I've been to this park only once before; back in September 2011, I made the trip North to watch the Astros get creamed by Cincy. Of course, since our local minor-league affiliate was at the time connected to Houston, I was rooting for the beleaguered 'Stros. It was less than two weeks prior to this game that current 2B Jose Altuve had made his debut in The Show, and for me he and OF J.D. Martinez were the only reason I needed to show up.
|Trey and Jerry|
|In front of the "Original Nine" Mosaic|
Anyway, as we made our way to our seats, it was nothing but a sea of red in the stands throughout the park. The vast majority of these red shirts were representing the home team, though there were some Cards jerseys to be found. The atmosphere was more akin to that of a playoff game, and the crowd of 41,000+ was hanging on every pitch and every play throughout the night. I even saw The Wave make a complete circuit around the stadium several times, uninterrupted. I figure that's the first time I've ever seen nearly everyone in a sellout game participate.
Tonight for the Reds, outstanding young lefty Tony Cingrani took to the mound to face off against veteran righy Jake Westbrook. The box score and recap can be found here; you really don't need me to go into all that. C Devin Mesoraco had two bombs in this game, while CF Shin-Soo Choo added one of his own, and the crowd went customarily nuts. Cingrani struggled a bit in the first inning, but ended up mitigating the damage somewhat, allowing 3 runs on 4 hits in 5 innings while striking out 7. The Ks are never surprising, when this kid's on the bump. Big-time talent, and one to watch for certain.
Anyway, it's hard to describe the feel of a game like this. This kind of thing has to be experienced, first-hand. I've been to so many games in the past, both at the major and minor-league level, where the fans all seemed like they had lapsed into a coma. This was far from the case, tonight. The way I've felt about baseball in recent months has been less than positive. There have been a number of reasons for that; part of it is due to general stress and anxiety over matters other than those related to the game. But this game tonight was, in a word, electrifying. Reds and Cards fans always crank it up a notch when their teams face off, and tonight was no exception. It was refreshing to see real, vibrant life in the stands, from first row field level to the highest rows of the upper deck.
I suppose it made such an impression on me because it's been so long since I've seen fans so into the game. I guess that's all I'm saying here. Maybe it doesn't seem like a big deal to others, but games such as the one tonight (even if it had little true bearing on the postseason) are not all that common. For me, they're even less so.
It was just nice to see. And it was the sort of jolt I so badly needed. Never hurts to be reminded why you love something so much. We all need that, from time to time.