Take me out to the ballgame

I’m not what anyone would mistake for a sports fan. Except when my kids were playing sports in grade school and high school—I wouldn’t miss a game. Otherwise, not so much, unless we’re talking about gymnastics, competitive dancing and maybe diving.

Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati, Ohio

I’m not sure why Mark takes me with him to the Reds’ games when he goes once or twice a year, but I go along to keep him company and for the food. This time, though, I brought my own little sandwich baggie full of pretzels. Then someone sat down across the aisle from us with a large bag of aromatic freshly popped popcorn. I don’t know how I managed to get out of that park without buying some.

We are sitting in this mezzanine level, beside the stairs, on the right, at the bottom, where you can see  Mark wearing a gray jacket. I have a better view of the river from up here.

The ball park sits right on the Ohio River, across from where the Licking River that runs through Kentucky joins the Ohio. If, I mean when,  the Red’s get a home run, fireworks shoot out of the tall stacks you can see across the field. It’s an overcast day today, which is fine with me. Nothing worse than sitting through a three to four hour baseball game with the sun beating down on you.

As I’m documenting the ball park with my photographs, I notice a barge full of coal silently sliding past the stadium on the river.

I’m always amazed at the physics of these heavily laden barges being pushed by a small tug boat. And how in the world would you ever steer that thing? Tricky job. Although, there is something appealing to me about captaining a boat along a river every day. Gliding along. Listening to the water lap the sides. Watching the birds swoop and land on a rail. Seeing the sun sparkle off the water. Alone with your thoughts. I can see why some are attracted to this job.

I notice we are sitting beside the press box (and also beside a woman with very bright hair). Right past the “Cincinnati Reds” sign you can just make out the “Reds on Radio” sign above the glassed-in press box. I don’t know what Mark would do without the Reds on Radio. I also don’t really understand how anyone can listen to a baseball game on radio. Maybe it’s my short attention span. Or maybe I don’t have the childhood memory of sitting outside on a back patio with my family and grandparents, listening to the Reds on warm summer evenings, like Mark does. Maybe I would feel differently about it then.

If I zoom in with my little point and shoot Nikon Coolpix, I can see sportscaster, Marty Brennaman in the white shirt in the press box. If you’re a baseball fan, you’ve probably heard of Marty Brennaman. If not, you might not care.

Upbeat music clips play on the impressive sound system when the teams change fields or between innings. When they built this new stadium a few years ago, I think they made the seats narrower, like they’ve done on airplanes, to pack more people in and make more money. At the same time, I’m getting wider. Not a good combination.

I haven’t made it through the first inning yet and I am already looking for diversions. I can’t decide if this photographer’s job is a good one or a bad one.

Here comes another barge. This one carries something in blue containers. I have no idea what.

But it’s also being pushed by a small tug boat.

Thankfully there is a gigantic scoreboard to my left, so I can at least pretend like I know what is going on.

Oh look, another barge. This one also has closed containers. The closed containers are starting to make me nervous. Just exactly what is inside those? I feel a little bit like a spy. I can take a photograph from a great distance and then crop in and magnify it on my computer and see all kinds of detail not visible to the naked eye from where I sit.

It reminds me of the time we went to Kennebunkport right on the same weekend as a Bush family wedding. Traffic came to a dead halt and helicopter propellers beat the air overhead when the caravan with George W. Bush, who was president at the time, rode in. The quaint little town was crawling with secret service who, in their all-black multi-pocketed suits, looked like something out of a sci-fi movie. We went on a schooner ride and had to pass by the wedding reception venue. The water was dotted with secret service inflatable rafts. It was kind of scary.

I am going to have to find out more about just how these barges and tug boats navigate down the river. This goes on day after day and I’ve never thought about it before. My father-in-law used to sit in his condominium on a hill overlooking the river and watch the barges go up and down the river all day.

I find this fascinating. I don’t know why. Probably has something to do with my OCD. It kind of reminds me of watching teachers erase chalk boards. I used to hate it if they were careless and missed a bit of chalk—the top of a t or the end of a sentence.

More coal. This barge, like all the others is heading east. If it follows the Ohio River, it could go to Pittsburgh or beyond. But maybe it’s taking the coal to fuel a small little town along the river. And where is all this coal coming from anyway? I sure hope it is not the result of mountaintop removal mining. What a travesty.

I caught the wake behind this tug boat. Maybe they’re not actually called tug boats. I need to find out. So many things I just don’t know.

This is the only boat I saw that wasn’t pushing a barge. It is a little entertainment boat that you can ride up and down the river on.

I bought a small soft drink and got gouged for five bucks. Like the smaller seats, I see this as another sign of corporate greed. I refuse to believe it costs Skyline Chili, a Cincinnati food establishment that has booths at the ball park, four times the amount of money to provide paying customers a beverage in the ballpark than it does at their restaurants. Why the upcharge? We are a captive audience. They’re gouging us because they can.

Another thing that bothers me, if I’m being honest, is just how much money and time is spent by men and women watching primarily men play sports. Now you might argue that women’s sports are gaining fans. I’d like to look at the time and money stats. That’s all I’m saying.

I took a little stroll towards the end of the game. The Reds were losing 4 – 1 according to the scoreboard. I shot this photo of the Great American Financial building from a walkway in the stadium. It looks pretty powerful and intimidating, doesn’t it?

I’m pretty sure the Reds lost. If you want more details about the game, you’ll have to check the sports pages.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 336 other followers