Friday, August 01, 2008

Reds at Nationals

CIN @ WAS 8-1-08
With the current unbalanced schedule in place, most teams only play other teams in the league outside their own division about 6 times a year.  One series at home, one away.  So I get three chances each season to catch the Reds when they visit Washington to play the Nationals.

I enjoy games the most when I can see them with someone.  Since most of my friends aren't as big baseball fans as I am, and none are Reds fans, I can introduce them to the game and the team.  I do love to talk about both.  So invitations were made, and Sarah & Paul were able to join me Friday night.

Homer Bailey started for Cincinnati. The former phenom, this past-tense prospect, did not have a good night.  He lasted two innings, giving up five runs.  Rather than attempt to build suspense, I'll tell you now, that was all the offense Washington needed.  There were some good plays on both sides, including a diving catch by Jay Bruce in right.  Bruce added to his excellent night with a solo home run, which proved to be half of the runs the Reds would get all night.

Even with my Reds having a tough time of it, I love seeing games live, so it was a great time for me.  In fact, the most disappointing thing was not the outcome, but our neighbors.  We sat in the upper deck, and after a few innings some folks showed up to fill the row behind us.  They were Reds fans, I'm ashamed to say.  I suspect they had "pre-gamed" some, as they were already quite loud and obnoxious.  Despite children sitting nearby, they cursed quite a bit.  They sloshed a bit of beer on us.  And, possibly most annoying to me, they were ignorant about the game.  They would yell out how so-and-so couldn't hit, and how another player was a great fielder.  They were almost uniformly wrong.  Baseball is a subtle, elegant game, but they had no appreciation for it.  I don't understand how you can be a baseball fan, and not be interested how baseball actually works.  Adam Dunn may "only" hit homeruns (not entirely true), but he also walks.  A lot.  So he forces in a lot of runs, and puts himself on base so others can bat him in a lot.  He is immensely valuable.  Austin Kearns is a decent player, but is not nearly as valuable as Dunn because he is often injured and has never shown the same degree of power.  But they had to share their contrary opinion with the whole section.  These are just two examples of their errors.

We ended up moving to some empty seats in the ninth to get away from them.  I think I actually prefer it when the crowd is less in to a game - I can concentrate on what is happening and enjoy the details of defensive positioning, pitch selection, and the running game.

I've complained a lot, but truly the annoyances were a drop in the bucket compared to watching my team play with my friends.  It was a lot of fun, and even if this is the last time the Reds are in town this year, I look forward to catching some more games before the season is out.

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