Greg and I had been talking quite extensively about what would become “Head First Slide”. We had recorded our first episode, which was harder than I’d like to admit because well the Reds had not been good so far that season. 2012 started off bad.
We setup our account on Libsyn and made a post that night, the first ever.
We had dreams come true.
Recently I received an email from Lisa Braun (The best person to ever walk the face of the planet). She wanted to know if 4 of our bloggers could come down to the stadium on monday for a “Blogger Day” We’d watch BP, get a tour, have a good time. It was around the time that she mentioned the thirst row that something clicked for me.
I remembered a blog post I had read last year from Red Reporter (excellently written here )*. They had watched Batting Practice from ON THE FIELD.
Not even a question even if it took moving the earth we were going to be there.
Thankfully it just took moving around some peoples work schedules.
Getting to 4:15 when we met Lisa at the stadium was one of the most anticipatory days I’ve ever had. Right below my wedding day, but above Christmas. When we finally met her she walked us around through the social media hub of the Reds and showed us around. We then went and walked through the bowels of GABP. Where we came out was right next to the home club house.
We did not walk through the home club house, but we did take a picture.
From there she lead us around the lower level and showed us where the visitors clubhouse is, and the umpires den. We then walked out into the visitors dugout (which was surreal in itself) and out onto the field.
We were met with a site to behold. A completely empty GABP. All we had around us was baseball players, no fans in the place. This would soon change.
we walked over to a roped off area directly behind home plate, and stood in just in time to watch the pitchers take batting practice (SOME OF THEM HAVE REAL POWER). We watched as Latos, Bailey and Arroyo took some great shots and knocking the ball around and a few were even hit out. The real holy crap moment came a little while in, when “Group 1” came up to hit. This group includes Shin Soo Choo, Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier.
They stepped in and began to hit homers and spray the ball all around the field. One of the most interesting aspects for me was the command some of these hitters had with where the ball went. You had guys in the outfield doing defensive drills and they’d hit it to left, then center, then right, then back to center, then left, etc. They knew where the ball was going and how to put it exactly where they wanted it.
Todd Frazier came over and he was incredible. He stopped by and took pictures, he said hello, he asked where we were from and was incredibly gracious to all of us AND to all of the kids who were sitting next to us.
This was another part of it that was awesome, watching the players interact with the kids. Mat Latos proved he has a heart made of gold, he rolled 1 ball to every kid that was there at batting practice, Frazier made sure no one went home without an autograph and when a ball didnt quite make it to a kid Miguel Cairo motioned for the kid to cross the barrier and get it, when the kid gave him the “whoa look I dont want to get kicked out” face, he motioned again to assure him it was ok. Even Joey got into the act, croqueting a ball to the group next to us (Joe Garchow almost tackled the lady to get it from her).
As we came to the realization that what we were watching was coming to an end and at some point we’d have to leave this amazing experience we were once again surprised.
Mr Cozart walked over. Just like Frazier he was incredibly nice, he said hello, asked where we were from and shook hands with us. I’m sure if we had asked for pics he would have taken them, but to be honest he looked busy as the rest of the team was heading in and I didn’t want to keep him from his job.
Like that, we moved on.
We walked through GABP once again, Lisa took us past the club house and one of the funnier moments of the day happened. As we approached I saw Votto standing outside holding the door, it was apparent that I was the only one. As we walked up toward him the others noticed as well. Geoff out of nowhere says “Hey man thanks for holding the door, but we’re going this way”.
I didnt even know what to say, we just laughed and internally I thanked god I hadn’t been the one to speak because there is no way it would have been that intelligible.
We walked through the Hall of Fame a first for a couple of our members, and saw some incredible stuff.
I would bet that Joe will be making a post about the “signatures” collection as it was definitely his highlight of the HOF.
We then watched 13 blissful innings of baseball. To be honest they didn’t have to win. They could have lost 142-1 and I would have still had one of the most incredible days of my life. They didn’t and for that matter with this team they never will.
I’d like to again thank everyone who brought us out. Lisa Braun was incredible to us from beginning to end! Jamie Ramsey was super nice, but he had changed out of his cat shirt. Rob Butcher was incredibly cool although we couldn’t think of one question for him. (If I had it to do over again I’d ask if he gets to pick out who the broadcasting pairs are for every game or if that is done at a different level)
Ellen, Lisa’s lovely helper was super nice and even though it was her first time on the field as well was way more calm and collected than we were.
If there are two takeaways from this
1) We absolutely proved we were a fan blog, we marked out like you would not believe every time you turned around. It was ridiculous. I’m pretty sure they had to vacuum the infield to clean up all of our drool.
2)All of this happened to kick off year 2 of Head First Slide, I’ll be making a post soon looking back on year 1 until then just know that we could not have done any of this without you all, listeners, readers, followers you’ve been great.
“Hey everybody I’m about to put on hitting clinic”
The Hall Of Famer talks to Dusty. (Thats a heckuva shirt)
Walt meets with Dusty. Presumably to talk about cheeses and fine wines and Martys shirt.
Joey shows off his new endorsement pose from Captain Morgan
I have nothing witty for this
Now I wish I hadn’t done captions, this is getting hard!
“What did you do at the office today?”
The man in white arrives!
“Hey look Fraziers really, really close”
“Huh, now he’s closer”
I swear I was smiling, is this what I always look like when I smile? really?
Off camera joes hand was shaking like a leaf
BP looking as only he can
A Pic of Bruce from our vantage point in the “Thirst Row”
CHOO’re the best around!
*We are in no way affiliated with Red Reporter, they are a damn good blog though.