Monday, June 30, 2008

Road trip - Saturday's game

There I was at The Jake seeing the Reds in their familiar gray uniforms. Over the last several years, I've seen them play on the road more than I have at home, so it looked pretty natural to me. It was upsetting to see Corey Patterson instead of Norris Hopper in the lineup, but at least Toothpick isn't batting him lead off anymore. Now that we have Hairston back, is there any reason Patterson should still be on this team? We don't need six people who can play outfield. It'll be hard enough to get Hairston in there with Edwin back, though in my opinion, it should be Dunn-Hairston-Bruce in the outfield since Griffey isn't hitting. But protocol dictates you don't bench a future Hall of Famer who is going to be starting the All-Star game, even if he is hitting .230 something.

I'm looking for a nice ten game win streak. Cueto started it all with a well-pitched game. He got into trouble a couple of times but wiggled out of it - seems to me that he's getting used to the big leagues. He had that one period of time where he struggled, but most of his last seven or eight starts were pretty good for a young pitcher. Better than Harang, right? I see Harang having a good second half. He has to, right? Right?

The Jake reminds me a lot of Camden Yards. Maybe it's the green seats and the trees in centerfield. Maybe it's just the American League park. Maybe it was the Oriole mascot tromping around the park on Sunday. (It was Slider's birthday, and some of his friends helped to celebrate.)

It's always nice to see a full stadium. These games weren't quite sellouts, but they were close. There were a lot of Reds fans there, too, so it didn't feel exactly like an away game.

It's nice to have a lot of offense, especially since the pen wasn't exactly stellar. Dunner's homer was a line drive - the only question was would it be high enough to clear the fence. When the Reds took a 4-0 lead, there was a noticeable difference in crowd noise.

Us Reds fans were happy though.

What a beautiful night it was.

I tell you what - Cordero is having a heck of a year. I hope it isn't wasted. Remember, he signed a four year contract - we were supposed to compete this year. We can expect him to decline a little by the end of the contract, but we can hope he doesn't. Even though it wasn't a save situation, I was glad to see him in there. I caught this picture from my seat below the restaurant.


Road trip

Over the rivers and through the woods to Jacob's Field we go.
The car knows the way to carry us through the rain and lightening oh.
Across the fields and through the plains the city stands on high.
The mistake by the lake was such a dump its river caught on fire!

I attended the Reds' two victories that secured a winning road trip and brought them to 9-6 on the season in interleague play. We're one of only three or four NL teams that have a .500 record in interleague play. Can you believe that? And to think we did it while having to play the Bankee$ and the Green $ox. Not bad at all. We seem to do better against the good teams. I hope that's not the case this week playing the Pirates and the Nationals. It would take a miracle to get back into the race, but hey, even though my head tells me we're through, there's still a part of me that believes a good July could put us five or six games back, which is not an insurmountable deficit. But a single winning road trip can do that for you, make you forget that terrible homestand you just had. Yet I know Harang can't pitch so poorly for the rest of the season, and Cueto seems to be getting used to the big leagues. Ach, stupid irrationality!

I love these series with Cleveland. There's such a huge area of mixed loyalties in the state of Ohio that us fans are all kind of used to each other, which makes for a great road trip. Contrary to what people who did not grow up Reds or Indians fans think, the revival of the Ohio Cup is fun. I remember that last Spring Training game back before interleague play when the two teams used to meet up in Cooper Stadium in Columbus. I suppose people from Ohio are a bit strange in their state loyalty, but as I've traveled and moved around enough, I've often found that people from Ohio who leave the state still tend to find each other. I'm sure if E$PN had played the bit where everyone in the stadium was singing O-H-I-O during Hang on Sloopy, they'd make fun of us for it. I don't think all Reds fans get the whole Ohio thing since many of them hail from Kentucky, Indiana, and West Virginia.

I know there are a lot of mixed emotions about interleague play, and this year is evidence of its detriment, as the Reds have played ONE series against a team in their division in the entire month of June, and only TWO series against NL Central teams in May. How the heck were they supposed to make up any ground by never playing within the division? Yet I love these Cleveland series and attended three of the six games (all wins!) I could go for cutting it down to one series against Cleveland a year and then two other series against AL teams. We'd only play teams like the Bankee$ and the Green $ox once in a blue moon, but isn't that better? While it generates beaucoup de bucks, it also isn't fair when a team plays the likes of the Royals or the Pirates or some perpetually losing team (like the Reds?)

The weather was strange all weekend. On Saturday it stopped raining a little before the gates opened and ended up being a pretty nice night. We stopped at the Thirsty Parrot before the game began and had a celebrity sighting. I still didn't drink the High Life, though I must admit, I like those commercials, especially the one where he goes into the luxury box and no one is paying attention to the game. That's exactly how I feel about people who use those boxes. And to think us common folk have to suffer torn down stadiums and higher ticket prices so those people can go to baseball games and not watch them.

The Indians weekend uniforms are nice. I'm a sucker for throwbacks and these are simply classic. Here, Grady models them for me. It took me awhile to get an answer about why they were wearing those uniforms. I thought perhaps they were just having a throwback night, but it turns out they wear them on weekends. They look even better with the high socks.

Seriously, Jimmy Haynes? Seriously? You can tell a lot about a person by the jersey he wears. This one screams "I think I'm cool! But I'm really a dork who tries too hard!" The guy thinks he's proving himself to be a "true fan" by wearing a semi-obscure jersey. To us diehards, though, that name reeks of a decimated farm system with zero pitching under old Leatherpants. Not something I want to remember. Jimmy Haynes? Seriously?

