2010 Post-Season / 2010 Reds / Reds - General

Best. Night. Ever.

[audio:https://redlegnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/final_call_bruce_homer_9-28.mp3%5D

I’m still numb.

As most of you know, I decided (not quite at the last minute, but pretty close) to take a chance and head to last night’s Reds game, hoping Cincinnati would clinch. It’s a long drive for me, and not one I would ordinarily be able to make on a weeknight. Fortunately, my work schedule cleared up nicely and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to be there, so I hopped in the car and headed to the Queen City.

Best decision I ever made.

I got there early, in order to meet with some of the folks who were there for the Reds’ “TweetUp” event. I talked to some people I’d met before and some I hadn’t. It was a fun idea, and Lisa Braun of the Reds marketing department did a great job getting it organized (they sold hundreds of tickets for the TweetUp). I was honored to be invited.

I don’t know that I can express in words what it was like to be there last night. From the moment I walked into Great American Ballpark, it was obvious that the atmosphere was different. I’ve been to a number of Opening Days and, while those games are always raucous and crowded and fun, it just wasn’t the same.

Thinking about it today, I can only remember one other time where I experienced something (from a sports perspective) that came close to approximating the atmosphere at GAB last night. It was back in 1995, when I was a Fourth Year at the University of Virginia. At the time, I interned with WINA radio and the Virginia Sports Network (I thought I wanted to go into radio), and I happened to be on the sidelines with a microphone during the Florida State game. FSU was a powerhouse, and had never lost a game in the ACC until UVa beat them on that day. As you can imagine, that was an exciting event for the UVa partisans, and I’ll never forget the sound in the stadium during that entire game, and especially when Anthony Poindexter stopped Warrick Dunn on the one-inch line as time expired. (I’ll also never forget the thousands of people pouring out of the stands as I was trying to make my way to the visitor’s locker room.)

That was a wild day…but it pales in comparison to what I experienced last night. The crowd was “twittering” the entire game (see what I did there?); there was an ever-present sense that it was a special night. When the Reds scored in the first inning, the buzz grew louder, and didn’t really quiet down even after Houston took the lead. Several times, I heard people say that they were confident the Reds were going to come back.

At every crucial moment (and during many non-crucial moments), the crowd was on its feet, screaming. Edinson Volquez snuffed out a rally — excitement everywhere. The Reds got a couple of runners on base — the buzz grew exponentially. Arthur Rhodes pitched like he was 25 years old again — the crowd went nuts. Aroldis Chapman entered the game and dominated — sheer pandemonium.

Then came the bottom of the ninth.

First, let me acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, I’m overstating things a bit. The whole evening seems a little hazy to me now, and I was nervous the entire game. Perhaps my experience is different from what someone else observed. Maye my impressions are colored by the fact that I was constantly tense, leaning forward, elbows on knees, anxious for the Reds to do something good. If someone tells me they’ve been to a game where the crowd was more excited — and excitable — I won’t argue with them.

This I know, however: Cincinnati hasn’t seen a moment like the ninth inning in at least twenty years. Maybe longer.

In the eighth, Scott Rolen got a hit, and everyone was on their feet, praying for the Reds to push a run across. As the bottom of the ninth approached, from the time the Astros made their third out until the time when Jay Bruce strode toward the plate, I don’t know that anyone had stopped buzzing over the possibilities that lay ahead.

The guy next to me (Joel from Red Reporter) took off for the restroom (sprinting the entire way, I suppose), which seemed like a risky proposition in retrospect. I barely noticed at the time.

I will never forget the way things played out after that. I can see the pitch. I can see Bruce swinging. The ball lifted towards center field, and just floated up there for what seemed like hours. I followed, followed, followed…and saw it fly over the fence, a walkoff homer.

Delirium.

The memories occur in flashes. Jay Bruce rounding third. Joel returning and almost tackling me. The players jumping onto each other. My hands raised to the sky, then settling on top of my head as I tried to comprehend what I had just witnessed. Screaming. High-fives for everyone in the vicinity. A constant stream of expressions of disbelief. Fireworks. Text messages and voice mails, which have continued throughout today. The sheer happiness of thousands of people, radiating throughout the park.

