ advertising is taking over baseball. We cashed in our 50/50 this afternoon at least. My wife asked me if I thought any players played on Draftkings. I had never really thought about it – but they might.
Harper getting his warm-ups in with Ian Desmond.
Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa.
Denard Span is a quality, unheralded player. Really glad I got to see Denard Span play. He ran down a couple deep flies in center field. He has great range and covers a lot of space that you can really appreciate when you’re at a game live.
Here’s a guy whose name will become a lot more well-known as this blog entry ages: Wilmer Difo. He didn’t play today.
Harper flew out to left, walked twice, and grounded out. He scored one of the two Washington runs. Pretty neat that in the finest month of his big league career we were able to see him in action.
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.
Jayson Werth didn’t get any knocks last night, here he is after reaching base on a walk.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Baseball Gods: help Jay Bruce turn this thing around.
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.
Wearing my Jay Bruce jersey to the game today. Who knows how many times I will be able wear it while he is a Red
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’ve never really taken a shot of the Great American Insurance building behind the park. Here it is in all of it’s glory.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Look at Jimmy Leyland there! This is just awesome. Let’s do one more.
Willie Pops Stargell says hello.
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.
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).
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.
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.
And then it was time to head to the ballpark.
When it was finally time to head to the stadium, we had to walk across the Roberto Clemente Bridge.
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.
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.
Alright so according to MLB The Show 13this 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.
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.
Would you look at that skyline! Just look at it!
Here’s the pirates jacking around before the game. Andrew McCutchen center stage.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We got to see Aroldis Chapman pitch. He struck out Chris Snyder with a 99 MPH fastball to end the game.
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.
We saw the same guy in the crowd catch two consecutive foul balls in this one. Never seen that before.
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.
The drive to Cincinnati seems a lot shorter after driving to Wrigleyville last weekend.
I appreciate Logan Ondrusek almost beyond words. It’s great having a guy with that kind of stuff in our bullpen.
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.
I got to the ballpark and somehow the batteries in my camera died. All the pictures below are off my iPhone.