He told us where to go, and so we did;  this weekend, as the Reds were in the process of losing to the Cardinals, the sun shone upon the winners and the losers alike and the city came out to play in our side yard, Eden Park.

Including these guys:

I would say for dramatic effect, as the kids do, that I’m not entirely sure what’s going on here, but I know exactly what’s going on here. Two dudes decided to rock-climb the original reservoir structure. All, like, 30 feet of it.

Maybe this made an impression because part of my heart resides in the West, where people regularly climb sheer cliff faces at heights of anywhere between 200 feet and oh eff no. So watching the grappling gear come out for a structure which small children were clambering over just around the corner caught my attention.

Even for beginners, this was an… interesting choice, as even the indoor climbing walls for kids’ birthday parties contain at least an oddly placed notch or two. But here’s what’s awesome about Captain Rappel and Boy Beyaler: They were making do. They were starting somewhere. We don’t have an El Capitain here in the 513, so they were climbing what’s available.

It was certainly more than I was doing, firmly on the walking path and previously considering the chick on the yoga mat sitting in the classic meditation position as the most exotic thing I’d see that day. So as the groups of picnicking gals and families with trotting doggies fanned out around us, I snapped a photo. I was impressed.

If you’re going to develop upper body strength, this was by far the more Instagrammable way to do it. Big style points energy. This had the guy doing push-ups by the reflecting pool beat by a wide margin. These guys saw what I’d previously considered just a remnant of crappy city water, and they saw a mountain to climb. This was the hard way up; they took it anyway.

Now I wasn’t even aware that the Reds were playing just a few caber tosses downriver; I doubt most people in Eden Park that day were. They were busy rolling up in hammocks and pointing at ducks, all vital activities on the first 75 degree day of the year. The team schedule didn’t even occur to me until later that evening, when I was hobnobbing in Over the Rhine and wondering why so many people were wearing Cardinals jerseys.

Eden Park was once considered a wasteland of rocky hillsides and scrubby trees. After a few bottles of wine and a gazebo or two, it is now the venerable crown jewel of our city parks. That began when city father Nicholas Longworth transformed it into a vineyard. That vineyard became the inspiration of the Longfellow poem “Catawba Wine.” That poem became the basis for Cincinnati’s title as the Queen City. That title predates the Reds by a good 15 years.

It took some growing. It took some climbing. And here we are, with five World Series titles in the trophy case and our emotional trees firmly rooted in a franchise that was a franchise before franchises. We took the hard way up.

Baseball is not an easy game. But being a fan shouldn’t be this difficult. We shouldn’t have to make do and anchor ourselves to what’s simply available.

Style points will only get you so far. After a while, you start to wonder what it’s like to set your sights a little higher.

16 Responses

  1. SultanofSwaff

    Perfect sentiment. I often wonder why we can’t have nice things……and why success seems to come so easily to other franchises that on the surface don’t try any harder. It plays out on a macro level over the seasons, but even in the day to day struggles to win a single game comfortably. After a while you do feel cursed.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      FWIW, the Cyclones are in the post-season, according to a billboard I drove past the other day…

  2. Votto4life

    Thoughtful insights as always Mary Beth. I also look forward to your posts. I just wanted to mention something about the gazebo in Eden Park.

    On October 6,1927, Cincinnati’s infamous bootlegger, George Remus, murdered his wife in Eden Park. She wanted a divorce and he claimed she embezzled money from him while he was in prison.

    The two were scheduled to appear in Court that warm Fall day to finalize their divorce. Instead when Remus saw his wife, in her car downtown., he went after her. A high speed chase ensued and Imogene sped through Eden Park where her crazed husband finally caught up with her.

    Imogene got out of the car and tried to run, but Remus shot her as she was trying to flee. Imogene still struggled to get away but only made it to the Gazebo where she died.

    George Remus murdered his wife in broad daylight in front of dozens of witnesses, yet he was acquitted of murder, after the jury deliberated for 19 minutes.

    George Remus was determined to be insane and was sentenced to a mental health facility in Lima, Ohio. George Remus served seven months there before being released.

    Imogen Remus died 95 years ago, but violence against women continues to flourish to this day.

    • SOQ

      He actually walked into a police station and turned himself in announcing “I just murdered my wife” I believe he got off by claiming temporary insanity. Still makes darn good Bourbon 🙂

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        Yes– he invented the defense! No effs, this guy.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I just finished a book about Remus. How is there not a movie about him?!

  3. LDS

    Turning off the Reds is like turning off the news. Initially it feels wrong but shortly the FOMO fades and life is good. Glad you didn’t waste a nice day watching the Reds lose. Real Ohio River summer weather will set it shortly.

  4. Jeffery

    I like the “open the books” and the “Sell the team Bob”…..really dumb statement to make. They are biding there time with the old guys until the younger guys in the minors are ready. Makes sense to me at least

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Maybe I’ll take in a Florence Y’Alls event… their tee shirt game is strong.

    • Stephen Carlisle

      But why waste contracts on Pham and Minor?

  5. RedsMonk65

    Ahem. The Reds have FIVE World Series championships: 1919, 1940, 1975, 1976, 1990.

    • Dayton Ducks

      I noticed that too and wondered if this was due to the fact that the circumstances surrounding the 1919 title rendered it too questionable to be counted. Anyway…I always enjoy your writing Mary Beth Ellis!

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      No, just a tired English major trying to count in her head. Thanks for pointing out the typo 🙂

  6. Mark Moore

    I’m on vacation until Monday. Watching the games from stem to stern isn’t on my agenda (we’re in Savannah, GA). I’ll check the score, the line-ups, the tom-foolery that the front office and our own DTinkerBell offer. And I’ll roll my eyes when I see AA is still with the club (maybe when Moose or Stephenson come back?).

    But I’m already finding other things to occupy my time. It’s sad because this is nearly 50 years of Reds fandom writing. But Phil asked the question, so I have to answer. I won’t climb a rock wall or anything such as you pictured, but I won’t schedule my life around MLB games this year. It’s just too difficult to watch with that much commitment.

    Thanks again, MBE, for showing us we can endure. We’re in this one together.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Savannah is beautiful.
      It’s a good place to go.