No one wanted to leave. We enjoyed the on-field celebration, then enjoyed watching the scoreboard as the players went nuts inside the clubhouse: Hey, Arthur Rhodes is smiling! Watch them dump champagne on Dusty! Then some players returned to the field, and went back to the clubhouse. That persistent buzz kept ringing in my ears, in everyone’s ears.

At one point, Bronson Arroyo emerged from the clubhouse and started a jog around the field, shaking hand with the fans, and thanking them. Shortly thereafter, a bunch of Arroyo’s teammates came out and did a victory lap themselves. Jonny Gomes appeared to be as happy as anyone could be. Mike Leake and Sam LeCure looked like mischevious kids, as if they couldn’t believe they were allowed to participate in such a special event.

Best. Night. Ever.

I’m sure Riverfront Stadium was similarly delirious in 1990. I wasn’t there; I was a high school junior, home watching on television, so I can’t say what it was like in that park on those special evenings twenty years ago. To me, however, it’s going to be hard to top the experience of last night.

As I drove home last night, I spoke to one of my younger brothers on the phone. We tried to put into words what it has been like to experience last night, after the last decade of futility. I’m preaching to the choir here, but I have lived and died with the Cincinnati Reds for my entire life, basically. There have been times over the years where I’ve been just miserable, all because I had invested so much emotion in a baseball team, and seemed to be getting nothing but losing seasons in return.

For the last six seasons, I’ve written about the Reds nearly every single day here at Redleg Nation. The team has been pretty bad for most of that time, but this site has been a labor of love for me. What was I going to do, quit rooting for the Reds? There were times when that would have been a better option (for my mental health), but this team is a part of who I am. My father and grandfather were Reds fans, I’m a Reds fan, and my son is going to be a Reds fan, it appears.

The group of editors here at RN have spent countless hours writing about the Reds, talking about the Reds, investing ourselves emotionally in the ups and downs of this organization. You understand what I’m trying to say, because you are all just like me. Those of you who are regulars here, who comment often and are a vital part of this community: you understand. Those of you who don’t comment much, or at all, but who are loyal about coming here every day to be part of a group that is obsessive about the Reds: you understand. You’ve all been living and dying with the Reds through all the bad years, just like me.

Last night was so sweet precisely because of all those bad years. Last night was just perfect, because we’ve been there when things were awful. In the end, the Reds don’t owe me anything, but I can’t help but feel like I earned the right to enjoy last night’s stirring and dramatic victory, and the celebration that followed. (See Chris’ related post, which I whole-heartedly endorse and which you should read, if you haven’t already.)

Whatever happens in the next few weeks — and I still believe that the Reds can shock the world even further — I’m going to savor this feeling. I’m going to enjoy the division championship. It’s been a long, hard road, and we have stuck with this team through thick and thin. You have permission to celebrate.

I have been urging everyone to “believe” for weeks and weeks. Has it been worth it?

Yes.

98 thoughts on “Best. Night. Ever.

  1. Drove downtown to the Reds gift shop and bought myself and a couple friends one of the “Playoff” caps the team wore last night after the game, and a pennant for my Mom who is also a passionate Reds fan. They were sold out of t-shirts when I was there around 1:30 p.m.

    I haven’t been to a post-season game since the 1976 World Series, so I’m really looking forward to the NLDS next week.

    I don’t mind the lineup tonight – I imagine a few of the regulars aren’t in the best of shape tonight. They’ve earned the day off. The backups should be plenty hungry.

    Time to start scoreboard watching the Giants.

  2. super post Chad!
    I was watching the game on TV by myself, so while I was ecstatic it’s just not the same as what you described. Reading your post gave me the chance to feel the excitement of the moment in a different way. The not sitting on my couch watching it on TV by myself way. 🙂 and the day after no less 🙂

    • and is this tonight’s game thread?

      Yep. As discussed in the first response.

