This weekend we made it to Cincinnati for our first game of the season. A roadtrip to meet up with Shani’s folks at The Great American Ballpark. Here are 8 random observations:
1) I could be a professional baseball park travel agent. I got prime seating for $28, parking for $5, and executed an exit strategy that was easy as pie. All this for a sold-out game. I have this down to a science. In fact, NuckolBall readers should feel free to contact me for consultation if you’re visiting a ballpark. I’ll set you up.
2) I found the people of Cincinnati to be incredibly kind and helpful. And every single one of them want to talk about why Pete Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame.
3) During batting practice, baseballs gather in between the pitcher and hitter. Every once in a while a bat boy has to run out an pick up all of those balls. But with the Cardinals, all the players go out and do it as a group. These are millionaires and they’re doing it like they did in little league. I have never seen another team do this – and it speak volumes about the Cardinals to me.
4) If you get to Cincinnati, get your ass to Skyline Chili. They make these chili dogs that have a 6-inch cloud of finely-shredded cheese piled on top. You wonder how you can fit in all in your mouth, but then it mushes together into cheesechilihotdogonionsmustardheavenallgone. Alex is digging in to one in this photo:
5) 90% of the time, Shani is the worst co-pilot on earth. She alternates between reading, dozing off, and fiddling with her phone. She sets her water cup overtop my carefully arranged power cords. She is deeply annoyed when I ask her to put the creamer into my coffee because I’m busy driving a car.
But then there’s the other 10% of the time. She’ll pull out a chapter book and read aloud in her melodious voice. The boys will be captivated and keep begging for just “one more chapter.” Or she’ll snatch up my phone (the phone I’m using the navigate with) and start cycling through TV theme shows on Spotify.
“You know this one, I bet.”
“Is that Dallas? No…Dynasty!”
“It’s St. Elsewhere, silly.”
“How about this one – I loved this show!”
And yes, we’ll miss our exit, but still we’re in hysterics as we sing the theme to Moonlighting together.
6) My boys’ ability to road trip is simply mindboggling. We did 11 hours straight on Friday and come Sunday they jumped right back in the car, eager to hit the highway.
7) Shani’s parents are my perfect role models for what I want to be as a grandparent. They drove 600+ miles to spend 24 hours with the boys. Saturday morning they took Alex to Target so they could get a sewing kit. One of his stuffed animals had a tear and required “groin surgery”.
Shani’s folks get it and they do it 100% right.
8) My life is divided into 2 seasons, baseball season and not baseball season, and there is a valve in my heart that opens up in April and then slides shut with the final out of the World Series.
This Saturday I sat in the sun at The Great American Ballpark and watched the Red and the Cardinals play. My son was next to me talking with his grandfather about Stan Musial. A few seats over, Alex was chattering away as he showed Shani and her mother photos he had taken of the game. I could smell the mucky spring scent of the Ohio River, which flows behind right field. I had a big, cold Bud Light and a bag of peanuts.
That valve in my heart was wide wide open.
It’s 2015. Play ball.
Reader’s note: The NuckolBall sports editor, Jack Nuckols, has now officially ranked the ballparks he has visited. That list will be coming this week.
Here are some photos from the weekend.