Ahhhh, February… The Gregorian’s least favorite month of the year (28 1/4 days…. talk about short end of the stick!). For some, it’s all about Valentines Day; for others, it’s President’s Day Sales and vacations. In Long Island, they take an entire week off of school for “Winter Break” which is a standard that has been in place for a few decades because it was traditionally the coldest week of the year and the school could save significant money by turning the heat off for a week.
For for us loyal fans, February is the beginning of baseball season. Football comes to a close with the Super Bowl, and the College Basketball games are just starting to make noise as the bracket comes into perspective. The NBA and NHL are still so far away from their playoffs that we aren’t really paying attention. But the fact that Pitchers and Catchers report in 14 days has us glued to our seats reading blogs (thanks by the way) and rumor threads on twitter.
But what do you do to fill in the dead time…
And for the last 10 years my answer to this question is to attempt to watch a Baseball movie or two (or three or four depending if Kevin Costner is in it) every week until opening day. Some of my favorites in no particular order are as follows:
1 – “42” – The Jackie Robinson Story : This has been a great new addition to the line up. I would say it rivals Remember the Titians as far as story telling goes.
2 – The Costner Classics. “Field of Dreams” “For the Love of the Game” & “Bull Durham” – Has he made a bad baseball movie? The narration style and allegories that these movie draws from are great. Bull Durham is my personal favorite, a minor league movie, and it does really well to capture the Pitcher and Catcher relationship, as seen in one of my favorite clips:
3 – “Money Ball” – I feel like this one sneaks in under the radar, while being more of a business movie than a baseball movie, it hits all the right notes at the end. Brad Pitt does an amazing job of keeping the pace going and giving us enough baseball to keep us engaged, but opens a whole new conversation as to the business of baseball. Very interesting.
4 – “Major League 1 & 2” – Easily the most quotable movie. Even though it’s a tribe movie (in state rival) It has enough charm to help me get past it.
5 – <Insert 90’s Kid Baseball Movie> – Where it’s Angles in the Outfield, Rookie of the Year, or The Sandlot it’s an instant classic. Baseball movies were reinvented (From your 40’s and 50’s post war attempts) in the 70’s with the Bad News Bears, focused on kids and baseball’s role in developing our youngsters. The Sandlot is the obvious crown jewel in this sub-genre, which tops nearly every movie list, not just for kids, as it draws heavily on the heart behind the game that is in every kid’s memory.
6 – The Natural – Such a good movie. Enough said.
I’m sure I’m missing plenty of good movies to draw from, Mr. 3000 obviously…. and my wife’s favorite, “A league of their own”…But leave a comment and tell me your favorite moments from Baseball and Cinema.
2015… man oh man… it truly was the best of times and the worst of times. Not just for the sports world that circled around Cincinnati, but also in my personal life.
I realize I didn’t post in 2015… it was pretty crazy. Having moved back to Ohio in the fall of 2014, I was still attempting to put roots down back at home and felt reinvigorated to make new memories vs dwelling on the old ones. So i lost my focus for the blog. I switched jobs 3 times from late 2014 through early 2016, so I was putting the ax to the grind. Each opportunity brought new challenges, some of them were the best of times, and then there were also the worst of times that saw the first two opportunities come to a close. My current role as the Director of Communications at my local church, Mount Carmel Christian Church on the east side of Cincinnati just a few minutes from my home has been an incredible opportunity and has helped me to refocus and get back into a grove of telling captivating stories that hopefully share their roots with many of you.
2015 saw the purchase of our first home, the welcoming of our 3rd child Asher, the MLB All Star game, and an 8-0 start for the Bengals. These were the best of times.It also saw the complete collapse and fire sell of a team that had been a playoff contendor for five straight years in the Reds, and an equally brutal, but much more sudden collapse of a team who was ushered out of the playoffs for the 5th straight wildcard weekend in a row for the Bengals. These were the worst of times.
