Sunday, April 30, 2006

Week Four Wrapup: First place and other stuff

Before I proceed with this week's wrapup, I'd like to start with a prayer:

Our Reds
Who art in Cincy
Hallowed be thy bats
Arroyo comes
Game will be done
With another W in the column
Give us this game our daily win
And forgive us our errors
As we forgive Lopez for committing his
And lead us not into a loss
But deliver us from Cardinals

Reds (17-8, first place tie with the Deadbirds)

Whew! What a week! First a sweep of the Nats, then wins over Roy O and Pettttitttte. The Reds won a franchise record number of wins in April. Unfortuantely, so did the Albert Pujols show. Still, the Reds sit on top of the NL Central, causing some people to scratch their heads and wonder what is going on with this division.

The Reds played small ball this week, with only David Ross, Rich Aurilia, and Dunn (finally) hitting some of those trademark dingers. Speed has turned out to be a key part of the early success, as the Reds are third in the Majors in stolen bases, with Felipe Lopez (9) second and Ryan Freel (8) fourth in the rankings. Brandon Phillips swiped three this week and adds speed at the lower part of the order.

I was at RFK for the three game series verses the Nationals, buying the cheap seats and moving into much better seats around third base each game, as the stadium was sparsely populated for the series. Plenty of Reds fans attended the games, but that didn't stop one woman from telling me I could only root for Bronson because he was so good looking. That, of course, made me cheer even louder. I had a record of my own this year, attending five games in the month of April, three in which I did not purchase a single beer! (Going to three games in a row necessitates not spending exorbitant amounts of dough.)

The bullpen has been adequate, but I feel like it's like putting bandaids on a leaky dam. I have no confidence in any one of them but Todd Coffey, and he had a shaky week. Foul ball grabbing brats aside, David Weathers makes me nervous every time he stands up in the bullpen.

Reds player of the week: This was a tough one, because these wins were a total team effort. I'm going to have to give Bronson Arroyo player of the week honors for his gem on Wednesday, where he held the Nationals to one hit over 8 innings. Our savior had 8 Ks in the game, bringing his total to 30, which ranks him number 11 in the Majors. (Aaron Harang is number 3 with 33.) Bronson is undefeated at 4-0, and his ERA is sitting pretty at 2.34.

Nats (8-17, fourth place)

Yes, the Nats were swept by the Reds this week and were pummelled by Sir Albert and Co. three more times, but this team is not as bad as everyone is saying. I saw many comments about how the team should have beat the Reds, giving the Reds no love, but maybe since the Reds beat Roy O and Pettttittttte, people will realize that you shouldn't hang your head for being defeated by the Reds. It's pretty trendy these days!

I had a tough time rooting against the Nationals this week in the three game series against the best team in baseball right now, but it had to be done.

¡Livan! pitched brilliantly Saturday, even in the first inning. Is he back? Without him, success is not possible. This week, he was 0-1 with an ND, giving up a four spot against the Reds in the first inning of his loss and pitching well after that.

We lost John Patterson to the DL, but he should be back by the end of next week with a strong arm, poised to compete for that ML strikeout leader's position. Tony Armas, Jr. has proved to be a solid third starter, so once we get the pitching in order, as seems to be happening, the Nats will be a formidable opponent. I still maintain my idea that they are reversing last season's good first half bad second half, and hey, in the second half, we'll have an owner!


The bats, oh, the bats, something we didn't have last year. It is vitally important to do well in May so we don't lose Alfonso Soriano to a trade. The season is not lost; we should not throw it away.

Nats player of the week: Michael O'Connor. Hey, why not? This kid made his Major League debut against one of the scariest lineups in all of baseball. He only made one mistake, and it cost him the game, but he kept Sir Albert in the yard, kept him hitless, as a matter of fact. For that reason alone, he deserves player of the week honors. If we can get performances as decent as this from him, we could have a fifth starter, and that, dear parishioners, is the key to the season.

Giants (13-10, 2nd place through Saturday's games)

710! 711! BB. BB. BB. BB. BB. BB. BB. BB...

The Giants dropped two of three to the sizzling Mets (I can't wait until they're fizzling) and came back to take two from the D'Backs, so it wasn't too bad of a week. Jason Schmidt finally got his first win. If he's back on track, look for the Giants to put Ws up a bit more frequently than they have been doing.

One of the highlights of the week was Kevin Frandsen's Major League debut in which he went 3-4 with three runs scored. Frandsen was filling in for Ray Durham, whom the Giants put on the DL this week with a strained left hamstring. He grew up in San Jose as a Giants fan, and it sure was fun to watch him live his dream. The excitement that filled his eyes was magical.

I've just seen the Giants marketing campaign, and I have to say, it's brilliant. Players are put into scenes of San Francisco as giants, literally.

Randy Winn webgemed to save the game Saturday at Mays Field and Moises Alou continued his current torrid streak by launching a bomb to win the game.

Giant of the week: Moises Alou. This one was easy. Moises began the week at a respectable .294 average. Through Saturday's game, he had raised it to .366. going 11 for 20 (.550) with 3 homers, 12 RBI, and 4 runs scored. He is making teams pay for walking Barry, especially on Monday, when he hit a three run bomb and a two run single after Bonds walked. Alou says the walks have less to do with strategy and more to do with trying to prevent Bonds from getting the record. He may have a point, because it certainly has proved to be a poor strategy.

Around the Horn

Seven homers in seven games? Kevin Mench's streak ended yesterday at seven, but it was quite a run. Since the streak began, he's gone 10-32 (.313) with 22 RBI and 10 runs scored.

Why is this guy not playing every game? Ben Broussard started three games for Cleveland this week, going 9-13 with 4 homers, 12 RBI (including 8 in one game), and 6 runs scored. He's hitting .413 on the season with 9 multi-hit games (verses 4 single hit games in his starts).

The Rockies are off to a surprising start this year, led by a bunch of guys you've never heard of, including Garrett Atkins, who played last year for the team when no one was paying attention. Atkins is hitting .363 with 18 RBI.

What's up with those Tigers? Jim Leyland must be a miracle worker. Through Saturday's games, Leyland's club was 15-9, just 1.5 games off of Guillen's defending World Champs.

