Last year on opening day in Cincinnati, I was watching the game on a computer in a tiny apartment in Denver before I had to go to work. I found this unacceptable. So, a few weeks ago, I made plans to make the 20-hour hike across I-70 to watch the Reds take on the Miami Marlins on opening day in Cincinnati.
Opening day is obviously pretty special in every ballpark, but the city of Cincinnati claims (I’d say rightfully so) to have the best opening day. The city is proud to represent the first professional team, and their opening day ceremonies reflect that. Former Red Aaron Boone was the grand marshal for the parade that trudges through the streets of downtown. Unless you’re a child or a senior citizen, you probably spent most of the morning enjoying some adult beverages instead of the parade.
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So, with tickets in my pocket, old friends at my side and a little liquid confidence in my veins, I made my way through the parade and into the ballpark by the river to secure my seats for first pitch. It was a beautiful day in Cincinnati: warm and pleasant in the sun and a bit cool in the shade and when the wind blew. Perfect day for baseball. It was finally here.
After about an hour of pregame ceremonies including three ceremonial “first” pitches, the 2012 Cincinnati Reds took the field and were ready to battle Ozzie Guillen’s Miami Marlins. Aside from Scott Rolen booting the first ball of the season hit to him, the Reds played a perfect game. New ace Johnny Cueto was untouchable, Aroldis Chapman was filthy, everyone chipped in offensively and default closer Sean Marshall pitched a perfect ninth. It was the first game of the season, and the Reds had just shutout the new-look Miami Marlins. Games like this are why every season in Cincinnati begins with so much hope and confidence.
With the game over, a crowd buzzing from booze and baseball hit the bars and restaurants of downtown Cincinnati with brute force. Luckily for the opening day drinking crowd, Friday was an off day for the Reds — a recovery day for the opening-day-and-playoff-game-only fans. But by the time I got out of bed around noon on Friday, I was ready for some more baseball. I wanted to watch that dominant Reds team play some more. But I would have to wait until Sunday. Dinner plans Saturday night kept me from watching the game, although my phone with the At-Bat app was on the table the whole time. In that game, newly acquired Mat Latos wasn’t exactly spectacular and the Reds lost. Sunday was a new day, however.
On Easter Sunday, the Reds treated a fairly small crowd to a walk-off win. And after a delicious barbecue and bonfire back at my parents’ house, I deemed that day the best Easter ever. Baseball and barbecue mean summer is here, and with the impressive Reds team I saw over that weekend, there is no reason to think this won’t be a wonderful summer.
I left for Colorado in the morning with an overnight stop in Kansas City about halfway through. The next day was all about plowing through the glorious state of Kansas quickly enough to get home to catch the Reds-Cardinals game on TV. The 2011 World Series champs looked good, taking two out of three games from the Reds in Great American Ballpark. Win or lose (it’s still April), baseball is finally back and all the pieces are in place for a great season.