Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Reds Are on the Radio!

Finally, another game on the radio, though it's at night. I had a ticket for this game against Boston, but life got in the way and I couldn't go. I'll try not to think about it.

The Reds are 2-1 in Spring Training at this point, but what's 'at this point?' At this point, it's just stretching, right? Warming up the muscles. Spring means nothing. But a lack of meaning doesn't detract from the happiness in hearing "And this one belongs to the Reds" after a game.

Love looking at the AP photos. Nice to see Joe the Player and not Joe the Announcer. Wouldn't it be nice if Jones could give us a year of the Minnesota Twin Jacque Jones and not the Chicago Cub/Florida Marlin/Detroit Tiger Jacque Jones? Imagine if Jones, Chris Dickerson, and Johnny Gomes were duking it out all year long for that leftfield spot, the competition taking their games up to another level? There is a lot of potential on this team. I look at the retreads that had success under Jocketty for the Deadbirds, and I think, hey, guys like Jones, Gomes, Hernandez, and Ward really could help this team. Everything just has to click.

If you do plan on going down to Sarasota, don't buy cheap flip flops made in China. Seriously, don't do it.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Good Guys of the Game: Curtis Granderson

Curtis Granderson has endorsement contracts with Nike, Rawlings and Louisville Slugger. Starting with this season, he no longer will get a retainer from the companies. Instead, he asks that they donate equipment to inner-city youth baseball teams across Michigan. His Grand Kids Foundation benefits urban schoolchildren and educational causes around the state. The foundation is now finalizing a program — with help from the Tigers, IBM and MI Kids — that will present one elementary school and one middle school with new software and computers.

From Dugout Central.

We won again

It's kind of a bummer that every game isn't on the radio yet. But that's just the impatience talking. Soon, very soon!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Spreading the message in HD

Hat tip to OMG Reds, a view of the new HD scoreboard at GAB(p).

He also has info on Club 4192.

Seriously, folks, can we not go to a ballgame for three hours and get away from television? Oh man, I feel old. Except I'm not supposed to be old enough to complain about people's desperate need for TV. But I'm smart enough. I think.

Does Baseball not get why Wrigley and Fenway are the best parks in baseball to go to?

Fun with trades

I love stuff like this:
Reds assistant media relations director Larry Hermes can rattle this one off without gasping for breath: Trace the Paul O'Neill trade in 1992 to the player currently on the Reds.

O'Neill was traded for outfielder Roberto Kelly. Kelly was traded for outfielder Deion Sanders. Sanders was traded for pitcher Dave Burba.

Burba was traded for first baseman Sean Casey. Casey was traded for pitcher Dave Willliams. Williams was traded for pitcher Robert Manuel.

Manuel, 25, is currently on the 40-man roster after going 5-3 with a 1.40 ERA in 47 relief appearances at Class AA Chattanooga last year.
Let's play it with some other current Reds.

Aaron Harang - We got Harang for Jose Guillen. We got Guillen as a free agent. Ok, that one's no fun. How about...

Brandon Phillips - We got BP for Jeff Stevens who was drafted by the Reds. Ok, that one's no fun, either.

Edwin Encarnacion - We got Edwin with Ruban Mateo for Rob Bell. We got Bell from the Braves with Denny Neagle and Michael Tucker for Bret Boone and Mike Remlinger. We got Remlinger from the Mets for Cobi Cradle, and we got Boone from the Mariners for Dan Wilson and Bobby Ayala. Wilson and Ayala were Reds draftees. So it's like we got Edwin for Dan Wilson!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Chris Dickerson for Leftfield!

This guy is becoming one of my favorite players. Watch his USA Today Spring Scenes video here.

I'd love for him to win the leftfield position.


Ah, baseball. There's no other sport like it. None in the world. We wallow in the cold and darkness of winter for so long, and then, just a sip, a sip of what's to come, the warmth and light of spring, a meaningless game that means everything.

Oh boy, here we go.

I fight it all the time, the optimism, the inability to be pessimistic even in the face of the most dire of rational predictions. That's baseball. Every year, even though we know we may driving on retreads and bald tires, there's always that phrase in the back of our minds, that campaign slogan of hope, that thing that makes us come back year after year after year no matter what happens: Maybe this is the year.

And sometimes, well, it is.

Eric Davis recently stated that he thinks this team is like the 1990 team. I don't doubt him. I mean, come on. That team had no superstars, just a bunch of guys who clicked, who made it work, who came together and put an improbable run together that lasted all the way to the end. Of course, future Hall of Famer Barry Larkin was on that team. But he was only in his third full season, and let's face it, he wasn't our "favorite Reds player ever" back then. He was just starting out.

