Monday's SSD crash took an annoying, but reasonable, amount of time to fix. Otherwise I would have posted this photo of Great American Ball Park yesterday:
And, of course, an obligatory photo of Cincinnati's most recognized landmark:
I'll have a couple more in days to come.
Last night, while watching the Seahawks-Packers game (and rooting for the Seahawks for the same reason I wore a Giants hat to a Reds game), I saw the end of the rule of law.
For three weeks, the National Football League referees have been locked out in a pensions dispute. The NFL has called in refs from the lower rungs of college sports, causing, to put it politely, controversy. Games have gotten longer by about 15 minutes as the replacement refs double-check the rules and the replays, causing players to test boundaries and fans to scream blue murder.
Last night's game ended with a disputed call in its final seconds—disputed, in fact, by the two line judges standing a short meter from the thing they were disputing. Touchdown? Stop the clock? Pass interference? No one knew. On TV, it clearly looked like an interception, and a Packers win. The head ref for the game called touchdown, and under review, let the call stand.
If almost no one trusted the replacement refs before, after last night, their authority has completely vanished.
The owners have little incentive to end the labor dispute, and strong incentive to stand firm. They're thinking ahead to negotiations with players; appearing to cave in their dispute with the refs might look bad. And fans keep watching, for fifteen extra minutes each week, so the league has an actual financial benefit.
Without trusted referees, though, games will get nastier, messier, and more disputed. Remember the 1994 World Series? Superbowl XLVII may look a lot like it.
Yesterday I posted a shot of the Cincinnati Reds clinching the National League Central Division title. Here's the whole park, from the cheap seats:
And here's a little nerd humor for you. Why can't anyone hit a home run over Cincinnati's center-field wall? Because no one can find it:
More Cincinnati photos after my 1pm meeting...
Yesterday afternoon, I saw this happen:
That's the Cincinnati Reds just after they beat Los Angeles to become the National League Central Division champions this year. And because they beat L.A., they helped San Francisco clinch the West, making it an all-around fun afternoon. (N.B.: I wore a Giants hat to the game.)
More Cincinnati and Great American Ball Park photos when I get back to Chicago.
It's a beautiful afternoon for a ballgame, at least here in Cincinnati, where I hope to see the Reds become the first team this season to clinch its division outright. I'll actually be wearing a Giants hat, as a Cincinnati win against the Dodgers today moves San Francisco's magic number to 1—and I want to see them in the playoffs.
Anyway, it's 21°C, partly cloudy, and Oktoberfest is right outside my hotel room. I am optimistic about this trip to the 24th park in the Geas.
Update: O noes! I missed the world's largest chicken dance!!!11!1
I've banged away at the 30-Ballpark Geas for four seasons now, long enough for three new parks to spring up since I started. Next weekend I'm visiting Cincinnati, the 24th park, leaving eight to go. (Citi Field and New Yankee Stadium got added to the list because they replaced parks I visited before finishing the Geas. The third new park, New Marlin Ballpark, replaced one I hadn't ever visited before, and therefore wasn't already ticked off only to be un-ticked by new construction.)
With the MLB 2013 Schedule released ridiculously early this week, a path forward has presented itself. Barring rain, war, or other unpredictable misfortune, here's the likely End of the Geas, five years after it began:
† vs. Cubs
The trip to O.Co in July is a bonus game, added simply because the Cubs have never played there before, and going to the West Coast would likely result in a stop to see the family regardless.
So, there it is: An early-season road trip to Toronto and New York; a mid-season West Coast trip followed by a triangle trip through the Great Plains; sneaking in a quick overnight trip up to Minneapolis; and ending at the home of the Cubs' ancient rivals, the Cardinals.
The Cubs might even win one or two of those games...
Yesterday I showed Alfonso Soriano stealing third. Here's the result:
Man, those were great seats. $80 at Petco; $251 at Wrigley; $450 at New Yankee.
My last one this morning is the last one I took of Petco Park:
Now if only the Cubs had won...
The 30-Park Geas took me to Petco Park last night, where the 4th-place Padres beat the 4th-place Cubs:
I thought the park was OK. Like some of the other 21st-century parks, it seemed to lack character. It felt more corporate than, say, Camden Yards or even AT&T Park. The fans seemed to agree, as only about 27,000 showed up (out of a capacity of over 42,000.
But the lack of demand for seats let me get an 8th-row field box for under $80. And that, in turn, let me get photos like this one of Alfonso Soriano stealing 3rd:
Or this one of Travis Wood pitching:
I'm now up the coast, at my folks' house. More photos tomorrow.
I visited my 22nd baseball park last night, the quasi-retro Citi Field, to see the bottom-ranked Cubs take on the second-place Mets:
The Cubs got their first run on the Mets' second pitch and by the bottom of 5 they were up by 5 runs. At the point I took this photo, the bottom of the 6th, it was still 7-2 Cubs and the Mets' so-called "fans" were leaving the park like something on the field stank worse than...well, the two teams on the field:
Then, in the bottom of the 9th, still leading by 4, Carlos Marmól took the mound for no reason anyone could discern, and nearly gave away the game:
Entering with a four-run lead, he gave up a solo homer to Valdespin with one out, then walked Ruben Tejada, pinch hitter Daniel Murphy and David Wright to load the bases.
Pinch-hitter Ike Davis followed with a single, bringing up Duda. Marmol's quick reflexes saved the Cubs.
"Marmol's quick reflexes" my ass. With the bases loaded and no one expecting Marmol to do anything helpful, a single-A pitcher from the Carolina League could have caught the droopy thing Duda hit straight at the mound and gotten the game-ending double play. But let's review what happened to get us there: Marmol gave up three runs and three (consecutive!) walks in 10 minutes. And he didn't even need to be there.
I would like to end on a happy note. I found a decent pale ale at the park, brewed right in New York City: Sweet Action from Brooklyn's Sixpoint Brewery. What a nummy session beer—and the only one sold in 470 mL cans (cf. 350 mL cans for everything else). I'll be make sure to get some Sweet Action next time I'm in New York. (And some Redhead maple bacon peanuts, from Grand Central Market. Who invented these?)
And why am I here? That, at 7pm tomorrow: