It's as American as baseball, hotdogs, and apple pie. My mind automatically wants to add "Chevrolet" to the list, even though I tend to be more of a Ford man. The automatic response is the result of the successful programming of my brain by a General Motors marketing campaign when I was a child.
I don't mind hotdogs, but there's not much to them. Given a choice, I'd take a burger nine times out of ten. I like apple pie, but only if I can have it with vanilla ice cream. Calling it pie ala mode makes it sound French rather than American.
As for baseball, I was never a player. I grew up playing IUTIS softball. I played intramural softball in college, but that was the extent of my participation. My son played youth baseball for a couple of years, but decided that it didn't interest him. I have two daughters that play softball, one at the seventh grade level. As for spectating, I followed the Reds as a kid, mainly because my dad did. The last time that I attended a professional game was in Pittsburgh in 1993.
So, when I won some tickets to a Reds game at a 5K in April, I wasn't sure whether I would use them, and whether I would enjoy it if I did. So, with the encouragement of my dear wife, I packed my two teens into the car and made the two-hour trek to Cincinnati last night.
We drove through rain on the way down and heard radio reports of a tornado warning in the county that we had just left behind. I started to worry that the whole trip would be for naught, although the announcer on the radio confidently predicted that the first pitch was still scheduled for 7:10.
We made it through the bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic, for which I am thankful that I don't have to fight on a daily basis, parked the car, and made it to the ball park with about 20 minutes to spare.
It ended up being a wonderful experience. Cincinnati's pitcher, Bronson Arroyo, walked the first batter, and he ended up scoring, giving the Astros a 1 run lead. But that was the only run that the Astros would score. Jerry Hairington, Jr. of the Reds answered with a solo homer in the bottom of the first to tie the game. Jay Bruce ended up with two homers and a triple, as the Reds won 6-1 with Arroyo pitching all nine innings. It was the last game of the series, in which the Reds swept the Astros.
It was a small crowd, probably due to the iffy weather. There were less than 18,000 in attendance, but those that were there were real fans. There's something infectious about the atmosphere that almost makes me want to follow the sport, but who's got the time and energy (and the capacity for heartbreak when your team loses) for all of that? Even with the free tickets, we had to spend 4-1/2 hours in the car just driving down and back on an evening when I had to work the next day.