I was given applause by Indians fans when I pulled off all the Progressive stickers on the cupholders around me. There were many, many comments regarding the name change over the course of the weekend. Seems as if everyone calls it The Jake. I am taken back to Riverfront Stadium, which will always be Riverfront Stadium to most of us. Reds fans never really started to call it Cinergy. I just don't get it. These corporations are spending millions of dollars to have their name on a field, but that's not going to get anyone to buy their product. Who among us sees Progressive Field and thinks "I'm gonna have to check out their insurance?"

Check back for more photos and some commentary about the games later.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Those were the days

I've been watching a lot of French movies lately because I am trying to sharpen my language skills. It's been awhile since I've used the language except to read - I was fortunate enough in my old job to use it in that way, and my nose is constantly in some French book. (The last one I read was 99 Francs (13.99 euros) by I'm sure it's out in English now - they're making a movie of it. I highly recommend it, especially if your heart breaks from excessive marketing.)

Anyway, I've been checking out French movies from the library, which has a surprisingly large collection of foreign movies, especially for an industrial town. Problem is, they aren't properly sorted by language, so when I do an online search for French films, anything with French comes up - French Kiss, French Connection, anything with Jean Reno in it even if it is a Hollywood movie. So I got this movie called Babette's Feast. It's Danish with a tiny bit of French in it. The French woman, Babette, learns to speak Danish very quickly and that's that.

Despite this, I enjoyed the film. A small town in the Jutland has a puritanical preacher who never lets his daughters marry. They grow up and grow old having never known anything but religion. By chance, a French opera singer comes to the town for a respite and falls for one of the daughters, but she would have none of it though she really wanted to. Years later, a woman appears at their door with a letter from the singer. He asks them to take her - Babette - in as a refuge from a war in France which has killed her husband and her son, so she becomes their maid.

For the 100th anniversary of their father's birth, the sisters plan a feast. Around that time, Babette learns she has won 10,000 francs in a French lottery. She begs the sisters to be able to cook a French feast for the anniversary dinner. Twelve puritans are to attend. She orders the food from France - a bunch of living things arrive, like a giant turtle for soup. The women freak out and think she's planning a witches feast. It starts to get funny around this time. They rush to the friends who will be attending the dinner and they all pray to God to lose their sense of taste for the meal. It doesn't happen. They all adore it and amends are made between friends, old loves, etc.

The sisters assume since Babette had won the money, she'd be returning to Paris. She couldn't, however. She'd spent the entire 10,000 francs on the feast. Turns out she was the head chef at one of the finest restaurants in Paris, where a dinner for 12 costs 10,000 francs.

It was a movie worth watching - if only for the pleasure of watching good food and drink being consumed. Which brings me to the wine. I bought a bottle of the Junior cav today. I'd gone into Kroger to get some Sam Adams and wandered over to the wine to see what was available from a chain grocery store in an industrial town. I never got very far, because my mind was distracted by baseball. On display in the very front were bottles of Junior and Homer, both cabernet savignons, and Larkin, a merlot.

I'm not expecting much from them. The bottles cost $13.99, but I'm sure much of the price is in the label. I'm willing to bet the wine is more akin to a $6.99 bottle. Now, there are some decent $6.99 Californian and Australian wines, so I'm hoping this will be one of them. I chose the Junior wine because I don't like merlot, but I'm going to have to get a bottle just to have the bottle. I'll get it last.

Ahh, Barry...those were the days.

Stay tuned for a full report...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Les Rouges

I watched a French movie yesterday called Z, directed by internationally acclaimed director Costa-Gavras. The film won two Oscars in 1969, including Best Foreign Film. The acting is bad in that sixties movie kind of way, and the "action" shots look fake. In one seen, a policeman pushes a club supposedly used in the murder of a Deputy too hard into the supposed murderer and you can see it bend. But most sixties movies were bad like that.

The film parallels the real life assassination of Gregorios Lambrakis, a Greek doctor and humanist whose murder led to a public scandal. I don't know much about anno domini Greek history, but I am constantly amazed that Greece didn't somehow descend into chaos sometime during the 20th century. It nearly did. Lambrakis was killed by some rightwing nutjobs who controlled the police forces and wanted a Christian theocracy led by a monarch. The killers were pardoned, while the judge who conducted the investigation and indicted some of the highest authorities in the land was sent to prison. Many of the witnesses and colleagues of Lambrakis had "accidents" and died soon after the affair. It always amuses and saddens me to see those who run around screaming about communists the loudest are equally as violent and evil as those about whom they profess their hatred.

Lambrakis became a martyr. His followers went around writing the letter Z, which, when pronounced the American way "zee," sounds close to the Greek zei, meaning "he lives."

I'm not gonna pull a Grande and make some comparison between watching a French language movie and playing in Canada, because the political sensitivities revolving around French speaking Canada and the English part are too great. Toronto is not Montreal, and a Quebecois would spit on someone who said so. No, the movie reminded me of The Reds because they kept saying Les Rouges. I'd laugh and then think back to the whole stupidity of the McCarthy era when the Cincinnati Reds had to change their name because of some rightwing nutjob akin to those who killed Lambrakis. I shouldn't laugh. A lot of lives were ruined. But it all just seems so ridiculous, like it couldn't really have happened.

Monday, June 23, 2008

1976 Reds > 1927 Yankees

I woke up with a song in my head this morning. I do that quite often, but most of the time, they're songs that I like. This morning, for no reason I can fathom, Ebony and Ivory was in my head. Yeah, the Paul McCartney/Michael Jackson song. No, I don't know why it was in my head. I wish it weren't.

