Today I spent about a half hour talking to my dad about the Reds. We live in Hamilton, Ohio, about 30 minutes north of Cincinnati, where the Reds are the hometown team. I was never a die-hard fan, I just fell in love with certain players: Eric Davis, Barry Larkin, and, now, Joey Votto. I’d pick games based on who was in town and who I wanted to see, never taking into account who was in Cincinnati 81 games per season. It brought back some of the moments from earlier in life about the games. I still remember my first game, 11-2 win over the Mets where Jose Rijo (who I called Josey Ree-jo) homered off of Dwight Gooden.
We talked about what the Reds should do…could do…won’t do…We determined that Walt Jocketty seems to be about as stubborn as Dusty Baker, working with who he has, satisfied with the status quo, favoring experience more than possibilities. We discussed how we appreciate what is going on in Pittsburgh right now, amazed at how young guys are coming around and given chances there. We then became disgusted with Paul Janish, Edgar Renteria, and Ramon Hernandez, focusing on how nice it would be to see Yonder Alonso and Devon Mesoraco up in Cincinnati. We’re willing to deal Hernandez and Janish or Renteria to San Francisco for a bag of balls to make room for Alonso, Mesoraco, and Zack Cozart from Louisville.
For all of the heat that baseball takes for the boredom it creates, the sluggish nature of the game, and the issues that it has had to overcome in recent years, it is still a game that allows you to focus on the experience. It is a game with a history, a present, and a future, each with a quality that provides hope and possibilities for teams that you follow. Those moments between pitches allow you to clamor over just how amazing Aroldis Chapman’s fastball is, it allows you to critique the absurd strike-zone of the blind umpire, and it allows for moments to be created and remembered. Baseball is “America’s Game” because Peyton Manning’s hurry-up offense doesn’t allow for discussion, you get attached to the “throw-me-the-damn-ball” personalities instead of the team and the goal, and if you are 0-6 at the beginning of the season, you still have a shot, right Boston? Talking with your father, watching Ken Burns’ “Baseball” documentary, discussing the Indians with a lost soul of a fiancee…it makes the passion for the game that much more special and meaningful.