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


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?


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.


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.

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?


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????


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.


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 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.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Revelation No. 99

It was the end of October and pinstripes faced pinstripes in a city known for its wind, its food, and its processed meats. The City of the Big Shoulders had never seen anything like it, never had come close to the cool of the October grass while standing in the national spotlight. October, a revolutionary month, once again pitted the bourgeoisie against the proletariat.

The task of getting to this grand series was no easy feat. The bourgeois Northsiders had played a dozen close baseball games just to get to the series, as did the working class Southsiders. The two teams had duked it out for six more games and arrived to the last game of the 2008 baseball season, the city tense with the finality of it all. Scuffles had broken out across concrete and pavement, in bars and restaurants, at gas stations and libraries, between all sorts of people - doctors and patients, lawyers and clients, professors and students, shoppers and cashiers - all because of a children's game played with a little white sphere bound with 108 stitches.

The final game was played on the Northside, where money, drinks, and obnoxiousness flowed as freely as the river forced between downtown banks of concrete. A rather large and loud Venezuelan took the mound for the Northsiders against a kid from Austin, Texas. The visitors went down quietly in order in the first inning, and the home team followed suit. This went on for five innings. The annoying former catcher turned broadcaster began proclaiming this to be the best World Series game ever, his scrawny sidekick wondering if he should agree. But the sixth inning came around, and a fallen hero in the twilight of his career came up to bat in search of the one elusive addition to his Hall of Fame shelf - a ring.

The sweetest swing you've ever seen sent a baseball soaring into the seats as it had done more than 600 times in over 20 years. The visitors, the Southsiders who were plentiful in the stands of their crosstown rivals, roared thunder into the ancient palace in which the contest took place, as their team had taken a 1-0 lead.

The former catcher turned broadcaster was right. This was the greatest World Series game ever played, for three and a half more innings passed without another hit. The home team came to bat in the bottom of the ninth, nary a hit to be had against the Austin kid.

Now there was a man who sat in the stands in leftfield with dark glasses and a Northsider sweatshirt with the hood pulled up over his cap. One could see from the bulges on the sides of his head that he wore headphones to listen to the radio broadcast. The man stood in his front row seat as if to say, "I am the Alpha and the Omega," yet nobody took much notice of him, as the first two batters in the bottom of the ninth had struck out. Twenty-six up, twenty-six down. Suddenly, appearing from seemingly nowhere was a small pigmy goat. It ran around the field as security officials fat and slow and useless with age tried to capture it. This delayed the game for twenty minutes.

As one can only imagine, the Northside fans exploded into a fit of laughter, rage, and that trademark obnoxiousness that makes the baseball world loathe them so. The goat had appeared on the field and lifted the curse, they said, and they were riled. The pitcher, too, knew of the curse and so was rattled and walked the next batter on four pitches. There was great anticipation as the pitching coach made his way to the mound to calm his marauder.

The thunder within the friendly confines was deafening and anything but friendly. Something in the air changed. Southsiders put their hands to their faces or prayed or threw their hands about wildly. "Strike one!" the umpire shouted like the sound of many waters. "Strike two!" he said next like the sound of a trumpet.

The next pitch went to the leftfield wall. That strange loner reached with his left hand and grabbed it just below the top of the wall and right before it hit the leftfielder's glove. The force of the ball sent his body jerking, and his sunglasses fell to the warning track below.

The leftfield umpire immediately recognized the face as that of the infamous Steve Bartman. Fearing the man's death if it went as a ground rule double, he ruled it a home run. Ozzie Guillen had an aneurysm, a stroke, and a heart attack at the same time which made his head explode and sent bits of brain soaring through the dugout. The leftfielder shouted death threats at Bartman, but the memoriless Cubs fans tackled their new hero and then hoisted him up on their shoulders in a joy akin to, well, nothing else. After 99 years of solitude, the Northsiders were World Series Champs.

The city erupted like a volcano. No one could hear his own thoughts. Suddenly, the goat reappeared onto the field, but it was a deformed goat, as it had seven horns and seven eyes.

Then, a white horse appeared on the field; its rider had a bow and arrow and wore a Chief Wahoo cap. Behind him, a second horse appeared, a bright red creature with a bat-bearing rider. The farm continued with a third horse, this one as black as a Southsider cap, and its rider held a scale in his hand. A fourth horse absent of any color appeared behind the others, its rider more horrifying than anything on Earth or on television.

Ghosts appeared on the field wailing and whining about having to wait for something, but the shouting and cheering and confusion in the stadium was too loud for them to be heard.

Then, as if in a horror movie or a really scary book, the Earth shook and the full moon became blood and the stars of the sky fell to the earth. This was followed by not just silence, but the utter absence of sound. No one could cheer if they tried.