It seems strange to me that such a song had to exist, not because it's so awful, but because of its subject matter. Since I escaped the middle of the country a decade ago, I've been to many places and met enough people to think the racial problems that have plagued our nation's history are in the past, like they are just part of a Stephen King novel, left for our nightmares.

Alas, that is not the case. Yes, we have made progress, and many of the more educated and traveled folk of my generation have reached a point where race doesn't matter except in being part of someone's identity. But in many parts of the country, well, suffice it to say that racism is a part of the daily existence. How sad. How backwards.

Which brings me to baseball. All weekend, people were thinking about which team was better - the 1927 Yankees or the 1976 Reds. The '27 Yankees played before segregation. The '76 Reds ran out Joe Morgan, Ken Griffey, George Foster, Cesar Geronimo, Tony Perez, Dave Concepcion, and Dan Driessen to sweep the Yankees in the World Series.

Imagine if the '27 Yankees had had to play the likes of Cool Papa Bell, Buck Leonard, Mules Suttles, Fats Jenkins, Turkey Sterns, Oscar Charleston, Willie Wells, Bullet Joe Rogan, a young Satchel Paige, Smoky Joe Williams, or Bill Foster, among many others. Would the Yankees have had five starters with at least 10 wins, three of them with at least 18 (plus their closer, who had 19 wins. No, that's not a typo.)? Would the team have had a .307/.381/.489 team batting line? Would Babe Ruth have hit 60 homeruns if he had had to face Bullet Joe Rogan or Smoky Joe Williams?

It's pretty tough to compare eras. The '27 Yankees and the '76 Reds played at very different times. The '27 Yanks wound up with 6 Hall of Famers: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig (take a look at his stats - they always leave me in awe), Earl Combes, Tony Lazzari, Waite Hoyt, and Herb Pennock. The '76 Reds had 3 Hall of Famers, plus Pete Rose and Davey Concepcion, both of whom SHOULD be in the Hall. But I'd have to say the competition was much tougher in 1976 than in was in 1927, thanks to integration. Edge = Reds.

I'm so proud of baseball for playing such a vital role in the advancement of human rights. It's just one of the many things to love about this game.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Say hello to the Bambino

Poor Gonzalez, poor Keppinger, poor Hairston, poor Cabrera, they finally got a chance to play...Paul Janish, beware!

Something strange came over me as I watched the Reds play in Yankee Stadium last night. It was a feeling I had when at GAB(p) last Friday, too. I was in awe. I couldn't believe it. The Reds were playing the Yankees and Red Sox.

I don't know if it's the hyper-focus by the national media that made me think "OMG, we're playing real teams!" or if I've always had a sense of awe about them, but I felt somewhat ashamed within the confines of my living room as I let myself be taken in by the thrill of the New York Yankees as they fell to defeat by my beloved Reds. Woo!

I certainly felt something different when I went to Fenway in 2003 (to see the Yanks play) or to Yankee Stadium in 2006. I thought it only appropriate that the World Series was held in Yankee Stadium in 2001. I rooted my heart out for the Red Sox in 2004 as if I myself added Rs to words that don't have them and dropped them from words that do. I clearly remember watching the 1996 World Series, what some called a "return to glory," feeling it was something special.

I have a confession. I wore a Yankees cap around back then. When I wasn't wearing a Reds cap.

I remember the furor felt around campus at that time. The Yankees were in the World Series. It was that team of the legends, those guys you read about in books, not the losers of the 1980s, the ones whose baseball cards I shrugged away with indifference. One of my professors asked what all of the fuss was about. The Yanks hadn't made the playoffs since 1981! This is a team with more championships than any other professional sports team in the world!

Those days, sadly, are long gone. The naivity of such youth has been replaced by the bitterness of reality. I have learned hate, deep hate (although not as much for them as the Deadbirds.) I have learned the unfairness, the way the rich steal from the poor, the unlevel playing field, A-Rod. I've learned how to pay $8 for a beer without wincing and how to deaden the pain when a player I want to love goes to a team with more money. I've watched as a once great cable channel devoted to sports fell victim to the same demons that play Beatles songs to sell products and that tell people what they are allowed to enjoy and follow. I've seen the poison of corporatism steal the innocence from the game I so love, and the New York Yankees are the ringleaders.

Oh yes, Yankees are loathsome creatures. But there is no denying the mystique that surrounds them. Baseball would not be baseball without them, and I will continue with the occasional goosebumps I get when watching Daryl Thompson make his Major League debut today in Yankee Stadium. Yankee Stadium. Yankee Stadium. Yankee Stadium.

The Steinbrenners are traitors to the nation for building a new stadium. They should be drawn and quartered. Or tarred and feathered and paraded around Boston, where the people there, baseball gods bless them, saved their own beloved ballpark from the evil fingers of the corporate warlords.

Friday, June 20, 2008

I predict

Bruce is going to have an amazing weekend series against the hated Bankee$. The ghosts will be there to help him - I know they strongly approve of one of their own.

Random thoughts:

Hey, something good to note - the Reds are 4-2 in interleague play so far this season.

I wonder if Junior will be over his "general illness" in time to take the field.

Daryl Thompson tomorrow. Yay!

Norris Hopper is fun to watch. I think Cueto and his speed could take some pointers from the Rabbit. Could you imagine having a Hopper-like OBP in the nine hole?

Yankee Stadium. 'nuff said.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The little things...