Goat of the Week

Keith Hernandez. When Hernandez spotted Kelly Calabrese, the Padres' full-time massage therapist, high-fiving Mike Piazza in the dugout after he hit a home run, he said "Who is the girl in the dugout, with the long hair? What's going on here? You have got to be kidding me. Only player personnel in the dugout." When he was told that Calabrese was with the Padres training staff, he said, "I won't say that women belong in the kitchen, but they don't belong in the dugout." This coming from a guy who treated women as objects during his playing days, a known womanizer. What a jerk.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Variations in victory themes

The Reds pounded Petttttitttttte and the Asstros today.

Am I the only one who has the sensation that this team is never going to lose? (Yes, I am well-versed in reality. Still, this is awfully fun.) 17-7? Best record in baseball? Best team record in April ever? What's going on? I'm not exactly sure how one is supposed to act when one's team wins like this.

"At that time shall Michael rise up, the great prince, who standeth for the children of thy people." Aaron Michael Harang, though he didn't have his best stuff, still rocked! Three runs, one which Kent "I'm mediocre" Mercker let score, just for the heck of it, I guess, went on his Ernie. Our dear angel went 7.2 innings, another deep performance to minimize chances for the evil bullpen to screw it up.

All of this winning is making me more devout than usual. I can't seem to peel myself away from the games, not having missed but one, when I went to the Nats home opener. A good wireless signal and sunshine are all I need.

Just look at the beauty of it while it lasts:

Cincinnati 17 7 .708 -
St. Louis 16 8 .667 1.0
Houston 15 8 .652 1.5
Chi Cubs 13 9 .591 3.0
Milwaukee 13 11 .542 4.0
Pittsburgh 6 18 .250 11.0

Check out this article in the Akron Beacon Journal about King Phillips wondering if trading him to Cincy was a mistake.

Why, Nats, Why?

On ¡Livan!'s best outing of the year, the Nats had silent bats when they had runners in scoring position. It's not like they didn't get runners on. Carpenter gave up nine hits. You can run down the list - Soriano was on twice, Vidro was on three times, Guillen was on twice, Byrd was on three times, Schneider was on's those LOBs, those hideous, hideous LOBs. Nick left six of them all on his own.

When is Sir Albert going to be stopped? I hope he gets all of his homers out of the way early and runs out of gas by the end of the year, because at this rate, the Deadbirds will be unstoppable as the season progress. Soon people will be saying Barry Who? He's on pace to hit 94 blessed longballs. Yes, I know he won't stay on that pace, but he's going to have to have his head torn off to stop him from hitting at least 60, in my opinion. The worst of it is, and I noticed it today, you know when he's going to hit out. Even the Deadbirds announcers said "it just feels like he's going to do something here." Everyone in the ballpark knew, and there was nothing anyone could have done to stop it. You could run out Clemens, Pedro, Schilling - it wouldn't matter who was on the mound. The only other player I've ever experienced that with is Bonds.

The Nats take on the Deadbirds for a series tie tomorrow before heading on to New York to face the evil Mets for two and then returning home to take on Dan Ugly and the AAA Fish. I feel like if the Nats could just win a few games in a row, they'd get back on track. This is not a bad team. Yes, there are pitching woes, but if
¡Livan! is coming around as he seems to be, and with Armas proving to be a very solid third starter, and with JP's arm fully healed in a week, we'll be alright. It's amazing, too, what new ownership will do. Look at the Reds! They are 17-7, best in baseball and breaking the team franchise record for most wins in April, a franchise with a pretty good history of incredible teams.

Pray Sir Albert goes into a deep, deep slump.

Adam Dunn pounds on Junction Jack, the Asstros mascot.

Friday, April 28, 2006

First place (for now)

King Phillips was the man again! Small ball rules!

16 wins ties the Reds' team record for most wins in April. Man, this is fun. Yes, the record is for ALL teams in Reds history, even those.

This win won't be enough for the naysayers, but it was big if wins in April can be big. Every win is one win closer to Krivsky getting us a bullpen. It was another scary night from the pen, with David "As predictable as the" Weathers giving up a two run bomb in the ninth to bring the Asstros to within one. Do the Royals or the Pirates have any good relievers? Maybe we can make a deal now!

Brandon "Two headed" Claussen did not pitch well enough to convince me he is a reliable starter. Sure he only gave up two runs, but he only pitched 5.1 innings, had FIVE walks, and had runners on in every inning. He really doesn't inspire confidence.

The Reds hung a big "L" on Roy O, his first of the season and his first to the Reds of his career. The Reds have not had much luck against the Asstros in the past few seasons, so here's to changing that! Next up is Andy Petttttitttttte verses Aaron "Totally underrated" Harang. Pettttittttttte has given up six homers in five games so far. I want some Reds longballs!

The Nationals helped out the Reds today by defeating the Deadbirds 8-3, giving the Reds sole possession of first place in an NL Central where every team but the Pirates is over .500. It has the Hardball Times asking What's up with the NL Central?

Cincinnati 16 7 .696 -
Houston 15 7 .682 0.5
St. Louis 15 8 .652 1.0
Chi Cubs 13 8 .619 2.0
Milwaukee 12 11 .522 4.0
Pittsburgh 6 18 .250 10.5

There's something called fact checking

Look what's wrong on
In the past two seasons, Reds left fielder Adam Dunn has piled up at least 40 home runs, 100 RBIs and 100 runs scored.

One of the few things Dunn hasn't scored yet is an invitation to the All-Star Game.
Um, Dunn was on the All-Star team in 2002.

Update: Mark Shelton has informed me it has been corrected. Yay! Go Adam!

Flying out of GABP

Roy Oswalt is 15-0 with a 2.41 ERA in 19 career starts verses Cincinnati. It has to end sometime, right? I say it ends tonight!

The Reds are in a longball slump. I want to see balls flying.

Also, check this out: says that Monday's starter against the Deadbirds is to be determined. That doesn't mean Williams isn't pitching, does it? Arroyo said he'd pitch on three days rest, and though he threw 119 pitches in his last gem, is it possible that Narron would skip Dave "I stink" Williams?

D-train for Homer and Ed-E?

At 24, Dontrelle Willis has a few years to reach his prime. At already $7 million a year, he's destined to land one day in a big market. Would it be worth giving up Homer Bailey and Edwin Encarnacion for Willis for a couple of years? The question has come up.

On the one hand, I would hate to give up Ed-E. We finally have an anchor at the corner and an RBI man at the plate. But, it's Dontrelle...

Although I am excited about Bailey, we don't know how he's going to pitch in the Majors. We know Willis. We know he will pitch well. And to get good pitching, we're going to have to sacrifice.

