Ladies and gentlemen, no more bets. No more bets, ladies and gentlemen. We have now achieved peak West Side:

Your instinct might be to ask: “A set of four lawn chairs brought out into a driveway when there’s a SWAT team surrounding the neighbor’s house and people are running around yelling the whole joint is doused in gasoline? Who does that?”

I know exactly who does that. The same people who stood in our cul de sac during the 1974 tornadoes pointing cameras at the sky. The same people who ran out onto the porch every time a sonic boom from the direction of Dayton rattled the windows so as to have a front row seat when the Russians parachuted in. The same people whose daughters probably babysat the SWAT negotiator and the guy in the house. They had the lawn chairs still in the car trunk from soccer season and the Harvest Home Parade and they’re not gonna miss this.

That’s who.

Now blessedly no one was hurt during Peak West Side, but that’s where the whole city at this point in the baseball season: sitting on the lawn chairs in the driveway watching the drama unfold. We’ve got nowhere else to go. Where are we gonna go?

Given their performance over the last– oh, two generations, people would understand if we club-jumped like Ke$ha and LeBron James. But with a club this old and a city this tight, that’s not how we’re structured. We are divided from one another with a wall of brie and beer, but the inability to depart the I275 lifestyle is an even higher fence to scale. We know what goes on in each other’s front yards. A little three-decade losing streak is not sending us anywhere.

Now we see an extremely non-Cincinnati city having themselves a playoff. Life is different in DC, where the Nationals are on a tear and the faithful– the oh-so-faithful dogged faithful for a whole fourteen years–are grumbling about recent bandwagoners daring to buy a seat for a World Series faceoff.

I saw this on Twitter and laughed very hard. I own nightgowns older than the Nationals. And DC is one of those places where no one who lives there is actually from there; they bring their fandoms with them and otherwise flee for their jobs through Metro stations, kinda-trying not to bump a tourist onto the tracks. When I worked within the Beltway, the Nationals were all of two years old and one of my officemates had a cubicle festooned with every possible piece of red, white, and swoopy W merchandise he could find. It was adorable.  Let the man have his car flags even though he doesn’t own a car. This ain’t a rooftop full of Cubs fans who woke up in their mid-30s and decided it was time to buy an Anthony Rizzo jersey.

So here we are– you, me, and the Reds and the Nationals. I don’t know how the season will end. I do know how the next one will begin: All of us, right there, setting up the lawn chairs.

18 Responses

  1. Scott C

    Here I am only 2 hours from DC and you would think that some of the folks around here have been National (what kind of name is that foe a team anyway) fans forever the way they have jumped on the bandwagon. I have a grandchild that was born only a year after the Expos were immigrated to DC by the NL. A lot of these people were Braves or Oriole fans until a couple of years ago.
    But as Reds fans we have a long and storied history of supporting a team that has been everything from great to very disappointing. Personally I don’t care who wins the WS I just want to see it over so we can move onto getting ready for the 2020 season.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Yeah, there’s a difference between being wooed by a winning team and fronting like you were Cubicle Nationals Guy back in 2008.

  2. SultanofSwaff

    Being from flat as a pancake Illinois but visiting my uncle in the Price Hill area occasionally, I have a theory on why the west side knows everyone’s business like a small town—topography. The way all the streets follow the contours of the land means that a lot of the residential streets have a very insular feel to them…..at least to someone not used to it…….certainly optimal for watching who’s coming and going.

    The Nats seem to have that ‘it’ factor this year. Still, the Astros will be formidable. It’s going to be a coin toss.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      There’s a lot to this theory. My cul de sac was at the bottom of a rather formidable hill (or it was on our bikes, anyway) and it ended in another cul de sac at the opposite side. It was bisected by a cross street. We were all up the business of our own circle but no one even knew the names of anyone on the other side of the cross street. Our own Kaibab Grand Canyon Squirrel story.

