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Touch 'Em All: This Philadelphian has some issues with Cincinnati

CINCINNATI - A quick stroll around Great American Ball Park - which is American and a ballpark, but hardly great - reveals that Cincinnati and Philadelphia have much in common:

CINCINNATI - A quick stroll around Great American Ball Park - which is American and a ballpark, but hardly great - reveals that Cincinnati and Philadelphia have much in common:

Fans in red, a strong German heritage, a river that separates it from another state, and little concern for the nutritional value of its concession fare.

The problem is that Cincinnati appears to have taken our bad ideas and made them worse.

I give you goetta and the riverfront.

Goetta is a lot like scrapple, which is to say it's an amalgam of whatever is swept off the slaughterhouse floor. But while Philly's mystery meat is confined to a fried breakfast side, here it's an all-day staple.

So when Reds fan tire of chili that's flavored with cinnamon and plopped down atop innocent spaghetti, they can get goetta hot dogs, goetta hamburgers, even goetta pizza. Did we mention goetta Reubens?

Small wonder, then, that Cincinnati seems to be the one city in America where you can't get the Food Channel on your hotel TV.

Then there's the portion of the Queen City that borders the Ohio River, a body of water the indigenous Native Americans called "place where driftwood, the homeless, and drab concrete converge."

Far be it from a Philadelphian to criticize any other city's urban waterfront, but Cincinnati's appears to have been devised by the architect of Riverfront and Veterans Stadiums on a bad day.

The Cincinnati shoreline is an endless ribbon of concrete - pavement, the foundations to unfinished buildings, the foundations to finished buildings.

At night, from the Roebling Suspension Bridge, you can see the fires of encamped homeless on the shore. Some homeless also live on the bridge, which can enliven a late-night walk to Kentucky.

Pete's Rose Garden

One of Great America's few redeeming qualities is the adjoining Reds Hall of Fame and Museum. There, through a rear window, you can see a Rose Garden that sits at the spot where Pete Rose's record 4,192d hit landed.

Another of its exhibits is a display on the 1869 Reds, the first professional baseball team. The payroll for that team's starters, by the way, was $10,500, or roughly what Ryan Howard spends each week on hoagies.

That team's catcher was Doug Allison, a Philadelphian, no doubt lured here by the goetta.

Some ballpark musings

Unlike Citizens Bank Park, where the concession stands all have Philadelphia-themed names, they don't fuss with such things here. Two side-by-side kiosks were called "Beer and Liquor" and "Beer Only."

In one area of the main concourse, they were conducting a Cornhole Challenge. I didn't bother to inquire further.

You haven't heard ballpark music until you've heard Styx's "Blue-Collar Man" on a calliope.

It's hard to call a ballpark with a replica steamboat in center field unimaginative, but Great American is maybe the least special of this new generation of baseball-only stadiums. It's as if they cut a hunk out of Riverfront and dropped it into a new footprint, dressing it up with more and better concession stands, a single deck in right field, and a steamboat.

Game 3 poem

Ex-ace Cole was a merry old soul

And a merry old soul was he.

Chooch called for his curve and he called for his cutter.

And his fastball hit ninety-three.

Every pitcher he makes his pitch

To be his staff's real McCoy

But there's little hope when you locker with

A couple of guys named Roy.


things overheard before the game

1. An usher in right field urging a group of beer-drinking young men to behave themselves because Cincinnati would be in the national spotlight.

"I love Cincinnati. I could have lived anywhere, but I stayed in Cincinnati."

Yes, cities all across the United States are desperate for those with the ability to wipe off a seat.

2. One of the young men in that group explaining Philadelphia's fans to another: "They threw batteries at Santa Claus. Who does that?"

3. One female Reds fan to a child: "That one there is Jamie Moyer. He's 57."

4. One extremely agitated man to his buddy: "Hampton peanuts! Where did they come from? I never heard of them before. Now all you hear is Hampton peanuts. Hampton peanuts."

Yes, please stop.

5. One female fan to another: "This is the first time I've been here. I love the Redlegs."

things not overheard before the game

1. "Will Pete Rose be here tonight?" "No, the Eagles are a three-point 'dog in Frisco."

2. "Daddy, why does the Reds' mascot look like Jared's pimple?"

3. "I heard Utley can't play tonight because the hand Chapman hit is badly swollen."

4. "Was Joe Morgan taller when he played?"

5. "Another slice of goetta pizza, anyone?"