Milton is making $8.5 million in 2006 and $9 million in 2007, so the salaries are comparable. We can let him go to free agency after 2007. Dontrelle's contract runs through 2008 (when he makes $10 million), so in a sense, we would be replacing Milton with Willis in 2008. If only we could get rid of him sooner...

Who knows? Come June if the Reds are still in it, we may have to revisit the question. What do you think?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Rookie

The kid was nervous as he threw his first couple of pitches to the peskiest pest in baseball, David "Hold still!" Eckstein. You could see it in the way he was jumping around the mound, firing in pitches as soon as he received the ball back from the catcher and walking The Annoying One. The fearless first baseman came over to tell him to settle down, and he proceeded to get Luna, Sir Albert, and Encarnacion for three outs, only a poor throw and a poor scoop cost the kid the third out and his concentration. Suddenly the score was 3-0 after Jim "I am Frustration" Edmonds crushed his fourth longball of the year, and was it long! The second baseman in leftfield proceeded to dive for a ball that should have been caught, allowing a baserunner to get to third. Finally, a popup to shallow left found the leather of the shortstop's glove, and the kid got out of his first Major League inning, one of many pitchers to have fallen victim to the powerful Deadbirds.

The kid did alright, though. Without that error, the score would have been 0-0. Five innings, 3 hits, no earned runs, 2 Ks. The 4 walks were a little high, but overall, Michael O'Connor did well. He was, unfortunately, the bright spot in a dark game, another victim of pathetic defense and a very sick offense.


Useless information from Sports Illustrated (which I am still getting though I cancelled it after Gameday Audio screw ups sent it to me):
Six years after defecting from Cuba, Osvaldo Fernandez won four [2001] April starts, tying him with Schilling, Glavine, and Wade Miller for the NL lead. They all went on to win at least 16 games - except Fernandez, who finished 5-6.
I think Bronson has a bit better stuff than Fernandez.

More useless info: Catchers Jason LaRue and David Ross have the same birthday (3/19). Javy Valentin's is on their half birthday (9/19). I don't know why I notice these things.

Catching up after three days at the ballpark

Going back to work after skipping for a day game is worse than going into work on a Monday morning.

In case you missed it:

Phillips gets some love from

Red Hot Mama talks smack about Trader Jim.

...and this one belongs to the Reds is going to the game on Friday to root against the hated Asstros.

JinAZ disagrees with my Coffey for Closer campaign.

Big Red Mechanic is pondering the idiocy of 6 teams in the NL Central and 4 in the AL West. Get rid of the Asstros!

And now, it's back to work. Ugh. Nats post when I get home, if the clock ever starts moving forward.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Boston weeps, Bronson sweeps!

There isn't much in life better than skipping work to go to a day game.

I had the good fortune of going to the ballpark today with someone who had never been to a baseball game before. I watched his eyes light up as he caught a glimpse of the bright colors screaming from the verdant diamond for the first time, baseball magic touching his inner child like it does to the most experienced fan of the game.

This one was all Arroyo. Ryan Zimmerman picked the wrong time to come out of his slump, for his was the only hit the Nats could muster against our savior in another brilliant outing.

Bronson's performance aside, perhaps the best news to come out of the game was the three hit day of Adam Dunn. He looked good, not like his awkward alter ego who had been suiting up for the past week or so. We'll see if it sticks, as we desperately need his bat for the next series.

David Ross' longball was crushed. To get a dinger out of RFK Canyon is impressive; to hit one into the upper deck is a rare occurrence, indeed. Baseball Minutia has a great description of RFK and Frank Howard. Howard was known for towering homers - there are seats painted white in the upper deck where he put them. I sat in one for a bit on Monday night just to get a feel for how far someone has to hit it, and I can't imagine someone doing it. Ross' homer landed in the lower level; Howard's longballs were in the middle of the upper level, halfway to the moon.

Ed-E is second only to the Almighty Pujols in RBI. Nice to have a ribbie man on our team, eh?

It sure was great seeing the Reds play three days in a row, especially since they won them all. I hope the Nats can recover and run over the Deadbirds this weekend. The Nats have some kid named O'Connor going tomorrow against Sidney Ponson in the kid's Major League debut. Hopefully the Nats won't forget to bring their bats!

Reds fans, please take a minute to checkout some of the Nats blogs. Ballwonk has a humorous take on today's game; Federal Baseball has some game wraps and great Nats analysis; Distinguished Senators is a great read; and Capitol Punishment has the best blog name in DC. But don't stop there! Go down the sidebar on the right!

Next up: the hated Asstros in a battle for first place. Griffey's back! Let's hope the Reds don't continue their Asstros woes. Maybe Roy O's arm will fall off. (He is 15-0 with a 2.41 ERA in 19 career games vs. Cincinnati.) At least Lidge is blowing saves - his slider isn't working. Yay!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Weathers holds up

Phew. The Reds nearly blew it.

When I left for the ballpark this evening, my personalized desktop weather from the Weather Channel, adorned with Nats logos, told me it was raining outside. However, as I walked to the Metro, I saw nothing but glorious sunshine. Clouds drifted in over the course of the game, creating a strange breeze inside the stadium and making it quite cool. Fortunately, the rain held off until David "As predictable as the" Weathers had two outs in the ninth, when a cold mist began to fall, and had there been any Nats fans left in the stadium, I would have thought the rain was their tears.

The game was one of those dull ones where there is too much offense to be a good, quick pitchers' duel but not enough offense to keep you from being amused by the grounds crews' rush to clean up the field between every inning. As the rain made its way towards us, the air inside the stadium was a swirling mass of hot dog wrappers, newspapers, peanut bags, and other plastic bags and scraps of paper. Felipe Lopez had to stuff a whole page of newspaper in his pocket while the Reds were on the field; Ryan Zimmerman cleaned up his hot corner when the Nats were out there. It was like American Beauty, only the swirling trash looked violent, almost menacing, taunting the players with threats to blow in their faces if balls came their way.

The Reds mighty offense is slumping, but they are still winning, which is what good teams do. I suppose you can chalk this one up to the pathetic performance of Billy Traber, because once he came out, the Reds' bats were fairly quiet, with the notable exception of the fifth inning. If anything, this was the questionable game of the series, as we had Dave "Tee ball tee" Williams going. He didn't pitch well, but he pitched so much better than his last performance that you could forget that he didn't pitch well. (Come on, he gave up two longballs in RFK Canyon!)

