Hello again, Reds lolcats. Back in February I came by asking the Cincy lolcats for advice on what to eat, what to do, and other miscellaneous questions about Cincinnati and Great American Ball Park. And much to my delight, many of you delivered awesome information, and for that, I must first and foremost say, thank you all.
I did make the day trip as I had originally planned, and I made my way out to Cincinnati on April 26th, to see your hometown Reds, take on my hometown Atlanta Braves. Go figure after taking the first two games, the Braves would get destroyed on the one game that I decide to make myself present at; but you know what, I'm used to it. The Braves are like 3-5 on the road whenever I'm present, so it's all good. The travel is worth the trip, and I'll say it now, that I enjoyed the city of Cincinnati, and probably wouldn't have as much without the lolcat suggestions.
Anyway, like I said I would, I bring to you, photos and commentary of me, a visitor's perspective of your fair city, and Great American Ball Park. There are going to be a lot of images, so I none of you are on dial-up or anything absurd like that. I hope you enjoy them.
Great American Ball Park. I'm not going to lie, that's probably the best park name in all of baseball. It really doesn't get any better than that. The above image was taken from the furthest point I could get in the upper deck, moments before the opening pitch. The day on Sunday was the most perfect weather any baseball fan could possibly want, with it being in the low-80's, with a nice breeze blowing at almost all times. To best compare, it was a lot like beach weather. Words couldn't describe the beautiful sight that was from the top part of the ballpark, looking out in the blue sky, with the Ohio River right behind.
But anyway, formalities aside, time to give you lolcats the experience of my day's trip to Cincinnati.
Nerd alert - the tram to the terminal at CVG airport reminded me of the corridors inside the Death Star from Star Wars. And being the only one in the entire car, I was waiting for the lights to flicker, and some evil dark side Jedi powers to come strangle me before I even stepped foot onto Kentucky soil.
But I didn't get strangled, much to my delight. As I walked out of the security checkpoint, this is the sight that greeted me. You lolcats pretty much insinuated that Cincy's "thing" was chili - this visual is certainly justification for that. But most of you seemed to agree that Skyline > Gold Star, so I opted to forego the Star, and wait until I found a Skyline.
I ended up renting a car for the day, because it turned out to be cheaper than cabbies. I actually found a Skyline early, right before crossing into Ohio, but since it was 8:45 AM, it was still closed. Curses! There was a ton of traffic on 2nd Street, and I thought that wow, Reds fans really do show up for games early. I ended up driving around, and found a parking garage in like Tower Place or something called Tower, that had a weekend special rate of $5 for a 12-hour span. This fountain was a sight I saw about a block away from where I parked. I like fountains.
An obligatory city shot. These could very well be just generic commerical buildings, but hey, it looked alright from where I was standing when I took this.
And a few blocks later, I found myself on Joe Nuxhall Way, standing in front of my goal destination, Great American Ball Park.
The statues are awesome. I particularly like the Frank Robinson one. I hate to sound so naive, but I noticed the lack of pretty much any mention of one Pete Rose, with the exception of the street outside the park. Do I even have to ask why this is?
So despite all the traffic coming in, the park grounds were deserted; I didn't think about this until I walked down the hill towards the staff gates, and saw and endless stream of people walking down the riverside. It all made sense; just looking at the shirts, it was a March of Dimes walk-a-thon.
The signifigance of mentioning this was the fact that there were people walking all around the park, it kind of funneled all park staff and baseball players, home and away, to enter exclusively through Gate 1. In the span of standing around, I watched Edwin Encarnacion and Johnny Cueto roll in on ridiculously expensive SUVs with blingin' rims, while many others walked. Atlanta players Brian McCann, Jeff Francoeur, Jordan Schafer, Javier Vazquez walked by me, and I had opportunities to get their autographs probably, but I only had one ball, and there was only one player I wanted to get it signed by - many of you won't like it, seeing as how he acted all weekend, but we in Atlanta love his passion; Yunel Escobar. Unfortunately for me, I didn't get the chance to see him before I lost interest in waiting, but I did watch Bronson Arroyo stroll through the gate and blow off a single Reds fan who had the expensive portrait/card frame of him, politely asking for an autograph, saying he couldn't because he pitched last night. Seriously?
I met up with my fellow Braves blogger/head-cheese of Talking Chop afterwards, and after we left the premises, I realized that I hadn't eaten yet, so I wandered across the Purple people bridge into Kentucky, where I walked around the fancy-schmancy outdoor shopping mall in Newport. Most of the places weren't open there either, so we wandered further away, where we stumbled upon a...
If I weren't such a lazy designer, I'd have darkened the skies and put a heavenly glow around the structure. Cincy lolcats might not understand this, but we in Georgia do not have White Castles, we have Krystals. I have never had White Castle either, despite living more up in the north, previously. So it was unavoidable. No better way to start the day's first meal than White Castle. And I must say, despite my fellow blogger's opinion, I will give the nod to White Castle over Krystal.
This is the view of the post-March of Dimes party on the walk back to GABP. Now I must ask - it looks cool, but what's the official purpose of the theater-like seating on the shore? Have mercy on me, I'm clearly a tourist, so I really have no idea what it's mostly used for, aside from what I'm assuming is watching watercraft.
Outside of GABP, I ran into a Braves player who was nice enough to not blow me off, especially one wearing his shirt, and an Atlanta hat - Chipper Jones. Now despite already having his autograph on a baseball, I had it in hand, so it was one of those "why not" situations. So Chipper was gracious enough to sign my baseball, but little did he notice what he used to sign it - seriously, this was the only pen I had on my person, and it just added to the irony here.
Full of White Castle, the GABP was now open. Once inside, I did my share of walking around, enjoying the sights and different, fresh view to my eyes. Here is the obligatory outfield shot, while the Braves took their BP.
I give a lot of credit to Reds fans for really showing up and representing. This shot here, sure isn't 100% red, but it's certainly a lot more fan-representing than what I'm used to seeing in Atlanta, where the team's lineage has different colors, the people are fair-weathered, and people wear whatever the heck they want as long as it does not have a tomahawk on it, apparently. Walking around, there were people of all ages, men and women, donning the Reds tees, jerseys, and Cincinnati hats. Respect.
GABP has a pretty awesome scoreboard too. My colleague noted this, but one awesome thing about GABP is the subtle advertising. Most of the primary sponsors seem to be consolidated on the scoreboard, but for the most part, the rest are scattered sparsely throughout the rest of the park, with a few schilled, minor-league style on the RF wall.
The Power Stacks. One thing I tell the lolcats of any city I visit for baseball, is that it's always awesome to watch something in the background of a road game on television, and then actually find myself looking at them in person one day. Let's face it, anyone watching their home team play in Cincy will always remember the Power Stacks. I really liked the porthole effect that the team logos appear on, especially the consideration to make it fisheye as well.
I have to ask - four mascots? I understand that it was Miami (OH) day, but still, I noticed on the in-between inning entertainment, the racing one, there were four mascots there, one of which was not the Miami one. But does any team really need that many mascots?
Anyway, after watching the Braves fall behind like a bajillion to none, I decided that it was time to walk around some more. And then I saw this sign, and said "Yes. Yes, it is." It was Skyline Chili time.
Okay, someone care to tell me where the chili actually is? A tad overkill on the cheese here, but I did not question the way it was served, because I wanted it the way it should come by default.
Here's the conclusion - Sorry Cincy lolcats, I think you guys overhyped it a little much for me. Or my expectations got a little overblown. I was expecting a mind-altering experience of some sort, but not even close. Not to say it wasn't good, but I guess I was expecting more. The hot dog itself tasted too precariously like a Vienna Sausage (not really that good), and the cheese was overpowering. But isolating the chili by itself was a good thing, and I can see the genuine appeal, and uniqueness that is Skyline over the typical crap one could get anywhere else.
Not long after getting back to my seat, the Reds get back to work in disrespecting Atlanta's Japanese pitcher. Kawakami serves up BP, and Bruce hits his second jack of the day. These shots, are for you guys. At this point, I was feeling quite miserable as a Braves fan.