Below are the pictures to capture these moment:
1 – Aspen and I went on a daddy daughter date to a day game where were treated to some nice seats that came with her Red Heads memberships. The Reds beat the Marlins and we got to see Michael Lorenzen pitch who became one of our 1st half favorites to follow.
2 – Aspen and I attended a night game, this was us during the 7th inning stretch where we sang Take Me Out to the Ballgame together, which became her favorite song that summer. The Reds also won, and by the 3rd inning we were able to sneak down into the 11th row seats on the 1st base line and she provided ample entertainment for everyone around her 🙂
3 – the Whole family got to attend a game for “Bark in the Park” night against my wife’s team, the New York Mets. This was Asher’s first game, and one of the joys of taking little kids to Bark in the Park night is watching them go up to all of the friendly dogs and say hello. They were so excited! I was just happy knowing that my kids wouldn’t be the most annoying aspect of the night since there were plenty of Dogs that had little to no respect for the game and it’s traditions 🙂
4 – My dad and I took in all of the spectacle of the All Star game, it was a doozy, especially getting the watch Todd Frazier win the Home Run Derby in walkoff fashion in front of his home crowd. The electric nature of the crowd was as if we had just won the world series! Definitely a once in a lifetime moment, and I was ecstatic to share it with a great man after several seasons apart.
5 – My dad also purchased a Half Season home game package for the Bengals that got us tickets to the Chargers, Chiefs, Browns and Steelers home games. We mopped the floor with the first three, with the Browns game being a rather fun Thursday night game (overcoming the prime time curse), but the last two games were both brutal loses to the Steelers with the first one being a huge scare with QB Andy Dalton breaking his thumb which ended up being a season ending injury, and the 2nd (Picture #6) was a heart breaking playoff loss that for the most part was a frustrating 58 minutes followed by the wildest 2 minutes of my life…
When AJ Green caught what should have been the game winning TD with a minute forty something left on the clock, in a game that had seen some incredible hard hits and very intense action both on the field and in the stands, the roof blew off the building. 60,000 plus let out two decades worth of frustration as we felt the lack of playoff victories finally coming to a close. Who knew that two minutes later it would all slip away due to some of the most ridiculous on field and off field antics, poor control of both teams and refereeing that I have ever seen that setup the Steelers for a chip shot FG to win the game. It was a long, rainy, walk across the bridge back to KY where we parked our call. Just thinking about the season and how it played out, it just ripped your insides out. The reds had done it to us, but let’s be honest, we all saw it coming, and it was a long, drawn out process over a period of months that left you devastated, but at least it just seemed like business… The Bengals game was sudden and traumatic, and it felt personal. The time invested in the team, sacrificed from family time, would never be recaptured. All of those positive feelings I felt sitting with my dad at the Home Run Derby celebrating what felt like a personal win, were strangely inverted at that moment at Paul Brown Stadium where the exact opposite feelings poured out of us, trying to hide our embarrassment and shame in that brutal of a loss. What can you say… That’s just sports.
2016 will hopefully bring new memories, unfortunately most of them will be in front of a TV and not live in stadium until we can recover our faith in the teams in order to shell out the money to enjoy them live, but it helps me put into perspective the gamble of falling in love with a sports team, and how little of a gamble it is to fall in love with my family. My favorite moments of this year weren’t when my team won, it was when I was with them, win or lose. So, if nothing else, Thank you Bengals and Reds for giving me a platform to share special time with the ones I love, and for that, you’ll always be there for me, and I’ll always be there for you. Looking forward to this coming year!
I tried. Honestly people, i tried. When I moved to New York I tried to at least embrace the local sports teams for the sake of connecting with the locals.
I got dragged to Shae and old yankee a handful of times, tried to engross myself in the excitement of the Met’s 2006 playoff run, but that let down to the Cardinals was too familiar for me to handle. But as the Apostle Paul reminded me that during his missionary journeys “He became like a Greek to win the Greeks”, I decided that it was ultimately better to swallow my pride and to just give it my full effort and see how it goes.
