It did. It felt good. Again, please?
Alright, on to the unimportant items at hand…
The 2011 edition of Redsfest is the 6th ‘fest in a row that the OMGreds crew has dropped in. Once again, we were impressed with the Reds’ efforts. Every year they make tweaks to improve the fan experience and from our standpoint, this year’s were definitely going in the right direction.
Widening some of the floor isles were the big upgrade this year. We have no doubt they helped with traffic, but things were still pretty congested. Even with a couple hundred fans leaving the floor to go up stairs for Elite Pass autographs, not a lot was going to help with a record crowd (23,737) attending the event. From what we saw, the main congestion points were around the screens that displayed autograph and photo booth appearances and Autograph C – the season ticket holder-only line. That line was usually double up on itself with fans lining up early in anticipation of the upcoming, not-yet-unannounced autograph sessions.
The relocation of the Hall of Fame area was a nice change and likely eased some of the traffic problems from past years. On the other hand, the autograph line within the Hall of Fame area was often messy and seemingly hard for the HOF staff to wrangle. Plus, the line usually blocked some of the exhibits like the World Series trophies from fans that just wanted to meander through and take photos. The HOF might want to consider beefing up the corrals in that area for next year.
OMG loves themselves some autographs. We usually hit the auto lines pretty hard and this year was no exception. We had season ticket holder passes, so we were usually in the mess around Autograph C. It got pretty messy a few times, especially when Jay Bruce and Aroldis Chapman were scheduled. But hey, those guys are pretty popular, so we expect nothing less.
New to Redsfest was a hard stop at 225 people for each autograph opportunity. While a few people probably went home with less autographs than in years past, it seemed like a good move. It did get players in and out on time – we weren’t in a session that had a player show up more than a minute late. There were times in the past when players were up to 10 or 15 minutes late. Can’t say for sure if the cap directly affected punctuality, but we did notice the positive change. Additionally, with the cut at 225, you never had a situation where you hopped in line and the player had to bail when their time was up. If you were in line, your autograph was pretty much guaranteed – Nice. The one thing this did prevent was the “double-up,” where you could go through one line and hop in another during the same hour session. Maybe it was possible, but we weren’t able to pull it off at any point. No biggie, just sayin’.
The Elite Pass/Lottery system was a great upgrade in our opinion. To be completely open, the three of us that registered for the lottery all won a session – two for Scott Rolen and one for Jay Bruce. Walking into Redsfest knowing that you have a guaranteed autograph from one of the team’s stars was pretty fun. If we didn’t win, we would have still known we had a chance in one of the regular lines and that’s a pretty fair deal. The system that was set up to check ID against your personalized autograph ticket seemed well executed. Plus, the personalization of the ticket made the experience just a little more special. I’m keeping my ticket as a souvenir with my Jay Bruce autographed 2011 Topps Heritage.
At the Reds Hall of Fame & Museum area, things were a bit messy like we mentioned before. We jumped over there from time-to-time, but generally avoided it partially because of the traffic, and partly because most of us had gotten autographs from many of the HOF’s guests in the past. Those guys do rule though ;^)
For the first time, a few of us took advantage of CEI Sports’ autograph opportunity in the memorabilia section. Big Red Machine players Bobby Tolan and Pat Darcy were guests on Saturday, both requiring a purchased ticket, $15 for Tolan and $10 for Darcy. I had Tolan sign a ’72 Topps and Darcy a ’76 Topps. Tell you what, the ’76 Darcy was hard to track down. I couldn’t find one before Redsfest, and only found one in the memorabilia area this weekend. Darcy’s line was pretty darn long when he started too. We heard that he doesn’t do many shows.
Main Stage Entertainment
Can’t say that we sat down and watched much of the main stage entertainment over the weekend. We were either walking around, in an autograph line or chatting it up with friends around the Better Off Red lounge. So, for the most part we missed the details of what went on. Even so, I left Friday night with Montell Jordan’s “This is how we do it” stuck in my head. “Ever since I was a lowercase g, now I’m a big G”… over and over and over in my head. Funky G & the Groove Machine really laid it down, didn’t they? “If you were from where I’m from, you would know.”
Once Broson started melting teenage faces late on Saturday, we knew the end was near. Tell you what, I can’t hate on Bronson. Dude’s got some talent. Plus, outside of the Goo Good Dolls, we share a pretty similar taste in music. At the same time, I think he’s been on stage in a musical capacity each of the past few Redsfests. Might be time to move on to something else.
