Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Some years are better than others

While I'm sitting here in wintry Ohio using archaic dial up and an ancient space heater and feeling like it's the nineteenth century except that I'm using the internet and an electric heater, I'm thinking some more about the Willy T signing and the Rob Hern signing and wondering if it really was the nineteenth century the last time the Reds went to the World Series or even the playoffs or even had a winning record.

And while everyone and his mother has weighed in on this season's offseason offerings and you see some intelligent analysis and a lot of gibberish from what we can call the "uninformed fan," which is really just a euphemism for total baseball idiot (you know, the kind who ran Dunner out of town because they view strikeouts as evil, even though strikeouts count the same as any other out), no one's really mentioned how the Willy T. signing severely limits our options for bringing in Jim Edmonds to be our new centerfielder. (Yes, that is a joke, as I have been saying for the past six months that he would be on account of Walt being our G.M. and all. Although I can honestly say that Edmonds would be a better option than Willy T.)

In all of my eternal optimism, I am finding it difficult to let said optimism overrule logic and reason, and in this new year, 2009, which equals eleven if you add the digits, which was Barry Larkin's number, which may or may not have some cosmic significance, I am struggling to find any semblance of hope for my team in a year where hope for the world abounds. But maybe that's because I'm so darn cold here in Redsland. Maybe when the flowers burst onto the scene, things will be different. Maybe by the time pitchers and catchers are packing their bags for their last trip to Sarasota, Walt's "Number 1 Priority," that being a hitter who can hit it out of the infield, will have come to fruition and there will be reason to think that maybe this is the year.

I'm trying, I really am. I want to believe.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Hope everyone had a good Christmas

I'm off to DC again and will return in the middle of the week. I didn't get Adam Dunn for Leftfield for Christmas, so I have to say I am pretty disappointed, but there's still a lot of off season and he's still a free agent, plus my birthday is on January 10, so there's still hope.

Au revoir for a couple of days. Happy New Year!

UPDATE: Just read about the Taveras signing. Was I really that bad this year? What a lump of coal.
___

Monday, December 22, 2008

Change is coming to the outfield

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usWith Al Franken currently hanging onto the lead in the Minnesota US Senate race, I am in the campaign spirit and put together a few yard signs to put in my virtual church lawn.

According to an article on Reds.com which is according to an article in the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Reds' outfield search is down to three: Willy Taveras, Jerry Hairston Jr., and Rocco Baldelli. You can tell what I think of that (even if I did misspell Taveras on the sign. And yes, that's a black hole behind the NO.) Baldelli? Well, I can't say I am sold on him either, what with his second weird disease diagnosis of the year, but they say this one's curable. Yet he seems like the best of the three options, if those are our only options.

I'm wondering - were the 68 stolen bases Taveras had last year the only 68 times he was on base?

Of course, my preference is widely known.

How could you NOT want a guy who hits 40 homers, 100 RBIs, and 100 runs EVERY YEAR?


And who's only 29?

And whose career on base percentage is .381?

And whose career slugging percentage is .518?

I think it's time the Reds took off their tin foil hats and started looking at Dunn the way he SHOULD be looked at - as one of the best sluggers available to them. Only with Dunn standing in leftfield would a signing of someone like Taveras or Hairston be not uncomfortable.
___

Sunday, December 21, 2008

When the windchill is ten below zero...

I just have a nice big cup of Opening Day countdown...

It is 105 days, 5 hours, 48  minutes and 32  seconds until Monday, April 6, 2009 at 2:15:00 PM (Cincinnati time)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

This is the FIRST professional team, America

So I take this quiz where you have have three minutes to name every Major League team, right? I ended up blanking on the Royals when I had one team to go. Sorry, KC fans, but honestly, it has nothing to do with the state of your franchise and everything to do with the fact that I tend to panic under such time constraints.

When I looked to see what team I had missed, I discovered that only 63% of those who took the quiz were able to name the Reds, the lowest percentage of any team. This, a storied franchise who had one of the greatest teams ever and who played in one of the greatest World Series ever, a team who has won more World Series than all but three four teams (Phillies just got another, and the Red Sox technically have more, but most of them occurred before people drove automobiles), and only 63% of the people can name the Reds?

Well, I don't think there is anyone who still pretends that baseball is America's pastime. (Maybe the Fox World Series producers who run the half hour of drivel before the games begin.)
___

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What'd I miss? What'd I miss?

The trade of a worthless veteran hasbeen for a stud outfielder? The trade for Rafael Furcal or Miguel Tejada? The trade of Dusty Baker for Joe Torre?

Oh, Arthur Rhodes.

Meh.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Redsfest Rox!

I've never been, unfortunately. I thought this year since I was in Ohio instead of DC, I would finally get to go. But no. I am going TO Washington over the weekend.

Just look at all the cool stuff I'm missing:

REDSFEST XI Highlights • Dec. 12-13
Kahn’s Redsfest XI, benefiting The Reds Community Fund at The Duke Energy Convention Center
• Friday, Dec. 12, 4 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.
• Saturday, Dec. 13, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Tickets on sale now at reds.com/redsfest, (513) 381-REDS or at the door:
• 2-Day tickets are $20 for adults; $10 for kids (12 and younger)
• 1-Day tickets are $15 for adults; $7 for kids (12 and younger)
• Children under 3 admitted free
Redsfest XI Facts:
• Free player autographs and photographs with admission (50+ players appearing)
• Free Reds winter cap to the first 10,000 fans each day
• Expected to raise $100,000 for the Reds Community Fund and its baseball-themed outreach programs.
• $10,000 first prize for the Reds Community Fund Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Tournament (Saturday night)
Over 50 current and former players are scheduled to appear:
• Dusty Baker, Arroyo, B. Phillips, Votto, Bruce, Volquez, Cueto, Keppinger, Encarnacion...and more!
Former Reds players:
• Mario Soto, Eric Davis, George Foster, Lee May, Tom Browning...and more!
All Reds on Radio and TV broadcasters:
• Marty & Thom Brennaman, Jeff “The Cowboy” Brantley, Chris Welsh, George Grande, Jim Day and Jeff Piecoro
Main Stage highlights:
• Friday at 6 p.m.: Reds Players “Past & Present” Introductions (50+ current and former players)
• Also Friday: “Team Cincinnati Choir” in concert…plus The Bronson Arroyo Band
• Saturday at 2 p.m.: ‘08 Team Awards including MVP, Most Outstanding Pitcher, Rawlings Gold Glove Award
• Both days: Kids-only press conferences, Hot Stove Reports with Dusty & Walt
Reds Stocking Stuffer: “All-You-Can-Eat” seats single-game tickets on sale!
• All-You-Can-Eat section tickets for $30 each...first time ever on-sale at Redsfest
• Unlimited Hot Dogs, popcorn, peanuts and soft drinks
• Four Saturday games available: May 9 vs St. Louis, July 18 vs Mil, Aug. 15 vs Wash and Sept.19 vs Florida
• Great for holiday gifts!
Redsfest XI Main Areas:
• Nine autograph & photograph booths featuring current and former players all weekend!
• Reds Community Fund Store featuring game-used, game-worn and autographed items
• Reds Hall of Fame exhibit featuring World Series trophies plus autographed/collectable merchandise for sale
• Belterra Sports Bar with 10 TV’s showing live sports all weekend
• Kids Fun Zone with interactive exhibits and games
• Majestic Team Shop with authentic Reds gear
New Features for Redsfest XI
• The Reds Raceway presented by KOI Auto Parts – kids 10 & under in pedal cars
• Redsfest Reading Room – Reds players will read to kids
• Alvis Marty Brennaman Long Drive Challenge – Hit a long drive on video golf display from GolfTEC
• Civil Rights Game Display – linking the history of the Civil Rights movement to the Reds and MLB


I'd love to score autographs from Joey Votto, Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto, Aaron Harang, and Bronson Arroyo. I have most of the others.

I suppose there is always next year for me, but for you...GO!
___

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Bye, bye, Farney

It's been fun, except when you were running into walls and getting concussions and ripping your body to shreds. You really did make some heckuva plays. And who can forget Ryan Freel Dirty Shirt Night at GAB(p)?

Anytime you lose one of your longtime players, you have to reflect a bit. Below are some posts I wrote about Farney. I seldom wrote about Freel.

Farney's Immigration to America

Interview with a Leprechaun

I am ok with this deal, as we need a catcher (as long as Hanigan gets first shot) and Freel is a walking time bomb. Still, there's always a glimmer of a tear dripping from my heart when a Cincinnati Red leaves for other pastures.

May we finally put the era of losing behind us.