Oh man, I am so excited for this season to start. On paper, we don't measure up to other teams, do we? But this is baseball. You can eat your paper halfway through the season.

Shoot, so many ifs...but sometimes ifs just work, sometimes ifs become whens and dids.

Maybe this year...

REDS BASEBALL IS ON THE RADIO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Top ten all time favorite players

I thought I’d take the time to reflect upon my favorite baseball players. The only rule I’m using is that I had to watch him play and remember him, so any Big Red Machine players are out. I’m sure I saw Johnny Bench play as a child, but I just don’t remember.

10. Paul O’Neill. I never really got over the trade. I never considered him a Yankee even though his best years were in pinstripes. He could have been one of the Reds greats if they’d have kept him. I have a picture of my family and me with him – I had to be in fifth or sixth grade and had a hideous perm, so that won’t be displayed on the mantle.

9. Derek Jeter. Maybe the one player whose entire career I followed, at least from Columbus on. Jeter’s one of those players who has that extra something that people who’ve never played competitive ball don’t understand, things like leadership and stepping up when things count. He’s played in the brightest spotlight and has never had a scandal. That’s something right there. He may not be the greatest shortstop in the game, but he’s good.

8. Ryan Zimmerman. This kid has a head on his shoulders and can be the next Brooks Robinson if he stays healthy. I can’t believe the Nationals haven’t signed him to a longterm contract yet.

7. Bret Boone. I liked him when he played for Seattle. I was thrilled when he came to Cincinnati. He was one of those players you can’t explain why you like, you just do. He was good, not great, but he was a big part of winning Reds teams and I was pretty sad when he left.

6. Sean Casey. Who didn’t like the Mayor? Nice guys are easy to love. It was pretty sad to see him retire this year. He’d make a great bat off the bench in Cincy.

5. Ryne Sandberg. Call it a WGN childhood. I loved Ryno. I had nearly every baseball card of his except the rookie cards – I only had the Fleer rookie card and spent a pretty penny on it back in the day. Maybe my Ryno love had something to do with the fact that my uncle got me a Sandberg Louisville Slugger when I first started playing Little League back in second grade. Sometimes you just develop an attachment to a player, but he was a pretty darn good one. I didn’t lose any love for him when his team got into that big fight with the Dayton Dragons last season.

4. Jose Rijo. 1990. The squirt gun. The Banana Phone pranks. What was there not to love about Jose? It was a bummer his arm didn’t love him, though. Bummer he might be in trouble, too.

3. Ken Griffey, Jr. Yes, yes, I have been hyper-critical of him in the last couple of years, and I even suspect that he had more of an impact on the Reds losing than we could imagine, but Junior was my favorite non-Reds player as a kid and my god, is that swing art. With time, I’ll forget all of the negative things about him, even the injuries, and remember him as the greatest centerfielder of my lifetime. I’ve already almost forgotten the bad and cannot wait to see him in a Mariners uniform again. I hope he hits forty out this year.

2. Barry Bonds. Yes, baseball’s all-time homerun hitter. But I don’t need to elaborate on why. I’ve written about it before. It’s just that I’ve never seen the atmosphere of a game change as it did when he came up to bat. There was electricity in the air. You just knew when he was going to hit one out.

1. Barry Larkin. One of the greatest shortstops in the history of the game. Born and bred in Cincinnati, Ohio. A pure Red.

Players who would have made this list but…:

Roger Clemens. I know, I know, it seems like a double standard loving Bonds and hating Roger. I used to love him, even as a Yankee. I remember taping a Clemens-Martinez matchup once and watching the game later. But the whole weirdness about his half seasons and his perceived craziness soured me to him. What can I say? You can’t help the way you feel. And I didn’t have the luxury to see him play on a regular basis like I did Bonds. Maybe it was the bleeding butt that turned me off.

Manny Ramirez. I loved Cleveland Indian Manny Ramirez. But then Manny became Manny, and the love stopped flowing.

Darren Daulton. Something about a guy who preaches that the end of the world is coming ruins the legacy.

Jose Canseco. Dude is just crazy. I loved him as a kid. But something about a rat just rubs me the wrong way.

I was surprised that there weren’t more Reds on my list when I really thought about it. I hope that one day I can rewrite this list and add Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez, and Homer Bailey to the list!

Hal McCoy still the best at Spring Training coverage

I grew up reading Hal McCoy. It was the pre-internet era, pre-every game is on era, and you had to read newspapers to get Reds news. Hal was always the best.

I love his Spring Training coverage. Like the story about him spilling hot coffee on Cordero. That's the kind of stuff that people want to read in these days of waiting.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Time out for a personal plug.

