I was carried to Ohio in a swarm of bees
This weekend, at the Budweiser Stage, the greatest band ever to come out of Cincinnati (by way of Brooklyn) will be laying down a little rock, a little roll. While the local baseball team visits their home town.
The Blue Jays don't have much of a rivalry with the Cincinnati Reds - they've met just 21 times over the years, and it's gone very well for Toronto. Their 14-7 record against the Reds is their best winning percentage against any MLB team. The Jays took two of three last May, winning thanks to outstanding starting pitching from Hyun-Jin Ryu (six shutout innings) on the Friday and from Alek Manoah (eight innings, one run) on the Saturday. They didn't get the sweep because on Sunday afternoon Joey Votto broke up a 2-2 tie in the eighth inning with a solo homer off Yimi Garcia.
The Jays haven't visited Cincinnati since June 2014, but on that Friday night they played what was surely one of the most memorable games in the team's history. And I missed most of it, having once again made plans based on my need to rock and my need to roll. I was going to see the wonderful St Vincent doing a free show at the Yonge-Dundas Square. The Jays were already losing 8-0 when I hopped on the train to go downtown, so just as a bonus it looked like I'd be missing a lousy game. Annie was fabulous - of course she was - but I did start getting slightly distracted by one of the video screens in the square that was showing this very ball game. And the Blue Jays were somehow clawing their way back into it. They had cut the Cincinnati lead to 9-8 when I got on the subway heading home - at which point I naturally lost contact with the internet and could only wonder what the hell was going on. Imagine my surprise and delight when I emerged from the underground to find the Jays had somehow, unbelievably, scored twice against Aroldis Chapman to take an 11-9 lead. And Edwin Encarnacion, the former Red, was stepping up to the plate with a couple of runners on base...
An unforgettable evening in the old town, in a season that didn't leave a whole lot that was worth remembering. Eephus would give this wild, wild game the mighty recap it deserved. Needless to say, Joey Votto is the only man who played in that game who is still with the same team nine years later. A few others are still active - Liam Hendriks started that game for the Blue Jays, and got shelled. Marcus Stroman got into the game as a pinch runner. Billy Hamilton (barely) and Aroldis Chapman are still around....
I can't tell you much about the 2023 Reds. It's basically the always wonderful Joey Votto and a bunch of young guys no one's heard of. Well, Elly De La Cruz probably caught your attention for a while. Jonathan India (now on the IL) was the 2021 Rookie of the Year, and Tyler Stephenson (not having a great year) is why the Reds weren't interested in Gabriel Moreno when they were selling off Luis Castillo last summer.
Fri 18 Aug - Berrios (9-8, 3.53) vs Kennedy (1-0, 5.14)
Sat 19 Aug - Bassitt (11-6, 3.95) vs Williamson (4-2, 4.33)
Sun 20 Aug - Ryu (1-1, 2.57) vs Greene (2-4, 3.93)