UPDATE: We also lost Justin Turner and Brandon Waring in the deal. I sure hope Walt knows what he's doing. I guess winning two World Series should give him the benefit of the doubt...
___

Monday, December 08, 2008

Stormy winter

You know my hatred for the Cardinals is matched by a hatred for no other team. You know I created a virtual voodoo doll of Albert Pujols that made him go on the DL just a couple of days later. But did you know that my burning animosity toward that team is so intense that as I stare out a window at the snow-covered ground, I see a cardinal eating berries from a bush and think, "Stupid bird, not migrating to warmer climates for winter. Typical cardinal."?

The thing is, I like birds. I like watching the colorful ones hop around and eat things and ride air currents and all that. I liked cardinals until realignment put that team in our division. The cardinal is Ohio's state bird, probably because it is the only thing with color once winter's gloom settles over the Midwest.

See, folks? You shouldn't hate. Hatred makes you irrational. But it's so easy when Pujols is on the team.

In other news, or I guess I should say in news, I am happy that David Weathers has accepted arbitration. I know that there are mixed feelings about Stormy. I can hear some of the groans as I read the article on reds.com. Yet I am saying a little out loud "yay" to myself. Why? The reason is irrational. It's because he is so nice.

Yes, I am yaying because of the niceness of a player. The year was 2006. The day was the day after the trade deadline. Myself and fellow Reds fans sat in the Mayflower Hotel stalking the players. At first, it was just me, and I was having an overpriced coffee in the lobby while pretending to do work and waiting for the players to get up and go to the ballpark. Stormy was one of the first ones I saw. I said, "Hi Stormy," as he passed me on his way back from what I think was a smoke break. He flashed a genuine smile and gave me a return "hi" in his Tennessee drawl. Later on that same day, after I had taken a much longer lunch than an hour, he came over and started chatting with the few Reds fans that were hanging around (they were there thanks to my big mouth). The guy was really down to earth and I became a Stormy fan that very day.

Now, I realize what we are losing out on is a supplemental first round draft pick and a chunk of dough, plus there's the whole if you use him for more than an inning or bring him in with men on base, you'll experience heart attack-like symptoms, but hey, he's an effective reliever, a leader in a young bullpen (with guys like Herrera and Roenicke potentially landing roles), and it's only a one year deal, RIGHT REDS?

I applaud this move with a golf clap and a smile.
___

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Tears They Do Want to Fall

I'm getting ready to move back to Washington - nothing definite yet, but I have my fingers crossed. You may notice as this site morphs into its new life over the course of this so far freezing winter that some Nationals elements have started to creep back into the site. I cannot wait for the Nationals Opening Day, and I will be there when our new president throws out the first pitch. That being said, if it happens to fall on the same day as Our Holy Reds Opening Day, I will just have to bring a laptop to the ballpark and watch the Reds at the same time as the Nats. That will be something new to me - watching one game while attending another. So far I've only watched two games on computers at the same time.

Anyway, as I have been going through my things, packing up what needs to be packed, pitching what needs to be pitched, I came across a couple of items that amused me. Or saddened me, like this scrap I wrote in a notebook. It was written October 2, 1999, yet the desperate tone sounds awfully familiar:
I sit impatiently waiting for the Reds to begin the final game of the regular season. Already today the Astros won the division title and the Mets have forced a one-game playoff pending a Cincinnati win today (or tomorrow, depending on the weather). It is depressing to think that it was a mere two days ago that Cincy was tied for first and two games ahead of the Mets. Now that I have my playoff tickets, they stand to lose all. But it rains in Milwalkee, and three hours have passed since the game's scheduled start, three hours which could have fit an entire game inside. I stand depressed, and the gray glow of an early October twilight laughs at me as I wait to see if my tickets will be of use.
Oh, the heartbreak that I feel in reading that is as painful as the day the Mets defeated my beloved Reds and I had to return my playoff tickets. I had totally blocked that from my mind. The tickets had been in my hand. They said the words "Cincinnati Reds" and "Division Championship Series" on them.

Once upon a time...

Thursday, December 04, 2008

A Trip Back in Time

Half my life ago, I won the "Milk Duds Celebrity Bat Girl Contest" and had the great fortune of getting to stand on the field during batting practice. I was 16 years old and I missed a soccer game for it - I was the goalkeeper for my high school team and we were playing a small farm school, but even if we had been playing for a division title that day, I think I'd have missed it. The day was September 16, 1992. Yes, I even remember the date, because it was an incredible experience.

Here is the official contest photo taken of me with "my favorite Reds player," Hal Morris. Actually, Paul O'Neill was my favorite, and Joe Oliver was second, but neither of them was "available," so the Reds deemed Hal Morris as my favorite. I didn't care. I loved Hal, too! As you can see, he does not look pleased to have been deemed "my favorite player." Yes, they made me wear the Milk Duds hat, which was made for a size 10 head, I think. I do not have it anymore. I do, however, still have the Reds jersey, and I'd wear it if it didn't have "Milk Duds Celebrity Bat Girl" on the back. It's no matter - I only have about 50 other Reds shirts to choose from. (Yes, that's hyperbole.)





I also had my picture taken with Chris Hammond - the promising prospect Chris Hammond, not the aged veteran retread Chris Hammond we saw a couple of years ago. It was 1992, and he had his whole promising career ahead of him. Now, HE was happy to take a picture with me. (I had one of those 110 cameras with the strangely-shaped rolls of film back then, and objects ended up on the left side of the pictures.) Chris was a guy I'd had high hopes for. Everything was high hopes then - we were only two years removed from a World Series title, and no one could have foreseen the 18 year drought we would have.






Barry had yet to become my favorite player, though he was extremely nice and autographed a ball and a photo for me, asking me how was school and engaging in conversation as he signed. Of all of the moments of that day, the moment I spoke with Barry Larkin is the most memorable, even as I was unaware of the player he would become. Lark deserves the Hall, and he better get it next season. HEAR THAT, SPORTSWRITERS?????

He also needs to get back to Cincinnati. I share the view of Redleg Nation when I say BRING BACK BARRY! I was disappointed to see that rather than making room for newbies like Barry, the Reds hired back all of the coaching staff from 2008. That coaching staff did such a great job, we only ended up in FIFTH PLACE out of SIX TEAMS. I want to see Barry's butt on that bench!






As I said, Paul O'Neill was my favorite player. Never did I think this day would be the last time I saw Paul in a Reds uniform. What a sad, sad day it was to learn that he had been traded. Even now, after Paul had all of those great seasons with the Yanks, after he won all of those World Series rings, I still can't view him as a Yankee. He was a Red. He was part of that very special 1990 team. He was my favorite! I am happy, though, that New York embraced him as one of their own. That's awfully tough to accomplish when you're an outsider.

The Reds played the Braves that day, the first place Braves, the Ron Gant/David Justice Braves. The Reds lost. Mike Stinkton was the winning pitcher for the Braves and Mark Wohlers got the save. Scott Ruskin blew it for Greg Swindell, my favorite non-Jose pitcher, by serving up two runs in the eighth, giving the Chopheads a 3-2 lead. The Reds fell the furthest behind the eventual division winning Padres that night - 10.5 games back - than they were all season. They'd been in first place until the end of July but started to lose more games than they were winning and ended the season in second place, 8 games back of the Fathers.

On that night, though, September 16, 1992, the standings did not matter to me.

Monday, December 01, 2008

This is not the finished product

I am still working on this site, but I wanted to put something up other than that annoying repetitive background I had on the old version of the site.

Anything good happening in the baseball world these days? You know, there are few things more depressing to me than the site of a snow-covered ballfield. In the meantime, here is some artful poetry:

Reds caps are red
Nats caps are blue
But when it is winter
That just isn't true.

Check back - I'll have the new site done before the snow melts from those ballfields...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Loser Opened Pandora's Box

The 2008 season was kind of a lost one for us, wasn’t it? Throughout this painfully painful losing streak, this season was by far the most depressing. I had gone into the season with the same desperate optimism I had in seasons past, but that optimism was drained from me in April and never returned except in some frantic form a couple of times in spring. By the time the summer came around, reason and rationality had returned to me, and thoughts of October were no more.

The question is – why was it more disappointing than the other seven losing seasons? If you think about it, we’ve always had reason to hope throughout the streak. In 2001 and 2002, it was early, and we thought surely our team would be back in the playoffs next year, especially since Griffey “couldn’t be hurt every year.” In 2003 we were in contention for the first half of the season, and in 2004 we were in first place in the early going, even making the cover of Sports Illustrated as the surprise of the season. Of course, we all know about the SI curse. It was in full effect that year.

2005 stunk, but a change in ownership during the off season brought with it a great new hope, and indeed, that 2006 season was fun, even if it ended badly after we threw a quarter of our offense into the Leatherpants rubbish bin. To be eliminated in the last couple of days of the season, well, that’s something to cheer for after five losing seasons in a row. In the end, though, it just went as another L in the season column.