It sure was good to have Norris Hopper back today. I never thought I'd say that, but he contributed right away. Excellent. I really like him as a fourth outfielder. Hopefully the other guy will be gone from the 40 man roster by the time they need Daryl Thompson on Saturday. (Fingers crossed.)

Too bad we lost, but you know, these days, you just have to settle for the little things to make you happy and not a 1-8 season record against a team under .500.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

If I were a journo...

...this is what I'd write about the game last night:

CINCINNATI - A cool night in the Queen City saw a full moon turn Dodger pitcher Chad Billingsly into Cy Young as he downed the struggling Reds 3-1. It was a night when rookie pitcher Johnny Cueto kept his pitches down in the strike zone and for the most part kept Dodgers off the basepaths, allowing 5 hits and 3 walks for a mere 2 runs over 7 strong innings. Cueto became just another victim of no run support in Cincinnati's rotation.

"[The rotation] are getting @#$@%@%@ @#@^^&$%#@ tired of this bull poopy!" Cueto said through a translator. "Chupa ma pene, Corey Patterson," he continued as the translator broke into a coughing fit.

The game started promising for the Reds. After a 1-2-3 first from Cueto, centerfielder Corey Patterson, whose batting average continues to hover below the Mendoza Line, poked a broken bat single through the hole into rightfield. After Billingsly threw over to first several times, Dodger catcher Russell Martin, who had only thrown out 21% of runners attempting to steal, threw a strike on the next pitch to shortstop Angel Berroa, who applied the tag to a running Patterson in plenty of time for the out.

Cueto retired his first seven batters before giving up a one out walk to eight hole hitter Berroa in the third. Billingsly sacrificed Berroa to second, and Juan Pierre hit a line drive to left, just out of the reach of a diving Adam Dunn to score Berroa.

The Dodgers added a second run in the fourth when Jerk Kent hit a leadoff single and scored on Russell Martin's double to left field. Cueto loaded the bases, but Berroa hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. Jerk Kent tacked on an RBI of his own with a double in the eighth off Jared Burton that scored Blake Dewitt as the relay throw from shortstop Jolbert Cabrera hit him in the back of the head.

The Reds had plenty of runners on the basepaths throughout the game but left nine men on base, four of them by Corey Patterson. The team had their best chance of a rally in the bottom of the seventh inning. Edwin Encarnacion and Joey Votto hit back to back singles with one out and Paul Bako walked to load the bases. Javy Valentin pinch hit for Cueto and narrowly avoided grounding into a double play, hitting a sharp grounder to first for a fielder's choice that scored Encarnacion. With Andy Phillips, David Ross, Paul Janish, and an ill Ken Griffey Jr. still on the bench, Reds manager Dusty Baker let Patterson hit for himself. He promptly grounded out to end the rally.

"Everybody's wondering why I didn't pinch-hit for Corey," Baker said. "Corey, in his career, has been better against left-handers than right-handers. I was limited in the outfield and didn't have Junior today."

On the Reds FSN Ohio television broadcast, former Reds pitcher Chris Welsh was stupified, as were most in Reds country. George Grande, who would be smiling even if napalm were melting his skin off, said, "With Griffey unable to play, Dusty doesn't have many options," to which Welsh replied in a restrained shout, "You find someone to play! You're trying to win a ballgame!" Even Grande had to agree.

The Reds had both Andy Phillips and Joey Votto with limited experience playing the outfield. Still, when you have strikeout pitchers Jared Burton and Francisco Cordero to pitch the eighth and ninth innings, you can make that move. Unless you're Dusty Baker.

"I didn't want to put a guy out there that hasn't played out there," Baker said. "It's not fair to them, either. That ball will find you."

They say fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, uh, uh, you can't get fooled again. Unless you're Dusty Baker. Despite having Andy Phillips on the bench, Corey Patterson came up as the tying run in the ninth inning with two outs. Joey Votto had led off the ninth with a single, but neither pinch hitter Ken Griffey, Jr., who struck out, nor pinch hitter David Ross could grace the bases with their presence. Patterson proceeded to ground out to end the game.

"I've been in that situation before," Patterson quipped unintentionally. "Can I play better? Yes, no doubt. But I'm not going to feel sorry for myself and make excuses."

Fans wonder when enough is enough. Outfielder Norris Hopper has been playing in Louisville on a rehab assignment and has been hitting well. Corey Patterson has never hit Major League pitching well, and the boos that rained down from the 26,906 disgusted fans in attendance communicated what everyone except Dusty Baker and apparently Walt Jocketty know - Corey Patterson has no place on a Major League roster.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Where in the world is Norris Hopper?

Rehabbing in Louisville. They need to get his butt up here asap. I refuse to watch or listen to any more games with Corey Patterson in the lineup. That's it. And I'm not going to another game until he is DFA'd.

How's that for losing customers, Bob? And I've been to 7 or 8 games this year. You're not getting me again, not until you purge the organization of Patterson.

I'm living in the third world

So Friday I'm getting ready to go to the Reds game, right, and the most violent storm I've seen since Hurricane Isabelle passed through Washington DC (and spared my car the fate so many others shared, that being giant trees smashing through them). I mean, I swear I saw lightening come up from the ground, and it rained so hard I couldn't see the shrubbery under the windows. I laughed. There I was, standing in my Reds jersey and Reds cap, camera ready for some Bosox shots, when boom, boom, boom, BOOOOOOOOM. It slowed and then by some miracle stopped long enough not only to see the game, but to see the postgame fireworks display.