In 2007, the Mets were just as hot. In 1st place in the NL east and almost a guarantee for the playoffs with a 7 game lead in september right? WRONG. They messed with the wrong fan, and few people know this, but I am responsible for the historic choke of ’07 <You’re welcome Philadelphia>.
So i was approached by my friend Ben about going to a Met’s game on September 26, 2007. The Mets were playing the Nationals and at the time their roster was essentially the 2004 Reds, so i was game for that. One of our Young Life committee members had 4 tickets he wasn’t going to use and he asked us to take some of the junior high kids that were part of the “wyldlife” group (young life’s middle school outreach) to the game. Ben put the word out and and two of the kids Chris and Devin were super excited to go. They told us that they were the “Biggest Mets Fans of All Time”…
*Don’t ever tell Brian McGee that your the biggest fan of all time of something, because he will hold you to it.
As a midwesterner, going to the circus that is Shae Stadium, my brain jumped to this scene from Seinfeld:
But… I’m not really the one to be conservative… Especially when it comes to hanging out with “The Biggest Mets Fans of All Time”. The face was not enough… It had to be the full body.
As an art major in college, i would put my skills and school supplies to use on a regular basis for our basketball games as part of the University of Dayton’s mens basketball fan section “The Red Scare”, so this called for similar circumstances. We wanted to make this a night these kids would never forget.
We pick the kids up, trash bags and gallon of orange paint in the back bed of my pickup truck. When we get to the stadium we hop out and begin the painting process, getting a few looks and laughs by those passing by. Since there were 4 of us, it was a no brainer to spell out the team’s signature cheer “M-E-T-S”. Then we put our shirts back on to get through security and started looking for our seats.
I by default started heading up to the nosebleeds before i asked Ben for the tickets. That’s when my eyes almost bugged out of my head… We were on the 1st base line, 11th row, box seats, valued at over $100 per seat… Man were the people around us going to be pissed…
We played it cool, were respectable, the Mets got up early 5-0 in the 3rd and the place was electric… That’s when the fan cam started scanning the crowd… And as an attention starved adult in his mid 20’s, i took the leadership opportunity to remove my shirt, quickly followed by the others as we stood up, swirling our shirts over our heads and leading the M-E-T-S cheer. The crowd went nuts, they loved it, the cameras love it, we were a hit. Then the 4th inning came. People caught wind of where we were sitting and now everyone and their mother wanted to come down and get their picture taken with us. This really began to irritate the people around us who had paid so much money to watch the game only to have such a circus going on around them. Security caught wind of this and sent down the Junior Varsity squad to politely ask us to consider relocating to the upper deck “with the rest of our type”…
STUNNED…. Did he really just say that… SERIOUSLY?
Well, instead of letting my pride get the best of me, we decided to head up to the nosebleeds and see if we could meet some other super fans.
Well… not really, just these clowns… We gave it an inning… Won the Bubba Burger Fans of the game, but were growing board by the pitch and wanted our seats back. The thirst for attention got the best of us. We wanted that jumbotron again, and this game was getting close. We got back down to our seats, and were met with a round of applause. The fans were excited to have the “Greatest Mets Fans of All Time” back.