The year was 2005. The city was Philadelphia. I bought tickets to see U2 play at the Wachovia Center and wanted to make it a weekend in Philly, so naturally I checked to see if the Phillies were at home that weekend. I’d drive up from DC on Saturday morning and see the show that evening then go to a Phillies game on Sunday afternoon if there was one.

Oh, there was one.

In some sort of cosmic doing, the Reds were scheduled to make their only trip into Philly on that weekend.

I thought maybe I was in Heaven when we parked. See the Philly sports buildings are all in the same complex. The Wachovia Center is next to Citizen’s Bank Park. And that parking lot was a mix of cars with U2 blaring from their stereos and tailgaters waiting for the ballgame to start, many of them with Reds caps on. What were the chances of the Reds playing on that weekend? What were the chances? Yet it happened.

Another time, Chicago in 1997, I caught a Saturday afternoon game at Wrigley and watched U2 at Soldier Field that night. The Chub$ played the Asstros that day, but it was baseball and U2. And it was good.

On March 3, No Line on the Horizon, U2’s best album since Achtung Baby, comes out. The U2 haters will hate it, of course. I've listened to it at least 25 times and love every song on it, not like the last two where I ended up skipping half the songs. You have to listen to it a few times and think about what they're trying to do before passing judgment. Fez - Being Born may be one of the best songs they've ever recorded.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that. We're at a lull point right now until the games start on Wednesday. I mean, aside from Leatherpants possibly getting in trouble, there's not much news, is there?

Karma's the B word

Leatherpants is under federal investigation. Hey, Jimbo, Better get yourself together darling. Join the human race. Who the hell do you think you are? A super star? Well, right you are. A star shining bright for the FBI.

Seems like Bowden might have been skimming signing bonuses for Latin American players since way back in his Reds days. I guess innocent until proven guilty, right? (Well, not in the USA anymore, but that's another topic for another time.)

Every time I think of old Jimbo, I can't believe the Reds had good teams under him. I wonder how much of his sleaze was responsible for the losing of 2000-2003. Maybe his extracurricular activities interfered with his ability to put a team together. Of course, I don't know him personally, so I shouldn't make judgments, but so many people have talked about what a slimeball he is, so, you know, it's hard to be impartial.

There are a lot of Nationals fans who don't get the slimeballness and take offense to criticisms of him. All I have to say about that is you're seeing him at his best right now. Under FBI investigation. Us Reds fans know. And it has nothing to do with Gary Majewski.

Bummer about Jose's possible involvement, though. I sure am glad Barry got out of that organization.

We'll see. Could be this Wilder guy is the only culprit.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Take that, Leatherpants! Ha ha!

The Bank President posted this link about a Nationals prospect being 23 rather than 19. Jose Rijo was involved.

Dunn gets his number

Lastings Milledge gave up his number 44 to Adam Dunn. Said Milledge
"He hit 240 [homers] the last six years," Milledge said. "How ... am I going to wear that and let him wear another number?"
Seems like the young guy respects the game.

For the record, Dunn has hit 278 homers in his career. And he's only 29 years old.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

9/7/93 Mark Whiten hits four homers in one game at Riverfront Stadium on MLB Network.

The lineups

Thomas Howard LF
Jacob Brumfield CF
Hal Morris 1B
Chris Sabo 3B
Tim Costo RF
Juan Samuel 2B
Dan Wilson C
Jeff Branson SS
Larry Luebbers P

Geronimo Pena 2B
Lonnie Maclin LF
Bernard Gilkey RF
Todd Zeile 3B
Gerald Perry 1B
Mark Whiten CF
Tom Pagnozzi C
Cromer SS
Bob Tewksbury P

It was the second game in a meaningless doubleheader in early September 1993 against Joe Torre’s Deadbirds. Game 2 didn’t start until after 10pm and Riverfront Stadium was empty. It was still Riverfront Stadium then. It was always Riverfront Stadium but even the corporations called it Riverfront Stadium in 1993, the year before baseball shrugged.

The first game was a wild one, going extra innings for a Reds 14-13 win in which Mark Whiten made what may have been the game losing error. The Red scored a couple on the gaff and came back from a deficit. Cincinnati native Larry Luebbers was on the mound for Game 2 and Davey Johnson was in the dugout writing up a Larkinless lineup. Barry was injured.

Man, were those uniforms hideous – I think it was the white hats with the pinstripes that did it. The uniforms themselves weren’t that bad, though I hate vests for baseball jerseys.

With the bases loaded in the first, Don Gullett goes to the mound. Next pitch, Whiten hits a grand slam. The Deadbirds ended the inning with a four run lead. Cincinnati responded with two of their own in the bottom of the inning. The scoring ceased until the fifth inning, when a rookie named Lonnie Maclin hit a sac fly to make it a 5-2 game.

Some guy named Mike Anderson comes into the ballgame to pitch for the Reds in the sixth inning. It was his Major League debut. He walked Zeile and Perry and served up Whiten’s second shot of the night. That gave him seven RBI on the night but the still had two dingers to go.

The third homer and tenth RBI came in the next inning. The few Reds fans left in the park applauded the feat. Anderson left the game and some rookie named Chris Bushing relieved him. Number 61. No straight leg kick. Got a K for the third out of the inning, Reds down 12-2.

Dibble came into the game in the 8th, Costo moved to third, Jack Daugherty came into play right field. Dibble had pitched poorly in the first game and tore up the locker room in between games. Sweat had made the red bill of his cap bleed into the white. It looked like blood. I’m sure that’s what he wanted to draw after Pena took him deep.

Seeing the yellow seats at Riverfront, I don’t think I ever got a chance to sit in them. I sat in the blue, green, and red (red the most), but I can’t recall sitting in the yellow seats. If I remember correctly, those were the corporate seats, the Club Level, I think. That translates into luxury boxes in today’s baseball language.

Dibs struck out two in the 8th but I’m sure the homer caused more destruction in the clubhouse. He came back for the 9th. Runner at first, one out, Whiten’s up, ball one, ball two, he launches one into deep centerfield, four homers, twelve RBI, Whiten takes a curtain call and Reds fans cheer, Deadbirds lead 15-2. The score remained that. Some guy named Brian Dorsett grounded out to end the game. Tewksbury got a complete game for his 16th win of the season.

It sure was fun to get to see the Reds play during one of these old games on MLB Network. I wish Larkin had been in the game instead of a bunch of no names and neverweres, but who cares, really. It’s just great to see these games.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Top Ten Dumbest Things Bud Selig Has Done in his Tenure as Commish

10. Fans vote for 30th man on All-Star roster. This is just stupid. What else can I say about it? And then they can vote for him 25 times online with one email address. This allowed Never Surrender to go to the 2008 game, he and his .260+ average.

9. The 2002 All-Star game tie. It’s an exhibition game. Why not start the roster over, let guys who already played come back into the game? Anything but a tie. And then to not do anything about it so it wouldn’t happen again. I mean, in 2008 it almost happened again. Why not expand the rosters to 35 and let those five extras be pitchers – relief pitchers? It’s darn tough for a relief pitcher who is not a closer to make the team. Why not designate five spots for middle relievers?

8. The Nationals debacle. What a mess that move was and still is. By not allowing the Nationals to spend any money on their farm system during those first years, it set the franchise back several years (and with Leatherpants still running the show, who knows how long it will take them to be competitive?) And remember, the move finally came to fruition after the alleged racketeering that took place with then Expos-owner Loria when there was talk of league contraction.

7. Exploiting Latin America to fish for players. For every feel good Pedro or Big Papi story, hundreds of other kids have been mistreated, lied to, extorted, and any of the other numerous wrongs bestowed upon them. It’s one thing to provide the opportunity for good players to play, but the way it’s done is exploitation.

6. Expansion. Under Selig, MLB added the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Arizona Diamondbacks only six years after adding two other unnecessary teams – the Florida Marlins and the Colorado Rockies – were established. This thinned every roster and weakened pitching.

5. “This Time It Counts.” Giving home field advantage to whatever team wins the All-Star game. And despite the fact that everyone else on the planet thinks it’s stupid, Selig likes it, so it’s here to stay for the time being.

4. Sometimes being dumb means NOT doing something. Selig did not fight to keep baseball as an Olympic sport. Why? Did he see it as competition for his pet World Baseball Classic? (I love the Classic, btw.) Letting it die as an Olympic sport not only killed the actual games in the Olympics, but it killed baseball in countries whose programs depended on national funding to keep them afloat.

3. Steroids. Letting it happen. Spoiling the careers of some should be Hall of Famers by turning a blind eye to what apparently everyone in baseball knew was going on. This is Selig’s legacy.

2. Keeping Pete out of the Hall. The man with the most hits in the history of baseball, a man who has paid his dues in jail, should be there. Period. What people sometimes forget is that Bud banned Pete for life in the same year that he reinstated Steinbrenner after George paid a gambler to get dirt on Dave Winfield.

1. 1994. ‘nuff said.


"I want to try to stay more to the middle. Last year, I tried to pull too many balls and hit more homers," Encarnacion said Wednesday after reporting to camp. "That's why my average went down. I will be more consistent as a hitter. I know I can do it. I've done it before. I know I can hit better than that and I just have to keep working."
That's a good attitude to have. I look forward to seeing Edwin have a great year!

Dreams and Shea and Stuff

I had a dream last night that I bought a new pack of Topps baseball cards. There were ten cards in the pack, but not a single one of them was a regular player card. There were MVP cards, cards with two players on them, and a card of Anthony Bourdain. The cards themselves were made of thick cardboard, thick like the cards in that game Memory, and the cards had very green borders the color of the We Play Green logo.

I was really disappointed with the pack but then a tornado came and I had to worry about taking cover and forgot about the cards. Fortunately for me, the tornado didn't hit our house, but then I thought about how it hit the neighbors house and felt guilty for hoping it would skip us and hit someone else.

Anyway, I read this article about the last piece of Shea being torn down, and it made me really sad. I remember watching the demolition of Riverfront with a tear in my eye. Even though Shea was a dump, it was home for so many New Yorkers. Mets fans, I feel your pain.

This quote is really sad:
“It’s one last chance to say goodbye and let my son witness history,” McDonnell said. “Maybe someday he’ll bring his son to watch Citi Field being torn down.”
Why? Why do we tear down our stadiums? A couple of seasons ago I took an Austrian friend of mine to a Nationals game at RFK. He couldn't believe it was going to sit empty (at that time, we thought United was going to build a new stadium) or that it might be torn down. You go to Europe, you see stuff that's been around for hundreds of years. In America, we rip it down.

These aren't just buildings. These are parts of us, parts of our history, our heritage, our society. And we just tear them apart.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Biography of Willy T*

Willy Taveras was born in Tanares, Republica Dominicana on Christmas Day in 1981. The town of a little over 7000 was actually named for his family, but the doctors at the hospital misread his father's writing and put Taveras on the birth certificate. This was the result of his father writing his new son's name sloppily because he was in shock that his son had been born with a birthmark on his right thigh that looked like a baseball. Because of this, the father of Willy T made his son play baseball everyday from the day of his birth.

Willy came to resent baseball as a young boy but he really didn't have a choice in the matter because when you're eight years old and you have a baseball birthmark on your right thigh, you don't have a choice. He tried many times to get rid of the birthmark to release him from his burden, but every time he only succeeded in hurting himself. Once he used an eraser but only managed to rub the skin off. Then it got infected and he had to go to the hospital, the same one he had been born in. He liked the hospital. He liked the smell of antiseptic and bleach and rubber gloves and he decided that he would be a doctor one day. Except he had that baseball birthmark, even if it was seeping infected puss.

Willy became a teenager and he still didn't accept his fate as a baseball player. It came to the attention of some of the Dominican baseball pimps that Willy had the birthmark, so they fought over who would be the one to rule his life. It didn't matter that Willy wasn't very good. He had the Mark of the Fleets. He was gonna steal bases! No one ever realized that you actually had to get on base to steal bases.

A bunch of baseball dinosaurs took a vacation to the Dominican Republic that was to change the fate of the world. Get 'em on, get 'em over, get 'em in was written on the oversized t-shirts they wore to Dominicana's beautiful beaches. As they were lounging on the white sand and gazing out at the cool azure horizon, a boy came flying past them, kicking sand into their eyes. He was followed by an old fat guy who was out of breath and dropped to his knees in front of them. They asked him what was up. He told them the boy was a future basestealer but he was running away from baseball because he wanted to be a doctor. The dinosaurs were horrified.

"I know," said Willy's baseball pimp to the shaking heads in front of him. "And he has the Mark of the Fleets on his thigh."

"The Mark of the Fleets? Well, let's not just sit here. Let's get that kid!"

And they did. They captured him and put him in a "baseball academy," which was really just a prison where you had to play baseball for twelve hours a day, seven days a week. You were only released if you were bad, unless you had the Mark of the Fleets. They had a brainwashing program, and that's how Willy forgot he wanted to be a doctor and became a baseball player.

He was signed by the Cleveland Indians way back in "they say 2000 zero zero party's over it's out of time so tonight we're gonna party like it's" 1999. That means he signed when he was 18 years old for the mathematically challenged. Five years later one fateful September 6, the Houston Asstros decided to play him. That was five days before the fourth anniversary of the 9/11 that sucked (as opposed to the good one in 1985.) Is it a coincidence that Reds fans have already nicknamed him Havoc?

There were some transactions along the way to his Major League debut. Willy T is a transaction machine. He was drafted by the Asstros in the 2003 Rule 5 draft (what are rules 1-4?) but somehow didn't play for the Asstros until September 6, 2004, spending the season at AA. (Guess he didn't make the team out of spring but no one wanted him.) He had one MLB at bat that season but somehow managed to score two runs without taking a walk.