Our man Coffey wasn't so hot today, either. Ok, he did coax a double play ball when he needed it, but he was wild and not helped by his defense coughLopezcough, just like yesterday. I had a strange feeling when he charged to the mound - it was *gasp* confidence that he could do the job. He did the job in the fifth, not so much in the sixth, when Mercker had to bail him out.

Ed-E was the offensive star of the game, driving in four of the six runs on a double and a single. Brandon Phillips extended his hit streak to nine games and added an RBI. Adam Dunn extended his strikeout streak to eight games. For the Nats, Alfonzo Soriano extended his hit streak to eleven games and Nick Johnson extended his to eight, but Jose Guillen failed to make it eight in a row.

If you've ever seen the Reds win as a visiting team, you know it just isn't the same as a home game. You want to see fireworks, celebrate, turn to the stranger next to you and cheer, but all you find are long faces or evil stares at your team's cap which sits atop your head. When the losing team is a team you would normally root for, even your friends are confused when you cheer for the boys in the gray unies below you. Yes, my Reds are 14-7 and should be 15-7 after tomorrow, insha'allah, but my Nats are losing and it just isn't as fun when you have no one to celebrate with.

Mostly cloudy with a 50% chance of offense

Forecast still calls for showers moving into the area around 4pm. I find it difficult to believe considering it is an absolutely gorgeous day right now, but there are a few streams of white clouds in the distance, so maybe what they say is true. I guess I'll get tickets under cover somewhere.

There is a greater chance of precipitation of hits off the arm of Dave "What a wasted trade" Williams. Fortunately for him, he's pitching in RFK Canyon where longballs go to die. If any night is a night to give Dunn a rest, this is the one. The Reds need the best defensive outfield possible if they want to sweep this series. (Oops, did I say that? Ramon "I'll throw a fit" Ortiz is pitching tomorrow against Bronson instead of John "Major League leader in Ks" Patterson, so the Reds caught a break there.)

It seems that some people don't take the Reds seriously. Here's this week's eye opener:

The Reds are 1st in runs scored with 125. The Nats are 23rd with 90.
The Reds are 1st in doubles with 51. The Nats are 13th with 36.
The Reds are 1st in homers with 33. The Nats are 17th with 24.
The Reds are 1st in RBI with 114. The Nats are 22nd with 84.
The Reds are 1st in total bases with 337. The Nats are 14th at 292.
The Reds are 1st in walks with 100. The Nats are 10th at 72.
The Reds are 2nd to the hated Yankess in OBP% at .365. The Nats are 8th at .352.
The Reds are 3rd in slugging % at .493. The Nats are 14th at .437.
The Reds are 3rd in OPS at .858. The Nats are 12th at .789.
The Reds are 5th in stolen bases with 16. The Nats are 12th with 12 but lead the world in caught stealing with 10.
The Reds come in at 13th in batting average at .268, one point lower than the Nats. Yes, we need to work on our average, but most of the starters are hovering around .300 if they aren't over it.

As far as pitching goes, the Nats come in at number 20 in ERA with 5.03. The Reds are number 22 with 5.37. So pitching isn't that different, although if you take away Opening Day, when the Reds gave up 16 runs and the Brewers batting practice on Saturday, when they scored 11, the ERA goes down dramatically. I'd do the math but I don't have much time before I'm leaving for some errands and then the ballpark. Sure, if we could get rid of Dave "there's another walk" Williams, or if by some miracle he would start pitching as well as the rest of the starters, the team ERA would improve dramatically.

So once more, I'm going to say, the Reds are not a team you can walk over. You can't just make bold statements like "The Nats should take 2 of 3 from the Reds."
The Nats should be lucky to take one against the Reds' young but powerful lineup and their vastly improved pitching staff. (And believe me, it is pretty difficult to root against the Nats, but hey, I'm a Reds fan by birth.)

Monday, April 24, 2006

My team won! Yay! My team lost! Boo!

Elizardo Ramirez (right) did something today that shows there is something there with this Cincinnati team, something I hesitate to call "special", but there's a spark with this team and it's catching. Needing an arm to replace Eric "Keep 'em in the park" Milton, Ramirez pitched brilliantly, cooling the Nats hot bats through seven outstanding innings in which he gave up only two runs on six hits and a walk. He even got his first Major League hit. I have to admit I was pretty nervous about this game, but I think he's earned himself another start in the rotation. I'll vote for it.

At 13-7, the Reds are off to their best start since 1994, and we all remember how well they were playing when the tragedy of strike befell them, and we remember that team continuing to play well in 1995 when we were division champs and went to the NLCS. I'm just saying...

I arrived at the ballpark early to watch the Reds take BP. Someone at the stadium thought it would be funny to play the WKRP theme song while they were batting, and I wondered if any of the players had been born when that show was on television. The Reds hit several out, though Dunn did not; he simply looked awful, and I rightfully predicted he would have an 0-fer. How long will this slump go on?

It was fun to watch ¡Livan! float his 65 mph pitches up to the plate, baffling Reds hitters at times. I had my eye on the pitch speed while he was out there, and in his best innings, he'd throw an 88 mph fastball and follow it up with one of those 65ers, and sometimes it looked like the Reds batters could have swung twice by the time the pitch reached the plate. They don't call it his Bugs Bunny pitch for nothing - just ask Austin Kearns, who was so lost when he swung that you almost had to laugh at him. The Reds mustered up a little offense in the first inning when they scored three, but after giving up another run in the second, Number 61 shut them down. Am I the only one who thinks ¡Livan! should warm up longer? Why does he always get pounded in the first inning?

The grounds crew did their job in soaking the field to try to take away the Reds running game. That didn't stop Brandon "I'm king of the world" Phillips from swiping a bag after he extended his hitting streak to 8 games on his last AB. He also made a spectacular grab in the sixth to save a run from scoring, nearly doubling off the Nats guy on second.

Alfonzo "Superstar" Soriano extended his hitting streak to ten games, though he did misplay/misjudge a ball ripped by Javier "Latin Love Machine" Valentin, on which LLM chug-a-lugged his way to third for probably his only triple of the season. I laughed as he rounded the bases after I realized my eyes weren't playing tricks on me and he really was going for three.

Speaking of hitting streaks, Nick "Too bad I can't play 162" Johnson extended his to 7 games, as did Jose "Barbarian" Guillen. Adam "Homerunswalksandstrikeouts" Dunn extended his strikeout streak to 7 games.

