CINCINNATI — Man, I could use some baseball today.
Instead of sitting in my house binge-watching Parks and Recreation for the ninth straight day, I should be down on the banks of the Ohio River, celebrating Cincinnati’s biggest day of the year: Reds Opening Day.
The Reds would be taking on the hated St. Louis Cardinals today to open their 151st season, but due to COVID-19, who knows when the MLB season will commence?
If you’re not from the Queen City, you might not get why this is a big deal, but that’s OK.
I’m not writing this for you.
I’m writing this for all the Cincy homers who hear their life narrated by Marty and Joe. This is for the west siders who impersonated the batting stance of Joe Morgan and the kids who idolized Ken Griffey Jr.
The Reds are a big deal to us here in Cincinnati, and Opening Day is when we celebrate this love affair.
Whether you grew up watching Frank Robinson, George Foster or Barry Larkin, if your phone number starts with 513, chances are, you take some pride in the baseball heritage we boast in Southwest Ohio.
Sure, it’s been a rocky few years, but our list of baseball accolades rivals anyone not named the New York Yankees. I’m talking about “The Big Red Machine,” the sport’s greatest team. Ever. These 1970’s Reds not only claimed Johnny Bench, the best catcher of all time, but also “The Hit King,” Pete Rose.
The list of retired numbers inside Great American Ball Park, accompanied by five World Series banners, represents just a snippet of the baseball royalty we claim in this fantastic city.
But Cincinnatians are more than just baseball fanatics with an over-the-top adoration for the hometown team. Above all, we are the most sentimental group of individuals you will ever meet, and we express this quality through where we went to high school, our beloved Skyline Chili and, most of all, the Reds.
It’s bigger than just baseball — the Reds are who we rally around, and they provide some of our sweetest memories.
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For me, I can’t help but tear up as I think back to the times spent in Great American Ball Park with my father.
Every year as a kid, he would find Opening Day tickets and get me out of school to head down to the ballpark. We still reminisce about Joe Randa’s walk-off homer against the Mets in ’05 or Ramon Hernandez’ game-winning liner into the right-field bullpen to beat the Brewers in 2011.
We’ll never forget Todd Frazier sending us into pandemonium, when he won the 2015 Home Run Derby in his home park.
Though my dad might not remember, I can still recall specific details from countless games he gladly took me to growing up.
I still vividly recall the 10-8 loss we took to the White Sox in 2009 — starting pitcher Johnny Cueto didn’t last long, but Jay Bruce hit a deep bomb late in the game that we got a good view of after sneaking into closer seats.
Though these details surely slipped the memory of my dad a few days after the game, they have stuck in my mind over a decade later, because the Reds meant everything to me as a child.
So he made sure we got down to the ballpark as much as we could.
I know I’m not alone when I say the Reds gifted my father and me with some of the best nights of our relationship. Countless other Cincinnatians can say the same.
We’re not just missing out on our favorite team right now — baseball is simply the vehicle for some incredible moments, the types we desperately need right about now.
The Reds have been around since 1869. They’ve seen 27 presidents and four wars. They have a rich history before this pandemic, and I’m confident they will outlast it.
Eventually, the Reds will return to the field once we defeat the coronavirus. When they do, you can be certain I will be there to celebrate with thousands of my Cincinnati brethren.
And, of course, my dad.