Well, I wanted to post those photos over the weekend, see, and some others from Tuesday's Joe Nuxhall night, but some genius put the phone lines underground, and apparently every time it rains really hard here, it disrupts the phone service. There was a new lake formed over the lines, and it was not until today when it was finally dry enough to be able to use this ancient dial up technology to check some email, etc., but the connection is so slow that I can't do much with it. Posting photos is out of the question.

When I was in Bulgaria, you could go to the smallest villages where people still used donkeys in their fields but you still had high speed internet access. Over there and the rest of Europe, utility companies exist to serve the people, not to make profits. Here, if the phone company's equipment breaks, you have to spend two hours on hold to get them to come out and say nothing can be done. Then they make you pay for it. It's really an embarrassment, if you ask me. How can a poverty stricken county be more up to date than the supposedly most powerful country on Earth?

The sad thing is, people just accept it. They let themselves be ruled by corporations. One day we're all gonna wake up and find that the world has passed America by. Our politicians are too busy bickering about what someone's wife said than actually serving the people. Then you've got a dinosaur saying "we have to change Washington and I'm the man to do it." Well, Senator, you've had how many decades to do it, and you've done nothing except lose your spine to a wannabe emperor.

Boy, am I in a foul mood. Ha, there's a baseball reference - foul! I used to like that chicken place they had in GAB(p) they called The Fowl Pole that was right behind the yellow pole. Now it's another team store. And they put a wall of televisions up where the import beer stand used to be. Although it's better now, because you can find good beer all over the stadium instead of just that one spot. I like having to only pay one more dollar for the same size beer as the chemical domestic stuff. It's about time those of us with taste buds stopped being punished for having said taste buds.

Go Reds? I've already given up on this season (though will reluctantly admit I still harbor some notion of hope when pressed), but it'd be nice to finish up with a winning record. And watching the young guys is fun. We should have Hoppinger back soon, so perhaps we can say goodbye to Snory Patterson. I'm waiting for them to call up Daryl Thompson to replace Homer in the rotation. And call up Roenicke to replace Mike Lincoln.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Albert the Insect

I went to the game last night and wanted to post some photos, but the camera cord has somehow slithered away, probably to the place where all the lost socks go or something. Anyway, Homer did not look as bad as his line. I sat way up directly behind home plate – I think there were only four or five rows behind me. I wanted the cheap seats, but cheap for the night was $14. Quite honestly, I think the $7 bleacher seats are better - the players don’t look like ants. I’ve never sat directly behind home in GAB(p) and it was an interesting perspective. Homer really seemed to be popping them in there.

And then Albert happened. Oh Albert, how do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways. No, wait, I can’t count them. Their number is limitless.

A strange thing happened on the way down to the game. I was driving down I-75 when I hit stopped traffic. I had Tracy Bonehead and that other guy on the radio and WLW gives those traffic up dates every ten minutes, so I learned there was an accident right around Cin-Day Road exit. I was about two mile from there and didn’t feel like sitting on the highway, but fortunately there was an exit very near to where I was stopped. I have a great sense of direction – something I guess I got from my grandfather – so despite not really knowing the roads in this part of the world, I knew I could manage to get around the accident.

There I was, driving along a new road, window down, beautiful weather, when suddenly I hear this awful noise so loud it hurt my ears. I had had a dream the night before about my car breaking down, so I freak out and search for my AAA card, but it's not in the car. I keep going, the noise dies down, then I don’t hear it. Then I catch it again. Radio goes off, I’m leaning out the window at a stoplight to try to discern the source of the noise. Then I see it.

A squished cicada was on the road. I knew immediately the source of that horrible noise. I also knew to roll up the window. These are the strangest of creatures, making their presence known to us every seventeen years, and boy do they swarm. Next up was like a horror movie. The things were so thick it was as if the apocalypse were truly upon us. I had cicada guts on the windshield, cicada wings stuck in the wipers…oh, it was gross.

That was around West Chester. The noise and the infestation died out the closer I got to Cincy.

Anyway, I think Albert Pujols is like a cicada. A guy with his talent comes once in a generation, and he swarms around your team like a seal was broken in Heaven. He got us last night, got to Homer, and our boy Bailey wasn’t the same after that. And in front of 30,000+, which, for once, were wearing mostly Reds gear. I did want to snatch a few Nuxy statues away from some Pujols clad invaders and one guy with a Chub$ hat on.

Still, I never want to see a guy carried off the field like last night, voodoo jokes aside.

I’ll post photos once I find the camera cord.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I hate Albert Pujols

Ken Griffey, Jr.

Been a long time coming.

I missed it. I asked the people to turn the Reds game on in the restaurant where I had gone specifically to watch the game. By the time they finally got around to it, the Reds were batting in the second inning. Funny thing was that as I sat in agony waiting for someone to turn it, I felt that shot. I knew he hit it, and when the score showed 2-0, Reds up, my heart sank. Yes, sank. It ruined the entire game for me. Replays are not the same.

I should have just stayed home.

Monday, June 09, 2008

A day, a dollar, a ring around the collar

Sure has been hot this last week. Mother Nature decided to skip that beautiful two weeks in May when the temperature is in the mid-seventies and perfect, instead choosing to give us lows at freezing then jumping straight into upper ninety degree highs. Whew. Just imagine what it's like in Miami. How on Earth anyone can live there in the summer is beyond me. Days like this makes me wish I had a summer home in Canada. But I don't think I could ever get into the Blue Jays.

Be kind, please rewind


That's a pretty good lineup we've been running out there. Can't understand why it's not working. Needs some jumbling, I guess.

