Column: It’s an honor to have premium seats at a Cincinnati Reds game

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

The Cincinnati Reds have been keeping us all on our toes this season. I think I’ve watched more baseball in this one summer than I have for years. It is exciting.

I’ve also been watching what is going on behind the batter, catcher and the umpire. Yes I’ve been watching the fans, particularly those fans who sit in those high-priced seats behind home plate.

I’m jealous.

I like to sit there while watching little league or high school sports. It’s one of the only places I can truly judge if the pitch is a ball or a strike. On top of that I like to see the players’ faces, listen to the chatter, and see so many things happening at once. The steely look on the batter’s face, a frustrated growl from the catcher whose knees are killing him, everyone adjusting straps, the strange guttural language of the umpire as he calls a strike, then takes out his little broom and brushes away the dust; I enjoy the little bits of drama at home plate.

I’d love to sit in those seats behind home plate at a Cincinnati Reds game. I’ve tried to buy seats there but they are always sold out. In fact when it is declared that the entire stadium is sold out or standing room only — there always seems to be a few empty seats behind home plate.

Why is that? I’ve been told it’s because those are corporate seats. The huge business buys season tickets for a big block of seats then lets employees have the seats from game to game. Sometimes the tickets aren’t all claimed or the folks change their minds. Whatever it is, there are always empty seats.

At Great American Ball Park the higher-cost seats have backs of mesh. They must be comfortable. But at Wrigley they are still the old-style, solid seat with the bracket holding the number squarely screwed in the middle of the back. I’d sit there anyway.

I watch those lucky few who get to sit in those primo seats. Why are they there?

Now you would think serious fans have all those seats. They are watching intently and discussing plays or pitching style. Sometimes I can spy a former player or a celebrity in the seats. Some are the owners of the teams or someone scouting that pitcher or catcher. These are serious baseball watchers.

Yet in the corporate seats nearby I’ve watched people read their messages and play video games on cell phones. I’ve even watched them share videos with the person next to them. Recently one smiling couple had a fight in the middle of the game and silently glared at the batters back until it was over. I felt their pain.

Some are so intent in their conversations they cannot be possibly be watching the game action. Those precious seats are not the place to be sociable.

Sometimes the seats are occupied by young kids, pre-schoolers too little to understand the game. They are bored stiff; watching videos on Mom’s phone, climbing all over their seats, begging for food when the hawkers are nearby, spilling their lemonade and wearing that ice cream. Seriously let them stay home and give that seat to someone who cares….

… Someone like me.

Put me in coach. Let me sit in one of those empty seats. I promise to keep my eyes on the game. I’ll get out my phone only to share photos of the great view I’ve got. I want to see the deep breath a batter takes, watch the umpire stretch, curl my lip at the spitters, watch every compulsive move of a batter. Let me wish Joey Votto a Happy 40th Birthday.

I want to hold my breath when someone slides into home and the cloud of red dust drifts over the seats. (People have been spitting and sweating in that dirt all year, folks.) I want to have to wash clay out of my eyebrows after the game.

I want to watch the other players welcome a runner home and put the Viking cape and helmet on the home run stars. I want to sing the National Anthem then God Bless America during the seventh inning stretch. And if they sing Take me out to the Ball Game, I’ll sing that too.

It just seems to me that if someone wants to sit behind home plate they should have to sign a contract and promise to watch the game. And if they won’t then they should give up their seats to someone who will.

Someone like me.

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