Brian Shackelford came in for Elizardo in the eighth after Alf got another hit. Shack coaxed a scary fly out to deep left before proceeding to plunk Johnson after throwing over to first a billion times to try to pick off Soriano. The meager crowd of less than 20K had grown impatient with all of the throwing, so when Johnson was hit, the stadium erupted into a chorus of boos, one of the few times during the game that you could tell there were actually people in the stadium. With two on and only one out, Guillen came up to bat and Todd "Not just a cup of" Coffey sprinted in from the leftfield bullpen, prompting Nats fans around me to make fun of him. Just wait, I said to them through telepathy, when he becomes a dominating closer, you'll think it's cool that he has his own unique entry. Coffey did what all Reds fans willed him to do - he served up a double play ball, only the throw to first went to the cameramen instead of the first baseman, moving the runners to second and third, but Javaman got the next batter to fly out to end the threat.

When the ninth inning came around, Coffey had been ineffectively pinch hit for, and I closed my eyes and chanted, "Please don't let it be Weathers, please don't let it be Weathers." When I opened them, David "As predictable as the" Weathers was taking his wrongful place atop the pitcher's mound. He promptly walked the first batter on four pitches, and I imagined what Marty must have been saying about it as I looked into the booth at his gray head. Fortunately, this walk did not haunt him, and the game ended without a bang, for the hometown team had suffered defeat at the hands of the mighty Reds.

I'm off to the ballpark!

I have my Cincinnati cap on, ready to see the National League Player of the Week Brandon Phillips and crew take on the Nats at RFK! Edwin Encarnacion (.304, 2 HR, 11 RBI) and Scott Hatteberg (.500, 4 2B, 1 RBI) were also nominated, as were Ryan Church (.350, 2 HR, 5 RBI), Nick Johnson (.435, 2 HR, 3 RBI), and Alfonso Soriano (.400, 3 HR, 5 RBI) from the Nationals.

I'll have details of the game tomorrow!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Week Three Wrapup: I could get used to this winning stuff

I live for this! Good weeks for the Reds, Nats, and Giants.

Reds (12-7, 2nd place)

This team makes me feel like I should be on Prozac. I'm up, I'm down, I'm maniacally happy, I'm disgustingly depressed. Make up your minds, Reds! Either be good or be bad; I can't deal with these shining rays of hope you've given me over the past few weeks, when every inkling of rationality and logic within me tells me this will be another season of disappointment. You're setting us up for a heartbreak!

I can't even say that the pitching was good or bad, the hitting was good or bad. At times, the pitching was brilliant, like in Bronson Arroyo's Friday night performance and Aaron Harang's complete game shutout Sunday. Other times, it was like Little League, as in Claussen's Saturday performance. The hitting? Hitting was brilliant Thursday when the team came back from an early deficit and scored twelve runs. It was virtually non-existent on Saturday, when the team didn't get its first hit until the fifth inning.

I had to look up the meaning of "complete game shutout" today. I had long since forgotten the concept, but I gotta say, Harang kicked butt, especially coming off of four days rest. And what about third baseman Edwin Encarnacion? David Wright, eat your heart out. Ed-E's defense in Sunday's game was nothing short of spectacular, even throwing out a runner from his knees after he dove for a grounder.

Team Prozac is going to have to get some consistency going. I'm tired of this box of chocolates!

Reds player of the week: Brandon Phillips. When we groaned upon hearing the news of the acquisition of Phillips, it wasn't because it was Phillips we loathed - it was the thought of yet another second baseman crowding the roster. Little did we know that not only would Brandon swing a hot bat, but he would potentially rid us of team heel Tony Womack. Brandon's week? 14-31 for a .452 average, 17 RBI, 3 HR (including a salami), and 4 doubles, not to mention stealing that run during the Milwaukee game on Friday.

Nats (7-10, 3rd place through Saturday's games)

Nationals and offense were two words I hadn't heard in the same sentence before, even during last season's amazing first half run. Maybe they just lost confidence in the pitching and decided to do it with the bats. Who knows, but it certainly is nice to see some blowouts, especially against the hated Braves.

Armas has been pitching fairly well, and Patterson is his Big Nasty self, but what's up with ¡Livan!? He's like a human batting tee. Though he's hitting like he's got a tee up there, too.

Nats player of the week: This one was tough, but I'm going to pick Alfonso Soriano. One of the few Major Leaguers to actually take a good photo for his profile, Soriano was on fire this week, going 9-25 with a .360 average, 3 homers in Friday night's game for 5 RBI, and he has an 8 game hit streak going on, which is why he narrowly beat out Nick Johnson for my vote. Oh, and he made some pretty good plays in leftfield in Philly and is leading all outfielders in assists with 3. Not too shabby for a guy we didn't think would be playing for the team after the whole I won't play outfield drama.

Giants (10-7, first place through Saturday's games)


The Giants certainly don't look like a first place team right now, but what can you expect in a division whose 2005 winner was two games over .500? Noah Lowry seems to be progressing in coming back from an injury, and Jason Schmidt is not going to continue to pitch as poorly as he has, even with his loss of velocity, so things should pick up as far as pitching goes. The Rockies have been a surprise this April, especially since you haven't heard of half their roster, but I doubt they can keep up with San Fran. There certainly isn't any love between the teams. It has been a beanball war, with Matt Morris and Felipe Alou getting tossed from Sunday's game.

Giant of the week: Randy Winn. Randy's 12 game hit streak came to an end on Friday, but an 0-5 day doesn't diminish this past week's accomplishments. Winn went 9-22 for a .409 average. It's too bad this guy lingered for so long in Tampa Bay. He's proved to be a great addition to the Giants.

Around the horn

Albert Pujols may be better than the greatest player who ever lived, Josh Gibson. It's so frustrating to have him in the same league as your favorite team, but man, is that guy incredible to watch. It was only fitting that his 1000th career hit was a homerun. Just think, the guy is only 27 years old.

Pedro got win number 200 of his career. Mr. Beanball, you're our daddy for the week. He also won number 201 last night against the Padres, a seven inning, two hit masterly performance. The uniforms the Padres were wearing were so hideous I almost wanted the Mets to win. It was military night, and they were wearing uniforms that were supposed to be like desert BDUs. It's no surprise they would don such ugly garb; the Padres have a history of hideous uniforms. (example, example, example)

The Royals ended their 11 game losing streak on Saturday. Man, these guys are bad.