If anything, all I could really do is take solace in the fact that the Braves didn't get shutout for like the fiftieth time on this road-trip, as backup catcher David Ross hits a GABP homer to break up the shutout.
I must say, it is always interesting to see how the hometown team treats their stars. I had no idea that Jay Bruce got the Youkilis-like "BRUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU" treatment in Cincy, but when you go 4/4 with two jacks, I'm surprised people weren't going back to the whole Bruce Almighty moniker again, and calling him "
In the 8th, Braves outfield, Brandon Jones hits a broken bat bloop RBI-single to bring Chipper Jones home, but not sure how many of you noticed, the bat shard (ash) actually went barreling into the stands and clocked a fan pretty badly. Fortunately, despite the EMTs and stretchers brought out just in case, the fan was okay enough to stay in the game. When leaving the park, he apparently hopped into an ambulance. But the important thing that, despite the six-run lead, this Reds fan was bound and determined to see through the last four outs. That's hardcore.
Remember how I said the GABP scoreboard was awesome? Well I take it back. (kidding) Angel Stadium did this too, showing the LOB stat. As a Braves fan, we see more LOBs than anyone else, but to have it prominently displayed on the scoreboard is just a painful reminder of all the what-if runs that were instead stranded on base by poor timely lack of hitting, or GIDPs, or what not.
It was only a matter of time, but this was the end result - Reds 8, Braves 2. Since I am posting to your guys' site, it's only courtesy that I shoot this for you guys. The Reds played awesome on Sunday, and they won quite easily.
But that's not the end!
I had a flight to catch, but my trip wasn't done yet. Despite my love for baseball, I also love trying new food. So White Castle sated me in the morning, and Skyline earned the hold, but now it was time to close out the trip with hopefully something awesome.
Many of you suggested Montgomery Inn ribs, and I do love me some ribs. That being said, I was pleased to find out that one was located 0.4 miles from GABP. Time was getting a little sparse, but I would regret it if I used the clock as an excuse to not try something new. I made a foolish call to walk to Montgomery Inn, instead of retrieving my rental, because 0.4 miles is a lot further than you think in a short amount of time.
Since time was running short, I had to make my order to go, unfortunately. Fortunately, the time it took for my order to be prepared, it gave me just a few moments to look around Montgomery for a spell. I took this shot, because I thought it was cool to see Father and Son's jerseys framed and displayed like this.
So my order came, and I grabbed it, and rushed out the door. I had to power-walk the distance back to GABP, plus back to my car which probably was just under a mile total - it was getting real close to when I had to return my rental car, and I had a flight to catch. I get back to the car a sweaty mess, and speed a little much back into Kentucky, and back to Avis. I drop off the car, and they notice that the 32 miles I drove is a gallon and change of fuel that I neglected to re-fuel, and ding me ten bucks for it, but it doesn't matter.
I get back to CVG, holding a container of Montgomery Inn realizing that there's no way I can take it through security. I check the time, and see that I have a little bit of time, reward for rushing somewhat. So just outside the security checkpoint, I sit on a row of seats, and open up the container. The scent, despite the 40 minutes of cooling, still smells phenominal.
The final diagnosis:
These ribs had no clue to what hit them. To say these were delicious is an understatement. This is like ambrosia on a bone. The meat was fall-off-the-bone, but not in the ITIS giving manner. They had a chewiness to them that made ripping them off the bone that much more rewarding. The sauce was delicious, and far better than the Montgomery Inn-brand sauce you can pick up in the stores. After devouring the ribs, I mowed through the home-chips, which were effing awesome too.
These ribs were the equivalent of the closer pitching a perfect save on three Ks on nine-strikes.
And then I hopped on my plane, crammed in the back because I'm standby, and I watched people turn the in-flight TVs to watch the Red Sox vs. Yankees channel as I shook my head and reveled in a case of good-ribs aftermath, and an enjoyable day spent in Cincinnati.
Thanks, Reds lolcats. All of you who helped, have my gratitude.