Okay, I’ve had a day to calm down from that experience. Goodness, what a game. They announced that it was a record crowd, and I believe it. People were standing in the walkways, three and four people deep, watching the game on SRO tickets, I imagine. Mostly, they were standing there drinking beer; to each his own.
Myself, I was glued to the game (other than a couple of coney breaks). So much drama, beginning in the first inning when Dunn followed hits by Junior and Casey with a blast that landed in Kentucky, I think. That got the crowd going, and a chant of “Who’s your daddy” began raining down on Pedro Martinez…
…who quickly shut everyone’s mouth by striking out Joe Randa (poor first impression, Joe…I guess you made up for it later) and then proceeding to strike out almost everyone else for the next five innings. Martinez was masterful, save for the moon shot by Dunn.
On the Reds side, Paul Wilson was okay. Three runs in six innings — that’s about all we can hope for out of Wilson, I’m afraid, but it kept the Reds in the game until Dave Miley turned it over to the bullpen. And he gave the ball to the one person in the bullpen that I hoped he wouldn’t: Phil Norton…ummm, I mean, David Weathers. He’s this year’s Phil Norton, and he promptly gave up line drive after line drive after entering the game. Kent Mercker came on, and didn’t do much better, but Mercker’s got a better track record than Weathers (remember how awful he was the last time he was with the Reds?), so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
Weathers is going to be my nemesis all year long, I’m afraid.
Anyway, the ninth inning was as much fun as a Reds fan is likely to have at the ballpark in an early season game. I won’t soon forget it.
Here are a few photos I was able to snap (none of Dunn hitting, alas; I didn’t get any good enough to post):
Introductions. That’s not a bad first five hitters, folks.
Ken Griffey, Jr.
Pedro Martinez. He was very, very good.
I like these guys.
Heck, I like this whole team. I’m glad baseball’s back.
A couple of things bothered me, however. In the eighth inning, a guy sitting below me started ragging on Junior pretty hard. “Go back to Seattle, you freak,” this moron bellowed. “We don’t want you anymore!” Everyone realized he was an idiot, but this is the type of talk-radio mentality that disgusts me. Ken Griffey, Jr., has not been trying to get hurt. When he’s healthy, he’s still a good hitter. I’ll take him any day.
Finally, a note about Joe Randa. I’m tickled pink that he hit that homer yesterday to win the game. However, on the drive home, it occurred to me that he just made Edwin Encarnacion’s path to the majors much more difficult. Randa is a quotable guy, a Sean Casey-type, and now he’s endeared himself to the average Cincinnati fan in the most dramatic fashion.
At the end of the year, Dan O’Brien will probably re-sign Randa. He’s a veteran presence, you know — a “professional hitter.” Then Encarnacion’s path will be blocked, and the Reds chances of moving a step toward another championship will be a little less.
I didn’t care for the Randa signing, but I could stomach it with the caveat that he’s only keeping the seat warm for Encarnacion. Now, who knows?
Aaaah, forget it. I’m just going to enjoy the win right now.
Blame Chad for creating this mess.
Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.
You can email Chad at email@example.com.