If we could just start the season over again with these guys...but hey, we got a nice little future in store. Don't worry. Be happy.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Anticipation has a habit of setting you up for disappointment

Alas, victory was not ours. Not even within our grasp. No, the life had been sucked from our heroes by vampire fish who had stolen the previous night away. The lamb had been slaughtered by a belt high fastball and plague was upon us.

My how the mighty have fallen. A 2-9 record. The difference between last place and third. I don't buy the speculation that Harang's poor outing today is a result of the relief outing (which was his best pitching performance of the year, by the way.) He's been unHaranglike all season, and this run of really bad starts dates to before the relief appearance. Those speculators are like screeching robins trying to protect an empty nest, not aware that there are two broken blue eggs spilling liquid chick onto the green grass below it. The crows are calling my name, thought Caw.

But instead of dwelling on disheartening defeats or pouring Salsa from Hell's habanero sauce into deep wounds, I'd like to direct your attention to the NY Times' ballpark food guide. It tells you what to order and what to avoid.

For Cincinnati, it says:
What to order: A cheese coney from Skyline...This local concoction, topped with chili, mustard, onions, and cheese, is a Cincinnati delicacy, and this version from Skyline is arguably the city's favorite. Is that cinnamon or chocolate in the chili? Don't bother asking; it's a family secret.

What to avoid: Funnachos. There's nothing fun or nacho-like about this gloppy pile of flavorless chips, processed liquid cheese and jalepenos from a can.
I agree! Those nachos are pathetic. They need some Taaaco Fiiiilliiings on top. JaaaaaaaaaaaaTeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeMmmmm...

My favorite one of all the parks is the White Sox park:

What to order: Nothing. Your best bet is to bring a six pack to the parking lot and barter a cold one for a tailgater's hotdog. Failing that, a box of Cracker Jack.

What to avoid: Everything.
Whenever you're feeling good and hungry...

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Well, shoot

The somber looks on the faces of the Reds in the dugout prior to The Pitch said it all. They knew what was going to happen. You could just feel it. In a game when the Reds should have lost anyway, what with Badroyo showing up again and the Fish giving the Reds a few lucky runs, the ending to this titanic struggle was not at all surprising.

But it was stunning. Stunning like the tasers once used on Marlins starter Scott Olsen in a drunken conflict with police. Yes, it hurt. Yes, the fire that had blazed through the later half of the game spread by the bats of Andy Phillips, Adam Dunn, and yes, one Jay Bruce, was snuffed out with one lead off double. A game of inches, indeed. Jorge proved that he Can hit, and my, oh my, while we have a man standing in the dugout looking like he had just lost his favorite toy receiving more than three million dollars, a man who couldn't hit a freaking beach ball with a whiffle bat, our garbage started a rally that would crush this would be victory, he of less than a million dollars. The garbage just piled on the runs, another sending a burning white sphere into the wet Miami night, just another outfielder we could have had instead of Snory Freaking Patterson.

Blame not the closer, so often more hero than goat. No, the real goat, my friends, is Snory. Though he did not play, he has carried with him the curse of the goat from Chicago, where now they win. Oh woe!

What a night it was for the hundred or so Marlins fans that exist. What a nightmare the 2008 season has turned out to be for the Cincinnati Reds.

This is the despondent righthander rounding third and getting thrown out at the plate. Good night everybody.

Teetotalers Need Not Apply

I turn office water coolers into happy hour wine.

I wanted to provide the recipe for The Bruce, an alcoholic drink (a drink with alcohol and a drink for alcoholics) concocted to honor the newest member of Reds history. Get out your blenders!

First, get:
12 oz rum (or more if you want)
10 oz root beer (for the boy next door in him)
6 oz coffee (fresh brewed, not flavored, not instant, not decaf, just good old coffee)

Put those in the blender. Dump in 2 tsp cinnamon, 2 tsp nutmeg, and 1 tsp cloves. Fill up blender to top with chocolate ice cream. Blend well.

Now put in 12 ice cubes. Grind well.

Now add as much milk as you can to the blender. Stir a bit. Pour.

Serve with a cinnamon stick in each glass. You know, because a drink named for Babe The Bruce Almighty Boss has to have a stick of wood in it!

Friday, June 06, 2008

11-3 win

And yet, my heart stirs not.

Things to note:

1. The Reds hit no home runs. OMG, small ball!
2. Cueto is pitching better of late.
3. CONTRACTION! Why the heck does Miami still have a franchise? And they want a new stadium. Can we say WASTE OF MONEY? Cut 'em out, move Pittsburgh to the NL East, get rid of the Deadbirds, and everything will be a'ight. What? The Deadbirds draw a lot of people? Ok, then, get rid of the Tampa Bay team, whatever Jeebus name they're called now, and move the Sausages back to the AL where they belong. Then give us Tampa's players.
4. Ken Gimpy Jr, nice catch. Does it mean you won't play tomorrow?
5. Babe The Bruce Almighty Boss should stay in the second spot in the lineup for awhile.
6. That Alonzo guy looks like Poopholes. (He was on E$PN at the same time as the Reds game.)
7. Snory Patterson sux.
8. Benjamin Harrison was the first sitting president to see a Major League Baseball game - Reds and Nationals in 1892.
9. Yeah, they were the Nationals in 1892.
10. Jeff Brantley can be flat out annoying. George Grande is flat out annoyinger.
11. Yeah, I know annoyinger is not a word. And Jeff Brantley is not a cowboy.
12. Goodroyo or Badroyo tomorrow?
13. This was Davy Concepcion's number. It was retired last year.
14. It's pronounced HAIR stun, not HairIstun, George.
15. If I could type the notes to that song "Tequila!," I'd put it here in gold and substitute "Sombrero!" for "Tequila!" In honor of Dunn's line, of course.
16. Why couldn't we have used about six of these runs over the last three losses?
17. I salute those 164 people who bought tickets to sit in the rightfield seats.
18. I hate the Deadbirds, the Bankee$, the Dodgers, the Braves, and Deadbirds.
19. Cueto gets his first Major League hit. Anyone else think he could be a Norris Hopper type hitter? This would be great - for a pitcher!
20. This is just to get to 20.