In 2005, he was runner up Rookie of the Year. Everyone thought he was an incarnation of Eric Davis. He was pretty mediocre after that and the Asstros traded him to the Rockies after the 2006 season. In 2007, he only played in 97 games. Then in 2008, as if the Mark of the Fleets really did work, he managed to steal 68 bases with only a .308 OBP. It's as mysterious as his scoring two runs in only one at bat with no walks during his debut.

Some time in August 2008, a few Reds fans began to joke that Willy T would end up on the Reds. Sure enough, Dusty Baker broke into Walt Jocketty's office and held a knife to his throat while Walt got on the phone with Willy T and gave him a contract. Dusty's violence was a result of being distraught over losing Corey P to Leatherpants.

In 2009, despite having a .176 batting average and a .177 OBP, seemingly impossible mathematically but, you know, it's Willy T, Dusty Baker started his burning meteorite in centerfield 152 games.

*Some of this is fake. Made up. Fiction. Some is real. Some is exaggerated. It's all in good fun, Willy. Hope you hit .300, have an OBP of .350, and steal 100 bases!


Bummer about Griffey

The whole country wanted to see him in a Mariners uniform.

And to go to one of the five hated teams, the Chopheads. Ugh.

Fun with Spring Training photos

Michael E. Keating at the Enquirer has been posting his photos from Sarasota on the website (although they're really tough to find). I spiced them a little.

I thought it was mean that Norris Hopper drove his truck over Yonder Alonso's new Corvette.

Monday, February 16, 2009

8 Years of Losing

The Enquirer says Mike Lincoln was wiping his face, but I know the truth. I know he was thinking about The Shame.

Pete said it

Q What do you think of the 2009 Cincinnati Reds?

A They aren't as good this year as they were last year (74-88, fifth place). They didn't do anything this winter to really help themselves. They acquired a catcher (Ramon Hernandez) who hit .257. Stevie Wonder could hit .230.

From Hal


I was reading this article on PECOTA projections on and got a real kick out of one of the comments:
In all of these talks about the Phillies, Marlins, Red Sox, Yankees, Tampa Bay winning the series, I haven't heard anyone mention the Nationals. They are the best team in baseball this year, and now that they have Adam Dunn on there team they should have no problems beating the likes of the Phillies, Marlins, the aweful Mets, and maybe the Brave who can upset the other htree teams I just mentioned. The Nationals have the best pitching, and hitting of all of basball, and should pose a threat to most of the National League teams who think they might have a chance of making the playoffs. The Nationals will be the 2009 World Series Champions. Read my writing, it's a fact.
What is a person like this doing reading an article about PECOTA? The person is obviously logically challenged. And spelling challenged. And probably mathematically challenged. Which would mean PECOTA would scramble his universe.

The Nationals are projected to win 79 games this year. Same as the Reds. But the Reds have pitching. The Nats have 80 outfielders. At least one of them has never played on a winning team in his entire career, and his arrival to the Majors was the first year of an 8 year long losing streak.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

More pictures of Dusty in Florida

Dusty brushing the big Sarasota tooth, sailing, at the Dali Museum, at another art museum, and making a friend.

Dusty in Florida

I just can't help myself. The Enquirer picture was screaming for the Adobe touch.

On Homer

Homer Bailey will be the Reds fifth starter this season. You have to believe!

What most people who've given up on him don't realize is that he's only 22 years old (23 in May). Very few pitchers play Major League Baseball at age 21. In fact, he was the second youngest player in the entire National League in 2007. (Justin Upton was only 19.)

Look at some examples of great pitchers who started out like Homer. Greg Maddux was 8-18 with a 5.58 ERA during his first two seasons. Tom Glavine was 9-21 with an ERA around 5 during his first two. Guys like John Smoltz and Jake Peavy had terrible first seasons at age 21. Carlos Zambrano came up at age 20 and was 5-10 during his first two seasons.

I know wins, losses, and ERA aren't the best measure of a pitcher's success - or in this case, failure - but check out their peripherals, too. Homer's K-BB ratio is horrendous - 46:45. In Glavine's first two seasons, it was 104:96. Zambrano was 97:71 in his first two. Maddux was 121:85. Smoltz's first year was 37-33.

Check out their WHIPs (walks and hits per innings pitched). Homer is at 1.80 for his career at this point. Maddux was 1.66 in his first two seasons. Glavine was 1.433. Zambrano was 1.52. Smoltz was 1.672 in his first season. So Homer is a little higher in that area, but still not far off the other guys. And he's only thrown 81 innings.

A terrible start to a Major League Baseball career is not indicative of the kind of career one will have. I mean, the guys I listed above are Hall of Fame caliber players. (Admittedly I chose them off the top of my head.)

