Around the Horn: Random Observations on Opening Day

NOTE: While some of us at CityBeat had to actually keep the machine operating Monday, others found time to go to The Reds’ Opening Day. Our General Manager, Dan Bockrath, was one of the slackers. To make up for missing work, he has put together some casual observations — Larry King-style — from the first game of the season.

(photo: ballparktour.com)

My God what a beautiful day. Not a cloud in the sky. If you’ve ever wondered what the weather is like in San Diego, imagine 250+ days just like today every year.

The annual parade was its usual indulgent doodah self. Grand Marshal Eric Davis was absolutely resplendent in his pinstripe suit and ruby red shoes riding in a … monster firetruck? Huge props to the organizers at Findlay Market who work like mad to keep the tradition alive every year. A true labor of love.

We’ve scored seats in Row A down the left field line. Sweet! It’s almost like you’re on the field. Hey, I’ve got a decent shot at a foul ball today.

The field is immaculate. Simply immaculate.

Not a big fan of the new unis. Would like to see more red on the Reds.

Player intros: Eric Milton is booed. Josh Hamilton gets a huge cheer. And (yawn) everyone loves Bronson.

Gia Farrell gives the crowd an American Idol moment with a Whitneyesque version of the National Anthem. Deliberate with the double tiered “free … eeeee” at the end as the fighter jets screamed past. Wish I could be a Simon, but she nailed it.

The new mascot, Mr. Redlegs, gets an overly dramatic (and entirely unnecessary) special intro. As he circles the field, I lean over and whisper to my friend, “You know, I could easily hop the railing and grab that bat out of Mr. Redlegs’ hands as he rides by. I’d probably be on every highlight show across the country.” He laughs and tells me to go for it.

Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory is throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. Here’s a chance to score big points with the local sports fans. Last year, W, who must live for these moments, cowboyed up in the 35 degree igloo and fired a strike from the mound. Mallory strides confidently on to the field and heads straight for the mound. Alright, I thought, the mayor has got some game. He bluffs taking the rubber and settles in at the base of the mound.

Hesitates … hesitates … starts the windup … and short arms one about 35 feet.

Eric Davis bails him out with a clean pickup of the one-hopper. But the damage is done. It may have been the worst looking throw I’d ever seen (SportsCenter later wonders if it was the worst first pitch of all time!). The crowd jeers. Oh dear God — so much for any cred with the sports community. His approval rating probably fell about 20 points. Mallory really wants a do-over, but it’s time to play ball.

The Game

Harang starts strong and looks sharp through 7 — a good sign.

I’m not a Narron fan. I don’t quite understand this whole lefty-righty thing that has Adam Dunn batting second. So when Freel draws a walk to start the game, I’m already running smack. “Lay down a bunt! Hit and run!” Then — CRACK!! — like a cannon shot it’s 2-0.

Ummm … errr … go Reds! But sorry folks — two dingers should prove that Dunn does not belong in the No. 2 slot. He’s gotta bat third or fourth.

An ice cold BarrelHouse Red Legg ale would hit the spot right now. If I only knew where it was being poured. One lap around the track and we come up empty. A Hoffbrau draft is a suitable substitute. But someone please tell us where the BarrelHouse stand is.

Dunn’s second homer is absolutely crushed. Scoreboard has it at 421 feet. Whaaa? That was close to a 500 foot bomb, easy.

Speaking of scoreboards, it was acting as loaded as the crowd. At one point it had the score at 9-1 and was glitchy all game. Computers can be a pain in the ass sometimes.

New Red Alex Gonzalez makes a fantastic diving stop up the middle and almost gets the force at second. Freel tracks down a gapper with a brilliant diving catch and almost picked off a bullet by Derrek Lee. And Marty says that Josh Hamilton is the Reds best defensive player. It’s gonna be a good year for D.

We did get a couple of foul balls grounded our way. The Reds ball boy fielded both and handed them to young boys sitting on either side of us. Good show! You should have seen the smiles on those kids faces. (Although one kid spent about two innings playing games on his Dad’s Crackberry, completely missing out on one of Dunn’s homers. I almost said something but Dad finally reclaimed his PDA.)

Reds fans are their usual complacent selves, even on Opening Day. They barely muster enough energy for a Dunn curtain call after his second bomb. And Freel’s diving catch barely got a rise out of the sold-out crowd. They’d have been going crazy at Fenway. Hey, when you need to be prompted by a scoreboard to make noise … BAAAAAAAA.

You can’t stop the smokers at the GABP, you can only try to contain them. Puffers thumbed their noses at the new law and lit up along the concourse behind the right field corner.

Oh, and it was a friggin’ party in that right field corner. Many, many, many beers were being consumed.

Josh Hamilton gets the call to pinch hit in the eighth and the crowd goes wild. Think they want this guy in the lineup every day? He smacks a rope to left and gets robbed of his first major league hit. And the crowd goes wild again. Josh Hamilton for Mayor of Cincinnati! We know he can throw better than our current one.

Pete is in the house. He gets a little camera love late in the game. You can tell he’s moved on — he couldn’t even be bothered to wear red to Opening Day.

Reds win 5-1. We’re in first place! For now.

— Dan Bockrath

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11 Comments on “Around the Horn: Random Observations on Opening Day”

  1. Kenny Says:

    That was more than a “short arm” from Mallory. It looked like a tiny hurricane blew in the moment the ball left his hand and blew far left. Far left? I always thought Mallory was more moderate.

  2. Dan Says:

    I stand corrected on the E.D. save after seeing the “lowlight” on Sportscenter. Mallory chucked that “pitch” into the ground at least 10 feet to the right of Davis. One of the umps fielded it and promptly “ejected” the Mayor.

    And good God did he take a beating on talk radio for that toss.

  3. McKracken Says:

    Man, I could watch that replay of the first pitch over and over. Funniest thing I’ve seen all year.

    They should have let Mallory’s bodygaurd catch.

  4. your eleven o'clock Says:

    Someone get that guy a Bud Light:

  5. citybeat Says:

    Maybe the Honorable Mayor hit a bird? A tiny, invisible bird?

  6. Marilyn Says:

    OMG! Mr. Bockrath, thanks for the second great laugh of my day! The first laughfest came while I watched the presidential press conference this morning!

  7. Kenny Says:

    Mark made all the late night comedian monologues last night. Jimmy Kimmel said he’ll be on his show tonight to try the pitch over.

  8. Marilyn Says:

    I heard that Conan wants him on his show!

  9. citybeat Says:

    Mark was great on Kimmel. Screwed the do-over up again, but he was pretty funny and composed. Way to take a bad song and make it better, Mr. Mayor.


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