Shortly after Erik and I got back from Memphis for last year's Civil Rights Game, Bud Selig announced that it would no longer be an exhibition game in Memphis, but rather would become a roaming regular season game in different cities every year. We had mixed feelings about this - we were very happy that the game was becoming popular enough to warrant a larger venue and more diverse crowds around the country, but disappointed to see it leave Memphis, which may collectively be our favorite city to visit. We also feel that this should still be an exhibition game, which allows for the game itself to serve as more of a backdrop. We had a blast in Memphis last year and were looking forward to going back someday soon, and now with the game moving, we are grateful we got to see it in perhaps its final time there.
It was announced in September that the game would be in Cincinnati this year and in 2010. This year's guests and Beacon award winners include Bill Clinton, Hank Aaron, Bill Cosby, Oscar Robertson, Tony Perez, and Muhammad Ali. Erik and I were reluctant to buy tickets since this season by far is our busiest and most expensive Tour Plus year, but long story short we eventually caved in, but since I am now moving to Iowa next weekend for a job, we had to sell our tickets. If any city was going to have this game besides Memphis, I was glad it was Cincinnati. As our long-time readers know, I went to grad school there for 3 years and made a lot of great friends, saw a lot of Reds games, and learned a lot about the city as well.
Only a couple years before I got there in 2004, there were race riots in Over-The-Rhine, a former German area of the city that now has a 95% poverty rate, an average family income of $5,000, and is one of the roughest ghettos in the country. These riots ensued at the border of OTR and the downtown and really tainted an already poor reputation of racial inequality in Cincinnati, what with former Reds owner Marge Schott's famously racist attitudes. These stories of riots, racial hatred, and policy brutality my friends at UC would tell me seemed like such a distant past for someone coming from the outside, but for them it was very real. These friends and I all toured the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center as a class at architecture school, and most of us took a studio right on the border of Over-The-Rhine that was focused on improving the inner city through better public transportation, both things that would be unheard there of a decade prior. I remember driving through OTR, or sometimes even taking the bus through it, and how I had never seen such a poor rundown area in my life. I just never fully grasped my friends' lingering concerns for getting home before dark from studio, when I was also reading news articles about gentrification and seeing new housing developments go up on the fringes of Over-The-Rhine. I was lucky to come into Cincinnati while it was on the upturn and making strides to get better, and I can only imagine what the city was like just eight years ago during those riots. Cincinnati has come a long way since 2001, and even since I've lived there, and it deserves this chance to showcase its improvements. I'm sure I speak for the Reds organization and all its fans that we are very proud that Cincinnati is getting the Civil Rights Game this year, and hopefully Erik and I can make it next year.
STANDINGS AND UPCOMING SERIES AS OF 06.15:
Brewers 34-29, +0.5 (3 @ Indians, 3 @ Tigers)
Reds 31-31, -2.5 (3 v. Braves, 3 v. White Sox)
Twins 32-33, -3.0 (3 v. Pirates, 3 v. Astros)
RACE FOR 2009 "MOST GAMES ATTENDED" TITLE:
Erik - 21 (+10 worked)
Peter - 28