Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Sad, Sad Day at Ed Smith Stadium

It was a sad, sad evening this evening at venerable Ed Smith Stadium off Tuttle Avenue in Sarasota.

It was sad not because the Sarasota Reds lost (as expected!) brutally to the Palm Beach Cardinals by the demoralizing score of 7-0. It was more because we all knew that in 24 hours the Minor League Single A team formerly known as the Sarasota Reds will be no more.

That's right. After the final out in tomorrow night's game (September 3) between the Reds and the Palm Beach Cardinals the Reds will never step foot again in Ed Smith Stadium. Because of the Baltimore Orioles coming to town next spring for spring training, the Reds (a farm team of the Cincinnati Reds) will be a team without a home. Rumor has it that they will be moving to Bradenton and become the Bradenton Pirates. Regardless because the Orioles already have a Class A farm team somewhere in Maryland they have no need for one in Florida. Tomorrow night the Sarasota Reds will be put to rest.

Tonight's game, although typically frustrating, left me feeling melancholy. All summer long I have cheered on the hapless Reds. All summer long I have made up excuses for how freaking bad they are. All summer long I have tried to find a way to help them win. I've had fingers flashed at me by opposing players. I've heard an opposing player yell "fuck you, asshole" in response to my heckling. I once almost had the entire St. Lucie Mets team come off the bench and into the stands to shut up my heckling. Their manager wanted to lead the entourage to shut me up! But I stood with them. I cheered them on and yelled at umpires who made rotten calls and yelled at our catcher for screwing up.

Tonight by the seventh inning I lost the desire to heckle the Palm Beach Cardinals. Tonight I wanted to just soak in the feeling of being in that ball park and knowing that in 24 hours they will be gone. My friend Mark who sold me tickets all summer long stopped by to talk with us. He talked about how melancholy he felt taking things down from the walls of the ticket booth and preparing things to send back to Cincinnati.

The Reds have baseball caps and t shirts and baseballs and other things on sale at 50 percent off now. Tonight I bought a baseball with the Sarasota Reds emblem emblazoned on the cover. I bought another baseball for my baseball friend Anne (she's Anne Hinga in my book Minor League Heckler). Tomorrow I'll probably buy some more stuff of theirs just to say that I did.

For me, after tonight's loss, the Reds record is 10 wins and 37 losses with me in the stands. I'll have to spend some time in Port Charlotte later this week watching the Reds lose if they are going to get to 40 losses with me cheering them on.

But it will be a bittersweet couple of games because I know when I get home to Sarasota the Reds won't be there any more. And that hurts.