I said before that I had a strong feeling that it was important for me to go the game today, so I went and they won. I think we can all see what's going on here: the Reds play better when I'm present. It is in the club's best interest to hire me on full time with a pretentious title and a generous expense account to sit in the stands. I'm sure that just knowing I'm there makes all the players put forth their best effort, lest they make some rookie mistake and get lampooned by the razor-sharp wit of The Mama. Red Hot Mama may receive only 65 hits per day, but now that I see what power I wield with the players, I am confident that I can account for 40 of those hits.
Or maybe they were just due. Either way.
It was a fantastic day for a ballgame, though I think I was spoiled by the two week's of spring training games I attended because the stadium felt cramped and crowded, and I had forgotten about the remarkable timing of the beer vendors to pause right in front of me just as a play was going down.
The kid sitting on my left seemed like a good kid; he was probably 11 and had an enormous head. He was old enough to be very enthusiastic about the game, but not old enough to have developed a sense of personal space, so I repeatedly ended up with his elbow on my ribs and his thigh rubbing against mine. Just think, in 8-10 years, Winter will be the one making borderline inappropriate physical contact with strangers and leaning his gigantic noggin forward to effectively block the entire view of the plate for the people next to him.
The kid a row up and a seat to the left was the one I was really glad not to be sitting next to. He arrived at his seat with a big pink ball of cotton candy, but instead of pulling pieces off to eat them, he proceeded to lick the entire surface of the ball until it was a dissolved slobbery wad, mostly on his face. When he was done, he and his father disappeared for a few innings, and I thought they had left, but in fact they returned, the boy's face washed but a brand new blue ball of cotton candy in his hands. I watched and laughed at him with a mixture of fascination and revulsion. When he was done he and his father walked off again, for good this time, and not a bit of the boy's face was unaffected: there was cotton candy on his forehead.
We were treated to just about the entire conversation of the people just behind us. The man was fairly knowledgable about baseball in general and the Reds in particular, but the older woman he was with, probably his mother, was apparently deaf, forgetful, and clueless. We would hear him go into a description of the play that just occurred and she'd shout back, “What just happened?”
The woman to our right was very nice and shared her Pal gum with us. I blew bubbles for Winter's amusement and promptly covered my face in little pink clumps, which is exactly when they started playing YMCA. Winter and I danced, and we have been on the Jumbo-Tron before, but I was glad they passed us over this time, lest my lack of bubble gum prowess be exposed to the entire stadium in living color.
So, as you can tell, a trip to Great American is more than just a ballgame: it's a stadium experience, and a great one today. After long last, perhaps I should hit the high points:
- The pitching was absolutely, positively, adequate. High praise for this group lately. Ramón Ortiz gave up 3 runs in 5 1/3 innings, which isn't great, but beats the heck out of his last outing of 6 runs in 2 innings. The Reds ran out just about every reliever who hasn't completely bit hard lately, Weathers, Mercker, and Wagner, and they all put up zeroes. They even avoided playing Graves, which spared me the ethical decision of whether to boo him.
- D'Angelo Jimenez came into the game to provide three pivotal hits, all left-handed. He also seemed to be trying harder at second, though one play where he made a decent stop followed by a big sweeping pirouette to throw to first struck me as a tad over-dramatic. Later, on the radio, they were saying that players respond to the fear of losing their jobs. I can't imagine being effectively motivated by fear, but watching Jimenez, I have to wonder whether there's not something to that.
- On the flip side, Ryan Freel made at least two great plays at second, and after they moved him out to right, he acknowledged one of the respectable plays made by Jimenez. I thought that was pretty sweet, considering all of the intra-team competition. Nevertheless, from my vantage point just behind the baseline on the right field side, it's a much better view to have Freel at second.
Tomorrow I get up ass-early to catch a plane to Seattle, but I don't want the Reds to think they're off the hook just because I'll be spending the next four days in the relentless pursuit of technical writing knowledge. I'm never too busy to post something scathing if the situation so requires.
That is my job, after all. Now let's talk expense account…