Great American Ballpark (press box view)

Great American Ballpark (press box view)

CINCINNATI -- This is my first trip to the Queen City since 2001 and my first time seeing Great American Ballpark, which sits right across the Ohio River from my hotel in Covington, Ky.

 After checking in this morning, I dropped my bags, made it across the John Roebling Bridge -- opened in 1866, 17 years before Roebling’s Brooklyn Bridge -- and headed into downtown Cincinnati for some Skyline Chili.

I wasn’t sure this was my best pregame meal option. Despite the out-of-town hype, a local guy pooh poohed it. But I’m glad I went. I had a plate of chili and a Coney dog, both buried in cheese. The waitress talked me into a bib, and I’m glad she did. The brown chili sauce would have crushed my light blue shirt.

After that, it was short walk to the ballpark. Folks who’ve seen a lot of stadiums have given me pretty ho-hum scouting reports about this place. Nothing too special, you hear, pretty vanilla.

Nonsense. Maybe it helped coming in with low expectations, but I already like this place. It feels pretty intimate, with all these red seats hovering above the sunken diamond. The press box, on the third level, gives me a view of the river beyond the right-field wall, with the sloping hills of Kentucky out beyond. The steam ship in center field gives it a sense of place.

So I’m fired up to watch one of the National League’s best teams -- and especially the incomparable Joey Votto -- playing at home on a summer weekend.

The Twins' hitters should love it, too. This place is a home run hitting paradise.

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