Friday August 1st, 2003
We flew into CVG, in Kentucky, and caught a cab into Cincinnati. Holly hell was it hot and humid ! Checked into the Netherland Plaza Hotel (very swank !) in down town Cinci and cooled down in our rooms for a while. God bless AC ! Then we hooked up with our cousin Sarah G and her boyfriend Dan ,who had also come from SF for the games, at the totally amazing bar in our hotel. A total art deco extravaganza. After a few we walked the couple of blocks down to the Reds brand spanking new stadium, The Great American Ball Park. It looks pretty nice but is kind of stark also. The only colors are red and white, the team colors, which makes for a rather sterile appearance. I did like the exposed steelwork and the main entrance was really well done but how about a little green guys ? The "signature feature" of the Park is what's called "The Gap", a break in the upper decks just to the 3rd base side of home. The idea was that there would be no bridges or spans across the gap and that you would be able to see the river from outside the park but greed took over. As you can see they just had to squeeze in one more luxury suite and it does ruin the effect if you ask me. Pete and I had heard about the specially of the house if you will, the Cheese Conie, and as soon as we had entered the Park we went in search of one. Turns out that it is a Vienna sausage like thing in a wonder bread bun with chili, made with cinnamon and chocolate btw, and an ungodly amount of grated American cheese on top. So much cheese that it looks like you have a little tray of not much else, with the bun etc. almost hidden below. I guess if you grew up with these things you would be a total junky but the chili kinda threw me at first, though by game three of the series I must admit I did start enjoying them. We then grabbed a beer and headed to our seats between home and 3rd and about 25 rows up. Nice ! Because we had arrived early enough to check out the park not that many people were there and as we were, of course, wearing our colors Krukow saw us from the booth and gave us a nice "what's up" wave ! The game itself was a bummer really, with the Giants loosing 5-3, but we still had a good time. G kept yelling "Get Some" (this became the rallying cry for the weekend) and there was this girl behind us that kept yelling "You Suck !" at the slightest provocation and especially at the Reds. The other thing we realized was that the Reds have one of the most satanic looking mascots ever ! Mr. Red, as he is called, used to have a handlebar mustache and look like an old turn of the century ballplayer but to make him more contemporary they removed the mustache and as far as I'm concerned he now look like a baseball version of Jason. If I was a kid and this walked up to me I'd freak !
After the game we found a little hole-in-the-wall bar on the way back to the hotel and a bunch of Reds fans bought us a round of beers when they realized we were actually from SF (they actually ID'd us). Also at the bar were this group from West Virginia singing "Take me home country roads, to the place I belo-ong. West Virginia, mountain moma, take me home country roads!" over and over again. When they figured out that we were from SF they broke out into the Rice-Aroni song ! How bizarre is that ?!? Later, at the entrance to the Netherland, we saw Tim Worrel, the Giants closer, hailing a cab and I said, as we walked past, "To bad we didn't get to use you today Timmy. Maybe tomorrow." I saw what I think was a surprised look on his face as we walked by, perhaps because he didn't expect anyone to recognize him in Cinci. After a few more at the hotel bar we all decided to call it a night.
