July 2, 2004
Indians 15, Reds 2
W: Kazuhito Tadano
L: Jesus Sanchez
HR: Ron Belliard (CLE), Victor Martinez (CLE), Casey Blake (CLE), Coco Crisp (CLE), D'Angelo Jimenez (CIN)
Time of Game: 3 hours, 3 minutes
Location: Cincinnati, OH
First Game: March 31, 2003
My last stadium visit in 2004 was Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. After nearly a week in Illinois, I started my trip back to Virginia. On a Friday morning, I left for Cincinnati. Although I have driven through Ohio countless times over the years, this was my first time in Cincinnati in a very long time. I went to a game at the old Riverfront Stadium many years earlier, but remember very little of that.
I timed my trip so I would be able to get to Cincy in time to find a place to watch the Sox/Cubs game that afternoon. I wound up watching the game at a bar near the ballpark. Coincidentally, the bartender was a Cubs fan, so I had no problem getting them to turn the game on. After the game, I walked to the stadium down by the river.
On the shore of the Ohio River sits Great American Ball Park. It is situated immediately next to where Riverfront Stadium used to be. The park opened in 2003, so I was there for a game in just the second season for the stadium. The ballpark is situated with the river beyond right field, just like PNC Park in Pittsburgh. I didn't make it up to the upper deck, but from there, you would surely have a nice view of the river as well as the shores of northern Kentucky. There is a single level of seats in right field separating the field from the river.
An identifiable feature of the park are the large light towers in the outfield. Also in the outfield are a pair of smokestacks that emit smoke and fireworks throughout the game. They are reminiscent of the stacks from old steamboats that used to flow down the Ohio River.
The primary seating areas have some unique features too. There is a large gap between seating areas down the third base line. From the point of the gap out towards left, there are two large upper levels of seats, while going the other way, there is a much smaller club level below the large upper deck. The unique design of the third base seats keeps more upper level seats closer to the field. I sat in the lower level of the left field seats. I was quite a ways back from the field, so my seat was covered by the second deck of seats in left field. As you can see from one of the photos below, my seat was directly down the line, to the point where the foul pole nearly blocked my view of the plate.
The is one of the best hitters' parks in baseball. The outfield seats are easily reachable in all directions, especially left field. It plays similarly to Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. I suppose fans love to see home runs, but I don't particularly like how some of these newer parks have cheapened the home run. Not all that surprisingly, there were five home runs hit in this game.
The game wasn't quite a sellout, but it was a nice crowd for the battle for Ohio bragging rights. Both teams were having mediocre seasons to this point. Only one team would leave this game with their dignity in tact though, and ironically that was the team that started a pitcher who used to make money by acting in Japanese gay porn movies (hopefully this doesn't get my blog black-listed). Kazuhito Tadano got his first Major League start for the Indians. Jesus Sanchez started for the Reds.
The Reds actually scored first. In the bottom of the second, Tadano walked Brandon Larson with the bases loaded to force in the first run of the game. The Reds lead would not last long though. In the top of the third, Tadano singled in his first career at bat, which would be a sign of how things would go for the remainder of the game. Ron Belliard hit a two run home run to give the Indians a lead they would build upon from there.
The Indians broke the game wide open in the fifth inning. They launched two different three run home runs in the inning (Victor Martinez and Coco Crisp) to take a 9-1 lead. The six run inning was their first of two such innings. In the eighth, they added six more, highlighted by the third three run home run of the game, this one by Casey Blake. The game mercifully ended with the Indians pummeling the Reds by a score of 15-2.
While the Indians power was impressive, the real story of the game was Tadano. The guy who was previously only known for raunchy videos, had the game of his life... literally. He pitched seven strong innings, allowed just four hits and sruck out 10 batters. Plus, he added a single and a run scored on offense. Unfortunately, this wound up being his only career win.
Great American Ball Park is a very nice stadium. It makes good use of a great location on the river as well as the close proximity to downtown Cincinnati. There are a couple parks that are slightly more scenic, but this one ranks high on the list.
This was my final stop in an abbreviated 2004 trip. With only four parks hit that year, I had to make up for it with a six stadium tour down the road. It was nice to be part of big crowds for all of the games I saw in 2004 though.
Next stadium: RFK Stadium, Washington