The J Bar, the setting for an annual Athens tradition of watching opening-day baseball

Mixed Opening-Day Results for Athens Baseball Fans

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ATHENS, Ohio — “Opening day” – the starting-gun words for Athens-area baseball fans to gather at the J Bar to watch their teams hit the diamond.

In keeping with the annual tradition, the bar was packed.

After the Cubs ended their 108 year drought last year with a World Series win, other teams renewed their hopes for a similar outcome this year. The Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians opened their seasons Monday night; the Reds against the Phillies – the  Indians faced the Texas Rangers.

At of the top of the 7th, the Phillies lead the Reds 4-1, and though fans were optimistic, some were not so sure. Reds fan Bobby Levine had the highest of hopes.

“Were gonna win the whole thing, it’s gonna go 162-0, starts today,” he said. “Scott Feldman is on the mound for the Reds, and other than that, it’s going to be smooth sailing.”

The Reds are coming off a disappointing season, winning just 68 games last year. Since then, the Reds sent second baseman Brandon Phillips to the Atlanta Braves in an off-season trade. Cincinnati put in newcomer Scott Feldman as their starting pitcher. They still have All-Star first baseman Joey Votto, and speedster Billy Hamilton. The club hopes those two will provide the spark necessary to carry the Reds’ offense.

Indians’ fans were also hopeful that this will be the year they take home the World Series trophy.

“I am really excited about this upcoming season,” said Indian’s fan Trey Hunter. “Were gonna bring it back to the World Series and win it this year.”

That optimism is well warranted. Last year, the Tribe came within one game of winning the World Series. In the off-season, Cleveland signed perhaps the biggest free agent on the market, inking a deal with first baseman Edwin Encarnacion. The $60 million contract was the largest the club has signed with a free agent. Indians fans also crowded the bars in Athens to cheer on the Tribe as they faced the Texas Rangers.

Indians Fans enjoying the game at Courtside Bar
Indians Fans enjoying the game at Courtside Bar

In the end, Reds’ fans were disappointed as the team fell to the Phillies 4-3, but the Indians took their first win of the season winning 8-5 against the Rangers.