Still, our proximity to October baseball in 2006 gave reason to hope for the 2007 season. We could improve on the weak spots, and did – with one glaring exception. Our calfpen was terrible.

Ah, well, what can you do except go and sign one of the top closers in the game and another darn good relief pitcher and get rid of the garbage, giving a renewed sense of hope? And then they had to go and stink up every field in baseball. We were the “dark horse” of the league. Sports Illustrated picked us to come in second. But no, we had to start Corey Patterson in centerfield every damn day even as his batting average remained below the Mendoza line and his on base percentage rivaled that of a pitcher’s. We let our future star rot away in the minors for a couple of months to save a few bucks in arbitration while we were in desperate need of offense, a future star who hit 21 homers when it was finally deemed cheap enough to bring him up, too late to save the season.

And so now, after so many years of disappointment, what do we do? Can we allow ourselves to hope? Can we allow ourselves to think that maybe this is finally going to be our year? Can we stand up and raise our heads high, proud of the long winning tradition of our team, no longer one of the jokes of the Major Leagues?

Not when trade rumors swirl around the names of 22 year old Homer Bailey for 35 year old Jermaine Dye. Not when tornadoes fly around the names Edwin Encarnacion for Willy Taveras. Not when you have a new GM who seems to have a love affair for soon-to-be washed up veterans. Not when you don’t know if you have a shortstop or a catcher or if you only have one outfielder.

It’s been eight years, folks. There is a statute of limitations for hope. I’m pretty sure the one for Reds fans is up. So go put in your 1975 Big Red Machine DVD and dream away – it seems like a movie now, a work of fiction.

And yet…
___

Dude can't take a good picture

I was searching for a good photo of Bud Selig to use on my new website and did a Google image search. Look at it for yourself - it's a great laugh.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Just a thought...

I was away from any media for the last few days and just found out about the Citi bailout. I've always called it ShitiBank for no real reason except it sounded funny and juvenile, but now I have a big one.

I keep thinking about that brand new ballpark in New York I was prepared to call ShitiField (though the term should have gone to the last hunk of junk they played in). How much did the ShitiGroup pay for those naming rights?

If we are truly to establish a New Economic Order, I hope we see the end of the changing of stadium names every few years. Truthfully, I'd like to see us go back to naming things after individuals (like Shea or RFK) if we're not going to stick with team names like Yankee Stadium or Nationals Park.

UPDATE: Apparently, I'm not the only one thinking about this.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

This site under construction...

I checked out some html books at the library the other day. You know, the library? That place in every community where you can rent books for free? People still use them, you know. You can find everything there, from books on gardening and birdwatching to biographies of FDR and Barack Obama to books on The Rolling Stones and John Coltrane to books on how to make baseball bats or Guinness stew. Anyway, I found a couple of books on html and decided to open notepad and start from scratch. It's really quite simple to build a webpage - I had no idea. Could I do it without the books? No way. But with the books and a bit of time, by golly, I'm gonna build myself a brand new webpage. There are all sorts of neato things you can do that I never knew about. Like putting little messages over links so when you mouse over them, you can read secret clues about why that link is there. Boy, I've sure had fun with that on the new site.

Just think of the possibilities your secret decoder mouse can do on the new site! It's like the new DaVinci Code. It's like Stephen Colbert's "The Word." It's like when someone signs an aging veteran and thinks he's getting the same player as he was in his prime. It's irony in the literary sense of the word - you can say one thing and secretly write the exact opposite in an invisible little box that only those with the secret mouse decoder can decipher!

Anyway, I just wanted to say that if this site disappears in the coming weeks, it is because I did something wrong and the whole thing got sucked down the intertubes. I'm probably going to mess something up since I am self-taught, but I'm backing everything up multiple times. Besides, there's nothing basebally to write about, it being the off-season and all.

Some things I need:

If you have a blog and want to exchange links, let me know. I've been bad about getting to some exchanges, and for that I apologize. I'm trying to get to the messages I have about link exchanges - I promise I will get there eventually!

If anyone can tell me how to make a footer a footer and not just at the bottom of the posts, thanks. The footer is at the bottom of the post column (the middle one) but is running into the sidebar, which is rather annoying and very unsightly.

Update: Did you know you could make stuff blink with very simple blink tags? It'd be pretty annoying if you had much blinking on your site.

What does this do?

Wherefore art thou, Adam Dunn?

The time has come for us to wonder, where is Adam Dunn, or more precisely, where is Adam Dunn’s name? There seems to be no talk of signing him among the Rosenthals and Olneys of the country. A player who is very similar, Pat Burrell, gets a lot of ink these days. Why no Dunn, who has 278 career homers at age 29?

Strikeouts. People are obsessed with strikeouts. How is striking out any different than grounding out? It still counts for the same number of outs: 1. Granted, there are times when a grounder or fly can advance a runner, but the saberdorks will tell you that the number of times this happens – and happens to matter – is minuscule compared to the number of runs a guy like Dunn is actually responsible for producing.

We’ve heard the Nationals calling, but Leatherpants just traded for Willingham and currently has about 50 outfielders (only some of them former Reds, not all of them). I suppose that won’t stop him from signing another, too. Dunn can be with his buddy Austin again, just like old times.

Even if Dunn doesn’t end up on the Nationals and he’s still unemployed come February, it’s not like he’s going to have to get his 3 in 1 credit report and worry about where the dough will come from. He is not going to suffer the same fate has hundreds of thousands of Americans have in the past year, that being a layoff. Someone will sign him, someone who needs a leftfielder.

I’m hoping it’s the Reds.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Boooo!

Voodoo

I thought players on non-contending teams didn't deserve to win the MVP, Albert?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Some thoughts about thoughts

"Rats, vats, well, if we knew all the things."

This statement was spoken by Leopold Bloom in Ulysses. Bloom was having a conversation about the rats found in the Guinness vats at the brewery. For some reason, it just popped into my head. I didn't see any rats. I didn't see any Guinness. It just materialized into a thought that had long since been buried. I haven't picked up Ulysses in months.

It relates to something I saw on a documentary about the human brain the other day. I've always been fascinated by the brain. It is a mystery not unlike the mystery of the universe itself. Indeed, one day we'll probably find out how they are interconnected. How can this squishy little pink piece of gore do what it does? We haven't even hit the surface of understanding about the way it works. Still, when a neuroscientist discovers a tiny piece of the puzzle, I greedily lap up the knowledge and try to apply it to everyday life. The documentary on TLC did that for me by discussing how athletes used to focus solely on building strength and muscle. Indeed, we have the stereotype of the dumb jock. However, humans have pretty much reached the limits of what they can do with their bodies at this stage in the evolutionary process. Sports equipment like pitching machines that can emulate a wicked curve ball, high tech video equipment, lightweight and breathable catchers equipment, scientific weightlifting and cardio machines, aerodynamically developed Easton baseball bats, and performance enhancing diets and dietary supplements can only go so far. Sports are increasingly turning to the brain to further competition.

Adam Dunn famously joked that he had only read two books in his lifetime. People laughed. This is what are society has come to - the mainstream has no respect for intellectual curiosity or development. We are a culture that drinks down sports as if they are an oasis in the desert of our mediocrity. We think dumb is funny. But what if we didn't? What if we glorified education and intelligence? What could our athletes do if they strove not only to train their bodies to be the best they can be, but also trained their minds?

The possibilities of humanity are only limited by our own biases and prejudices. People say, "that's just the way it is." But history is one long, continuous story of the progress and development of not only humanity but of all of creation. History is change. Won't it be something to see not just one Reggie Jackson quoting Shakespeare in a dugout, but a whole team of Jacksons discussing Joyce's post-modernist style? How about a Cy Young winner talking to the teammate on his right in flawless Spanish and then turning to the teammate on his left and conversing in flawless Japanese? Or a 50 homer a year slugger who can calculate the necessary degree of the angle of his swing to knock a ball out of the yard? What if a baseball player could find a way to keep the rats out of the Guinness?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Just say no to trading Edwin

It's the middle of November, and the gray Midwestern drear seems to have finally settled in. I have that inner chill that comes with winter, a sort of iciness like my blood is close to freezing. I'm not good at cold. Right now, my hands feel like ice. I'm thinking gloves. I find a stretchy glove. I find some batting gloves. I find a thick pair of winter mittens with no fingers. But how am I to type?

As you know, I hate winter. I hate the absence of light in the days. I hate the absence of warmth. I hate the absence of baseball. It isn't enough to read a four paragraph article speculating about trades. Trade rumors aren't real. Trade rumors send more worry than anything. We in Cincinnati baseball land have had some pretty crappy off-seasons in the last few years. Several years. Off the top of my head, the only recent noteworthy off season transactions seem to be the trade for Bronson Arroyo (he of the double-eared batting helmets fame), the contract extensions of Arroyo, Aaron Harang, and Brandon Phillips, the signing of Dusty Baker, and the trade of Josh Hamilton for Edinson Volquez. The other noteworthy moves involved getting rid of players who had no business in Major League uniforms, like Eric Milton and Corey Patterson.

