So I was actually excited to see the Reds play in Cincinnati on Saturday. They're a team playing well, were playing the Cubs, and not many people know this, but one of my favorite if not FAVORITE players growing up was Barry Larkin. He was awesome and flew under the radar. I hope he makes it into the Hall of Fame someday.
Anyway, LOTS of baseball-related news happened over the weekend. But before I get to that, I need to give my mother a public and belated Happy Mother's Day announcement. Don't worry, everyone, even though I forgot to post it yesterday I did in fact call her to wish her a Happy Mother's Day. I even sent a card in the mail from the airport in Chicago during a layover! Also, a very Happy Mother's Day to both of my grandmothers - Gogo and Moyna.
So how about that perfect game from Dallas Braden and his grandmother's response afterward? Not sure many of you know how ironic this was, but Dallas and Alex Rodriguez have had quite the verbal battle over the last month, and just as things were dying down Mr. Braden brought it up again on Friday. Then he goes and throws a perfect game - only the 19th in history. Kind of a really weird weekend. There was also Mark Teixeira's 3 home run game, Starlin Castro's 6 RBI MLB debut (he also hit a HR in his first at bat), and a Milwaukee Brewer hit for the cycle. All in all, a pretty good weekend and GREAT start to the season for baseball. It should get better as the season goes on. Unless, of course, you are an Astros fan.
On to Great American!
Location: Great American Ballpark is located in downtown Cincinnati, which I was surprised to find out was very clean and pretty developed. The ballpark is located right along the river, and I found a parking spot on the street about half a mile away for free because it was the weekend. David Atlas's mother, Mrs. Atlas, introduced me to Graeter's ice cream for an event she threw at her house, and since I remembered it was in Cincinnati, I grabbed some at a store close to the stadium before the game. Even though it was about 50 degrees outside, it still was delicious. There seemed to be a lot to do around the stadium and I was never worried about leaving my car on the street or my walks to and from the stadium.
I actually stayed in Florence, KY (I'm picking up a new sense of Lower 48 geography on this trip), and it was only a 15-minute drive from door to street-side parking spot. The rental car actually came in handy.
Ballpark: They have a great ballpark, they really do. It opened in 2003 from 86% public financing via a $.005/$1 sales tax increase and the remaining 14% from the naming rights from Great American Insurance Company. It looks beautiful from the outside - honestly no major color, but when lit it really looks amazing. They have a phenomenal scoreboard in left center, a rooftop patio in center field, and walking areas that you can take inside the park that overlook the river that separates Kentucky and Ohio.
They also have a fan zone area out in right field that had a band playing before the game, and a Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame that I really wanted to visit but had closed by the time I tried to get in.
Classic behind-the-plate shot
View from center
Scoreboard, Cubbies, scoreboard.
Another view from my bleacher seat
Food: The food was real good. I ended up getting a Philly Cheesesteak that really hit the spot, and they had your typical hot dogs and pizza and nachos, plus a James Coney Island knockoff called Skyline that I went to for lunch the next day. They're known for their chili, but for some reason they think its a good idea to put it on spaghetti. Ohioans, huh?
They also had something I have never seen before: a $1 concession stand that sold only $1 items like small hot dogs, maybe slices of pizza, and drinks. It looked to be a really good way of managing your ballpark expenditures, but I'm sure the people that eat from there don't realize they're biting into 2-week old hot dogs from the concessionary.
The SCPI here was $11.75 ($4.25 dog and $7.50 brew). Just a disclaimer: I'm not getting a hot dog and beer everywhere I go. Sometimes I just check out the prices and report back to you. Although by saying "not...everywhere," I really mean there was probably one time I didn't get both.
The chili spaghetti is the top picture on the sign
Game: The game was a good one - Reds vs. Cubs. I got to see Gorzelanny pitch at Wrigley and saw him again Saturday against Aaron Harang. The Reds absolutely took the Cubs to the woodshed and won 14-2. The highlight of my day was realizing that Jay Bruce, who made an AWESOME defensive play from right field by gunning Marlon Byrd out at home, is from my mother's hometown of Beaumont, TX. See, Mom! I WAS thinking of you!
The game was kind of boring once the Redbirds blew it open, but I was happy. Plus the Reds have pretty sweet uniforms. When I get back to Houston tomorrow I'll post about my ridiculous road trip that I took today. I've driven a lot today, so I'm kind of not in the mood to get into it all right now. Let's just say I accomplished a lot and leave it at that.
Cute little thang
Post Web Gem by Bruuuuuuuuce
Stubbs, former Horn
Summary: Beautiful ballpark. Red tint everywhere, overlooks the river (which might be browner than Galveston Bay), and a ball club on the rise. Solid location, good food. Honestly one of the more enjoyable experiences I've had thus far on the trip. And I was by myself.
Although Cincinnati is tough to get to via Southwest/Continental/every airline I tried, if you make it there you need to go to their stadium. And grab some Graeter's ice cream.
Giveaways: Picked up a new one! A Cincinnati Reds team photo. Brings my total up to three.