  3. AirborneJayJay

    A very nice story. Very amusing. The lawn chairs in the driveway is classic. I don’t know why, but in my mind I envisioned the scene from Christmas Vacation when Cousin Eddie (Reds fans) is standing at the end of the driveway one morning when the 2 neighbors (Dick Williams and Nick Krall) come out on their front porch. There is Rudolph The Red-nosed Reindeer music playing in the background on a tuba. The 2 neighbors look over at Cousin Eddie and are aghast. Cousin Eddie gives them a friendly wave and explains, “The ******* (crapper) is full.”
    Nats fans? Maybe they are Chevy Chase and Beverly DeAngelo looking out the window at Cousin Eddie, safe and warm inside the house. Nats fans are on the inside looking out, Reds fans on the outside looking in at playoff time again.
    After 6 straight losing seasons, Reds fans’ memo to Dick Williams and Nick Krall, “The crapper is full.” Nothing more need be said.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Very adept. “****er’s full” sums up this season quite well. Chad tweeted that if there aren’t real improvements next season, he’s about done.

  4. David

    I always appreciate Mary Beth’s essays about how life kind of creeps up on us, in the guise of baseball metaphors.
    Actually, kudos to the Nationals organization for getting them here. They have been close for a while, but on field management (cough, Dusty Baker, cough…cough Davey Johnson, cough) kind of couldn’t deliver. As much as management can, anyways.
    Fun that the Phillies spent a fortune on a team this year, including SOOPERSTAR Bryce Harper, and are at home watchin’ this on the tube.

    Baseball is a lot more like “life” than the other sports. It has seasons within the season, a long campaign, fans onlooking and second guessing everything.
    And who really knows what 2020 will bring for the Reds.
    Will Aristides Aquino lead the Reds to a winning season? Will he flop? Will Joey Votto return to 2017 form, or is he on an irreversible slide to being an old baseball player? Who will the Reds acquire to make the team better?
    Who stays, who goes?
    The saga goes on and on, since I was a kid, and it will go on after we have passed.

    Baseball. People will come.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Ah, well said. End part is what keeps bringing us back.

  5. Eric

    No one else in my house cares about baseball.

    So the good news is that tonight, I only need to haul out one metaphorical lawn chair to watch The Hated Yankees™ implode.

    Assuming Verlander does his usual fine job tonight and sends the Astros to the Fall Classic to meet the fourteen-year-old wunderkind franchise, I think Houston simply possesses more clutch hitters — guys who have “seen it all before” like so many West Side porch-sitters — for the Nats to win this best-of-seven inevitable pitchers’ duel.

  6. Mike Adams

    MB, some places ain’t got no fancified lawn chairs. Same thing happens here though.

    Here in the WV hills some of us pull over a piece of log that has not been thru the log splitter yet and sit right down.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      There would be a lot of yelling about splinters if that happened here. We will take our rusted tetanus-encrusted cross-strap folding lawn chairs purchased in 1985 from VanLeunen’s, thank you.

      • Mike Adams

        Hey, a log stump is natural and organic. Isn’t that supposed to be better?

  7. Mark Moore

    Very thoughtful and great images as always. I can almost hear the theme song to the final (thankfully) “Major League” movie playing about a minor-league team. Basically, you nailed it for all of us again. And I agree, $#!++er’s full …

    On a sadder note, I read an article on ESPN about how MLB is looking to cut about 40 MiLB teams after 2020. I’d have to say my local team would be at risk. Heck, I didn’t make it there this year. Yet for many, MiLB is where it begins. When we first moved to NC, we had the Reds AA team and I got to see Cozart, Frazier, Alonso, and some others play. That’s baseball to me. It’s making me think more about a trip to Phoenix for some Spring ball again …

    I’m OK with the Nats on their roll if only because it isn’t LA and the WLB’s imploded. I hope the Astros can put away the NYY today or at least tomorrow. I’ll probably watch a little bit just because I’m on the road this week again. But …

    I’ll have my chair on the front porch watching, waiting, and hoping … that doesn’t change.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I would be very mad if the minor league teams get the axe. I need to root for Toasty and the Rocky Mountain Vibes.