Every morning I wake up wondering what disaster the Reds have bestowed upon us. I know I am not alone. It's some sort of syndrome unique to Reds fans, some psychological scar we bear.

We've heard speculation about trading for some crappy players on the Rockies and possibly giving up Edwin Encarnacion in the process. That would be a huge mistake. Edwin is only 25 years old - he hasn't hit his peak. There's no telling what kind of player he will become. If only people would have some patience.

I hope we don't lose Edwin.
___

Monday, November 10, 2008

Second place isn't always so bad

They say second place is the first loser. That means fourth and fifth place are the fourth and fifth losers, respectively. But the excitement inspired by a second, fourth, and fifth place finish in the Rookie of the Year voting (even if one of them wasn't technically a rookie) is more excitement than you'll ever see in some other second, fourth, or fifth place finish.

I'm not feeling the same foolish optimism I had last year. We have one outfielder, no catcher, and half a shortstop. We're missing half a team, something an awesome pitching staff won't overcome. Walt passed on Holliday (or the Rockies passed on Walt), so there goes that idea. I am not looking forward to seeing Jim Edmonds suit up for the Reds in centerfield next year.

Yet - I still feel hopeful. Something is happening here. Something is being erected before us. Something to keep us warm during this long, cold, dark, gloomy, football-laden winter.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Joey for ROY!

I know it won't happen because Giovanni Soto had a great year at a tough position on a winning team. But we can be proud of our own Joey Votto, who will win Mr. Congeniality.

Joey's numbers: .297/.368/.506, 24 HR, 84 RBI. Votto led all NL rookies in batting average, home runs, multi-hit games, hits, total bases, on-base percentage and slugging.

149 days until Our Holy Opening Day.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

MLB.com's new look - and more BP love

I know I've been gone for awhile from the baseball world, but when did MLB.com finally catch up with the rest of the world and allow comments on its articles? And the whole new profile and social networking thing? I like it. They still need to allow video sharing on social networking sites, as they are behind the times when it comes to their obsessive-compulsive "protection" of copyrights. If I want to share SNL clips or entire Colbert Report episodes, I can do so, but I can't share the Brandon Phillips Gold Glove winner clip? Check out the new MLB.com to create your profile.

I'm going to Nats Opening Day.

First Barack, now Brandon Phillips

Brandon Phillips won the Gold Glove! Yay!

BP might be my favorite Reds player. He was leading, but then Votto and Bruce got called up and the exit polls are too close to call. We are very lucky to have one of the best second basemen (2009 shortstop?) in the league.

I have a feeling that 2009 is going to be a very, very good year.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Looook into my crystal ball

I missed this article the other day, but I saw the headline "Nationals targeting slugger to clean up" and I knew that Adam Dunn would be a National next season. I don't mind that at all, because I will be back in DC for next baseball season. But I can't help feel a little sad, because I was hoping (and am still hoping, honestly), that Dunn would resign with the Reds.

Get yourselves out and vote!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Rain, rain, rain

The NY Times reminds us of this fine piece of wet baseball history:
...another of baseball’s greatest games had soggy roots in the rain: Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, won by the Boston Red Sox in the bottom of the 12th on Carlton Fisk’s home run.

The Red Sox and Cincinnati Reds arrived in Boston to a nor’easter and waited as Friday’s scheduled Game 6 was postponed two days in a row. On Sunday, when clearing seemed imminent but Fenway Park remained drenched, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn had to decide whether to try playing the next night — squarely against “All in the Family” on CBS and a new sensation called “Monday Night Football” on ABC — or postpone Game 6 all the way to Tuesday.

When Kuhn told the Times columnist Red Smith that he preferred night games “to better accommodate the fans,” Smith accused M.L.B. of kowtowing to the networks.

“Exposing cash customers to raw night cold is a novel way of accommodating them,” Smith said. “Accommodating TV sponsors at prime time is something else again.”

Meanwhile, with Fisk still just a good catcher and not yet a New England icon, the Reds decided to try to stay sharp by working out inside Dussault Cage at Cousens Gymnasium on the campus of Tufts University. While pitchers worked off a portable mound plopped down on the running track, Pete Rose and Joe Morgan bashed line drives into fishnets hung from the ceiling.

Why Tufts? Reds Manager Sparky Anderson was asked.

“I think Harvard would be a little over my head,” he replied.

The sky over everyone’s heads soon cleared, and the Series played on.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

World Series on Ice

Bizarre World Series we're having, eh? I can't believe the umpires let them play in a lake yesterday, but it's a good thing, because the Rays were able to tie it and send it into this weird cycle of crazy we're seeing. I mean, tomorrow night, we're going to be tuning in to a three inning baseball game, unless, of course, no one can score and we go into extra innings, which could end up being another whole ballgame. Fine with me. Extend the baseball season for as long as possible, because I am not ready to go into hibernation mode for five months or so.

The only positive thing I can see about the end of the World Series is the beginning of the off-season when we get to see what Jocketty will and will not do. Holliday? Saltamacchia? We shall see.

I'm rooting for a Game 7. The outcome of that game is not so important to me.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Holy moly, was that a good game!

Game 7 - it has such a ring to it to those of us who practice the religion of baseball. They are always exciting, these things called Game 7s, deity-like beings in and of themselves. There is certainly an element of divine euphoria at just the thought of Game 7.

My heart raced and I felt those twinges of excitement in my gut, a feeling I haven't experienced in quite some time given the wretched state of the Cincinnati soul when it comes to its baseball team. The feeling certainly wasn't present at any time in the NLCS or the ALCS, though I did watch those with interest. Game 7 was something more - it had that magic of the game, that undefinable spiritual sort of thing that runs to the bottom of your soul and reminds you why you call yourself fan.

Who to root for in the World Series? I was leaning towards the Phillies, one of my "surrogate teams" I root for when they're not playing the Reds. (I tend to root for the National League teams unless they are the Deadbirds, Asstros, Dodgers, or Chub$.) Yet this young Rays team is so exciting to watch. Their enthusiasm reflects the innocence of the game, a sort of Eden-like diamond unspoiled by the rotten fruits of ego and age.

Gotta say I'm jealous of those Rays fans.

I'd love to see the faces of those post-2003 Red Sox "fans" whom I find so annoying.

Looking forward to the World Series.
___

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Come on, people

My greatest pet peeve is the use of apostrophe S where no apostrophe goes. We learned in what - kindergarten? - that to make a word plural in the English language, you add an -s to the word (or -es when the word ends with s.)

There I was, surfing through the Reds products on MLB.com in search of Christmas presents, when bam! There it was. On a commercial website. A big, fat apostrophe on a welcome mat.

AAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!
__

Monday, October 13, 2008

Is it really October?

Is it true that the older you get, the faster time goes by? Why do I feel like it was just last week I was down in Sarasota avoiding the white freeze that robbed Ohio of its comfort and bearability? Was the season so bad that I just blocked it out of my mind? Was Corey Patterson really our centerfielder for much of the year?

Are the hated Dodgers really in the playoffs? Are the Exorcised Rays? And the freaking Red Sox again? Did the Mets really collapse for the second season in a row?

Did the Reds really have another losing season?

If I root for a Phillies-Rays Series, does that mean we're going to get a Dodgers-Red Sox? Would I even watch it if it were a Dodgers-Red Sox Series? Is anyone even paying attention? Does anyone else feel like the country is paying attention to the LCS in the same way they pay attention to the Stanley Cup? Is it because there are much more important things to think about right now?

Have you voted yet?

Doesn't David Ross look like he's having the time of his life in the Red Sox dugout? Do we really not have a catcher other than Ryan Hannigan? Can we trade Homer for Jared Saltamacchia? Did I spell Saltamacchia correctly? Would it be a mistake to trade Homer for Saltamacchia?

Are the rumors about Harang possibly being traded true? Shouldn't we not trade Harang, Arroyo, Volquez, and Cueto? Isn't that going to be one of the best rotations in baseball? Who will be the fifth guy? Aren't there a lot of options?

When will I get around to changing my banner?

In this time of uncertainty, isn't it right to ask a lot of questions?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Day at the Ballpark

I am a baseball fan, a diehard Cincinnati Reds fan, and a trip to the ballpark is just about my favorite thing to do. The Dayton Dragons are the Reds' low A minor league affiliate, and though the Dragons' season ended more than a month ago, I happily hopped into my car and drove to the ballpark on Thursday. This time, though, there'd be no men in shiny white and green uniforms taking the field. No, this time, something far more important than the trivial matter of baseball would take place on the diamond. The leading candidate for the next President of the United States would speak from the same mound where Luis Montano took a no hitter into the seventh inning earlier this year, the same mound from which upcoming Reds stars Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey once threw, the mound in the middle of Fifth Third Field in Dayton, Ohio, a city in a state that could win the presidency for Senator Barack Obama.

