Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Reds

Last year, I took in my first game at The Great American Ballpark. It really is a great park; it sits right on the Ohio River, and there's a nice little riverwalk pavilion behind right field where you can take in the scenery, including the abandoned lot across the street where Riverfront Stadium used to be. The Reds Hall of Fame is right next door, there are baseball quotes from Reds history all over the inside concourse, and the fans seemed to legitimately appreciate the history of the oldest professional team in the major leagues.

But they also seemed beaten down. That night, the Reds were were playing the Cardinals, who were in the middle of their second straight cakewalk through the National League. Chris Carpenter pitched that night and, in the middle of his Cy Young season, tossed eight brilliant innings. Albert Pujols hit an easy-looking opposite-field shot off of Ryan Wagner. And Reds right fielder Wily Mo Pena played a soft line-drive, which should have been a single at worst, into a triple when he dove for it and missed. The Cardinals cruised to a 6-1 win.

The point is, the Reds were clearly out-classed, and everyone in the half-empty building knew it. We were sitting near a bunch of Cardinal fans, and they didn't even seem that excited. It was the Reds... of course they should win. It was kind of depressing to see, especially given that the Washington freakin' Nationals were in first place at the time. Even the bar scene after the game was sad - the only place we could find had maybe five people in it.

But I digress. The reason I thought of this game today is because the Reds hosted the Cardinals again last night, and they won, 8-7, on a David Ross walk-off two-run homer. The win brought them to within 2.5 games of the Cardinals in the NL Central, and according to the game story, the ballpark was sold out.

It was the picture on the front page of that got my attention. Behind an admiring Ross was an entire section of Reds fans going absolutely batshit crazy with their arms all raised in the air. I'd copy and paste it, but it's a flash image.

The point is, I'm happy for them. That place was a morgue only 14 months ago - now they're within striking distance of first place and could very well make the playoffs. The thought of a playoff game at a sweet park like Great American is pretty awesome. Anyway, I wish I could have been there last night instead of last year. It's still an awesome ballpark that was worth the trip, but these fans would have been a lot more fun than those ones.

1 comment:

Warren said...

It makes you wonder how the Cubs' attendance has basically no correlation with the team's success. I haven't been to Wrigley since I was a kid, but my sense is that not only is the attendance always good, but the fans are pretty into it. What makes the Cubs seemingly invulnerable to the fate of most crappy teams, including the Reds. It's not like they have the advantage of a longer baseball history, since the Reds have been around since 1869.