An East Coaster’s First Impressions of Cincinnati
It’s my pleasure to introduce you to our next guest blogger, Justin Long. In addition to being a valuable member of our Reds Media Relations Department, Justin is a huge asset to our social media content team. And because I like him, I won’t even comment on his comparing Chapman to Papelbon. - Lisa
Hey Reds fans,
I’m one of the newest members of the Reds Media Relations staff. Prior to moving here from Massachusetts in January, I had never been to Cincinnati. I knew basic facts about the Reds and I remember my dad loving the Nasty Boys when I was a kid, but that’s about it. I had never heard of Skyline, Kroger or LaRosa’s, and I didn’t know what a 102mph fastball looked like in person.
Since you folks are diehard Reds fans, and since many of you have probably spent a good chunk of your lives in the Cincinnati area (at least more than I have), I thought you might want to hear an out-of-towner’s first impressions of your team and city. So, here are a few random thoughts and observations as the first month of the season comes to a close:
First things first…
Nine times out of 10, when I meet someone from Cincinnati I get asked two questions: 1) If you’re from Massachusetts, why don’t you have an accent? 2) Have you had Skyline yet?
First, I like the accent question because people always seem so disappointed when I pronounce my R’s and don’t refer to it as Great American Ball Pahk. I grew up in a small farm town almost 100 miles outside the city, and us country folk don’t have accents. (But now that I think about it, to avoid further disappointment I should probably just fake the accent whenever I meet people.)
And yes, I’ve had Skyline a few times. I have to admit that I had MAJOR doubts when I first saw pictures of it, but we’ve actually gotten along just fine. However, if I had to pick a local favorite, I’d definitely go for the wings at Knockback Nat’s on 7th. Best wings I’ve ever had. Check ‘em out if you haven’t already.
Teddy and Todd
Todd Frazier hitting a home run for Teddy Kremer is one of my new favorite sports moments. It’s incredible for so many reasons, but the part of the video that gets me every time is when Ted forgets to grab Frazier’s bat because he’s so overwhelmed with excitement. It’s impossible to watch that video and not smile. VIDEO
Quick side note about Teddy: One of my friends who I worked with in Massachusetts (and who grew up in Cincinnati) knows Teddy from his high school days, and he describes him as one of his good friends. Prior to a football game, Teddy told my friend (who was on the team) that he would block a field goal. My friend didn’t think much of it at the time, but, sure enough, he ended up blocking one at a pivotal moment late in the game. Just like Teddy said he would.
The Cuban Missile
Just as I’m jealous of Nationals fans who get to watch Bryce Harper on a regular basis, I hope you folks realize what you have in Aroldis Chapman. He’s one of the most exciting athletes of today’s sports world. I had seen highlights of his pitching prior to the 2013 season, but watching him in person is 100 times better. The anticipation before he enters a game, the crowd’s reaction when the bullpen doors open, his ability to hit triple digits on the radar gun, that feeling of “Everything is going to be okay” when he takes the mound—it’s all great stuff. I remember having similar thoughts when Jonathan Papelbon entered a game at Fenway Park, but the Chapman Effect is on another level.
The Rock Star
The question I get most often from people back home is, “Who’s your favorite player to work with?” Rather than disappoint my friends and family members by explaining that the Reds players have no clue who I am, I just tell them everyone on the team is great. I really couldn’t pick a favorite—this is a special group. However, I’ve been rooting for Bronson Arroyo since I was a kid (plus, he played for the Sox), so a part of me will always consider him to be a “favorite” of mine. When he recorded his 1,000th strikeout as a Red, the ovation at GABP was more than everyone in the press box had expected. It was a special moment, and a well-deserved moment. I would love to see him get a similar ovation every time he takes the mound. Players like Arroyo don’t come around too often—enjoy him while he’s here in Cincinnati.
Bruce’s Home Run Slump
I think of myself as an extremely patient and optimistic person, so I love when the media blow storylines out of proportion. One of my favorites in 2013 is Jay Bruce’s home run drought, mainly because of how Bruce responds to questions about it: “History shows that I hit home runs.” In other words, he’s not worried. Simple enough! Plus, Bruce’s season HR total has increased every year (21, 22, 25, 32, 34), which puts him on pace to tie Barry Bonds’ record of 73 in 2024 and ultimately set the unbreakable record of 90 at the ripe age of 41. Never argue with math. And, while we’re at it…
…Never Doubt Joey Votto
I love the “Joey Votto’s HR and RBI numbers are down” discussion, because it’s very similar to the “New York Yankees are too old” discussion I heard for roughly 20 years in a row. As a Red Sox fan, I always got my hopes up when I heard the experts talking about how the Yankees didn’t stand a chance because they were too old. Well, every year I had to watch those old Yankees crush the hopes of the Sox (except in 2004 and 2007). This past off-season, the Yankees were DEFINITELY too old to compete…until, you know, they got off to a 15-10 start. Some things are just inevitable, and Joey Votto hitting the ball well is one of those things. So, yeah, I wouldn’t worry about Votto.
I love Great American Ball Park
I’ve been to other ballparks, but I’m obviously most familiar with Fenway. And even though Fenway is a classic, it doesn’t have the entertainment GABP has. I’m a sucker for everything that gets thrown up on that mammoth screen, from Kiss Cam to the mascot races—it’s all new to me, and I think Adam Lane and his team do an amazing job with all of it. Throw in the fireworks and the free pizza (I love how excited the crowd gets when the 11th strikeout is recorded), and being at any game is quite the treat. You Cincinnatians are lucky. If I had GABP as a kid, I would have been there for every home game.
Which brings me to my last observation:
The Reds Organization is Truly Amazing
It’s not easy packing up your life and moving to a new city, but the Reds couldn’t have made that transition easier. It’s cliché to say something is “like a family,” but that’s exactly how it feels here. Whether it’s been the support for Chris Herrell, the Twitter campaign to have Joey Votto named the Face of MLB, the Opening Day celebration, the legendary Marty Brennaman being in the radio booth, or the general friendliness and helpfulness of the front office staff, this has been a special place to work.
So, there you have it. Even though I still haven’t figured out your weather and I can’t get that “Cincinnati, O-hi-o” song out of my head, Cincinnati easily gets my approval. I’m looking forward to what the next few months have in store. I know my family is rooting for a Reds vs Red Sox World Series, but we’ll just have to wait until October. (Or, I guess I should say Octobah.)