I've been feeling pretty disheartened about the pervasive hatred that has surrounded the McPalin rallies of late, but a kos diary I just read has left me inspired and reminded me of what we set out to do. This election isn't just about the economy. No, the sorry state of the economy is what will give us victory, but that's not why Barack Obama is running for President of the United States, leader of the free world. Change is not an empty slogan in the Obama camp. Change is the goal, it is real, it is within our grasp.

What is this change?

Change is white people going into black neighborhoods and being welcomed because there is a sense of solidarity, that yes, we are all Americans. Change is eliminating suspicions, overcoming prejudices, being bold in the face of something unknown. Change is not living in fear of difference, not holing yourself up behind the walls of your house, worried that people will take what's yours. Change is transforming perceptions that a black community is the "bad part of town."

But it's much more than black and white. Change is also moving people to serve their country, not only through military service, but through volunteer service, whether it be the Peace Corps, a soup kitchen, or a community organization. It's getting up off your couches, out from behind the video games, and taking part in America again. This country wasn't built by people who sat back and let others do all the work.

Change is also ending the anti-intellectualism that has put this country in a hole, has seen our educational system fall to the bottom of the industrialized nations, and has whipped up a frenzied hatred that we haven't seen since the turmoil of the sixties. This is all a result of the divisive tactics of Republican politics started by Nixon and continued by every Republican presidential campaign since. Change is unity. Change is learning to respect the wisdom of the educated instead of dismissing their advice as "elitism." Change is learning to respect each other despite differences in opinion.

As Obama yard signs get stolen or vandalized, as people's houses are spraypainted, as cars are vandalized and Obama supporters are shot with BB guns, it has never been more evident that change is not only necessary, but critical. We can't move this nation forward if we have to constantly watch our backs.

The major difference between Obama rallies and McPalin rallies at this point is that we hold onto hope, while they hold onto hate, a hate built by ignorance, lies, and rightwing talk radio that spreads conspiracy theories like a Tom Clancy novel. Senator McCain - the real Senator McCain - showed up for a minute at one of his rallies yesterday and tried to appeal to the rational side of his followers. They booed him.

Palin ended yesterday's speech with a culture of fear:
"So you know, Ohio, from now until Election Day, you're gonna hear our
opponents go on and on about how they'll, quote, fight for you. But
since my running mate won't say this on his own behalf I will say it
for him. And that is, in this campaign there is only one man who has
every really fought for you. The only man who has ever really fought
for you and the only man with courage."

Senator Obama concluded with a statement of hope:
"Together, we cannot fail. Not now. Not when we have a crisis to solve
and an economy to save. Not when there are so many Americans without
jobs and without homes. Not when there are families who can't afford
to see a doctor, or send their child to college, or pay their bills at
the end of the month. Not when there is a generation that is counting
on us to give them the same opportunities and the same chances that we
had for ourselves.

We can do this. Americans have done this before. Some of us had
grandparents or parents who said maybe I can't go to college but my
child can; maybe I can't have my own business but my child can. I may
have to rent, but maybe my children will have a home they can call
their own. I may not have a lot of money but maybe my child will run
for Senate. I might live in a small village but maybe someday my son
can be president of the United States of America.

Now it falls to us. Together, we cannot fail."

I left the ballpark with a feeling not unlike that after a victory of my favorite baseball team. We in the progressive movement seek to renew the American promise and to give hope to those who have lost it in the era of greed and corruption our nation has undergone. As a great man once said, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."

cross posted at washingtonrox

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

No more Corey!

Too little, too late. But hey, Jocketty seems to be moving in the right direction so far getting rid of Patterson and Bako.

Can we win in 2009?

Yes we can!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Golden Week

Please don't go away - it's just that it's presidential campaign time, and I don't have a lot of free time to maintain this blog. If you want to vote for the good guys, contact me to see how you can help. Isn't it time to ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country?

I'm rooting for the Brewers and the White Sox. That was some throw Junior made to help the White Sox get into the playoffs, wasn't it?

I'll be back next week with a Reds season review.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

My sincere apologies to White Sox and D'backs fans

Dear White Sox and D'Backs fans,

I am sorry. Things were going so well for you guys and then I had to jump on the wagon and say I was rooting for a White Sox-D'backs World Series to see Ken Griffey, Jr. and Adam Dunn finally get a chance at a ring. I have cursed you all. Every team I ever root for seems to stink. Your decline started when I changed my banner to reflect my support for you.

The baseball gods hate me.

I promise I won't root for your teams any more. I'm not really all that interested in them, anyway. Dunner won't be back in Arizona next year, and who knows where Junior will be (Seattle?), so I won't have any reason to root for you all. I just wish I hadn't blown it for you this year.

I'm also not going to say I am rooting for the Sausages today, because I don't want their playoff chances destroyed. Suffice it to say that any Chub$ loss these days makes me happy. I hope the Chub$ get blown out of the Division Series in three games.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dear Asstros and Asstros Fans:

Waaah. You all are whining about the Chub$ having an unfair advantage in the game you played while a hurricane ravaged your state. You claim Bud Selig ruined your chances for the playoffs. What a big, fat bunch of whiners you are.

Three teams in the NL Central - the Sausages, the Deadbirds, and my own beloved Reds have to put up with Chub$ crowds at our home ballparks SIX to NINE games a year. You did it once. You don't hear us whining except to say that Chub$ fans are annoying. We don't blame our losing on playing as the visiting team in our own ballparks. We lose because our teams stink, and we win because our teams are good. Nothing else.

Do you know why you aren't going to the playoffs? Your team stinks! Did you see that idiotic baserunning move by Michael Bourne tonight? Winning teams don't make idiotic blunders like that!

I'm sure the questionable call at the end of the game has you up in arms right now. I'm sure there will be more whining about the umpires ruining your chances for the playoffs. The fact is, your bats were shut down by Edinson Volquez. You even had a call given to you by the umps - Joey Votto's homer only counted as a single. We should have beaten you 4-1.

Face it - your team is just not good enough to be in the playoffs, so QUIT YOUR WHINING!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A bit of baseball history

If you are a history buff, if you are fascinated by the way something that happened hundreds of years ago still affects us today, then you probably are a baseball fan.

Many may have missed this little tidbit in this week's SI:
Found In Surrey, England, a reference to baseball in a diary entry dated March 31, 1755 - the earliest known reference to the sport. Previously the earliest known mention of baseball was a law banning the game in Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1791. But last week, a Surrey historian said he had authenticated a diary in which lawyer William Bray [any relation to our own Bill?] mentioned the sport 36 years earlier: "After Dinner Went to Miss Jeale's to play at Base Ball...Drank Tea and stayed till 8." Bray, who died in 1832, never again mentioned the game in his writings.
Interesting, not only because it was found in England, but also because it was written in a world in which America did not exist as an independent entity.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A big, fat DUH

One of the reasons I am taking the GMAT to get into business school tomorrow is because business has become stupid and needs thinking people involved. The business world is so focused on formulas and boxes and "the way things are done" that there is no common sense in business anymore. Case in point: the Washington Nationals.

Today's WAPO had an article about Nationals Park Revenue Falls Short of Mark. To generate projected attendance figures, the Nationals and the DC government used past attendance figures from other new parks around the country. The variable they did not consider?

The Nationals have been in existence for 4 years in a transitional city where much of the baseball going population only remains in the city for four or five years. There are a few devoted followers of the Nats, but for the most part, the fanbase is not established. You can't compare that to a team that's been around for twenty, thirty, or one hundred thirty-nine years.

If the Nats had played good ball, this factor would be neglible. But the team stinks. The team stinks royally. This is one of the worst teams in baseball. Who the heck wants to become a fan of a losing team? Yeah, there are a few of us diehard baseball fans who would watch a baseball game between teams with number one draft picks who never made the majors, but we're a dying breed.

I'm not saying the Nationals were wrong to build a new stadium. I'm saying the Nationals (and the DC government) were wrong to assume they would have great attendance this year. A little common sense could have helped them greatly.

One other thing - any thinking person knows that the economy has been tanking for the past few years. One of the reasons given for low Nats attendance (aside from the fact that the Nats stink) is there is nothing to do around the stadium. Restaurants and bars don't want to open up around the stadium because the economy stinks. Why whine about something so obvious?

Can we say common sense? Apparently, not in 2008 American business.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I'm gonna miss this

I went to the Reds game last night.

I haven't been to a game since June - two games in Cleveland. I haven't been to a game for several reasons, but when I said I wasn't going to a game while Patterson was on the team, I was serious. The Dunn trade solidified my desire to boycott.

But when someone gives you free tix in section 135, well...