The silence was broken by Vlad Guerrero, Torii Hunter, Gary Matthews Jr., and Garret Anderson flying through the sky and blowing trumpets. One played some jazz, another played a marching band tune. Another seemed to be tone deaf while another couldn't play a note. The sweet smell of incense began to replace the stench of spilled beer and half-eaten hot dogs. Lightening. More earthquakes. Hail and fire mixed with blood. The ivy burnt off the brick. Lake Michigan dried up. More falling stars, more fire. People ate something called wormwood - chernobyl in Russian - which fell like fire from the sky. A third of them died. They were all Cubs fans, so this was ok.

A great cloud moved towards the stadium and then people saw it was a swarm of locusts, and they thought of the 2007 Division Series when Joba Chamberlain was nearly swallowed whole by all of those newly hatched bugs in Cleveland. And it was gross. The locusts bit people and wore battle dress uniforms - the desert kind, not the green computery looking ones - and their faces were like human faces, and they all looked like Cory Hart, and people were scared. Their teeth were like Tiger's teeth the year they went to the World Series, and they made a buzzing sound that sounded exactly like drunk Cubs fans on a winning day.

More thunder, more fire, blah, blah, blah, then a woman who looked like Britney Spears appeared on the scorched field wearing a skimpy bikini as bright as the sun. She wore a crown of twelve stars and she had a kid right there on the field. Just as some red dragon was about to eat the kid, the kid floated up to the sky, because it was supposed to rule the world with an iron fist. There were more beasts with various numbers of horns and heads, and one carried a rather drunk woman with a Cubs hat on. She wore a purple and red dress with gold and pearl jewels, and everyone could see she was Paris Hilton. She held in her hand a plastic souvenir cup full of the abominations of the Earth, and one of those was Major League Baseball teams in Florida, and another was the Designated Hitter. She told everyone her name was Babylon but no one understood, so she said, "Well, today I'd be called Iraq!"

Then all the merchants of the earth began to weep and mourn, since no one bought their cheap plastic junk with the logos of their favorite teams because it was the end of the world and the profitmongers were all going to that molten place in the center of the Earth with their friend Bud Selig.

The End.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Starting Thursday, I'm rooting for the Sausages

Why won't the Cubs just roll over and die like they always do?

55 games left. Seems like just yesterday the season was starting and I was full of the hope and excitement each new year brings. This one was a promising one. Yet the baseball gods hate the Reds. Why? What did we ever do? Why have you forsaken us???

I have tried everything. I have tried virtual voodoo. I have prayed to fake baseball gods. I have cursed them. I have tried to use telekinesis to make the balls go over the fence when the team is losing. I have tried to make Dusty Baker read my mind through the television when he makes stupid moves. Alas, none of it has worked. Maybe I ought to ask the Sky Genie to give Corey Patterson the power of a Major Leaguer.

What can we do? If we stop going to games, that money won't be available for the salaries of players better than Corey Patterson. Which is about everyone, I know. Some of the people I've seen answering the questions on Reds Live aren't going to help us use our brain powers to manipulate the games to our advantage. Curses and spells just don't work anymore. Maybe if we merge with the Pirates and the Royals, we'll have a good enough team to compete. What can we do?

If the Reds win 55 more games, they'll win the division! Ha! Guess all of this losing is maddening!

We have to get the Cubs another goat.

Monday, August 04, 2008

What does W stand for?

Weathers? Walt? Wayne? Wilson, Paul? Whining about the cost of parking? Williamson, last Reds player to win Rookie of the Year? Wood, as in ash vs. maple? Wild card gone? Wanton defense? Wasted fans? Warming Earth? Wild pitches? Wait 'til next year? Where's Junior? Why is Patterson in the lineup?

What in the world does that W mean beside "Reds" tonight?

Saturday, August 02, 2008

I miss GOOD baseball

A lackluster evening fell upon the nation's capital, a city I once called home and will again if I ever escape the trap I've fallen into.

I should be there now.

But I don't care enough to drive 8 hours to see two of the worst teams in baseball.

The Reds aren't half as bad as the Nationals, yet the mismanagement is about equal. At least the Reds have good players - some with great potential. The Nationals have...Oliver Perez? Willie Harris? Jesus Flores? I laughed when I saw their line up yesterday. I haven't been following them much this year, this very disappointing year, so I wasn't aware of who they had been fielding.

Yet they beat us.

I am so embarrassed.

I am so bummed.

Next season I'll probably be back in DC and watch another 20 games played by a very crappy team. But the Reds? The Reds will have seasoned Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez, and hopefully Homer Bailey in addition to Edwin Encarnacion, Brandon Phillips, Aaron Harang, Francisco Cordero, Jared Burton, and others. Hopefully Adam Dunn is in that "others." If he isn't, I won't be seeing the Reds play much next year. I don't want to exert the effort to watch more losing.

They better win the next two. (I am reminded of that very awful series in Washington last year, the one that started out awesome because I hung out in the Mayflower lobby and watched the Reds arrive to the hotel. Then they proceeded to lose all three games, and in Richmond the Bats lost two more games I watched right after that and Joey Votto wouldn't give me his autograph and sigh...But Jay Bruce did. At least that's something.)