Reds slugger Joey Votto came flying out of a parking garage in his beautiful Lamborghini. He took the time to wave at his screaming fans, before he drove off into the night.I was within arms length of one of the best hitters in baseball, not to mention a car that many can only dream of owning. As I saw Votto drive away, I knew that Saturday, August the fourth was a day that I would not soon forget.
This past Saturday, I was able to experience four of my favorite things that life has to offer. Cincinnati Bengals, Cincinnati Reds, family, and hot women serving beer. While I did not get nearly enough of the latter, the Bengals, Reds, and my family were thoroughly enjoyed.
I spent the previous week or so trying to convince my mother that going to watch the Bengals practice in 90 degree heat would be beneficial to all involved. I try to go to a good number of Reds games every year, but my family and I usually pick out one game to go to together. We decided to wait until August so that we could watch the Reds and Pirates play. Of course I realized that this day was also the day that the Bengals had their intrasquad scrimmage. Is there anything better than the Bengals and Reds in one day?
In prior years my dad and I and a couple friends of mine would go to Georgetown once a year to watch the Bengals practice. I always looked forward to the trip. It was a good opportunity to discuss the Bengals for two hours during the trip there and two hours during the trip back. I had mixed emotions when the team decided to move training camp to Cincinnati. I will always treasure the trips to Georgetown. But I figured that I would be able to go see the team practice a few times since they would be closer. Unfortunately I got too busy. So this was one great opportunity to go see the team practice, since we would be in Cincinnati anyway.
We left home at approximately 1:30 PM to go to Paul Brown Stadium. We got there just in time for the 3:00 scrimmage. It was a beautiful day. 90 degrees is certainly hot, but I refuse to complain about heat when I know that winter will inevitably make its way back to Ohio. I tweeted as many updates as possible during the scrimmage. It seemed like I was looking at my phone more than I was looking at the field. Coming away impressed with any of the players was tough, since the scrimmage did not last too long, and many of the players were only in for a few plays. One of the guys that I was impressed with was defensive end Derrick Harvey. He was rushing the passer pretty well. Harvey was cut the next day. Shows how much I know right? To be honest, I was actually disappointed with the scrimmage. In prior years there was a lot more contact. The third team offense and the third team defense were on the field more than any other group. While I would have liked to have seen more contact, there were some interesting plays on the goal- line. The defense looked great on the goal-line. The offense had a hard time moving the ball. BenJarvus Green-Ellis got in once by jumping over everyone. Another guy I was impressed with was undrafted free agent linebacker Emmanuel Lamur. He was even dropped back into coverage a couple times and he looked good. If he can show his value on special teams during the preseason, I would expect him to make the team.
On an offensive note, receiver Jordan Shipley looked a bit off. It was good to see him out there running but he struggled to get any separation. It is still early, so I am excited to see what he can do in the preseason. Is Shipley on the bubble though? I would think that he is. Andrew Hawkins certainly has to make the team, one would think. Can he be our slot receiver? Or is he more of a gadget guy? I did not see much of Mohamed Sanu. Marvin Jones is a lot faster than I thought he would be. I also thought Armon Binns looked comfortable in the offense. Simply put, I am not worried about the receiver position. I expect a combination of guys to fill in the number two spot, including Jermaine Gresham.
The scrimmage ended a bit earlier than I expected, but I was ready to go get some food. Yes, food was more important than autographs. While we were walking and trying to find somewhere that did not have a two hour waiting period to eat, my dad received a few positive comments on his Bengals hat. A lady that was sitting on some steps asked him how much he would take for it. My dad, being the true fan that he is, refused to sell his treasured Bengals hat. If there are any ladies reading this, there is only one way to find out how much your man can truly love you. If he loves his team unconditionally and with every fiber of his being, than he can love you just the same.
They let us through the gates at Great American Ballpark a bit earlier than they usually do. I loved the atmosphere. Is there anything better than going to a baseball game when your team is playing for something? Okay, maybe going to a Bengals game when they are playing for something. I could feel the energy in the ballpark right from the beginning. We went though the gates and got our Johnny Cueto bobble-head dolls. I think the last bobble-head doll I got was in the form of Carson Palmer. And my cat knocked it off my shelf, tearing Palmer's leg off. Needless to say, I refused to paste his leg back together. Anyway, we went to find our seats. It was only about 5:30 when we sat down. We had seats in the moon deck. They were pretty good seats. It was tough to see where the ball was going when the Pirates were taking batting practice. This made me realize that the outfielders do not have an easy job trying to find that ball when it is hit sky high.
We had about an hour and a half to wait before the game started, so my sister and I walked around the stadium. Some guy had a Washington Nationals hat and jersey on. Another guy was running around with a Boston Red Sox hat on screaming,"Go Red Sox". It was certainly a lively event. While I will not bore you with a play by play from the game, it was a high energy victory. The crowd was as into it as I have ever seen. This is important because a silent crowd is not a fun crowd. Even a half hearted attempt to start the wave was put to a stop. One of my roommates at school is an Indians fan. He says his family goes to games and eats and then leaves around the fifth or sixth inning. I wanted to throw up in my mouth the first time I heard him say that. This was not how the crowd was on Saturday night. It almost felt like some would kill for a victory. Okay not literally, but that is how a baseball town should feel. Is Cincinnati a baseball town or a football town? I have not been this excited for a Reds season and a Bengals season in a long time. Is it possible for both of these teams to do well during the same year?
The game was a back and forth battle between the first place Reds and the second place Pirates. Future Hall Of Fame third baseman Scott Rolen had a triple in the bottom of the eight inning and ended up scoring what would be the game winning run. As Aroldis Chapman struck out Gaby Sanchez for the final out of the game, everyone threw their fist in the air to celebrate victory. It was a euphoric feeling. Almost as if I had struck him out myself. I looked around and saw Reds fans giving each other hugs and high-fives. I thought to myself, this is how a sports town should be. My mother always told me to never take sports too seriously. And she was right, there are more important things than sports. But Cincinnati sports is a way of life. The celebratory music was blaring over the PA System, "We are unstoppable, no we can't be defeated." The song was right, nothing can beat Cincinnati sports.