Goat of the Week

The Goat. You know, the one that has forever destined Cubs fans to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. This vengeful creature has once again inflicted its wrathful malice on the Cubbies, sticking new Cubbie-for-life Derrek Lee in the path of danger, and danger, as we all know, won this vicious battle. Cubbies fans, you have our sympathies!

Reds pregame notes

I had a beautiful photoshop to post here that I spent a little extra time on this morning, but right now Photoshop is crashing and my work isn't saved. It's been unresponsive for about ten minutes now, but I'm hoping for a miracle. I think the whole computer is about to crash. Stupid Microsoft. Update - it totally crashed, and I lost the photo. I'm going to recreate it, though.

Somehow, suddenly the sky has cleared itself of clouds and the sunshine is performing brilliantly right now. I guess I won't have to hop on Noah's Ark after all.

Some notes:

By now, I am sure everyone has heard about Milton and surgery, but just in case, read more at Red Reporter's game thread.

The Brewers are wearing their eighties unies today. That glove is one of my favorite MLB logos; I'm glad they're using it again.

Fond memories of Tom Browning come swirling back at RHM. I think most of us clearly remember the game at Wrigley when he went out to sit on the roof on Waveland Ave. Good times.

Big Red Mechanic explains how the number 4 factored into yesterday's game.

Check back, I'll have more later. I have to fix this computer so I can watch the game.

Saturday, April 22, 2006



We're getting drenched here in DC - it hasn't stopped raining since last night, and I'm starting to wonder if they should have finished Noah's Ark they were rebuilding along I-68 somewhere between Natsland and Redsland. The Nats' game was washed out before people even thought of playing baseball at RFK. Apparently, Ramon "I haven't had a decent outing yet" Ortiz is upset because Frank is skipping his turn in the rotation because of it. I say, "Hallelujah, team ERA is saved!"

As the Nats aren't playing and the Reds sort of stood on a baseball field this afternoon, I am able to watch the Giants playing the Rockies with my full attention. It appears that Barry is coming out of his slump, not only knocking out number 709, but stinging another ball that unfortunately found outfield leather. He also reached on an error - it really is painful to see him run, and in watching him it's hard to believe that he was once a 40-40 man. I make no secret that I am a Bonds-lover and nothing will change that. (For reasons, see here and here.) I'll be the dork with the pro-Barry sign when the Giants come to town in July.

The Giants certainly don't look like a first place team right now, but what can you expect in a division whose 2005 winner was two games over .500? Noah Lowry seems to be progressing in coming back from an injury, and Jason Schmidt is not going to continue to pitch as poorly as he has, even with his loss of velocity, so things should pick up as far as pitching goes. The Rockies have been a surprise this April, especially since you haven't heard of half their roster, but I doubt they can keep up with San Fran.

Lastly but most importantly, Todd Helton has been placed on the 15 day DL after being hospitalized yesterday for a stomach issue. He will not be released until all tests are complete. Whatever it is, it must be somewhat serious, for they're already anticipating him missing two weeks. It should be noted that Helton has only been on the DL once in his nine year career. I'd like to ask all of this church's parishioners to say a prayer for him.

The House that Bernie Built

Batting practice for the Brewers ended extremely late in today's game - around 3:30pm, about the time the fourth inning ended. Because of it, the Reds did not get a chance to take their BP swings, which led to them getting no hits through those first four innings.

This one was brutal, especially the five homerun fourth inning. Five homers in an inning ties an MLB record, by the way. The worst of it all is that it wasn't Carlos Lee and Prince Fielder that killed the Reds. We were nailed by such superstar .260 hitters like Damian "I'm pretending I'm better than I am" Miller and Bill "The Reds make me look like Babe Ruth" Hall. Did I mention the FIVE HOMERUNS IN ONE INNING?

Four of these longballs came off of Brandon "I'm a tee" Claussen, whose performance can only be described one way: it sucked. They could have put Bernie Brewer up to bat and he would have hit one out. I don't know about y'all, but I am losing patience with Mr. Inconsistency. He can seem like Roger Clemens on one pitch and Rick White on the next - you never know which one of him is going to show up. Claussen's pathetic performance raises his ERA to 6.75, almost as bad as Chris "Time to retire again" Hammond's 16.20.

Questions for tomorrow's game: Can Milton help the Reds rebound from today's titanic struggle? Can Dunnandkearns come out of the slump? Can Brandon Phillips continue his six game hit streak? Can the Reds take the series? Stay tuned for the next episode of "Homeruns, Strikeouts, and Walks."

UPDATE: It seems that Milton has been scratched and Harang will be starting tomorrow against Doug Davis, who was tagged for nine runs in 2.2 innings in his last start against the Asstros.

UPDATE 2: Marc Lancaster confirms that Milton is injured. He'll be heading back to Cincy to see Dr. Kremchek about "discomfort" in his knee. The news isn't all bad. Harang is coming off a rough outing and is due for a good one. Let's win this series!

Sometimes life conquers baseball

I live in the crack capital of the world. You can walk down K Street at any given part of the day and find dozens of crackheads loitering around, and no, I'm not talking about the hundreds of lobbyists who have offices there. Crackheads line the streets in a state of violent psychosis, thrashing out at whatever makebelieve phantoms cross their paths. One would think that just seeing what a person strung out on the stuff looks like would be enough to keep someone away from it. Apparently, that is not the case with Derek Bell, who was arrested Thursday for felony cocaine possession after being pulled over for a traffic violation, a hot crackpipe resting tragically on the seat next to him.

Bell played ten seasons with the Blue Jays, Padres, Mets, Pirates, and most noteably the Asstros. He had a career .276 batting average and could always be counted on to hit double figures in homers. His best year was with the '98 Asstros, where he played in 156 games and hit .314 with 22 homeruns, 108 RBI, and 111 runs scored. Bell quit baseball in 2001 at age 32 after two and some change mediocre years after that, leaving me to wonder what effect drugs played on ruining his career. What a shame.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Uno, dos, tres, seis!

I thought the Reds had bullpen woes.

John "Why do they always blow my games?" Patterson pitched a gem, striking out 8 for his Major League leading total of 32. Until the eighth inning, he had only given up three hits, all to catcher Brian "I think I" McCann. Then, Nick "I'm still healthy" Johnson had a brainfart and allowed a runner to get on first on a ground ball out that he should have taken himself. All of the sudden, some hits and some runs occur, and Patterson comes out with a guy on third. But Mike "I really" Stankton couldn't keep that runner from scoring, so the Big Nasty doesn't get a decision and has three earned runs tacked onto his line. It should be a crime that Stankton got the win. He deserves nothing but that big BS after his name.

