Blandino stays perfect: 'I knew I couldn't lose'

May 11th, 2021

Cincinnati utility man had a perfect record to protect before the start of the Reds' series opener against the Pirates on Monday.

Blandino engaged Pittsburgh reliever Luis Oviedo in a standoff following the national anthem. Each looked to see who would be the first to crack and head into their team’s dugout.

The Reds got the victory, with Blandino outlasting Oviedo despite direction from home-plate umpire Chris Conroy and first-base umpire Pat Hoberg to get the ballgame started.

“You know, I definitely couldn't have done it without my teammates,” Blandino said. “They were all on the rail supporting me, yelling at me to stay. I knew I couldn't lose.

“I was a little worried that the first-base umpire was going to throw me out, honestly. ... But I knew skip [manager David Bell] had my back. He was very pumped that we won that. [He] came over to give me a fist bump. So, just meant a lot to have them behind me.”

Being the last one on the field for anthems is nothing new for Blandino, as he has done so dating back to his high school and college playing days. And while Blandino said he doesn’t keep track of his career record, he does his part in winning an anthem standoff to help his team in any way possible.

“I know that we're 16-16, but like in my book, we're 32-0 on anthems right now,” Blandino said.

Blandino said that if he could, he’d stay on the field following the anthem for as long as he could.

“As far as I'm concerned, if the umpire doesn't make me move, I'll stand out there for the whole first inning,” Blandino said. “What are the odds I get hit with a liner or a popup? Not really too high. So I think they should just leave us out there for as long as possible. It's really just a battle of will at that point.”