This was one fun day. Started out from Kc and Ashley's apartment, where I was confused by a rug doctor sitting by the door (no Carpet)- I was informed it was for the bedroom which does have the only carpet. Moving out, we stopped at McDonalds in New Haven where there was a bit of a debate over whether Ashley would end up with the sweet tea, no ice that she wanted or the Hi-C, no ice that KC thought she wanted. (Hi-C won). After deciding to disregard the mapquest route KC had copied (it wanted us to head to Indy and turn east!) and just take 30 to 75, we stopped off at the Werling rd. Marathon where I got a pepsi and a new pair of sunglasses (remind me to tell you the story about the other ones later). Ashley's phone had a gps so we turned that on to make fun of and headed east. Near Besancon, I saw that someone had built a house on the pond we used to go swimming at, which really tripped me out.
Flash foreward to near Lima, where 30 actually meats 75. Gps lady said we needed to turn off at one of the Lima exits; we debated it, figured perhaps there was a problem getting onto the highway from thirty, Ashley said gps claimed a 20 minute time savings, so we listened and turned off. What followed was a series of "turn right"s and "turn left"s that almost seemed to take us in a circle until we finally ended up on some secondary road heading south, for no better apparent reason than to keep us out of Lima.
We then played a license plate game where you make phrases out of the letters on the plate (the only example coming to mind right now is "AUU" became "Ashley's underwear's ugly".) This game got abandoned when we discovered that apparently about 90% of Ohio license plates start with an "e". Soon- the trip seemed to go really fast- we entered Wapakoenta, where in a reversal of policy gps lady took us through town and onto- you guessed it- I-75. From here it was a hundred or so miles of scenery and signs, notably the "Solid Rock Church" in Monroe where they have this massive statue of Jesus waist deep in a pond with
fountains and the whole nine yards.
Eventually we passed through Dayton, which is far more massive than I had imagined, and on to Cincy. Again, gps lady tried to take us around the horn to the stadium; we opted to follow the signs instead, which was a good idea. It wasn't long before we found $5 parking on the far side of Paul Brown stadium (home of the Bengals). KC then handed us our tickets (copied off the internet) and we crossed the street towards Paul Brown. I told him to hit the button for the crossing sign, and farted when he did. As we crossed, KC noted that we had four tickets (a friend of Ashley's bailed on us) and he needed to sell one. We no more got to the other side when a black guy riding a bike and wearing a laminated sign saying "I need tickets" called out to us and KC said, "I got one". KC told him he paid $42 for it and wanted 30. Ol' boys says, "I can't sell those paper tickets for 30, I'll give you 10." KC said no thanks as the guy showed us another one he had bought that was printed in black and white. KC said, "Mine's in color, it must be worth more. Give me 15." Ol' boy says ok, and the ticket was sold, to haunt us later.
Our path led us across the north side of Paul Brown (which is a really beautiful stadium, at least form the outside), down the street, across a parking lot, and up a set of stairs that faced some big 1/3 built complex going up between the stadiums (stadia?). At the top of the stairs was an other ol' boy with a radio and a sign saying, "homeless, will work, sorry for asking". This swiftly became a common theme- I've never come across more allegedly homeless beggers in any one place in my life. Mixed among them were the usual people handing out have-you-met-Jesus cards and others trying to raise money to put light on some historic bridge over the Ohio that they're trying to restore ( I think; a good deal of it was shrouded in tarps). At least on of the homeless was a white girl whose sign read "homeless and hungry", but looking at her build, I told KC maybe if she went a little more hungry, she might not be so homeless. Finally we reach the Great American Ballpark, with its statues of Ted Klusewski, Frank Robinson, and Joe Nuxhall out front.
This was the annual civil rights game, and we were among the first 10,000 and got jerseys with the name and # of Chuck Harmon, the Red's first black player. Now this is a really nice building and our seats were good too- maybe fifty feet down the first base line, 12 rows from the field. After finding the seats, we went on a bathroom, souvenier, and food hunt. I got me a Mr. Redlegs hat and a Joey Votto shirt. Ashley got an ice cream cone, and we circled the stadium until behind the outfield wall. They have a nifty overlook of the river where paddlewheelers do donuts in front of the stadium, and we decided to eat there. We got the "meal deal" (a hot dog, a cup of pringles, a candy bar, and a pop. Of course this had to be an adventure as well; they overcharged KC 2.50, couldn't swipe my card right, and the whole think took a good 5 minutes and four of them and three of us to sort out. Afterwards, we were nearly back to our seats when they began wheeling out the award winners that they would be presenting to. The first was Harry Belafonte: I told KC I wanted to see him so we ducked down a corridor to the field as he was being driven around the outfield in the ballcart. He was waving, stopped to look at the field, turned back to the crowd, looked right at me, I waved, he waved, KC's eyes got big and he yelled,"Dad, he looked right at you when he waved!" That was cool! Next, they brought out Billie Jean King, who declined to wave or look at me. The third award-ee was Willie Mays. KC tried to get a picture, but the whole place was standing and waving and Say -Hey was sitting and forgoing the wave. After this we returned to the seats to watch the rest of the civil rights pregame festivities.