I stopped watching the Reds, too, since the Dunn trade. I have hardly listened to any games in the past month. But when I found out I had some tickets, somehow, I became excited to go to the game. Perhaps my break had been long enough. I got up in the morning and put my Reds shirt on and was excited throughout the day. That first sighting of the stadium when entering the city from the highway felt like Opening Day. I enjoyed every tiny little detail of the game, from the way the ball gets tiny on a popup and then grows as gravity pulls it into a fielders glove to the red shine of the helmets under the stadium lights. I enjoyed that "by the numbers" thing they put up on the scoreboard that reminded me that Hal Morris once wore 23. I loved that crack of the bat.

It will all be gone soon.

Last night, the heartache was so bad I once had to fight back a tear. It's the heartache that comes from the death of a season, knowing that come Tuesday, I won't be able to see the Reds for half a year. The season may seem long, especially when your team plays itself out of the race in April. Yet that half a year of no Reds baseball is eternal, no matter how pitiful the team plays during the season.

Bob, sign Dunn in the off season. Get rid of Patterson. Make Barry Larkin the bench coach, Eric Davis the hitting coach, and Tom Browning the pitching coach. Get rid of Mark Berry. Find a catcher - if you have to trade Homer for Jared Saltamacchia, do it. Don't steal 2009 from us, too.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Where I've been

Directions: The following question presents a sentence, part or all of which is in italics. Below each sentence you will find five ways to phrase the italics portion. Choice (A) repeats the original version, while the other four choices are different. If the original seems best, choose (A).

The newly elected baseball commissioner has asked that a federal arbitrator would mediate negotiations between representatives of the umpire's union, which has threatened to go on strike, and the lawyers representing major league franchise owners.

A. that a federal arbitrator would mediate negotiations between representatives of the umpire's union, which has threatened to go on strike

B. that a federal arbitrator mediate negotiations between representatives of the umpire's union, which have threatened

C. of a federal arbitrator that he mediate negotiations between representatives of the umpire's union, which have threatened

D. a federal arbitrator that he mediate negotiations between representatives of the umpire's union, which has threatened

E. a federal arbitrator to mediate negotiations between representatives of the umpire's union, which has threatened


Yes, I am studying for the GMAT to be taken on September 20. In the meantime, if you wonder why the Reds' offense has tanked this season and why they always swing at the first pitch, look no further:

"I hear people in the stands say, 'Take a pitch,'" Baker continued. "For what? That could be the best pitch to hit because most times they're going to throw you something hard and away, and then they'll start messing with you."

Monday, September 01, 2008

Three wins...a sweep. A crappy team beats another crappy team. Whoopdedoo.

I hate not caring. But I haven't even checked the MLB standings in a week. Maybe two. Thanks Bob.

I checked the news for callups - seeing Todd Frazier in a Reds uni could pique my curiosity enough to watch a game - but alas, no one, nothing. Of course, the Bats are in the playoffs, so we can't steal their players right now. Dragons are in the playoffs, too. Nice to see. I could get excited. But then there's this:
Corey Patterson made a nearly costly baserunning blunder in Saturday night's victory when he didn't cross home plate prior to the completion of an inning-ending 3-6 double play in the eighth inning. With Patterson on third and the Reds leading, 7-6, Javier Valentin grounded sharply to first. The first baseman stepped on first, eliminating the force play, and threw to second to complete the double play. If Patterson would've scored ahead of the putout at second, his run would've counted, giving the Reds a key insurance run. Instead, he stopped. Prior to Sunday's game, Baker recanted his initial statement that Patterson wasn't alert on the basepaths and offered this explanation: "A more accomplished first baseman would've stepped on first and thrown home," Baker said. "That was an important run. I thought more about it afterwards. That's why he stopped."
In case anyone was wondering why I haven't been to a Reds game since June.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

45 years ago

The arena was Dodger Stadium. The Reds suited up with Frank Robinson batting cleanup. A very young Pete lead off the game.

P Rose 2B 5 1 1 1 0 1 .273 .703 18 1 2
T Harper RF 4 1 0 0 1 1 .274 .739 21 4 0
V Pinson CF 5 1 2 2 0 0 .321 .868 10 2 0 2B
F Robinson LF 3 2 2 1 2 0 .264 .834 25 3 0 3B,IW
G Freese 3B 3 1 1 1 1 2 .238 .682 20 2 1 SF
D Pavletich 1B 4 2 1 1 0 0 .211 .611 9 6 0 HR,SH,GDP
L Cardenas SS 4 1 1 0 0 1 .228 .570 13 0 1
J Edwards C 4 0 3 1 0 0 .264 .709 14 9 0
J Maloney P 3 0 0 0 0 2 .141 .314 9 0 2 GDP
G Coleman PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 .236 .687 6 0 0
J Jay P 0 0 0 0 0 0 .136 .315 0 0
Totals 36 9 11 7 4 7 145 27 6


The Reds beat the Dodgers 9-5.

But who cares? Something more historic happened on August 28, 1963.

My god, how appropriate. Today, we have the opportunity to witness history 45 years from the day of that speech that has become as important a part of America as the flag itself.

I have seen a lot in my young life. What stands out more than anything are the machine guns held by soldiers on every corner of the streets of Cairo that protected their dictator from his people who have suffered so greatly under that authoritarian regime. In much of the world, this is not uncommon. I am glad I saw it with my own eyes, for America means much more to me because of it. The greatest thing about America is that Average Joe or Jane can rise up and lead a nation, and we are allowed to criticize our leaders in the process. Don't ever take that for granted.

What an amazing place! Skip the game tonight. Watch something that will be written about in American history books.

My god, are we lucky to be Americans.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Red is the color

Do you know how hard this is, how my meager little brain struggles to come up with anything to write about a team that is 20+ games out, that was out of the playoff race in April? There is nothing witty to say, nothing insightful, just a blank space staring at me. This is the worst it's ever been, did you know that? The Reds hadn't had more than three losing seasons in a row since World War II ended, or maybe it was Korea, I don't remember, some conflict in which people needlessly died because of some egotistical, maniacal ideology. Hmph. Guess that could be any time during the history of this rock we call home.

That was some pitching performance by Bronson last night, wasn't it? He's been one of the best pitchers in baseball since that horrendous start "north of the border," as George Grande is prone to say at least once a batter. It's as if he believes Canada is exotic because it uses different money than we do and because you need a passport to fly into it these days. But aside from being colder and having a better sense of community, Canada isn't even a foreign country in the sense that foreign means different.

But, I digress. I digress because there is nothing real to talk about. I mean, I'm embarrassed when I think about what fans of other teams are saying about the lineups we run out there. Jolbert Cabrera? Ryan Hannigan? Corey Freaking Patterson? I suppose the name "Reds" is appropriate these days - it's the color of my face when confronted by fans of other teams.

The lowest of the low, this season is.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Please vote for my photo

Here!

Surprised to see all of the people who thought the photo contest was a contest to see who had the most memorabilia. Can't say I've seen many decent photos that one would expect for a photo contest. Sure it's cool that you have rooms full of Reds gear, but did you seriously take that picture with your phone?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

At least we didn't use abuse a starter

I know baseball is somewhere still in my heart.

I had been listening to the Reds game on the radio and got home to watch the Reds bat in the 12th. When they didn't score, I moved into another room, but I could still hear the television.

Suddenly, there was a loud roar coming from the other room, and this typically stuffy August day couldn't stop the goosebumps, even if I knew it was for the other team.

The Rockies won the game on a homer, and even though my team lost, I felt that excitement that comes with a walkoff homer, and something stirred inside me. It's so hard these days.

But OH GOD NO is what I said when I heard Pedro Cueto had left with an injury. And five errors? Why does a stupid game break my heart so?

OH GOD NO.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Conspiracy theories

As I am still lamenting the loss of Adam Dunn every single darn day I wake up, my imagination is starting to get the best of me.

What if the Reds traded him to get him some postseason experience for next year? Dunner's a free agent - no reason in the world the Reds can't sign him.

Anything to make me feel better. The Sam just doesn't make the hurt go away.

GO DIAMONDBACKS! (Guess that cap I bought at the BOB back in the day may get some wear this October.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Three Days in the Life of a Reds Fan

First week of April

You wake up before your alarm goes off, fresh and ready to face a new day. You drink your coffee from your Cincinnati Reds mug while driving to work and listening to the news about the team's chances for the new year. Life is good. You enter the office with a smile and keep checking the clock, because you know in the evening you get to watch a Reds game. As the day progresses, you check the beat writers' blogs to see if the lineup has been posted. Once, twice, three times, there it is! You growl a bit about a few of the players and their positions in the batting order, but you shrug it off because it might not matter much. You hurry up and eat dinner when you get home so you can flip on the game, and you'll even sit through the obnoxious pre-game ravings of Jim Day just to see something related to the Reds.

