My report, in incongruous tidbits:
1. First and foremost to anyone going on Saturday: word to the wise, Redsfest IS NOT at Great American Ballpark. When you pull up and wonder why nobody's there, that's your reason. And when you've walked a ways and you think, man, this is REALLY strange, and it hits you that Redsfest is not, in fact, at the ballpark, then you may feel very stupid in wondering, where did you think they were going to hold it exactly? On the field, in 20-degree weather? In the clubhouse? In the administrative offices? It's purely hypothetical, I'm just looking out for you kids. Redsfest is at the CONVENTION CENTER.
2. The fashion show. OMG. The fashion show was almost the main reason I went. I was excited about the uniforms but also extremely curious about what a fashion show at a baseball convention might entail. You guys have been to high-end professional fashion shows, right? Ok, me neither, but we all know that fashion shows involve a runway, fast-walking people, exciting music, and interesting clothes. Things fashion shows DO NOT involve include:
2. songs that end, leaving the model to walk in silence, and then are backed up a few bars for extra music
3. poorly-constructed props
4. one model who graduated from the "sweater acting" school, ie. if you pull your sleeves over your hands you're clearly going to look demure and 14 and absolutely riconkulous (note: when her sleeves were taken away fromm her, she improved greatly, as she did in the evening gown portion. As most people do improve in evening gowns, I suppose.)
5. velour pantsuits. Velour ANYTHING.
6. Mr. Red
So the fashion show was sponsored by Macy's. Fine. You know they're going to throw promotion in there. Streetwear, even. And believe me, there may not have been a person in that audience who loves seeing evening gowns more than I do. But this was basically a Macy's fashion show, with your typical boring department store clothes, with a woman off to the side TELLING US WHAT'S IN FASHION THIS SEASON. UNACCAPTABLE. Gee, I never would have known that "black is the new black" if Macy's rep hadn't told me. Seriously, Macy's. Fashion magazines are for words. Fashion shows are for visuals. Anyone who knows that black is a great fashion color already knows it, and the best place to teach the rest of them is not at a BASEBALL CONVENTION. And lighting! There was no real lighting! It's a convention, people. Scrounge up some money to rent a few lights from the local theater warehouse and hire a few college kids to hang them up. It's easy! I swear, my cousins and I were putting together more professional fashion shows in the backyard with soundtrack by Madonna in 1986.
I envisioned a beautiful Reds fashion show, with awesome music (and I totally prepared a splendiferous mix of runway-worthy high-energy baseball-themed songs Wednesday night, I did), and clever clothing. Bring the girl out in her streetwear, but put her in high socks. Fashion a dude's outfits around cleats, a little wacky and fun. Hire a couple of actors and actresses and bring in a little fake baseball game action to go with the music (miming a pitcher's throw, have a little pickle action.) Instead of having everyone in the eveningwear section carrying the same dumb present with a red bow, have them come out with clever little Reds-themed gifts (fun AND promotional). People would have eaten it up. As it was I was appalled. Will mankind never learn that two of its greatest creations, baseball and beautiful clothes, do not have to live independently of one another.
The models did a nice job, and one of them was wearing awesome red stiletto ankle boots that I will be coveting from now until I'm rich. And the uniform section (covered elsewhere) was awesome. The cheerleaders did a nice job, but I swear to God I've heard that freaking song at every sporting event I've been to since junior high (dah dah dah dah dah dah - HEY! - dah dah dah dah). Who is picking these people's music? And can this person hear? Oh, and also, a couple of players' wives (Mrs. Valentin -- wife of catcher Xavier Valentin (yes, the narrator was skilled in other ways too) and Mrs. Coffey -- very well-done) and kids (a front office guy's daughter and Valentin's kid, actually named Xavier, who is the cutest. kid. ever.)
Overall show: F-------
3. Krivksy strikes me as a good guy. He speaks the way he comes across in the papers, mostly -- very straightforward -- but a little more genuine. He answers questions as fully as I think he can.
4. I fell in love with Brandon Phillips at Redsfest. Every time I saw him he was grinning or high-fiving some toddler. Awes.
5. Reds fans still love, love, love Eric Davis. And Chris Sabo.
6. At one point, I plowed right into somebody. Who, you ask? Well, appropriately in a sense, it was Ryan Freel. I swear he came out of nowhere. I was glancing over at the Eric Davis Foundation table for the 211th obsessive time while walking towards the front, and bam, I hit him pretty hard. I said oh I'm sorry and he glanced over and smiled and that's when I realized who it was (as if the brand-new uniform with those distinct "Freel" letters on the back wasn't enough). Dude is short. I just looked at the Reds website and he's listed as 5'10". There is NO WAY that Ryan Freel is 5'10". There is a possibility he is almost four inches shorter than that. He is shorter than I am. but it was just so appropriate, of all people, that I would slam into Ryan Freel. I usually have a pretty good sense of space, but I walk pretty fast, and well, we know that he does too.
7. I loved the Hall of Fame section. Those of you going tomorrow, please try to duck in there even if you have kids. They have a map with all the minor league teams listed (though looking, I really don't think it's ALL minor league teams; I thought I noticed some omissions). They also have a trivia game at times which the kids will like. But the pieces of exhibits they have there are great. The 75, 76, and 90 trophies of course, but a bit of the beisbol exhibit, a bit of the Women in baseball exhibit, and QUITE a lot from the Negro Leagues. The first time I was in there I couldn't get a good look at it because Mario Soto and Tommy Helms were in there doing autographs and there were a lot of people in line. So I went back right before I left because I noticed it was almost empty and I got to really look at the Negro League stuff. The jerseys are amazing, and they do a good job with the little tidbits of individual biographies they have (which are quite a few). But the photos are the best part. Along the side wall they have a beautiful, huge picture of the Grays, and it's just downright moving, a beautiful picture like any baseball dugout picture, but there's so much in their faces, and then you think about where they were and why they were there. But they were still playing. I teared up looking at it. But for me, crying only once in four hours surrounded by baseball crap is very good. (I almost cried at that fashion show, but those were tears of a different kind.) Please go see this stuff if you go. It is awesome.
I have more pictures and I'll post some (the ones I didn't totally botch) tomorrow if anybody wants. But here are these two anyway:
Josh Gibson is one of my favorite baseball players of all time, but in this picture it's Dave Hoskins (in the middle) who really kills me. It's like he has the entire world in his face. Or something. Only you can see it better in person.
Man I'm beat. Redsfests are tiring!