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BECB On the Road Day 2: Cincinnati

The head honchos of Big East Coast Bias were onto Cincinnati on Friday. Ice cream, graduation ceremonies, and a fire stole the headlines.

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

After a stay in Nap Town on Thursday night that included meeting the incomparable Butler Blue and visiting venerable Hinkle Fieldhouse, Robert O'Neill and I lugged up our bags and made our way towards the home of WKRP.

As Bill Belichick once famously said, "We're on to Cincinnati."

Before we left Indianapolis, we traveled down the road for lunch. Full disclosure here before we delve into this: I used to be the pickiest eater in the world. I would be limited to bologna sandwiches, plain turkey sandwiches, chicken nuggets, tenders, fingers, et al, maybe a hamburger every now and then, and Italian food. Ever since heading out west to Missouri for school, my taste buds expanded and I'm no longer the selective eater I once was. I can always go for chicken nuggets - especially if they're Perdue brand. No imitations accepted otherwise. Tyson is terrible. And they can't be frozen. As an avid chicken nugget eater, I can say with great certainty that every type of frozen chicken nugget tastes the EXACT same.

Anyway, off that note, today I took a crack at tamales. I'd only had tried bits and pieces of tamales in the last few years in the Chicagoland area, but I was fully ready to take this to task. We went right down the road to The Tamale Place. It'd once been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, a favorite show of yours truly (WARNING: Never watch this or any other Food Network program late at night. It's bad and will make you feel bad. And hungry. But mostly hungry).

We arrived a little after Noon eastern, and the place was hopping. I perused the menu and found a few options that seemed rather desirable. To my surprise, a few of them weren't even available because they'd run out. You KNOW a place is great when they legitimately stay open until they completely run out of food. That seemed to be the case here as they had a monitor showcasing the types of tamales that were available, and how many they had left of them.

I decided to go with three tamales: one with chicken in a red sauce, a hot and spicy pork, and finally, a dessert tamale filled with pumpkin. The service was pretty tremendous as it took about two minutes for me to order, pay for and receive my food. My colleague Rob got the same kind of tamales so the timing was essentially the same for us each.

Boy, did these bad boys taste good. The chicken was cooked very well and the sauce complemented it nicely. The hot and spicy pork tamale was very hot and spicy, and also pretty messy. My hands were doused in sauces and spices by the end of it, but luckily the bottle of water I had did the trick as far as cleaning went. The pumpkin tamale was delicious, too. Full marks to this place for sure. If you're ever in the Indy area and have a hankering for a tamale, look no further than here.

So off we went onto the highways. There were apparently some storms in the area but we were able to avert them. The only damage that we had done was some water that was kicked up onto my car by a truck that was in front of us at one point in the drive. It appeared that the storm had gone through the area long before we got there, so that was a huge plus.

It took everything in our power not to stop here and ask about a lemon tree. Eat all of our shirts, Shelbyville.

Eventually, we wound up in Kentucky where our hotel was. Florence, Kentucky, to be precise. How did we know it was Florence, you ask?


Shortly after a quick rest period we moved to Cincinnati. The Queen City is home to a lot of things, including Xavier University.

As fate would have it, Xavier was having graduation ceremonies everywhere on campus. So our visit to XU was, to say the least, very limited. Certainly couldn't get very inclusive on it as we did with Butler the previous day, but I will say that the buildings were very nice, the campus looked beautiful and everything seemed to be very tightly knit.

Progressing forward, we drove by The University of Cincinnati's campus. UC, of course, is a former member of the Big East Conference so we thought it would be intriguing enough to visit. The athletic complex there is bad ass. You could take a hop, skip and a jump from Fifth Third Arena over to Nippert Stadium. You could broad jump from Fifth Third to the Marge Schott Field. Sidenote: Really UC? Marge Schott Field?

Having already had some super awesome tamales earlier in the day, our attention was then diverted to a famed ice cream shop in the Queen City. There are several Graeter's locations around the area, but we decided to snag it on our way to Great American Ballpark.

There are only a few things in the world we live in that I will not pass up. Ice cream, whether soft serve or hard, in a miniature batting helmet is one of them. Imagine my surprise walking into Graeter's and seeing that they had helmet sundaes for $4.25. Giddy can't describe it. Yes, I'm 23 years old and I get super excited about ice cream in batting helmets. Judge as you please.

The word on the street was that the black raspberry chocolate chip ice cream was the move here. Boy was that word right. Unbelievably tasty. Might be the best ice cream I've ever had. No jokes. Ted Drewes in St. Louis has the best custard, and this place might have the best ice cream.

A few minutes later, we were heading downtown towards the riverfront, and arrived at Great American Ball Park after that. I didn't know what to make of our expectations since there never seemed to be any predetermined notions about this ball park. It wasn't going to likely be in the league of, say, PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Safeco Field in Seattle, or AT&T Park in San Francisco. Related: The Reds played the Giants.

The sightlines and views from this park were above average. It didn't surprise me too much as it always seemed like the scenery around the park would make for a great view. We had bleacher seats, so all the cool stuff was behind us. But, still, we got a view of just about everything.

What's more is that it was Star Wars night. No pictures unfortunately of us with any of the characters. We evidently spent way too much time at the Reds Hall of Fame (which is a loaded place, and is worth the price of $8 for student admission) and got there right before they took the field. The usual happenings occurred - opposition (the Giants) introduced to the Imperial March, which I arrogantly boasted about because the Yankees do that for everyone. Because I represent the lowest common denominator, obviously.

Everything was going as planned to start the game. We had hot dogs - Hebrew National, which made it even better - home runs were hit by Brandon Belt, Buster Posey, Zack Cozart and Billy Hamilton. Madison Bumgarner looked like Madison Bumgarner would look in 2015, just as Jason Marquis looked like he would look in 2015. That's good and bad respectively for those playing at home. The pace was a little slow, but all things considered it was a relaxing time.

Then, all of the sudden, Great American Ball Park caught on fire.


Well, okay, maybe like 1/8th seriously or something.

Holy moly.

So, here's the thing about these stacks. They shoot off fireworks whenever a home run is it hit and shoot off fire whenever there's a strikeout thrown by a Cincinnati pitcher. Something must have malfunctioned because the fire shot up while something other than a strikeout being thrown by a Cincinnati pitcher was occurring. The stack started bellowing out this smoke and a few seconds later, fireworks were shot out of the stack.

Guess what happened next?

If you guessed, "That smoke that started churning out of the stack turned to fire and the stack CAUGHT ON FIRE," congrats! You win!

Play continued on as this thickening, blackening smoke was pouring out of the stack. This was surreal. I've seen a lot of things in my life. I once saw Hideki Matsui conjure up lightning whilst hitting a home run in 2005 during a Yankees game when they played the Rangers. Shawn Chacon and Joaquin Benoit were the starters, Alfonso Soriano was a Ranger, and Robinson Cano was still a pup. But I've never seen something so terrifying and yet so amusing at the very same time.

It took forty five minutes for the situation to be quelled. Seriously. They kept playing on while this noxious smoke was legitimately making its way in the atmosphere around all of us. The fire got even bigger before we finally saw firefighters put out the blaze and walk ONTO the stack. Also very terrifying and amusing.

You just can't predict baseball, Suzyn.

The Giants would eventually beat the Reds 10-2 in a typical nine-inning affair scattered with home runs, well hit balls and some nice defensive plays. Everything about this game was ordinary, except for part of the stadium legitimately catching on fire and everyone acting like nothing out of the ordinary was going on.

What a day.