Last week of July


You wake up begrudgingly as the alarm clock goes off, stumble out of bed, drink your coffee from your Reds mug, go to work listening to a CD, and feel anxious all day about the impending trade deadline. What good players are we going to lose? What crap players are we going to get in return? How many prospects will we swap for some aging veteran hasbeens? You check website after website throughout the day, read all the rumors, fill yourself with doom and gloom. You see the lineup and want to scream, and for a moment, the thought crosses your mind to write a letter to the manager to tell him how to fill out a lineup card. You still go home and watch the team play, but you find yourself yelling at the television more often than a completely sane person should.

Any day in September

You hit snooze about five times, don't care if you're late for work, drink your coffee out of a university of something or other mug, and if you think about baseball at all, it's about other teams because yours is always out. As long as the Chub$ don't win the World Series, who cares who's in it?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bob and Walt could do something for the fans by getting rid of Patterson now

Look, I first have to preface this by saying that I really appreciate the letter that went out to Reds fans. No, I'm not being sarcastic. I think it was a nice gesture. However, I can't remember the last time I felt this horrible about my favorite team, and so I'm going to take it out on the letter.

Dear Fans and ex-Fans,

Thank you for your loyalty and support of the Cincinnati Reds up until the trade of Dunn. You are extremely vital to the success of the Reds, and it is important we share with you the thinking behind our recent personnel decisions.

Since taking ownership of this franchise, we have aggressively tried to improve our Major League roster for the purpose of restoring championship baseball to Cincinnati had three more losing seasons to bring the streak to eight. We have sought and signed proven players who should not be allowed to wear a Major League uniform, like He Who Has Bad Photos of Dusty, Manos de plomos, Mike Stinkton, Ryan Ranklin, Rolls Royce Hands of McClayton, etc, etc. We have extended the contracts of select current players and ate the contracts of many other stupid signings. We added Dusty Baker, a proven winning manager who had Barry Bonds on his team for a lot of years. And, we have capitalized on our burgeoning younger players like Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Johnny Cueto, though we left Bruce down there too long, continue to let Josh Fogg start games while younger guys sit in the Minors, and won't go to a six man rotation to save the young arms of Volquez and Cueto.

We had high expectations for the 2008 season. Unfortunately the team has not played up to our expectations and we have sustained injuries to key replaceable players within our starting lineup and rotation. Oh why has your arm forsaken us, Aaron? Maybe throwing in relief on three days rest and then making your regular start two days later?

We opted to trade Ken Griffey Jr. for nothing and Adam Dunn at this time despite his 270 career homers at age 28, his annual league leaders OBP, and the 160 runs he is responsible for by himself every year because we believe it provided the best outcome for the long-term success of the don't know how to run a winning organization. By executing these inevitable changes now, we secured more players as part of our focus towards building a deeper, stronger inventory of young talent losing seasons for the foreseeable future.

We are pleased that the trades allow Griffey and Dunn the opportunity to play for teams in tight division races, and we created many new Diamondbacks and White Sox fans from what used to be a Reds fanbase. Both Ken and Adam made significant contributions to the Reds and we are extremely proud and grateful they wore the Reds uniform.

While the run production generated by these two veterans will not be quickly replaced, we chose to endure the short-term ramifications for the sake of building a strong, competitive team for 2009 and many seasons to come when the next ownership group comes into town.

The vast majority of our 50 draft picks were signed, culminating last week with first-rounder Yonder Alonso and a pair of talented pitchers. Our expanded scouting operations also signed Juan Duran from the Dominican Republic and Yorman Rodriguez from Venezuela, who are arguably the best amateur free agent position players from their respective countries.

As we near September, we will continue to provide valuable playing time to our young players and new acquisitions who we feel can become significant contributors at the Major League level Corey Patterson. We ask your continued trust and patience as we build the roster that will get us back on top. We appreciate your support and look forward to seeing you at the ballpark hope you enjoy the freedom from baseball watching for the rest of the season and beyond.

Sincerely,

Bob Castellini
President & CEO

Walt Jocketty
President of Baseball Operations & GM

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Heeeeere's Johnny!

Wow, what a strange thing it is to look back upon the start of the season and try to recall any sort of hope you had then. I came across this photo of Johnny Cueto's first Major League pitch when I inserted my flash drive into the computer, and man, am I sad now.

Cueto's done his part. You can't expect a rookie to win 20 games. But this was Game 3, my second game of the season, and the rain and the cold couldn't put a damper on the excitement and hope I felt for the new year and for this new Pedro.

What a game! Ten strikeouts in seven innings - took a no hitter into the sixth for his Major League debut against those who are now the first place Arizona Diamondbacks. If only more people had been there to witness history, but it was a cold, rainy day and the season was only three games old.

I saw Bruce's Major League debut, too, but it was on the wrong day. I went to Opening Day, and he should have been there, roaming centerfield, playing before He Who Has Bad Photos of Dusty.

Ah well, such is the nature of baseball, a young season filled with hope turned into a life of despair. But hey, we do have some things to look forward to.
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Monday, August 18, 2008

Stuff to root for

It could be worse. We could be Pirates fans. I have to believe that Pirates fans are the worst of the evildoers in a past life, like maybe Joe Shmoe who works in a steel factory in Western PA was Ghengis Kahn or something, because that sure is fandom hell.

But if they are in fandom hell, we are in fandom purgatory.

Eight years of losing. The Reds had had no fewer than three losing seasons in a row since the second half of the twentieth century began. And we haven't had a single winning season since the new century - no - the new millennium began.

But there is still something to root for this year. The Louisville Bats clinched first place about a week ago and they're are going to the playoffs!

It's awesome that new media allows us to get closer to our whole system rather than just the Major League team. I vaguely remember the days when I had to read about Reds games in Hal McCoy articles in actual newspapers. Man, did I love to see that little Reds smiley face at the top right corner of the Dayton Daily News! But there was nothing about the Reds farm teams.

I'm sure the Reds brass is annoyed with that, to an extent, because we fans know what's coming or what should come, and we have just something else to shout about. Remember how long it took them to get Jay Bruce up here? Remember even Rosecrans was telling us to shut up about Bruce? But what has Bruce done? Only proved that he should have been up here and starting on our Holy Opening Day. And we started this year with He Who Should Not Be Named/He Who Has Bad Photos of Dusty Baker. Geesh.

Now, normally a Triple A roster is filled with guys who will never be good enough to be everyday Major League players or who had shown flashes of brilliance but never panned out, but there's a reason our Bats are in first by 13 games. We are loaded with prospects. On the current roster, Homer Bailey, Carlos Fisher, Danny Herrera, Matt Maloney, Tyler Pelland, Ramon Ramirez, and Josh Roenicke are the pitchers we really have to look forward to. The player side is less loaded but still there are some very solid if not good players on the roster, including Adam Rosales, Drew Stubbs, Drew T. Anderson, Shaun Cumberland, Paul Janish, and Danny Richar.

So, since we have nothing Reds related to look forward to (I mean, really, people think playing the role of the spoiler is something to cheer about?), let's cheer on the Bats.

And hey, everyday I am starting to really look forward to September callups. I would LOOOOOOOOOOVVVVVVEEEE to see them try out Todd Frazier in leftfield even though he's never played above high A. Or Juan Francisco at third base. Two weeks ago, he won his second player of the week honors:
Florida State League
Juan Francisco, Sarasota
.379 (11-29), 10 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 12 RBI, 3 BB, 5 SO, 0 SB, .931 SLG
Francisco extended his hitting streak to eight games, with 11 hits in seven starts last week for Sarasota. The 21-year-old has an RBI in eight straight contests, as well, including back-to-back three-RBI nights against Fort Myers Friday and Saturday. He hit a home run in each of the three games against the Miracle after belting two long balls in the previous series with Dunedin. The outfielder now has 20 home runs and 85 RBIs on the season, both good for third in the league.
And get Chris Valaika up here to play some games at short. It's September callups! We get 15 extra guys. No reason to not try out as many as we are allowed.

Man, do we have a future to look forward to. Good thing, because I find it is the only thing keeping my head above water. In fact, it gives me goosebumps to think about. I mean, look at our rotation! Volquez, Cueto, Bailey, Harang, Thompson, on and on...I can't help thinking Glavine, Smoltz, and Maddux.

It's amazing how we can still love this game though it breaks our hearts time and time again.

Off Day Sentimental Drivel

Memory is a funny thing. The whole material world disappears and in its place is this dreamlike state of how things supposedly were. Sometimes it replaces reality.

When July transforms itself from the excitement of early summer when your team is still in the race into the sweat drenched days of the season's inferno, for some reason, memories of Riverfront Stadium are strongest in my heart.