It lasted an inning. This time it wan’t the JV squad, but the varsity goones. It was the 7th inning now and the head security honcho came down and said that we needed to pipe down and put our shirts on. Try telling that to 2 7th graders and see how long it lasts before they rebel. The Mets were starting to falter a bit, and we knew we needed to get the crowd back into it, so we stood back up, shirts off and were going nuts. Within a minute, the goones were all over us. I got grabbed on the shoulder and was told to follow the security guard and not to ask questions. I immediately wanted to know what was the problem, I didn’t realize that being a fan was against the law. You could hear a chorus of Boo’s from METS fans as they lost their fans, as by this point, we were more entertaining than the game. In my last stand, I boldly let out a furious boast of “YOU WILL NEVER WIN A GAME IF YOU CONTINUE TO TREAT YOUR FANS LIKE THIS!” With all of the boldness of that man with his goat probably did. We were rushed down a hallway, led to a gate, and thrown out of the game, accused of being a drunk and a bunch of hooligans. <neither was true>. While we were at the game, the camera girl came around and took our picture of us at the game. I thought to myself later that week… Hmmmm, i wonder if they posted this on their site…. Well, not only was it on their site, but they had also used the image to publicize their end of the season ticket sales stating “Come out to Shae and Cheer on the Mets!” I was outraged… Where was the subtitle “And get tossed out like a piece of garbage!” Grrrrrrrr. At least I had the curse, and I hoped they seriously never did win a game again…
They didn’t… They lost 12 of the next 17 games, losing their 7 game lead, and failed to make the playoffs on the last day. Nothing brought me more joy than watching that happen. I absolutely believed it. I really cursed the Mets. I had the control now and I wasn’t letting go. I held onto this vendetta for quite sometime. I guess it wasn’t really until the Reds made their return to the playoffs in 2010 that I lost interest in hating the Mets. But that was also the year that I married a Mets fan… which brought my hatred back full fledge!
<after being kicked out, we went all over Long Beach taking pictures of how awesome we were>
Well anyway, Rounding Third and Heading for Home, This one Belongs to the Fans!
My dad and brother-in-law made it down to Great American Ballpark for Opening Day and had a great afternoon taking in all the festivities. Cincinnati is so rich in tradition for Opening Day. As the first city to host a professional baseball team, Cincinnati has a deep fondness for their team and the tradition. Enjoy some of the photographs:
One of the things we will do here at Riverfront Ramblings is invite fans of other teams to post something about their team. We want to get a feel of what fans of the opposition think, feel, and believe not only of their favorite ball club, but the Reds as well. This is our first installment of this type of post. The following is from Bryce, a friend of mine back in Dayton. He is a Cardinals fan living in Reds country and has to put up with a lot of junk from some die hard fans. Bryce offers us fans some advice for the upcoming season.
As a lifelong Cardinals fan living in Ohio, I must always be ready. Reds fans don’t give anyone a break. You must know the latest box scores. You must know how Brandon Phillips BA with RISP compares to Yadier Molina’s. You must always have three stats you can throw back at a Reds fan after each loss.
You have to hand it to the Reds fans, they love a team who had showed them so little love in the last 20 years. They are loyal. They are proud.
But if I could pass one lesson along to Reds fans, be patient. Be patient when you have a four game lead in May and you’re comparing Zach Cozart to a member of the Big Red Machine. Be patient when the Reds inexplicably trade Homer Bailey for a washed up shortstop and some prospects. And most of all, be patient when the Cardinals come to town. Just because Molina is a punk doesn’t mean all Cardinals are. Just because the Cardinals have enjoyed more post-season success doesn’t mean Cards fans look at Reds fans like some sort of disadvantaged neighbor-boy. Be patient. We respect you, and count you as a formidable foe.
Here’s to patiently waiting for a tense September and trading blows in baseball’s second-best rivalry.
Well Bryce, thank you for the advice. We will be patient. As a Reds fan to start off this year we have no other choice than to be patient while our pile of injuries to heal and get us back to full strength (not an excuse for a possible slow start, just a reality). We will be patient to see if the young stars of the Cardinals will fold and provide an opening for the rest of the division. We will be patient to see if Yadier continues to be a punk… thanks for throwing that in there.
Yes, we Reds fans can be a little die-hard and over the top. We do look at stats… a lot. We can be rough and brutal on some of our opposing fans. We can be the best fans in baseball when we win… and then some of the most flaky when we are not towards the top of the standings. We do get ahead of ourselves when our team is doing well, and the reverse when we stink. On behalf Reds fans, thank you. Thank you for the advice because it is a long 162 game season and a lot can change. Thanks for showing respect. Thanks for being a fan. If it were not for fans of opposing teams some of the fun would be lost.
Now, I must be patient until the 4:10 PM ET first pitch. Happy Opening Day Reds fans… and best of luck to the Cards.