Battle for Ohio
Dad continued to do all the driving as we left Columbus headed for Cincinnati. We got to the Natti 90 minutes after leaving the state capitol and headed straight for the ballpark to catch the 1pm tour. Downtown Cincy is organized a lot better than some of the other downtowns we've been in. We found a metered spot a block from the park and were about 15 minutes early for the tour, so we looked around the Reds Hall of Fame.
The tour of the ballpark was excellent, mostly due to the enthusiasm & knowledge of our guide. Great American Ballpark has a lot of nods to the history of the team, specifically old Crosley Field and Pete Rose. Rose cannot be officially acknowledged in the National or Reds Hall of Fame, but there are little touches all over the stadium that refer to him, such as the 4192 (career hit total) Club & the 14 (his number) bats that surround the smoke stacks. We also ran into new Reds GM Wayne Krivsky in the executive offices and saw Indians GM Mark Shapiro sitting in the stands as his team took extra infield and baserunning practice. Fun Fact from this tour: the ballpark is the 2nd safest place in America to be during a lightning storm (Edwards Air Force Base is the first).
After the tour we walked a couple blocks into downtown for lunch at a Cincinnati landmark, Skyline Chili. Dad went with the 4-way, while Jen, Dan, & I went with the Cheese Conies. No one was disappointed.
With the gates opening in less than an hour we opted to skip the hotel for the time being and just hang out in the Reds Hall of Fame until 5:10. If you make the trip to Great American definitely stop by. It has a lot of great artifacts and a ton of information on the first professional team to the Big Red Machine to the present day Reds.
Dad hung back to finish up the museum as we headed in for BP. We camped out in the rightfield moon deck waiting for sluggers such as Adam Dunn, Ken Griffey Jr., & Travis Hafner (unfortunately Dunn & Griffey were already done hitting by the time the gates opened). Dan immediately found a ball in the upper rows that was just sitting there. Then he got a ball that was hit into the bullpen and found another laying under a seat.
Our seats were in the upper deck behind home plate, but afforded a decent view of the field and a great view across the river into Kentucky. The Indians jumped all over the Reds in the first, plating 5 while batting around. They tacked on a few more and were eventually were up 7-0 going into the bottom of the 8th when the Reds began to rally.
Juan Castro sparked a 4-run inning for the home side on a pitch hit 3 run shot. The Indians put up another run in the top side of the 9th to push the lead to 8-4. Indians closer Bob Wickman had been warming up and skipper Eric Wedge decided to bring him in even though there was no longer a save situation.
Wickman's outting can only be described as a meltdown. He came in and immediately allowed an opposite field home run to Austin Kearns. After throwing 8 straight balls Wedge visited him on the moung to calm him down, then he managed to walk the bases full for the most dangerous hitter in the Cincy lineup, Adam Dunn. Dunn finishes every season with more extra base hits than singles, but also usually leads the league in strikeouts. A real high risk, high reward guy. Well, two pitches later Dunn takes a cut and drives a shot down the right field line that stays up long enough to clear the wall and the Reds win 9-8.
The place went absolutely berserk as Reds fans jumped up in elation and Indians fans ran for the exits. Our second grand slam of the trip and our second walk off in as many days. Hands down the best game of the trip.
We skipped the fireworks show and headed to the car to avoid traffic. A 10 minute ride got us to Erlanger, KY where we will be spending the night. Tomorrow includes a stop in Louisville to see where they make 70% of the bats used in Pro Baseball, then up to South Bend.