And that's why I want Bailey to win the fifth starter spot. Let him sink or swim this season. You have to believe that last year's disaster will make him more focused this year and determined to realize his potential. At this point, he has to realize that though he was the best pitcher at every level of his life, the Big Leagues are different and he's going to have to work rather than rely on his god-given talent if he is to be successful.

That would give us four potential number one starters in the rotation and Arroyo. I mean, we're talking a Glavine, Smoltz, Maddux type of rotation. That hasn't happened in my lifetime. That's almost enough to overcome a one-bat outfield.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Dunn would be proud

I love this kind of stuff:
in prank of the day...someone left bears, balloons, and hearts at Jay Bruce's locker for Valentine's Day. The nice touch was the framed picture of his girlfriend on the chair.
(From Mark Sheldon's new blog.)

Happy Pitchers and Catchers Day!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

It's the outfield, stupid!

The Bank President had a bit about how the Reds had to cut a couple of staff because of the economy. Alright, fine. We know the economy is bad and that people are losing their jobs. However, this little bit from Karen Forgus, the senior vice-president for business operations, is just an excuse.
The economy has hurt ticket sales -- so far, at least.

"Fans are telling us they still plan to come to games during the season," Forgus said. "They just aren't buying tickets in February. They might buy them in June."
Sure, blame the economy for poor ticket sales. But I know I'm not the only one who has no desire to buy tickets because of the team they're fielding this year.

Top ten players I wish I could have seen play ball (and remember it)

Watching MLB Network all the time has got me thinking about how great it would be if we could go back and watch some of the legends of the game play in real life. This was a difficult list to compile. Just think of the immortals who grace baseball’s history books, guys like Lou Gehrig and Ted Williams and Bob Gibson and Cy Young and so many others who didn’t make the list. Not one pitcher made my list, and I think that’s because so many of the greatest pitchers in the history of the game have pitched in my lifetime – Pedro, Roger, Ryan, Johnson, etc. I would have loved to see Satchel Paige pitch. He’s probably number 11.

10. George Wright – One of the Cincinnati Red Stockings founders, it was said that Wright was the best player in the game as the nation was recovering from the Civil War. If he hadn’t been part of the Red Stockings, he probably wouldn’t make this list. But he was. And I’d love to see him play without a glove.

9. Sadaharu Oh – Japan’s greatest homerun hitter, he would have hit five or six hundred homers in the Majors. The guy hit mammoth shots and pretty much made baseball a national pastime in Japan.

8. Jackie Robinson – Now here’s a guy I’d love to watch for his demeanor more than his play. A true American hero who had the courage to face social injustice, number 42 deserves all of the recognition he gets and more.

7. Babe Ruth – Wouldn’t he make everyone’s top ten list? And to know I saw games played in the stadium he built, well, that’s just something generations after mine won’t be able to say. How sad.

6. Joe Morgan – Joe was one of the greatest second basemen to ever play the game. It’s too bad my generation and younger have had to suffer through his broadcasts without ever having seen him play, tainting our idea of him. If anything, I’d love to watch Joe play to take the bitter taste of his broadcasting from my mouth.

5. Oscar Charleston – A guy whom many consider the greatest Negro League player ever, Charleston would have no doubt had his name in the MLB lights for eternity had our country never been sociopathically evil in its race perceptions. Charleston was a fan favorite but was famously known for his temper. Once he ripped the hood off a Klansman and dared him to speak. Awesome.

4. Willie Mays – The greatest centerfielder to ever play the game? Not many people argue with that. The greatest player ever? Hard to argue with that, too.

3. Pete Rose - I know I saw Pete play, but it was in his second stint with the Reds when he was past his prime, and besides, with the exception of remembering watching him hit 4192 on September 11, 1985 on television, I don’t remember him playing at all. I was only eight years old when 4192 hit the turf at Riverfront.

2. Johnny Bench – I may have seen Bench play a game, but I would have been under six years old, and he probably didn’t catch if I did see him. I wore number 5 as a catcher in my ballplaying days in honor of the greatest to ever don a Major League uniform.

1. Josh Gibson – Maybe the greatest player in the history of the game. The legend says he hit over 900 homers in his career, including one that left Yankee Stadium. Of course, there’s a lot of Paul Bunyan in that, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that he was very, very good. It can probably be said that he would have hit six or seven hundred in the Majors without any big blue ox to help him. To top it all off, he was a catcher. I love catchers! But social injustice killed him at age 35. He must have been heartbroken that he couldn’t play in the Big Leagues, and he turned to the drugs which caused the stroke that took his life just three months before Jackie donned the Brooklyn uniform for the first time.

If you could watch anyone, who would it be?

Monday, February 09, 2009

I can see the ground

This is the first day I’ve really felt like spring is coming. The snow is gone in places where there were no drifts. The air has been warmer for three days in a row. The sun is out at dinner time. And ballplayers are starting to pack their bags for next weekend.