Oh, and Mark Berry - Worst. Third base coach. Ever.

I am not excited about this win. My soul must be dead, crushed by the weight of the heartbreak I've carried for too long. Give me about ten more of these in a row, and things might change.

At Gitmo

Ever since the phrase "They're together again" popped into my head when thinking about Snory and Toothpick, that commercial has been stuck in my head. Forget waterboarding, true torture would be having to listen to those commercials 24-7. From the off key verses to the wailing "falsetto," it truly is a horrible sound, isn't it?

But I still think they're hilarious. Call me a sucker for cheese.

We gonna win tonight?


It's three hours before game time. How about a little warm up song?

It's a lonely day
When the Reds don't come out to play.

But they're together again.
They're together again.
The Reds and laaaast place.
They're together again.

Teeeeen gaaaaaaaaaaaaaames ooooooooooouuuuuuuuutttttttttttt.

They're together again.

The Jerk Store Called

How come none of us thought of titling our posts about Snory Patterson coming back and Toothpick putting him in the lineup "They're together again?"

Three months ago, I went to Spring Training in Sarasota. Eric Davis was signing a ball for me and looked at my cap, saying "You need a new hat." Three months later, I came up with a comeback. "Can I have yours?"

Lightening wit, indeed.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Out, damn'd spot! Out I say!

I mowed the yard after the Reds' defeat today, having fun when I mowed "Reds" in cursive script. I had even more fun running over it and making it disappear. I am officially not a Reds fan.

Until 6:30pm tomorrow when I turn on Reds Live. And for the few moments today I check E$PN 2 to see who the Reds picked for their second choice of the day and beyond.

Ken Griffey Sr. was asked what it's like to watch your son hit 600 home runs. Answer? Old. Ha ha.

I say the anti-Reds stuff with tongue in cheek, of course. I bleed red. I really do. No seriously, my blood is red. It's not like those people who say they bleed Dodger blue. They're lying.

This just in: the Reds stink

I think I'll be a fan of another team. How about the Rays? The D'backs? Nah, those aren't real teams. Maybe the A's - they've been around a long time. I liked the A's back when the Bash Brothers were ripping balls out of stadiums without the use of performance enhancers. I had an A's mesh cap that I wore around in sixth grade and went to see them play in Cleveland in the late eighties.

But they are 3.5 games out of first. Maybe I'll just root, root, root for the Phillies. They're winning right now anyway, they played well for the last four games, and they seem to be interested in winning. Their outfielders don't drop flyballs, either. And their phans? Well, they just appreciate baseball. Did you see those ovations for Griffey? (Or hear them, because the game was not on television in the Cincinnati market?)

Sigh...I think I need to go to a land without baseball for awhile. Ensuite, je voyagerais a France où ils jouent le futbol et ils aiment le Tour de France. Et le vin, le vin du ciel! J'adore le vin! Et le fromage et le pain!

Les Rouges, ils sont terribles!

Fast foward ten years from now

Homer Bailey vs. Cole Hamels in a Yankees-Red Sox game.

(I can't believe this game is not on television anywhere and Griffey is in the lineup.)


Having Corey Patterson in the lineup and hearing Dusty say he's going to use him a lot drowned any excitement I could have had about winning yesterday. Toothpick said he had wanted Patterson to have more time down in AAA to "get his swing back" but the Reds had no choice to call him up. Earth to Toothpick:


Look, even if you buy the excuse that the Reds had no choice in recalling him after Freel's injury, there is no way he should be starting and he should especially not bat second! Why not start Hairston in the outfield and Janish at short? Why not? Why not? Why not?????????????

Last time I checked, Junior was not on the DL, but we have a loooooooooooooong history with these day-to-day things, so the concern is warranted. I guess. No reason the team couldn't go with Dunn-Bruce-Griffey and Hairston/Votto for back up until a real move could be made. Votto played a lot of left last year. And whatever happened to Norris Hopper?

Now, there is the chance that since the team opened up a spot on the 40 man roster yesterday, Jocketty is on top things and is in a frantic search for a replacement outfielder, and well, if he is, yay! But I no longer give the Reds the benefit of the doubt when it comes to making personnel decisions, so I will save the yays until something good actually happens regarding this roster spot.

What do we have to do - take up arms, march into the ballpark, and kidnap him for a ransom of Toothpick's job? There are ten years olds who can make better decisions than the Reds management. Things had been going so well with the calling up of Bruce, demoting Belisle, demoting Patterson, and calling up Bailey and Herrera.

THEY'RE DRIVING ME MAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I have no patience left. Every ounce has been sucked dry by seven years of losing. I never thought it would come to this.

(Anyone who criticizes people who are complaining about playing Patterson and about Griffey not playing hasn't been around to watch the Reds day in and day out for the last eight seasons.)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Edwinana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Bats

Without his bat last night, the Reds would have been shut out.

