Saturday, July 1, 2017

Day 4, Cincinnati Reds: Bible Golf and also Major League Baseball

On the seventh day, the Lord rested. On the fourth day, the Scrappy Journeymen played mini-golf. We set out from Lexington with the singular purpose of playing fifty-four holes of Bible-themed mini-golf at Lexington Ice Center and Miniature Golf, possibly holiest (and hole-iest) golfing facility in the country. But first, that we may feed our bodies as well as our souls, we headed to Waffle House. And lo, there were waffles, bacon, and hash browns (scattered, smothered, and chunked), and it was good. Even burdened with so many carbs, we arrived at mini-golf fifteen minutes early and milled about forlornly until they opened. We also worked out stakes, as gambling on sports is holy in the eyes of the Lord.

Each of the three courses has its own theme -- Old Testament, New Testament, and Miracles -- and each hole is inspired by a specific Bible verse which is posted by the tee. The interpretations range from the fanciful to the extremely literal, including a three-foot-tall "Mount Sinai" that you must shoot into the top of, and a walk-on "Noah's Ark" that your ball must board via a ramp to reach the hole inside. Despite the unusual theme, it's a very well-done set of courses, with a variety of obstacles, chutes, water features, and slopes. For the most part these manage to be challenging but fair, though we did have some trouble with our tee shots bouncing out of the course, and in some cases miraculously bouncing back onto the course. I should also mention here that yours truly won two of the three courses, earning myself three free beers (a trinity?) in the process.

Ray and Ben wait to take their shots at Mt. Sinai.
The front ramp and cabin of Noah's Ark.

Jonah's Whale with the lookout tower in the background.
The, er, high point of the New Testament course is a small church-like building with a tower that overlooks the whole facility.

With the Lord's work done, we headed on to Cincinnati for our trip's only major-league interlude. After passing by the famous "FLORENCE Y'ALL" water tower and crossing the Ohio River into... Ohio, we parked and ambled along the river to Great American Ballpark. They even let us in, courtesy of some absurd chicanery involving my phone being out of storage and the MLB ticket site not handling "+" characters in email correctly -- anyway, the tickets got onto my phone in the end, so no harm was done. From the upper deck behind home plate, we had a gorgeous view of the river and the John A. Roebling Bridge, and a tolerable view of the action on the field. That action turned out to be fairly lively, as The Reds and the Brewers combined for seven home runs in an 8-6 win for Cincinnati. Billy Hamilton led off the first with a rare home run, just his second of the year, and Adam Duvall hit one of his own as the Reds jumped out to a 4-0 lead. Milwaukee responded in kind, scoring five runs off of three homers in the second and third, but the Reds tied it at 5 in the bottom of the third and then took the lead for good on Joey Votto's two-run shot in the fifth. Along the way, we were treated to some minor-league-quality baserunning. In the top of the 1st, Scott Schebler and Devin Mesoraco both found themselves trying to occupy second base after the throw home went awry on Mesoraco's RBI single. Schebler gave himself up after a short, confused rundown, which you can see here.

Great American seems fairly well laid out, with wide concourses offering more views of the Ohio River and downtown Cincinnati, though somewhat limited views of the field. Beer selection was good, with a number of unique local brews, though at absurd prices. This is a major-league park after all. Food options were a little less varied than we've come to expect from an MLB stadium. It trades heavily on Cincinnati's reputation as "Porkopolis". I had a bratwurst that was quite good, Ben ate something called a "hot mett" which he found acceptable, and Ray's barbecue pulled chicken was too dry -- a disappointing showing this close to the South. On another note, the Reds seem to put an emphasis on parents of young children, with a well-marked changing area and a special fan club for expecting mothers. We guess it can't hurt to get fans on board early -- from birth, if need be. All told, while Cincinnati may not quite make it into the top tier of MLB parks, it's still a great place to watch a game.

If you look closely, this Reds batter is missing his bat. Can you find it?

Final Score: N/A, not in our jurisdiction. What do we look like, some guys who go on a road trip to rate fancy expensive baseball?

Zach caught this string of coal barges heading slowly upriver during the game. It's a metaphor for something probably.

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