My view from the cheap seats

My four-year-old is really into classic country music right now. I’m not complaining. It’s way better than listening to the “Frozen” soundtrack on repeat, and occasionally I get reintroduced to some gems from my childhood. The other day in the car, “The Cheap Seats” by Alabama came on (do yourself a favor and watch the video…amazing unibrow on the lead singer) and I found myself reflecting on the Redlegs’ 2015 campaign.

We don’t worry about the pennant much.

We just like to see the boys hit it deep.

There’s nothing like the view from the cheap seats.

I was five when the Reds won the World Series in 1990, so the bulk of my life has been spent cheering for a team not unlike the one in the song. Not worrying about the pennant, occasionally following some great players, ultimately happy to be at the game in the Red Seats (RIP, Riverfront). Perhaps because of this, I’ve found myself weirdly satisfied with this year’s team. Allow me to explain.

From a sports perspective, there’s nothing I want more than the Reds to win a World Series. I’ve had the chance to attend the Final Four, an NFC Championship game, and several NBA playoff games. I’d trade them all for a seat in GABP watching the Reds clinch a title. But that ain’t happening this year. Probably not next year, either. But, isn’t there something delightful about following a team that’s not winning and realistically has little shot at post-season glory? Or, am I just a masochist?

We don’t worry about the pennant much.

In years past I’d be glued to my radio between 7 and 10 each night following every single pitch of every single Reds game. This season? Not so much. It’s freeing to feel like I don’t have to follow every moment. If the Reds are battling for the playoffs, I can’t help but be invested in every game. Pennant races swing on one bad inning. But this year I’ve been able to enjoy life outside of baseball. My wife and kids and I went on a two-week road trip (2,500 miles in the car with two kids 4 or under is never recommended…), I’ve been catching up with VEEP on Amazon Prime, and I’m spending more time at the gym. From a health standpoint (mental and physical), I’m way better off than when the Reds are doing well.

We just like to see the boys hit it deep.

Would I have gotten as much joy from Todd Frazier winning this year’s Home Run Derby if the Reds were in the thick of a pennant race? No. You know why? Because I’d be worrying the whole time that those 100+ swings in rapid succession were going to fundamentally alter his approach for the rest of the season. But now – I can enjoy what was arguably the greatest Home Run Derby in the event’s history won by a Reds player in Cincinnati.

There’s nothing like the view from the cheap seats.

This is the big one for a cheapskate dad like me. When the Reds are out of contention, the games are so much more accessible. Go check out prices on The fam and I went to last night’s game against Cleveland for eight bucks per ticket. EIGHT DOLLARS! You’re telling me I can take my whole family to a baseball game and an excellent fireworks show in a top-notch stadium that’s as fan-friendly as any in the Majors…for less than $25? Sign me up. I don’t need the Reds to be great to go to a game. Sitting up in the stands with my daughters, explaining the game the way my dad did for me – those are priceless memories. We take a cooler full of sandwiches and peanuts and cookies and make a special picnic out of it. My kids love it. I get to watch baseball. The product on the field is secondary to the quality time with my family. And it’s so much easier when the tickets are cheap and we’ve got room to spread out.

I’m a Reds fan. I’ll be one until I die. Would I trade this year for 2010 or 2012? Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean I can’t take some joy from following this team this year. For now, I’ll relish in the summer, the September call-ups, and the final games for some beloved Reds before the trade deadline. And next year or the year after when the Reds are back in the thick of things and tickets are more expensive and it’s harder to take the entire family…well, I’ll deal.

8 Responses

  1. Tom Gray

    One of my favorite MB comments back in the mid 1970’s was:

    He hit it a bunch. (His chosen phrase for red seat HR)

  2. msanmoore

    You made me smile with this one. In the midst of what we know will come, that’s priceless to me. Wish I could get to Cincy this year and watch a game on an SRO ticket. Best $5 view I had was in 2006 when we beat the Cards on a walk-off by Ross … the place was packed and electric.

    Nothing like the view from the cheap seats indeed!

  3. UglyStrike

    I grew up during the ’70’s. We went to two games every summer. Going to Riverfront, was like going to Valhalla, you got to see the baseball gods in real life. We listened to every game the farm work would allow and I still have the commemorative Pepsi bottles for the Big Red Machine.

    I am a believer that Baseball’s place in America is fading away. There are a lot of reasons for this and this saddens me.

    Great article and it brought back wonderful memories.

    • Taylor Ballinger

      Same with my family – two or three games a year, then listen to the rest on the radio. Some of my fondest memories. Glad you enjoyed!

  4. Indy Red Man

    Its all about the memories. I was 12 in 1977 and my dad took my friend and I to see the Reds vs the Phillies. The Reds rallied in the 9th to tie with/a 2 out inside the park HR by Danny Driessen which many fans didn’t even see because they were in the tunnels heading home. DD barely beat the throw and before the crowd finally quieted down…Bench hit one out to left to win it. I still remember Mike Schmidt kicking 3rd base in frustration. My dad didn’t even like baseball but he brought us from Indy because his boy loved the Reds. I’m lucky to have to have a dad like mine!

  5. Tom Gray

    My strongest memory of Riverfront is the very first game there. My brother and I were teenagers but Dad got us his company (Husman’s) tickets in the Blue seats. We sat 20 rows up right behind home plate.

    The vivid colors of the brand new stadium are forever etched in my memory.

  6. whereruklu

    I remember the “cheap seats”. Growing up my dad would occasionally take us to some games. I recall my first visit was at old Crosley- the whole family went and had seats in the sun deck, the true “cheap seats” of the times.The best my father could afford at the time, but I never thought about it, nor did I care. Later, I can remember dad taking me to see such teams as the Cubbies and Pirates at Crosley. Banks, Beckert, Kessinger, Santo, Hundley, Williams, Altman, and Fergie Jenkins pitching. Best Cubs team ever. Got to see Clemente at his prime. We had seats in the upper deck, down the right field line- again, just as cheap seats. But i didn’t care. Later I had the pleasure of meeting ex-Red Bob Borkowski. Turns out he and dad were boyhood friends in the old North Dayton neighborhood. I had never known that before. :”Bush”, as Bob was called, was a super great guy and had alot of old Reds stories to tell. Nothing wrong with the “cheap seats”. Get just as many memories sitting there as you do behind home plate.

  7. Wallyum

    In the mid to late 80’s I spent many a Friday night in the cheap seats. I loved the $5 Top Six seats. I didn’t even mind the draft Hudepohl. We’d work our way down as the ushers attention waned, but a lot of the time we spent the whole night Top Six. One of my favorites was the night we were sitting behind two large ladies and their four kids in the second row of the red section. The kids spent the night firing pretzel pieces down at the fans in the red box seats, which amused us because we weren’t the targets. One little girl had a bb-gun arm and fired a chunk of pretzel at a guy who was coming back with four beers for his buds. It hit right in the beer, which splashed up all over his Hawaiian shirt. The kids all dropped, and all the guy and his friends saw was us sitting there braying like donkeys. For a moment things looked tense, but someone told them that it was kids and they calmed down. Hardest I ever laughed at a Reds game. I miss Riverfront. GABP just doesn’t work for me.