I'd do anything short of a Faustian contract to watch a Reds game in that stadium, if only to strengthen and reinforce my fading memories of that place. Yet a Faustian contract or another otherworldly means is what it would take to experience the pleasure of another summer at Riverfront, where the onfield temperatures reached 120 degrees atop the astroturf on concrete. Riverfront is dead. Long live Riverfront!

Try as I might, I struggle to recall particular moments in that stadium. There was the time I won the celebrity bat girl contest and got to go on the field for batting practice - that was before America rewrote the Ten Commandments to include "Thou shalt sue thy neighbor." The onfield experience is pretty vivid, but I couldn't tell you who won that game.

Another particular memory was the game when the infield consisted of two Boones and two Larkins. That little faulty camera in my mind still has a snapshot of the infield for the first pitch of that game, a late September contest between a Reds team long out of contention and another team I don't recall.

You know what's funny? I don't have a single memory of Ken Griffey, Jr. playing at Riverfront, not on the field, not at bat, not even on the scoreboard. This is probably because I spent most of 2000-2002 in Ireland, South Carolina, California, and Texas, though I did get back for a few games each season.

I didn't go to a single game in 1998 or that ill-fated 1999 season. If I had known they'd steal my childhood playground from me, I would have put the strike hurt aside and gone anyway. I had attended only a handful of games during 1995-1997, and interest just died off after that.

Ken Griffey, Jr. brought it back.

I cried when the strike murdered the 1994 season. I cried a bit as I watched the Riverfront implosion. I cried a bit when I realized Cincinnati Red Ken Griffey, Jr. was not the same guy as Seattle Ken Griffey, Jr. I cried a bit in 2004 when we had five All-Stars and a cover of Sports Illustrated then descended into the oblivion of the lower division. I cried a bit after that West Coast trip in 2006 which destroyed our chances at October. I think I cried a bit when Austin Kearns was traded, more because he'd never fulfilled the high hopes we'd had for him.

Who says there's no crying in baseball?

Crying, of course, is a relative term. Yes, I bawled like a baby when the strike happened, but the other times were just welled tears. The strike had canceled the season like a bad television show. But it was a good show! The Reds were one of the best teams in baseball! I was a senior in high school when it happened - it may have been the first time in my life the real world let me down.

It was not the last time.
___

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Have I gotten over the Dunn trade yet?

NO.

Do I plan on going to another Reds game all year? Only if I win the John Morrell photo essay contest. My photo is here. Yes, those are Starting Lineup figures. Barry Larkin, Paul O'Neill, Chris Sabo, Kal Daniels, Pete Rose, and John Franco.

I have just created a Church of Baseball Facebook page. Why? I don't know. Boredom? Jeff Brantley on the radio? But if you are a Facebook user, will you become a fan?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

D'Backs vs. White Sox 2008 World Series

Since there's nothing Reds-related to root for, I'm rooting for a Dunn-Griffey World Series.

I haven't been this depressed about a trade since Paul O'Neill went to the Bankee$ all those years ago.

I just can't believe it. How can you not sign a guy who has hit 270 home runs by AGE 28 to a long term contract????


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This stinks.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Dunn and gone

I don't feel much like being a Reds fan any more.

We had all of this exciting young talent to look forward to, but now what? We've been "rebuilding" forever. I'm sick of it.

Who wants to bet Jocketty goes out and gets Jim Edmonds for centerfield next year? What will he be - 38 years old then?

And Corey Patterson is still on the team. Unbelievable. I feel like saying some rather unkind words to Bob Castellini.
___

I woke up this morning

and I had that ELO song that they play when Bruce comes up to bat in my head. It's still there. Don't let me down...Bruce! Don't let me down...Bruce!

I thought it was funny when they played it the first few games, but now I find it annoying. And since it is stuck in my head, well, aaahhhhhh!
___

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Baseball Dream

I was designing a room with Legos. All of the furniture was to be made of Legos. The couch was made with red ones, a chair was made with blue ones, and I was building bookshelves and tables and everything that goes in a living room, but since my sister stole all of my childhood Legos, I was angry. Some woman whom I have never seen in my life came to visit, but she was allergic to Legos so she had to go sit out on the back patio. She just sat there overlooking the yard and no one in the house went to talk to her. I looked at her through the back door and felt sorry for her, but then that I noticed you could see the Reds play from one of the windows. It was a strange view of the field, kind of overhead. I looked up just in time to see Dunn score.

Then they started playing like crap. It was like Little League, like the 2008 Reds. So I went down to talk to them and tell them to get it together, to get their heads into the game (somebody has to do it, right?) I noticed a man with long white hair and a long white beard (Father Time?) pushing a plastic garbage bin full of multi-colored pills, and I realized the Reds were all on drugs and that's why they were playing poorly.

Weird.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

On sport

What is sport?

I've stared at that question for quite awhile. I can hear the reaction of the thoughtless, football-jerseyed ogres saying, "Duh!"

But sport is more than the games played, more than baseball, football, track and field. It's business, too. And politics.

Would you say it's art? Would you say it's science?

When Abner Doubleday (or Alexander Cartwright, depending on which baseball historian you ask) created the game of baseball, with its lines and dimensions and rules and numbers, did he create art? How is creating a game different from creating a painting?

And the science - the angles, wind factors, the Speedo swimsuits, all of that technology, the human body made into a great and glorious machine...no doubt sport is science, too.

God/Allah/Yahweh/Krishna/Buddha/Great Spirit/Insert-other-name-of-god-in-vain, I love the Olympics.

Imagine being a conscript in Napolean's or Tsar Alexander's army or Salahaddin's or King Richard's army and someone tells you that one day, it would not be warriors who are revered but athletes who compete for their countries despite political differences. You couldn't believe it. Envision a solider, call him John, stumbling across the parched deserts of the Holy Land, the stench of body odor permeating the heavy air, his shield adorned with the cross of his god, staring out at certain death in the form of Salahaddin's army with its scintillating scimitars raised under the mideastern sun. Today, John is a sprinter, his muscles as beautiful as a Michaelangelo sculpture, his body well-fed, his wallet heavy, running next to - not at - Ahmed for the glory of his country.

Boy have we made some progress in the world.

But we still have a long way to go.

There is beauty. The Olympic Opening Ceremony was beautiful - incredible - perhaps the best one I have ever seen, maybe the greatest ever. From the drums to the lines of lights to the awe inspiring lighting of the torch, I felt my jaw drop several times. THAT was art.

Then there is bullshit. The Chinese almost fooled us into thinking they weren't an authoritarian regime with gross human rights abuses, a disgusting environment, and rampant poverty (while they spent $300 million on that ceremony alone.) And I hear from some Americans "leave the politics out." That makes me sick. You want to sit there and ignore the suffering of millions of people so you can continue to sit on your couch in comfort chanting U-S-A! and not have to think? That is equivalent to the actions of the Chinese government, while it continues to support the atrocities of the Sudanese government in the name of oil, while it continues to arrest journalists who dare criticize its actions, while it continues to sicken its citizens by dumping toxic chemicals wherever it is convenient, while it continues to oppress Tibet and the Uighars, while it continues to torture its prisoners, so many of them political, while it continues religious persecution - REAL religious persecution, not the faux variety claimed by some evangelical Americans.

How can you not think about it? How can you sit there knowing thousands of people lost their homes so the Olympic village could be built and not think about it? If you are religious, how can you not pray for the Chinese who suffer at the hands of an authoritarian communist government? Are we not living in the same country that proclaimed the Soviet Union the "Evil Empire?" Are we not the same ones who destroyed people's lives in communist witch hunts? Did we not skip an entire Olympics and ruin the dreams of our athletes because the games were held in a communist capital? And yet because we are able to buy cheap products from China, it somehow makes their authoritarian communist government ok?

How can you not think about it?

So we watch these games and we marvel at the ability of countries to get together and play games, not war, and we see the pure joy on the faces of the athletes, and we see the three athletes from a small country we may have never heard of with no chance for a medal and we smile, because we see the joy on their faces, and we see their dreams, and we realize their dreams are the same as ours. And you know what else is there? Hope. We ARE capable of getting along. We are capable of putting aside our differences to play games together. Games! Not war! Why do I love the Olympics? Because hope is transformed into three dimensional people and podiums and medals and pools and stadiums. Hope becomes something visible, and that makes it more real.

So we can watch, and think, and keep our eyes on the Chinese government and tell our politicians to stop pandering to China. We can cut down on the cheap plastic junk we don't need. We can choose not to buy the products advertised at the games. And we can do this all while still enjoying the Olympics in the ancient and modern city of Beijing. We can do all of this with hope. We can look at the progress the Chinese government has made and we can hope they will continue down that road. We can push them. We can change this world - we already have. Hope.

Baseball starts on Wednesday. I can't wait to watch Yulieski Gourriel. You think there is no politics in sport? One only has to look at Cuban baseball to see that is not true.