Harang pitched ok, but he really needed to step it up last night and failed to do so. I'm not sure what is wrong with him. He's definitely not the same pitcher he has been over the past two or three seasons.

Too bad about Freel. I'm sure we can expect Corey Patterson to be recalled to fill his roster spot.

Herrera - what an ML debut, eh? Comes in with runners on second and third and strikes out Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell to end the threat without letting a runner score.

And last - just when I was coming to remember why Griffey is one of the greatest ever, he goes and sits out a few games conceivably (conspiracy!) because daddy is down at the draft and can't attend the games in Philly. Griffey's been part of why the team was hitting so well, and Philly phans have sold out the stadium to see him play, yet he does not. It's just really disappointing.

How can I be so bummed after two one run losses? Well, the Chub$ won again, we're now 10 games out, and I no longer believe this team has a chance this season.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

You can't win them all

Well, except apparently the Chub$ can. How is it that we are playing great baseball and still have lost two games to the Chub$ in the last few weeks? STOP WINNING, START BEING THE CHUB$ AGAIN!

Yesterday was just unlucky. The Reds hit a ton of hard hit balls that somehow found leather. Utley robbed Votto of two hits with diving catches, including the one that ended the game. The team stung Kendrick's pitches yet had little to show for it. Unlucky!

Badroyo showed up again. This is getting a little tiresome. You think he's finally found his groove and he goes and gives up five runs in less than five innings. Anyone else notice he was doing some weird thing with his arm, as if it were bothering him a bit? And when Badroyo shows up, he does that hopping thing at the end of his pitches. Goodroyo doesn't hop like that.

You can't win 'em all. You just gotta go back out there the next day. It wasn't a bad game, anyway; a 5-4 loss is better than a blowout, that's for sure. And hey, we have Jay Bruce!

Sunday, June 01, 2008


Hi, Phillies, isn't it time you take a breather from hitting for a bit?

(Stupid Chub$, start losing!)


I might have to kick myself and live with it the rest of my life

I'm not going to the game today. I went to the game on Tuesday to see Bruce's debut, and well, I have used up my self-imposed gasoline quota for the week, as I am currently an hour and a half from Cincinnati. (Yeah, some of us make sacrifices for the good of society. I just hope this sacrifice is not too great. Besides, it is too late - I would not get to the game in time.)

See, I'm taking a gamble that Griffey won't hit number 600 today because of the number of at bats it usually takes him to hit his next home run. Oh, I hate to have to make this decision, but baseball is like that. There are things you can control - like seeing the Major League debut of both Bruce and Cueto, as I have done this year - but you can't control when a guy will hit a homer or get his first Major League hit or things of that nature.

Yesterday got me thinking about the career of Ken Griffey, Jr. The goosebumps paid me a visit as I watched 599 sail into the rightfield seats, and the baseball fan in me felt like it was 1998 instead of 2008. When they brought out the special baseballs for his ensuing at bats, it didn't feel real. Griffey has always been just Ken Griffey, Jr. to me, much more than a Cincinnati Red, and I had a hard time believing that this very special thing was happening to a Cincinnati Red in Cincinnati, Ohio, that baseball history was being made, that national attention was turned to the Reds game, and that a man who wore the uniform of my favorite team was interrupting big market games so that television could show his every at bat.

What happened that I had to suddenly wake up from a daze and remember that it was Ken Griffey, Jr. in rightfield, one of the greatest players in the history of the game, a guy who should have the names Bonds, Aaron, Ruth, and Mays before his name by the end of the season and those names only. It's as if his legend has already taken effect and the body in rightfield is some sort of phantom, or an impostor, or someone else entirely. I have become bitter with disappointment over the years from all of the injuries and his comments about Cincinnati fans, and I forgot to just enjoy the fact that it's Ken Griffey, Jr. out there in right, that we are so lucky to be able to watch him play. Junior was my favorite non-Reds player growing up. I think I've fallen in love with him all over again. I don't want him to leave Cincinnati without a ring on his finger.

Baseball, as they say, is a kid's game. For so many of us, it gives us a few hours a day to do the impossible - return to childhood. When we see our heroes age, well, that's a reminder that we, too, are aging, and it doesn't make us feel comfortable. I look around the league and see the greats who were rookies right about the time I was old enough to appreciate them - guys like Tom Glavine, whom we saw Friday night, and Greg Maddux and Gary Sheffield and Jim Edmonds - we see their decline and we want to blame them for it. Heroes aren't supposed to die or fade away. But they do, at least for a few years at the end of their careers, and then they turn into superheroes like Babe Ruth and Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. I imagine Babe Ruth was the subject of ridicule in his last few years, including his stint with the Boston Braves, which everyone forgets about because he just wasn't Babe Ruth then. Time erases most of the bad stuff in life and in the careers of ballplayers.

Griffey is not the player he once was, and there will always be what if surrounding his name. He should be going for 700 right now instead of 600. But that's life. Some things just don't work out how we want them to and we should enjoy the blessings we are fortunate enough to get. We should just sit back and enjoy having Junior on our team and look forward to the day we can say "I saw him play."

Chances are we won't get to see him hit 600 today, that some lucky fan in Philly or Miami will get that moment to stand and shake his head, saying "I just saw one of the greatest players in the history of the game join a club only five other men have entered." (People in Miami don't deserve to witness it - there aren't enough baseball fans there to see it! Philly phans, on the other hand, will pack the house this week, I'm quite sure.) I hope he waits until the Reds come home again - I will try to be at every game if he is still at 599 then. I'll settle for some doubles in the meantime!