Sunday, September 23, 2012

Reds Clinch Central! I was there.

I didn't decide to go to the game until yesterday; and I was thinking the game was at seven, so my initial plan was to go down earlier, get something to eat at Oktoberfest, and saunter down to the game. Father W., our pastor, stopped in around 2:30 pm--he had two weddings yesterday afternoon at Saint Rose, and was in the rectory between them--and he said he thought the game was at 4 pm. So it was! So I left here around 3 pm, and after hunting for parking, got to the park as our team came onto the field.

I knew one of our other priests was at the game, with some friends, so I called him on the way down to see if we could meet up. Thanks to the kindness of a generous layman, Father and his friends were in a prime location, in the field seats along first base. I was planning on standing-room-only if I couldn't get a ticket off a scalper for a reasonable price; in the end, I got a level-100 seat for $35, out in the outfield. So I met up with Father and his friends as the game began. He said there were four open seats next to him; I figured I'd sit there for a bit before the owners of those seats showed up. Well, only two of them--a couple of young kids, whose family was seated somewhere nearby (judging by trips back and forth). So I had a great seat for a great game.

All the years I've lived in Cincinnati, I've never been to a game when they clinched the title. It was a full house, which makes it fun; and winning helps! That said, I was at a few games this season, and it was disappointing to see the place less than full, when we have such a good team and a winning season.

I realize a lot of folks figure it's terribly expensive to go to a game, but here's something I suspect many don't realize. Did you know you can bring your own food and drinks to the ballpark? No, you can't bring glass bottles or metal cans--and no alcohol--but you can bring food, even a soft-sided cooler,  and drinks in sealed, clear-plastic bottles.

The cheapest seats at Great American are $5. So with four kids and two adults that's $30 plus tax. Then you bring a cooler and drinks if you don't want to spend a lot on the concessions. There's $5 parking if you don't mind walking a few blocks; and you can get free street parking if you know where and when to look. Parents, you tell me: compared with what other things cost--such as movies or amusement parks--how does that stack up?

Let me also say this:  I think our Reds have done a very good job over the years fostering a family atmosphere. Of course, you will always have some joker who drinks too much or gets too loud, but even when there are fans of the opposing team, our fans seem to keep their good humor. And the management does make it clear, from the get-go, that if anyone is crude or offensive, the ushers will deal with it if prompted. My sense is that the Reds want families to feel welcome.

So the game builds toward the climax; the strikeouts are being racked up (if they get 11, all those in attendance can use their ticket to claim free pizza at LaRosas and ice cream at UDF!), and Father B., sitting next to me--as we passed around the peanuts he brought with him--is wondering if Lato will stay in for the full game. He was pitching a great game, no runs so far; it would be nice to see him finish the game. When the home team got a nice rally going in the eighth, I wondered if the coach would just leave Lato in, since we had a good lead; but he pulled him for a pinch-hitter in hopes of sustaining the rally.

When the bottom of the eighth ended, everyone was on his feet cheering the home team, as they now took the field for--we hoped--the final three outs. Here comes Aroldis, the "Cuban Missile" to close it out! Everyone stayed standing for the final three, and with the final out, the whole team rushed the field. The Dodgers in the visitors' bullpen had to trudge past; rough for them, but they can still make the post-season as a wild-card.

We hung out a bit as the players hugged and jumped on each other; when they cleared the field, we headed over to one of the new places near the park, Toby Keiths, where a whole bunch of other fans flooded in after us. Have you noticed, Reds fans, that in the past few weeks folks at the game have taken to letting out howls? There was a bit of that at TKS as the six of us--another of Father B.'s friends joined us after the game--had some fun conversation and of course something to eat and to drink.

When the band came on around 10, we were ready to go. And I never did make it to Oktoberfest! But what a great day for the home team.

Go Reds!

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