Incredible, Undeniable, Unforgettable
After that loss tonight, I headed to my local Kroger to pick up a six-pack of Great Lakes Burning River to drink away the misery of having a sub .500-team. On my way home, I was flipping through radio stations and came across the summer anthem of 2010 – Katy Perry’s “California Gurls.” While I’m strictly classic rock or incredibly offensive rap, I stayed tuned in and listened to Katy croon about the incredible, undeniable, unforgettable ladies of California. As I listened, I started to feel something – wistful nostalgia. Yes, Katy Perry made me feel and I’m not ashamed to say it. So please, read my ridiculous ramblings about last year and feel along with me.
P.S., We still prefer the 513 Dream’s “Cincinnati Girls.”
Last summer, you couldn’t get away from Katy’s ode if you tried, much like the Cincinnati Reds. Our first-place Cincinnati Reds could not be avoided, tamed, or ignored, much like “California Gurls.” After May of 2010, the Cincinnati Reds barely looked back. They gave all of Cincinnati (Reds fans or not) something to look forward to and enjoy. As I listened to Katy (and Snoop’s little rap where he so cleverly rhymes “bikinis” with “zucchinis” and “no weenies”), I couldn’t help but reflect on what we were doing this time last year – working our little computers to the motherboard (is that a thing? I don’t know about computers) to give Joey Votto that rightful spot at the All-Star Game. I know I voted about a million times and updated my Facebook and Twitter feeds on an hourly basis, telling all of my friends (baseball fans or otherwise) to vote for Joey Votto because he really deserved to go to the All-Star Game. I was proud of our Redlegs and I wanted the whole world to know that we were for real, we were contenders, and we weren’t going anywhere.
Last spring, I was teaching a lesson (I’m an English Education major) and included a photo of Jay Bruce swinging a bat and asked the students to tell me what verbs were taking place in the picture. Some smart-ass little punk (high schoolers are so delightful) shouted, “striking out” and “choking.” I then engaged in a heated discussion with my student, who happened to be an Indians fan, about how the Reds were just getting started and when the World Series came along, we’d see who had the last laugh. Unprofessional? Maybe. But I got my point across. I am first and foremost a Reds fan and anyone who wants to challenge me to a pissing match about our boys can step right up.
This was the picture.
I remember June 22, 2010, when I received one of the greatest birthday gifts of all time from my dad – a #32 Bruce jersey. It was my first legit baseball jersey, and I couldn’t keep it off of myself. As the eternal Bruce fan (I even changed my Facebook name to Tina Cisneros-Bruce), I really dug watching him blossom into the player I always knew he could be. While he had his tough times, I’ll never forget the night my parents and I spent at a local bar, The Lounge, to watch the Reds play the Cubs (because The Lounge is a Reds bar and a Cubs bar and they give you a free round for the first homer scored by a Red or a Cub). I sat there and watched as Jay Bruce hit not one, not two, but three home runs. I couldn’t believe it. Chris Valaika also hit his first home run in his first Major League at-bat that night. I remember thinking, “This team is really something.”
I remember the night the Reds clinched. I was pissed at Jay Bruce that night – he had struck out a couple of times and it looked like we were going to go into extra innings against the Astros. I even threatened to my roommates that I was going to burn my Bruce jersey (Reds fans are nothing if they aren’t passionate). I was so nervous about the clincher, I had to go outside to smoke a cigarette between the bottom of the eighth and the top of the ninth. I paused the game on TV and turned off my phone because I didn’t want to hear anything about it in the 7 minutes I’d be out of doors. When I got back inside, I pressed play and immediately went into a state of jubilation. I then turned on my cell phone and checked my various social media feeds, and everything had one thing or another to say about BRRUUUUUUUUCEEEE! I flipped out. I ran into the courtyard of our apartment building screeching about how the CINCINNATI REDS WERE CENTRAL DIVISION CHAMPIONS. We were going to the playoffs for the first time in 15 years and I was the right age to enjoy it to the fullest. I immediately packed my roommates (who couldn’t give two shits) into my car and drove to the nearest gas station. I walked in proudly, still sporting my rally cap, and purchased a bottle of Korbel champagne (I’m a poor college student, so this was a big spend for me). When I got home, I drank the entire thing out of my Cincinnati Reds batting helmet that you get when you buy one of those delightful sundaes at the ballpark.
This the was the picture I took that night in honor of my boy.
I remember mourning the fact that, because I was 150 miles away at school, I wouldn’t be able to attend the Reds Rally on the Square. I remember getting selected to purchase tickets to the NLDS and working with my grandmother to buy them – we had six tickets to all three home games in the Scout Box. I remember making arrangements to be absent from the high school where I was teaching so that I could attend the games. I remember learning that I would be in class for Game 1 of the NLDS, so I purchased the postseason package from MLB.com so I could watch the game on my computer during class. I remember being the most popular girl in class that day as everyone clamored to sit around me because I had the live game.
I (barely) remember watching Game 3 of the NLDS. The idea of being swept in the postseason was a lot for me to handle – I drank a lot that night. I do remember however, very clearly, the last out of that game. Just like that, the season was over. It was done, and emotions came over me. I felt so many different things – joy, pride, disappointment, and excitement. I went to my bedroom and cried. My brother found me crying, and after the initial awkwardness, he talked me through it. He said, “We have two things to look forward to now – Christmas and Spring Training.” He helped me calculate the days until Spring Training began, and we both felt ok. It took me a few weeks to get used to the fact that baseball season was over, but I eventually got over it and started looking forward.
After all that, I’m disappointed in this 2011 team. I am and will always be a Reds fan, but knowing that our guys can play better than how they are playing right now is difficult. I was hoping that the Reds would be able to pull out something incredible this season, and while things aren’t going too well right now, I know that some day, the Reds will be the team we know we can be. It might not be this season. It might not come for a few more years. But, that’s the thing about being a Reds fan – you have to believe in them. Come roster changes and losses, come slumps and winning streaks, you have to stick by your guys in Red and trust that someday, they will bring the pride to Cincinnati that we know they can. I know how hard it is to watch the Reds day in and day out, but negativity will get us nowhere.
So tonight, I say with absolute conviction, GO REDS!