Fortunately, the Nats have a guy by the name of Alfonso "I play leftfield" Soriano, who carries a big stick. He goes all Albert Pujols on the Braves, hitting three homeruns, including a three run bomb in the soggy eighth inning to put the game away.

This team is hot. They've won five of their last six (and should have won that game in Philly where they lead 6-3 in the eighth)

The game was a sloppy mess at the end. There was an hour rain delay at the beginning, and I am glad that my plans to go to the game were cancelled. Instead, I flipped on WDCA for one of the few network televised games, knowing full well that the game would be delayed since it was pouring outside of my window. I've always wondered why they play M*A*S*H during rain delays. It doesn't matter what station it is, that show is always on, and now, the M*A*S*H theme song rages on in my head. I'll probably have dreams about helicopters coming into baseball stadiums.

I hope I don't have nightmares about relief pitchers, because my teams' bullpens are certainly scary.

(Bonus points if you get the title's reference.)

It's good to be king

Brandon Phillips hit a leadoff double and scored the go-ahead run on Ryan Freel's two-out infield single, running on Corey Koskie's throw to first which was hurried because of Freel's speed. He stole that run; he had to, for Ben "I'm baaack!" Sheets was on the top of his game. Phillips is turning out to be so much more than we could have ever hoped for.

Of course, the bigger star of the game was Bronson "Lead us to the chosen land" Arroyo, who pitched 8 innings of brilliant baseball, only screwing up on a homerun to lead off the game. He added 8 Ks to his line, further causing us to say Wily Who? Thank you, Mr. Krivsky!

Unfortunately, the Reds, who are tied for the most wins in baseball right now, still get no respect. Nats announcers Tweedledum and Tweedledee said with the Cubbies loss of Derrek "I hate goats" Lee, the NL Central only has two teams competing this year. You'd think a team that leads the world in homeruns with 32 would at least open some eyes.

Visit Bronson's website and give our savior some love.

Pregame note

Ahh, Friday. In the days of my waning youth I should be poised to hit the town, but my daytime incarceration in the house of dull and stress leaves me exhausted by Friday and wanting nothing more than to go home, chill with a beer, and watch a ballgame. I was supposed to go to the Nats game this evening, but the reality of life and plans got in the way, and a cancellation was at hand. It's for the better, however, as DC is setting up for two days of rain. (Of course. It's only nice outside when you are imprisoned by the headache gray walls of the office.)

Dan "I'm better than De La Rosa" Kolb is set to return for tonight's game. So, Arroyo better pitch well and deep into the game so we aren't forced to comeback against the Brewers' strengthened pen. Unless, of course, Kolb feels the need to give up some runs. Kolb had an awful 2005 with Atlanta, so maybe his good days are behind him.

There's something oddly cool about having a team named for beer. I think I might try to join the game thread for the Brewers this evening - a little friendly heckling, if you will. Milwaukee fans, like most of the NL Central teams, just love the game, and a little friendly rivalry is fun. It's not like Philly or New York, where you get pegged with peanuts, bottles, and spit if you show up in the opposing team's colors. I for one am happy that Brewers fans have something to cheer about this year. I just hope Reds fans can cheer louder.

Maybe we can keep the bats of .260 hitters quiet tonight.

The hated Yankees are good for something

Team values increased an average of 15 percent for the second consecutive year, to $376 million, in our 2006 survey of Major League Baseball's 30 franchises.
Most of the money comes courtesy of the New York Yankees, which paid a record $77 million toward baseball's revenue sharing system. The Boston Red Sox, baseball's No. 2 revenue sharer, paid only $51 million. Such generosity by Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, required by the league's rule that teams pay 34 percent of their net local revenue to help make poorer teams more competitive, is the reason why the Oakland Athletics, Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals increased in value by more than 20 percent.

I think I hear those at CATO cringe. I've often heard people complain about MLB being "too socialist" or a "failed business model." Contrary to these opinions, however, is the fact that baseball is doing pretty well for itself. Could it do better? Of course, but it would have to zap the soul out of the game, and baseball without a soul would not survive, for the soul of the game is what makes it so great. We're already inundated with advertising, even on the bases! Can you imagine putting ads on the uniforms like they do in the English Premier League?

Yesterday, I referenced an article about baseball's "war on the cheap seats." Taking away the cheap seats because you aren't selling out is not the way to win fans. You think season ticket holders are the backbone of baseball civilization? You are wrong. Us bleacher bums, peanut heaven dwellers, and obstructed view fans are the heart of the game. We're the ones who decide to go to a game an hour before it starts. We're the ones who buy the merchandise, who guzzle more beer and eat more junk food than our hearts can handle, who scream the loudest and give life to the game. I've never seen David Brooks or Tim Russert wearing a Nats jersey in their behind homeplate seats at the ballpark, but everyone in the cheap seats has on some sort of article of baseball clothing. (To be fair, Russert sometimes wears a cap.) This kind of soul sucking business strategy will backfire. Remember, baseball fans take a long time to heal when they are hurt (1994 ring a bell?) Baseball is a celebration of life, of sunshine and summer and hanging out with friends and family over beers, rooting for your team and forgetting about the problems of the real world for awhile.

Revenue sharing is a great part of the business of baseball. The free-market naysayers must be kept away from the game, for revenue sharing has injected life into MLB, leveling the playing field and giving rise to great teams like the Twins and the A's and maybe, just maybe, if the commie baseball gods are smiling, a certain small market team with a monstrous offense can compete, too.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Reds defeat the Sausages

Dave "We miss you more than ever, Sean" Williams likes baserunners. Lots of baserunners. So many baserunners that he gifts batters with free passes. Queen's We Will Walk You was playing at Miller Park in the second inning after Williams walked the bases loaded. Before he walked in a run. Soon after, he was out of the game, mercifully. Belisle did a good job holding the Sausages scoreless for the next four innings, giving up two runs in the eighth.

Paul Wilson, when are you coming back?

Fortunately for us Reds fans, we have an offense. We have a monstrous offense, a run producing factory of an offense. Some people are saying the hated Yankees might score 1000 runs this year. Well, the Reds were averaging six runs a game before this one, and if my computer calculator is correct, to score 1000 runs, a team needs to score 6.17 runs a game. (Of course, the pitching could give up 1000 runs this season, too, especially with Dave "Come back now, Sean!" Williams giving up six runs in three innings.) So, can we score 1000 this year? Can we outscore the billion dollar payroll of the hated pinstripes?

