Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sort-Of At-Game Recap: Jason @ The Reds (June 4)

Continuing the tradition of SoSG reader-driven At-Game Recaps, here's one from SoSG regular Jason, who ventured out to Cincinnati to take on a Dodgers-Reds game. Take it away, Jason:

My friend Geoff (name changed to protect the "innocent") and I have been slowly working through the MLB stadiums trying to hit that elusive (and seemingly ever-changing) number of "all of them." When we have a chance to visit a new stadium and see the Dodgers, how could we resist? As a bonus, we both got to annoy our respective new bosses by taking time off work at an inopportune time (his boss is slightly more well known and infinitely more powerful than mine so this was really only risky for one of us). Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati represents MLB stadium number 20 overall and the 16th active for me (numbers for Geoff are slightly lower; he has a wife and a kid. Sucker).

While attempting to locate a suitable breakfast location on Saturday morning (okay, at noon), we ran into a few Dodgers boarding the team bus for the stadium. Some stopped and chatted with the autograph seekers that had gathered while others, like Padilla and Troncoso, spotted the small group and bolted around the corner, forgoing the team bus to wander off to parts unknown.

Blake and Barajas sign. And yes, that guy in the Giants' colors brought a base. And wore socks with his sandals.

The area immediately around Great American Ball Park has a few (literally, three) restaurants and bars open for a mid-afternoon Saturday game. Despite the announced attendance of over 40,000, the crowds were thin which contributed little to the character of the neighborhood. The "coolest" thing outside the stadium is probably the life-size infield populated with player and base statues. This did not bode well for the in-stadium experience.

Taken while standing on "first base." I'm now hitting better than Loney.

Once inside the stadium, we did the cursory lap to take in the sights.

Fresh fruit or beer: the eternal dilemma

The fabled, bottom-filling beer dispenser! They do exist!

The St. Patrick's Day hat gimmick has gone too far. The Cincinnati Greens?

The GABP signature feature, a gap in the upper deck near 3rd base so you can actually see Cincinnati.

Some familiar names were also in attendance:

Gibby, looking much the worse for wear after all these years


Always a good omen

Mrs. Kershaw (in the gray shirt, packing her camera) and family came out to support the Minotaur

Plenty of Mannys and Chads before Sunday's game

Saturday's weather left something to be desired. According to the MLB box score, it was 91 degrees at first pitch. What this fails to account for is the 112% humidity (approximate). Luckily, we had the foresight to purchase club level seats giving us an air conditioned respite from the weather. Free food (including ice cream, thankfully) and a private bar were nice perks. So was the opportunity to watch the Reds' amorphous hairball of a mascot sexually harass several women.

Soon to be featured on Dateline NBC

The extremely helpful bartender warned me away from the liquor; the pours were only 3/4 of a full shot for $9.50. This made the $8.50, 20oz beers a comparative bargain (though, my well seasoned drinking arm weighed the full beer in at closer to a pint).

With Kershaw (2.62 ERA) and Cueto (2.20 ERA) on the mound, this game looked to be a pitchers' duel and we were not disappointed through five and a half innings. Then the wheels fell off for Clayton when the Reds collected four runs on three hits and a walk in the bottom of the sixth. Despite Matt Kemp's solo homerun in the top of the 7th, it looked like the rout was on when the Reds plated three more runs in their half of the inning.

Then came that magical 8th inning. Three straight one-out MSB singles (Gwynn, Carroll and Miles) plate one run. Dusty Baker goes to the bullpen for a lefty to face Ethier and 'Dre draws a six-pitch walk to bring Matt Kemp up with the bases loaded. One more new pitcher and two fastballs later, Matt deposits the ball into the left-center field stands. Tie game.

Kershaw delivers his first pitch of the game

Difficult to make out, but 40,324 people are now watching a 7-7 game

The game went to extra innings (free baseball!) when Jamey Carroll came to bat with runners on the corners. He caps off a 4 for 5 day with an RBI single to center giving the Dodgers an 8-7 lead. They would go on to win 11-8 with Javy Guerra and Ramon Troncoso (fresh off his pre-game disappearing act with Padilla) combining to allow a run to score and the tying run to come to the plate in the bottom half of the 11th.

Carroll singles in the go-ahead run

Dodgers win and we make party...

...though it looks like a party was also made in the Reds' clubhouse on photo day

Geoff and I also made Sunday's game to watch Chad Billingsley launch a thousand "let Bills play first on days he's not pitching" jokes. It was an impressive sight, though I personally missed his double in the 5th as I was trying to talk my way into the bar that is stationed behind they darkly tinted windows that make up the batter's eye in center field.

Alas, in stereotypical Dodger fan style, we had to leave early to begin the journey home, though I was able to catch the 9-6 final at the airport bar. All in all, a good weekend though, if you are ever in the neighborhood, I recommend you just keep on driving and catch a game in Cleveland or Pittsburgh which have far superior stadiums.

Next up: Dodgers at Nationals in Washington, DC on September 5th.

Weekend stats:

  • 2 - Dodger victories
  • 20 - Dodger runs
  • 3 - Matt Kemp home runs
  • 4411 - Frequent flier miles accumulated
  • 1 - Wedding party crashed

Thanks for the recap and pictures, Jason! Honestly, we Sons really appreciate the time you took to write this up and send us all the pictures.

SoSG AC, DelinO, and I have all been to the Great American Ball Park (at the same game, no less) and we had a pretty fun time--but as you concluded in your penultimate paragraph, it was better served as a stop in between other stadia (as we did in 2001 during a four-day, four-stadium roadtrip). Plus, it's humid as hell out there. But we did find a fun bar, across the river and to the left a bit, whose name escapes me but had a wide assortment of bras hanging from the ceiling. Good times.

(Recalling this 2007 post about the 2001 roadtrip also reminds me that I've never written that unbelievable story I referenced in the original post. Hmm.)


Fred's Brim said...

Nice work, Jason!
We need to send you to more games.

When you submit your expenses to SOSG HR, remember to tape your receipts to a sheet of paper. And they are wise to your phony taxi receipts so make sure they look real this time.

MeanieBreanie said...

AWESEOME PICS...Looks like a great time! Thanks for sharing.

Kyle Baker said...

Actually I think Gibby looks a little BETTER than he did in '88.

Steve Sax said...

Jason, you forgot to attach a coversheet to your TPS report. Expense reimbursement, sadly, is denied.

Steve Sax said...

original post updated with an addendum. now improved with more flavor.

Steve K said...

Great post! Glad you actually got to see some Dodger wins... and with the added bonus of not actually having to pay McCourt directly!

While I haven't been to Great American, I do want to say that I agree with you in that PNC in Pittsburgh is an excellent stadium. I went there back in 2005 and was thoroughly impressed.

Jason said...

I left out a couple of tidbits:

* Anytime a ball would land in front of Kemp in center for a Cincinnati hit, the PA operator would play a snippet of a Rihanna song. Classy? No. Motivation for Kemp to crush as many balls as possible? Definitely.

* Before Saturday's game, we stopped in one of the three bars in the immediate vicinity of the stadium. The TVs were tuned to MLB Network which was airing the replay of Gibson's '88 home run. If that didn't guarantee a Dodgers victory that day, I don't know what would.

Mr. LA Sports Czar said...

Great post, Jason! That wait was definitely worthwhile.

spank said...

My favorite was the part about the mascot. Good stuff,Jason.