  3. @renbutler: I haven’t a clue, Ren. Really, I don’t. Maybe he wanted to clinch, and then get the players some rest.

  4. @dn4192: Classic. If you were there late enough you might have accidentally been at game 1 of the world series.

  5. @Dave Lowenthal: Of course that’s what he was doing, but it still doesn’t answer “why?”

    We’re effectively 1.5 games behind the Giants right now (with tiebreakers), and we don’t have the luxury of rest right now.

    Anyway, game on! Let’s beat the Astros even with our “scrubs.”

  6. I love that not only everybody is getting a day off but that some possibly important players in the playoffs get a chance to play. Don’t know who the roster is going to be and that might depend on which team we are going to play but Nix, Francisco and Heisey could all use a start or two to get them going for the playoffs

  7. It’s one game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the regulars play the last four, with the exception of Rolen/Cabrera.

    • It’s one game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the regulars play the last four, with the exception of Rolen/Cabrera.

      One game in the course of a 162-game season is no big deal.

      One game out of five in an important stretch run is a big deal.

      Sitting injured players is smart. Sitting everybody the same night is not. I hope they prove me wrong.

      • Brantley just said these guys will lay their blood on the line to win tonight. Does that mean everyone on RN right now should play because we’d do the same. 😀 😀

    • @renbutler: They’re probably pretty hungover…

      What, and today’s lineup drank milk? :mrgreen:

      I can picture Corky with a Dean’s Milk Chug.

  8. @renbutler: Well, we do, if one cares more about rest than the difference between being home vs Atl or road vs Phil.

    I’m not saying you are wrong, but I do think it’s a nontrivial decision…players like Rolen, Phillips, Bruce, Votto need some rest.

    • players like Rolen, Phillips, Bruce, Votto need some rest.

      Definitely. I agree 100%.

      I just disagree with resting them all on the same day.

      And Phillips could have been rested for the past month and we wouldn’t have missed a lick of production. But that’s hindsight.

    • players like Rolen, Phillips, Bruce, Votto need some rest.

      I think an argument can be made for almost everybody in the lineup….maybe as important is I would have considered giving skipping a start by Cueto

      Votto has played ALL year and he’s our most important player. He needs to rest
      Phillips has been awful since his injury making it unclear if he’s 100%. He needs rest
      Cabrera was recently injured and old…he needs rest
      Rolen is definitely needs rest because of his age and plays so much better when rested
      Gomes has been awful for nearly 3 months and has played more games than he’s ever played in the bigs this year.

      the only players I can think of that might not need a day off are Stubbs and Bruce

      before the lineup was announced I was actually hoping dusty would do this exact thing.

  9. My thinking is we need to do whatever it takes to avoid the Phillies. That series has sweep written all over it.

  10. @renbutler: ren, I’m not disagreeing with you but what are the Reds playing for? Is it more home field? or to play against one team vs another? I’m only worried about home field advantage vs Atlanta or Philly. I’m not worried about the Reds having to deal with any of the offenses.
    I am worried about the Reds facing Holladay, Oswalt, Lincecum, Cain, Hanson, Hamels and Hudson. Which means I guess I fear the Reds facing Philly but don’t care who we play other than that, except on a personal level.

    I’ve never been to a baseball playoff game. If the Reds play the Giants at some point I’m going to a game.

    • @renbutler: ren, I’m not disagreeing with you but what are the Reds playing for? Is it more home field? or to play against one team vs another? I’m only worried about home field advantage vs Atlanta or Philly.

      I’m far more concerned about playing at home than the matchup. You probably need to beat the Phillies in one series or another — but you give yourself a greater chance of winning any given series by starting at home.

  11. Well, I’m headed out to an event. I hope to check in when I get home and talk about the scrubs’ amazing win!

    I’ll just leave on this point: Even with THIS lineup, Janish still can’t get out of the eight hole. :mrgreen:

  12. I have no problem with the entire starting eight getting the day off. They earned it – They won the pennant.

    @ren – kinda glad your heading out, if not you’d spend the next 2 1/2 hours belaboring your point. 😉

  13. I don’t want to jinx the kid, but Alonso has looked slick in the field so far.

  14. actually cool comments from Dusty while being interviewed during the game on the TV broadcast.