Saturday August 2nd , 2003
During the night a weather front came through and dropped about 3 inches of rain on downtown Cinci in only an hour or two. Much thunder and lightning. Quite a show actually. Breakfast at a diner in a kind of mall under our hotel and then once more off to the Park for the 1:15pm game start, with Pete and I wearing our matching "Grab Some Pine, Meat" shirts (available at our Shops page btw). This time we went via the new Paul Brown football stadium and then down to and along the river (And past one of the most important bridges in history btw. This beauty was designed by Roebling in 1863 and was the test bed for the Brooklyn Bridge !) and then into the Park in center field. Our seats were front row left field so we had a great view. Unfortunately they were also right out in the sun and after all the rain the night before the humidity had actually increased to something like 85%. Thank god for beer men ! We also discovered that the guy sitting next to Pete was a drunken idiot that was with a couple of bus loads of NASCAR fans on their way to Indianapolis for a race. This clown refused to let us tip a beer guy and in the ensuing argument we missed Bonds smacking his only homer of the series ! It also turned out that he wasn't even supposed to be sitting there. Around the 3rd the people who's season tickets the seats were finally turned up. Mike and Jenn turned out to be very cool people and we immediately hit it off. One of their friend caught a Benito Santiago home run just a few seats to our right and they were amazed that we didn't fight for the ball instead of backing off and letting them make the catch. "It was your ball" was Peter's simple response. It also turns out the Reds have a new mascot called "Gapper" in addition to the afore mentioned Mr Red. I'm not sure what Gapper is supposed to be (Some kind of red bear ? It's named after the "Gap" obviously) but I got a nice shot of the two mascots cavorting in center field. After the game, another Giants loss by the score of 5-4 this time, Mike and Jenn took us up to the bar up in the left field corner of the stadium. Air conditioning ! We hung out there for a few beers while taking silly pictures of each other and getting several group shots. Then back to the hotels for a shower and a change. As we crossed a pedestrian bridge leaving the Park we were talking about how crappy our bullpen had been that game. We then realized that Dave Righeti, our pitching coach, and Mark Gardner, our bullpen coach, were right in front of us and had heard every word. Gardy gave us some major stink-eye but they didn't say a word (The pen had, after all, stunk !). After a quick clean up we headed off to a pub that Mike and Jenn had suggested to have dinner, stopping off to check out some of the pig art that seemed to be all over the place on the way. I had a nasty fish pie, which we refused to pay for, but it didn't really matter. New friends, hanging with your brother etc., a good group indeed. Since Sarah and Dan couldn't make the Sunday game (itís start time had been moved from 1pm to 8pm because of ESPN and they had a 8pm flight out of Dayton) we invited Mike and Jen and they jumped at it, especially when they found out where the seats were, i.e. the same seats we had for game 1. After dinner we made plans to hook up at 5pm the next day, on more of which later.
Sunday August 3rd, 2003
Dan and Sarah came over to the Netherland and we had brunch in the dining room adjoining the bar, which had been turned into an amazing buffet ! Seafood, made to order omelets, bagels and smoked salmon, etc. Very nice. After saying goodbye to G & D and resting up in our rooms we headed back down to the bar to meet Mike and Jenn at the afore mentioned 5pm. They had promised to take us over to the South side of the river, i.e. into Kentucky, and show us around. Come 5:30pm and no sign of them. Pete gave them a call on the cell and it turned out they were in the garden pulling weeds. They had remembered us asking them to the game but had totally jonesed on the 5pm thing ! No matter. We hit the hole-in-the-wall bar, had a "smasher" (a kind of squeezed grilled sandwich) and a beer and then met them at a bar next to the park at about 7pm, had a few more, and then into the Park, this time through the "Gap" entrance. We sat in our seats for a while, they bought us a couple more of the afore mentioned Cheese Conies, we had a few beers and then we decided to wander the Park for a while and check it out. We went up to the Club in the right field corner and tried to talk or way past "security" but they just wouldn't budge. Then this guy standing there just gave us his passes right in front of them (But, but, you can't do that !) and in we went to check out the view. After all that it was no big deal. The strangest thing was that the glass they used wasn't optically flat, i.e. it was like looking through one of those old windows that made everything wavy. Strange error in construction esp. as this is supposed to be for the elite. Then over to the Gap and eventually up to the bar in the LF corner. The game finally ended at about 11:30pm, the Giants finally wining one 7-3, and as it was a Sunday night, Mike and Jenn had to take off (that damned thing called work!). After saying goodbye Pete and I hit the hole-in-the-wall bar for a last brewski and then back to the hotel. Next morning we had breakfast delivered to our rooms, checked out, taxied to CVG, caught our flight to Chicago and just barely made the connection for the SF flight (first class upgrades again !). All in all a fun trip, though the humidity was a bit overbearing. The major plus was having Sarah and Dan along. Well done you two on your first of what hopefully will be many road-trips with us ! Next year Pittsburgh !?!