By the time we sat down, Marty Brennanman was on-field introducing the rest of the celebrities. Before he got far, the guy that ended up with our ticket showed up. He was pre-inebriated, drinking a Labatts blue tall-boy, and looking like someone you'd see in the non-serious offenders section of your local sex-crimes registry. KC immediately named him "Howard the Drunk", and that was his name the rest of the night.
They celebrities introduced included Mr. Cub Ernie Banks; Hank Aaron; Layla Ali; a preacher that was a former teammate of Mays' in the negro leagues; and some old black former congressman who looked like his diet consisted of sucking lemons. After everyone got their awards, we watched a tribute to the late Lena Horne (who was scheduled to be there), Roberta Flack came out and sang "Imagine" (and KC said managed to turn a three minute song into a ten minute one). Jeffrey Osbourne sang the national anthem, a color guard played "God blees America", and army paragliders chuted in to drop off the game ball, which Ernie banks threw the first pithc with. Ashley took a picture of Howard the Drunk to send to her friend that blew us off, and the game began.
And what a game! Adam Wainwright was going for the Card's against Red's rookie Mike Leake. Both were sharp early; St. louis scraped in a run in the second, and we did likewise inthe bottom of the inning. Colby Rasmus (who next to Chone Figgins is my least-favorite player in baseball) knocked a homer over the 404 sign in dead center to give the Cards a 2-1 lead, which flustered the kid and he walked Pujols and Holliday before getting a long, loud out to end the third. Things settled for a while then. We watched and joked about Howard, followed the scoreboard. Every game playing while we played, with one exception, the team that took the first lead lost it; by nthe time we left, the Mets had blown a 3-1 lead on Florida and lost 7-5; Colorado had lost a 3-1 lead on the Nats and was in process of losing a 4-3 lead; the Indians trailed Baltiomore 2-0 until the 9th, when they scored 8, seven of them after two outs; Boston had went from a 6-1 lead on Detroit to a 6-6 tie; and even the A's had started with a 2-0 1st inning lead only to trail 3-2 in the fourth.
In the mean time, we had been trying to guess who would do what when they came to bat. In the home fifth, just after we had a man thrown out trying to steal second, I told KC that Jonny Gomes would hit a HR. KC says' "He really doesn't hit for Power." 5 pitches later, Gomes put one 433 feet over the short porch in left field and the game was tied at 2-2. The kids decided to go pee in the bottom of the sixth; while they were gone, we got 2 men on and rookie OF Stubbs, hitting .182 and having looked outmatched by Wainwright the whole game, tripled into the right field corner and both runners scored.
At the seventh inning stretch; "teen sax sensation" BJ Jackson played "America the Beautiful" and did a great job.I thought Howard was going to pass out, fall down, or barf on me during it, though. KC took me out to the concourse and showed me a big open area we missed before, where they had a speed gun for pitching, a play park for little kids, a huge kiosk with big-screen video baseball games you could play, a track to time yourself in the forty, and a ton of other stuff. After which, I had to pee; KC warned me the nearest restroom had a line, but this was a LINE. Some guy passing by heard me go , "Ohhhh..." and said to follow him the next one down the other way was always free. Sure enough, no muss, no fuss, and got back in time to join in the last three of six or seven circuits of the wave.
Comes the bottom of the ninth, Reds up 4-2. Closer Francisco Cordero comes in, the locals get nervous. Cordero gets an out, walks a guy, throws a wild pitch. another guy singles in a run. Pujols strikes out looking, argues with the ump, but not enough to get tossed. "Sir, I believe you missed that call." "No, I don't believe I did, please sit down." "Very well, sir, and thank you." Now the whole place, 41,000 +, is on their feet, even the unsteady Howard. Pinch hitter hits a double deep into the left field corner, Schumuker steaming for home. OF hits cutoff man Orlando Cabrera. Cabrera guns a bullet at supersonic speed to catcher Ramon Hernandez. Schumuker slides. Hernandez tags. Joe West yells, "Yer OUT!" Scoreboard sceams Reds Win! Fireworks go off and the world rejoices. What an ending!
Going out we saw an allegedly homeless man with a sign I actually believed- "Why lie? I want beer." I told KC, Him I would've given money to, had I any.
Going home was an adventure too. Gps lady got us onto 75, then trie to get us off again to head towards Indy. She then went to sleep for the night. Ash has a headache, so we stop at the first gas station for aspirin and a pepsi for me. Of course this was deep in the Cincy Ghetto, and the pumps were lined with blacks, none of which were actually pumping gas. Needless to say, we decided to forego the gas and move on. A block down the road we found a much safer BP complete with a cop, a totallt primered convertable with a door that openned up instead of out, and yet another homeless guy ("please, can you help me, sir? Ah'm homeless, ah'm starvin', ah'm about ready to commit suicide..." "Sorry, I don't have any cash on me." "Thank you sir." ) So I decide to buy him a bag of chips, but by the time I got them paid for, somebody gave him a couple of bucks, he came in, bought a bag of ice, and disappeared. I'll eat the chips later on. North of Dayton, we found a radio station that no lie we listened to all the way to Coliseum boulevard. X107.5, Lima, as it turns out. About this time, Ash got nauseous and we stopped off at yet another station so she could barf in the trash can. (Better her in the trash than Howard on my lap, though!) Arrived home at about 2:50 am. Have to say, best birthday present in recent memory. Right now, though, I'm going to go set up my other present- a home weather station! Life is good.