Reds Game at Great American Ball Park
For week 16 of my 52 week adventure, I hopped in the car with my friend Leigh to drive to Cincinnati to see my first Major League Baseball game. The Cincinnati Reds are uniquely suited to serve as host for my first game; in 1869 it was founded as the first professional baseball team. I wish I could say I planned that on purpose, but I did not.

Brandon Phillips Reds Hit

This was the 2nd game in a 4-game series against the Miami Marlins. It was Brandon Phillips bobblehead day, so we wanted to get to the stadium early. (See Phillips being awesome above). Before the game we had to stop by O’Malley’s In the Alley for a drink. O’Malley’s is a small Irish pup tucked away in one of the alleys of downtown Cincinnati. It’s not far from the stadiums, so it is a favorite spot for locals to go before Reds and Bengals games. At one point Leigh’s dad became concerned about our ability to procure our bobbleheads, so he hurried us along by telling us to “stop talking and drink.” We finished up and hurried along to the stadium.

Great American Ball Park

Our seats were in the nose-bleed seats over right field. However, the distance from home plate neither detracted from the view nor our enjoyment. We settled in with our snacks (peanuts and popcorn) and bundled up to keep warm. A friend of Leigh’s was visiting from Germany; it was his first game too. Apparently, baseball isn’t big there. For the first time in my life I got to be the one explaining the rules of a game. Fortunately, baseball is a lot easier to explain that college football.

Aroldis Chapman

The game was low-scoring so it moved a bit slowly. But there were a few highlights. The best part of the day was watching Joey Votto hit one out of the park. Always exciting. Late in the game, Aroldis Chapman stepped in as closing pitcher to relieve Bronson Arroyo. Above, is Chapman right before throwing a 99 mph pitch. Chapman holds the league record for the fastest pitch at 105 mph. I can’t even fathom throwing something that fast. Then again, if I threw the ball it wouldn’t even make it to home plate. Those weren’t the only impressive play of the game, Arroyo threw his 1,000th strikeout with the Reds.

Photo with Mr. Red

At one point we spotted Mr. Red nearby in the stadium. I decided that I had to have my picture with him, so Leigh and I took off to chase him down. When we finally caught up to him, Leigh shouted “Mr. Red! Mr. Red! It’s my friend’s first game! Can she have a picture?” Mr. Red turned around to look at me, then shook his head and hung it in shame. I apologized for my neglect to the sport and he waved me over for a picture. I guess he decided to forgive me, after Leigh took our picture Mr. Red gave me a hug and a kiss on the forehead.

Mr. Redlegs and Rosie Red

The best part of the day was just talking, laughing, and spending time with our friends. I see why baseball is considered the great American pastime. Of course, the Reds did not disappoint, they pulled it out in the 13th inning to beat the Marlins 3-2. And yes, I got my bobblehead.

Verdi’s Requiem
This week Leigh and I also returned to the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra to see Verdi’s Requiem. I know what you are thinking, “You’ve already been to the KSO! That’s not a New Thing!” Well, this was my first large-scale choral performance, and it’s my blog and I can write about what I want.

Verdi Requiem

Requiem was composed as a funeral Mass in homage to the Italian writer Alessandro Manzoni. The work premiered in Milan in 1874, a year after Manzoni’s death. At the time it was written, women were not allowed to perform in Catholic Church rituals. Yet, Verdi used a females in the chorus and as two of the soloists.

In addition to a full orchestra and 120+ member chorus, there were four superb soloists: Cherie Valaray (soprano), Bracha Kol (mezzo-soprano), David Katz (tenor), and Stephen Morscheck (bass-baritone). Being completely tone deaf, I can only imagine the years of grueling work they put in to develop their exquisite voices.

One of my favorite moments was when 4 trumpets sounded, representing a call to judgment. These were placed behind us in the balcony of the theater and sounded absolutely startling and brilliant.

If you want to check out Requiem, you can watch the entire work as performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra. My favorite movement starts at 9:35.