We aren’t big players in the game-used arena, but we do love to window shop and maybe snag a deal if there’s one to be had. I walked away with a spring training game-used Danny Ray Herrera BP style jersey and OMGpaul picked up a game-used Fred Lewis away jersey. We spent $105 between the two of us and likely bought the two least expensive jerseys in the joint. For the most part, we were priced out of anything the was of interest. A couple of Sam LeCure jerseys coming in at $400 and a Dave Sappelt was tipping the scales at $500. Sheesh. Is that really the market for those? Nothing was reduced at the end of the day Saturday as it has been in the past and it looked like a substantial amount of game-used merch was still on the racks as Redsfest drew to a close. We missed the auctions Friday night and we’re curious to how those went. The lots seemed pretty sweet. We’re sure they did well. We heard that OMGreds got a shot out from Mr. LeCure during his auction! Wish we could have been there for that. Sam is the best.
Having the game-used “Authentics” section in its own large booth was a great move. Its inclusion with the team store last year didn’t seem to work to well. Nice upgrade.
Oh, and if those Corky Miller jerseys weren’t “size: blanket” I totally would have picked one up. How awesome would it be to rock the 37? I do like to were the few game-used things I have and Danny Ray’s jersey fits me really well. Plus, I’ll put his jersey into “instant classic” territory. Some other guys you have to wait a few years before it becomes cool to wear to GABP. Danny Ray has instant wearability. At least that’s what I’m telling myself. Fred Lewis? The case is still open on that one.
While we were mostly checking out jerseys, we strolled by the autographed baseballs. $140 for a Joey Votto? Out of our range, y’all.
Reds Caravan Bus
We got the chance to hop on the Caravan bus. It’s pretty luxurious and was well stocked with beer and Twizzlers. We resisted the urge to take any treats, but we did take it out for a quick spin.
It’s hard to judge this from year-to-year, but the memorabilia area was outstanding this year. Price points for everyone, lots of fun, unique Reds items and plenty of things to grab quickly to get autographed while at Redsfest. We did an extensive tour around the area and will highlight some of our finds in a separate post or two later this week.
Reds Community Fund Mystery Autographed Baseballs
YES! The Reds Community Fund know how to push OMGreds’ buttons. OMGpaul and I picked up two at $20/ball on Friday night, scoring Jordan Smith (me) and Sam LeCure (Paul). We couldn’t resist dipping in again on Saturday and ended up with two 2010 All-Stars – Arthur Rhodes (me) and Joey Votto (Paul). Both were a bit smudged, but we were notified before we bought that would be the case. Are you kidding us? We’ll take those! Fun stuff, please do again.
Bootleg Jersey Mania
OMG. It’s getting out of hand. We saw so many bootleg jerseys running around this weekend. Cost-wise, we get it. MLB “Authentic” gear is expensive. Even the replica items are not cheap. But, those bootlegs look so bad. Horrible construction, janky materials, incorrect typefaces, completely wrong designs for certain players. A pinstriped, sleeveless Joey Votto Reds jersey? Come on! He never wore that design! All that aside, it’s supporting illegal businesses. They make knock-off crap that looks horrible and are breaking the law. How can someone support that? Again, we get it with the cost of the legit stuff. It’s not cheap. But if you really want a nice Johnny Bench jersey, save up your dough for a real Mitchell & Ness one, or use a coupon code for MLBshop.com. There are deals to be had, you just have to look.
Okay, off the soapbox.
We like him. More on that later.
Reds Ice Cream!
UDF Homemade Reds Grand Slam Ice Cream was announced at Redsfest. It should be rolling that our around Opening Day next year. Peanut butter ice cream with peanut butter cups and chocolate fudge. We didn’t get to try it at Redsfest, but it sounds pretty strong. Can’t wait.
With so many things happening at Redsfest, we didn’t get to take them all in. Let us know how your experience was – especially if you were around the kids areas and the Wiffleball field. We’re sure everyone had a blast over there as well.
All-in-all we had a great time. Not only is it fun to interact with players and folks that work for the Reds, but it’s also a time when we catch up with our friends and OMG fans. Meeting folks that like what we do is humbling and motivating. Thank you all. That goes out to all our conversations on Twitter as well. It’s super-fun to bring you our perspective from Redsfest. A big thanks to all of you, and we’ll see at GABP in 2012.