It’s about this time when you realize how long is the off season. It may seem like the season is long, especially when your team stinks, but the off season is, well, an eternity. Just think of all of the things one must suffer without baseball – cold, darkness, grayness, barren trees, high heating bills, cabin fever, icy roads, scraping windshields, empty washer fluid, getting out of shape, pre-Oscar movies, the excesses of Christmas, f00t-b@ll season, squeaky basketball shoes, hockey at Wrigley Field, bad free agent signings, worse trades…about the only good thing about the off season is that we don’t have to listen to Joe Morgan or Tim McCarver or Clownboy.

Right now, us baseball fans are sipping through a chewed up straw to get any drip of baseball that may be there at the bottom of the cup we found in the gutter of winter. Playing Bull Durham. Reading The Natural. Watching old games we’ve already seen and already know the outcome. Checking every website that may have any word about our teams. We know it’s coming. It’s like Christmas Eve that lasts two months. Saturday is like the start of Advent. By the time our Holy Opening Day comes around, we’ve been starving for so long that one sip of real baseball makes us drunk.

Won’t be too much longer now.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

You know how Leatherpants is obsessed with ex-Reds?

Well, we are becoming the Cubs.

And not the good ones.

Did you know?

Did you know that us Reds fans were responsible for the fans losing voting rights for the All-Star game for thirteen years? In 1957, Reds fans stuffed the ballot boxes, resulting in the election of 7 starters to the team. Commissioner Ford Frick removed two of them and banned fan voting. It was reinstated in 1970.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Holding pattern

The last week before Spring Training (or more accurately before pitchers and catchers report) is kind of like a holding pattern. Reminds me of the first time I saw New York City. I was flying to Europe right after Christmas and I had to change planes at JFK. We had to circle around the city for 45 minutes. It was awesome to see the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty and all of the buildings lit up at night, but after the twelfth or so time I saw the bridge, I got bored. (Big Ben, Parliament!)

When we finally landed, I had to sprint to my connecting flight and barely made it. When I arrived across the ocean, my luggage hadn't. (That was the first time that ever happened to me. Now it happens every time, I kid you not.) I felt a bit of panic because I had three months worth of stuff in my bags and I thought my suitcases were lost. I got them the next day and had a great time for the next few months.

There's a metaphor in this story somewhere, I swear!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Three catchers, three sheets to the wind

"Reds get catching insurance with Cota"

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, uh, can't get fooled again. I doubt he makes the club, but I am psychologically scarred from the past. I guess you can never have too many catchers for Spring Training.

In totally unrelated news, actually kind of cool news, I like how the Reds are supporting the indie industry by buying the rights to use the song "Paint the Town Red" by the Hotcakes. (Check out their MySpace page.) Go over there and give them some love.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Heaven is a cornfield in Iowa

I did my annual viewing of Bull Durham and Field of Dreams this weekend. I do it every year around the same time – you know, this time of year when you’re drinking from sandlots because your thirst for baseball in the vast desert of the offseason is insatiable. I don’t have to discuss the merits of those two movies (which are probably my two all-time favorites) – every baseball fan regards these as gospels. I am actually a fan of the entire Kevin Costner trilogy, being a fan For the Love of the Game as well, and though it is the weakest of the three, it’s still a darn good movie for baseball fans. I’m going to have to rent Major League and Eight Men Out and The Natural soon as I do every year at this time. I don’t own many movies but I probably should buy those because I love them so.

Field of Dreams – that one gets me every time. “Dad, do you wanna have a catch?” It’s my favorite movie, though Bull Durham is a close second (I named this blog because of it, after all.) But Field of Dreams captures the magic of the game in a way no other movie – or book – has ever done. Only The Natural comes close, but the book is so depressing that it ruins the magic. I’ve said over and over again how the conspiracy theorist in me believes that J.D. Salinger wrote Shoeless Joe – if I ever get back to grad school and decide to study English (among the myriads of other things I want to study), my thesis is going to be on that. I think Ray Kinsella is Holden Caulfield all grown up.

Salinger turned 90 last year, and I have this irrational, desperate longing for him to live forever. He did it. He said fuck it all to the world and managed to live that way, managed to discard all of the corporate bullshit and the media vultures and all that. Those of us liberal hippy progressive whatever the heck you want to label us types who bitch about the corporate jesus can only wish we could be like Salinger as we put ads on our blogs and buy our trendy organic brands and all of that crap that makes us hypocrites, makes us the phonies that Holden hated so. But we grow up and become Ray Kinsellas and build gateways to Heaven and have reconciliations, so I guess it all works out in the end.