Ladies and Gentlemen, we are now in the midst of the best time of the year.
Yes you heard me.
The Best Time of The Year.
As much as I love playing Christmas music any and all times of the year, I am not talking about Christmas.
IT’S BASEBALL SEASON!!!!!!
Baseball season, Cincinnati Reds baseball…yes, the best time of the year.
A lot of people I meet have very similar sports alliances as me. I live in Columbus. There are tons of Buckeye fans. There are plenty of (sad) Bengals fans here as well. But the one sports alliance that always elicits a different kind of response is meeting a fellow Cincinnati Reds fan.
The thing is, a lot of people don’t really understand why I am as big of a baseball fan as I am. I am going to try and explain it, but I do not think this post will do it justice.
As much as this post is about the Cincinnati Reds, it is also about the game of baseball. It is a pure sport and I don’t really know what that means but it is the first thing that comes to mind when someone asks me about baseball. I hope that even though (hopefully) a lot of Indians, Cubs, and maybe even Yankees fans read this post, that they will appreciate the sentiment behind everything I about to say.
Baseball means that the weather is getting warmer. That I can go outside and toss the ball around any night of the week. It means that I get to spend time with my Dad, in the backyard, where nothing else matters but throwing another strike into his mitt. His mitt, that was always big enough to catch anything I threw his way.
“To some it’s just a mitt, but see that glove was him.”
It means getting to know the lightning bugs in the backyard because you were out a little too late throwing the ball. It was never too dark to stop throwing, but it was just dark enough to make you want to go inside and watch the Reds.
Baseball is a part of who I am, who I was brought up to be, and who I will always be.
It means that we get to make trips back to the ballpark. We get to eat the frosty malts, the lemon chills, the hot dogs, and of course the peanuts. But only the peanuts that are bought outside the stadium by the vendor on the street, because you got a bigger bag for less money. And if you don’t have a pile of shells at your feet at the end of the game, you did something wrong. Because even if the Redlegs somehow lost the titanic struggle, at least you had the crunch of peanut shells underneath your feet to send you away from the stadium.
It means walking through downtown Cincinnati, the Queen City. That walk certainly seemed like a long walk when I was a kid but it was really only a few blocks from the P&G lot down to the stadium. Fountain Square never looks more beautiful than it does on a day that the Cincinnati Reds take the field.
It means Skyline Chili. The smell of that chili means you are home, and smells especially good if you are on your way to the ballpark, glove in hand…ready for any foul ball that comes your way.
It means Crosley Field, Riverfront Stadium, Cinergy Field, Great American Ballpark.
It means turning two, 6-4-3, headfirst slides, Grand Slams, walk-off wins, suicide squeezes, small ball, cans of corn, web gems.
It means picking up where you left off with good friends, talking with a friend you haven’t seen in years like they never left.
It means falling asleep on the boat at Lake St. Mary’s while listening to the Reds on the radio.
It means actually listening to AM radio!
“The Voice on the other end might as well have been God”
Ask any Cincinnati Reds fan who Marty and Joe are and I guarantee they have a favorite story of listening to that legendary broadcast crew. I will never ever forget the call that Marty made as Jay Bruce was rounding the bases bringing the 2010 Cincinnati Reds the National League Central title. Fist in the air, running the bases like second place will never be good enough. Joe Nuxhall will forever live on as a Cincinnati Reds legend not only because he was the youngest pitcher ever to play in the MLB but also because of his tear inducing sign off from the radio, for which this blog post is named after.
It means history, perfect games, no hitters, you name it. It has happened in Cincinnati. The Nasty Boys, Tom Browning, The Kid, The Mayor, Dat Dude, Joey Votto. Reds baseball means Charlie Hustle(That’s Pete Rose for the uninitiated). It means 4192. The best hitter of all time in the game of baseball, and he played for the Cincinnati Reds. It means the Big Red Machine.
It means winning.
Being a Cincinnati Reds fan means more than words can describe. I have a pride for being born in 1990 because the Reds won the World Series that year. As far as welcomes go, that has got to be the best welcome to the world any kid could ask for.
“And this one belongs to the Reds!”
Baseball is a peaceful sport. The sound of the ballpark on an afternoon is indescribable. In the moment those sounds are the only sound you will ever need to hear for as long as you live…and the crack of the bat is the perfect sound to jolt you back to life.
The fans in Cincinnati are the best in all of sports. All of sports…you heard me correctly. For a season in which we were picked to finish last, the loyal fans of Reds baseball just happened to set a record for the highest attendance at Great American Ballpark. That’s insane.
That happened on Opening Day in which in the city of Cincinnati is a holiday bigger and better than Christmas. It’s the one day where becoming a sardine in a bar (I’m talkin’ about you, Holy Grail) becomes something you look forward to, because you are there with thousands of your best friends. The entire city absolutely shuts down that day for a parade, and the Banks of the Ohio River becomes the mecca for baseball if not just for that one day. See below for proof.
I think that life is a beautiful game to be played, and baseball is the perfect metaphor for this life. We all are just playing the game until the day that God decides to wave us in. Living like we are under the lights of the stadium.
Rounding Third, and Heading For Home