    (slightly paraphrased)

    about it being his 3rd time taking a team to the playoffs
    “quite frankly you don’t think it being the 3rd time, each time is special and different”

    on Bruce hitting the HR
    “I don’t think his feet touched the ground while rounding the bases. I gave him the lineup card. I’m sure he’ll remember that for a long time”

  15. Has anyone ever seen 3406 ABs worth on pinch hitters, pinch runners, and defensive replacements in 2 innings before.

  16. Great post Chad….and I feel as though I could take your first three paragraphs and use them, almost word-for-word, to describe exactly what last night was like for me.

    As a college student at IU in Bloomington, IN, I’m about 2 1/2 hours away from Cincy. I’m originally from a small town in southeastern Indiana only about 45 minutes away from GABP, so starting college and moving to Bloomington in south-central Indiana meant moving farther away from my Reds–almost too far away to even contemplate going to games on any kind of a semi-regular basis

    I’ve pretty much followed at least part of every Reds game this season, and went to a fair number of games too…including the now-infamous August 10th Reds-Cardinals brawl (which was awesome to be at, even though I was out in the Kroger Bleachers). I kind of wanted to go to one more regular-season game, but Cincy isn’t exactly close anymore, and I have class at either 9 or 9:30 AM every day of the week…

    However, on Monday afternoon, I was talking with someone who knows I’m a huge Reds fan, and when I brought up how awesome it would be to go to one last game, they encouraged me to go for it and go to the game Tuesday night. Now, I’m not a very spontaneous person; I take all of my studies extremely seriously, and always try to plan ahead for things as much as possible. Also, I knew I had my first big Spanish test first thing Wednesday morning at 9AM…which I hadn’t really studied too much for yet. So, though I initially entertained the idea of going to the game Tuesday, I blew it off as impractical.

    But then I started talking about it to a close friend of mine who also loves the Reds and also goes here to IU–and who is also a huge fan of Redleg Nation by the way; he’s been following it since the beginning and was the one who suggested it to me. At first, the idea was a mere joke or fantasy…but the more we talked about it, the more concrete the idea became…

    And then he found $4, Row A Kroger Bleacher seats on StubHub.

    That was it.

    We were going.

    Immediately after my last class on Tuesday got out at 4PM he and I hit the road and rolled into Cincy at around 6:30, rocking a BP shirt and a Gomes shirt, respectively. We go to the ballpark, 7:10 rolled around, the game began…

    And the rest is, quite literally, history.

    One of THE BEST decisions I have ever made in my life. I’ve never experienced such an electric, emotionally charged atmosphere in my life. The entire ballpark was yelling and yearning together, from Volquez’s first pitch….to Byrdak’s first–and last–pitch.

    Bruce’s HR seemed to float through the air forever…and then once it hit the turf over the wall in CF, everybody went nuts. I’ve never given so many high-fives in such a short time span before in my life. Absolutely unforgettable. I am still lost for words.

    The only downside to going to the game? My Reds NL Central 2010 Champions t-shirt is now backordered, probably until the playoffs are all over. 😀 And not arriving back on campus until 2AM. But it was totally worth every second of the drive and every bit of spontaneity. What an experience. And, I’m pretty sure I will be going to Game 1 of the NLCS…so the Reds had better get that far!!

    Oh, and that Spanish exam I was worried about? Pretty sure I knocked that as far out of the park as Bruce’s HR. 😉

    NL CENTRAL CHAMPIONS 2010!!!!!!!!

  17. Beautifully written, Chad.

    I grew up in Southern Indiana (a little time called Scottsburg) and became a Reds fan during the summer of 1976. Back then we were “spoiled”, so to speak, because our teams were always in the mix. Because of a few lean years in the ’80s, 1990’s championship was very sweet–a return to prominence. Little did we know, huh?

    I now live in the Dallas – Fort Worth area, and while the area is no longer mine, the team always will be. Thank heavens for Direct TV!!

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