It seems Brandon "Goodbye, Tony Womack" Phillips fits in nicely with our powerful offense. Phillips hit two out, including a grand slam that Bob Uecker called out, rather monotonously, as if you could hear his eyes rolling when the ball left Phillips' bat.

Around the horn

For good Brew Crew coverage, visit

In case you didn't see the bit about Los Rojos playing Los Cerveceros at Miller Park later on in the season, here's the link. (I wonder if the Reds will wear uniforms that say Rojos.)

Check out this article in Slate, "Baseball's war on the cheap seats." It is the sad but true tale of what corporate baseball is doing to us fans. It's religious persecution, I tell you!

Cubbies fans, we sympathize with your plight. Derrek Lee was injured in Wednesday's game and will be out 8-10 weeks. The goat really hates the Cubbies, doesn't it?

Frank gets number 1000

Ten batters came to the plate in the first inning. What? Oh, it must be the Phillies batting, Ortiz must be pitching, you think. The Nats could never score five in the first inning, you say. They could never follow with four runs in the second inning, you exclaim. But I have proof! The box score says it all! A 10-4 victory against the Phils, 14 hits, and ladies and gentlemen, we have an offense!

Nick "Sings When He's Healthy" Johnson went 4-4 with two dingers, a walk, 3 runs, and 3 RBI, and he raised his average to an even .400. Ryan "Can I marry you?" Zimmerman had two hits, a walk, and two ribbies. (I suppose he's a bit too young for me, but hey, I'd love to be a baseball wife.)

Congrats to Frank for win number 1000, a few days after the 50th anniversary of his Major League Debut.

¡Viva el beisbol!

Since the Reds are taking on the Brewers this evening, I thought it appropriate to inform y'all that on July 29th, Miller Park will celebrate Hispanic heritage when the club presents "Cerveceros Day." The Brew Crew will be wearing uniforms exactly like their regular uniforms but with "Cerveceros" on the front. The Rojos will be in town that weekend, so it should be fun to watch the game.

Llévame al partido
Béisbol es mi pasión
Compraremos helados y dulces también
No me importa si vuelvo otra vez

Porque uy, uy, uy que aburrido
Si no podemos ganar
Porque es uno, dos, tres y estrike
¡En béisbol es habido ganar!

The Brewers will also be wearing old Negro Leagues unies on June 2, the threads of the old Milwaukee Bears. The Bears will take on the Homestead Grays on that day, so I'll be rooting for the Grays to slaughter the Bears.

The Grays were more popular than the Washington Senators in their day, when Washington was first in war, first in peace, and last in the American League. The greatest baseball player who ever lived, Hall of Famer Josh Gibson, played for the Grays at old Griffith Stadium. Gibson hit over 900 unjuiced longballs in his career, and people who were fortunate enough to see him play said there was something magic that enshrouded the diamond when he came up to bat. He died tragically at age 35 of a stroke, 3 days before Jackie Robinson made his Major League debut, forever ending a grave injustice and a shameful part of our nation's history.

Hat tip: Ballwonk

Speaking of culture/language/etc., I found an interesting and rather amusing "experiment" someone did using Babelfish to translate "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" in various languages and then translate them back into English. If you've ever used translation software or are something of a linguist like myself, you'll find the humor in this.


The longball giveth, the longball taketh away. ¡Livan! went deep last night and had two doubles, too. Maybe they should make him a position player, because he sure isn't cutting it on the mound. They might as well stick a tee up there. Sure, he pitched well when he wasn't giving up his longballs, but you don't win if you can't keep the ball in the park.

Seems like the Nats bullpen is imploding, too. At least we're getting some offense for once. After last night's tragic ending, Vidro is hitting .393, and Church has hit one out three games in a row. But as long as Eischen keeps walking runners and Majewski keeps blowing leads, the hits won't matter.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Ed-E catches the big one!

Today was an eye-rolling, fist-pounding, vocal chord-stretching kind of game, the kind that you automatically lose in August when your team is already out of contention and is competing for last place. However, it is not August, the Reds are very much in it, and we somehow managed to pull it off, despite a brilliant minus one inning performance by the D-train. Something fishy was going on with Reds pitching, especially with the longballs Harang kept giving up. Fortunately, our Paul Bunyan offense saved us again.

LaRue got bowled over twice in the 6th inning. The second time he hung on for an out. What a welcome back thing to happen. Rick White sux.

Today's giant ox - Edwin Encarnation, who hit the game winning single to score Adam "I'm almost slumping" Dunn.

Fun fact of the day: In 1880, after a last place 21-59 season, the Cincinnati Reds were expelled from the National League, due in part to selling beer in their ballpark and playing games on Sunday. Gotta love those Reds!

Abercrombie and Fish hit a 493 feet HR. Even Marty was impressed with its distance.

The bullpen smells like Fish. I hate our bullpen. I hate our bulllpen. I hate our bulllpen. I hate our bulllpen. I hate our bulllpen. I hate our bulllpen. I hate our bulllpen. I think I like Coffey. I hate our bulllpen. I hate our bulllpen. I hate our bulllpen. I hate our bulllpen. I hate our bulllpen. I hate our bulllpen.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

That was Uggla

I had jury duty today. No, I did not get Bowden or his girlfriend - they haven't scheduled them yet. Good thing - I would have rendered Bowden guilty of all of this past year's transgressions, actually, the past ten years. I was quite lucky, sitting in a big room until 2:30 and then being dismissed without being chosen for a trial, so I stopped for a couple of glorious sunshine afternoon beers, which I got free, a blessing which has recently been bestowed upon me for some divine reason. I didn't drive home.

I feel like I missed so much today, however, with finding out about Bowden from Redleg Nation and Federal Baseball and, well, this is just what us Nats fans need to get rid of Trader Jim. No way the new owner will renew his contract - I think they're probably looking for an excuse to say bon voyage, sianora, ciao. I'm not a fan of letting employers dictate what an employee can and cannot do in his free time, which is becoming more and more common these days, and I hope he is not fired for this reason. However, Bowden's done enough to warrant a firing for his job performance, so if they use this as the final straw, I won't shed too many tears after my initial disdain. I still don't condone it.

I also learned in my judicial absence from Red Reporter that D'Angelo is starting for Texass with Wilkerson, who is leading MLB in strike outs, though he did hit number 2 tonight. Now there's a team I can't stand for reasons having to do with a big white house and a lot of Ks.

I've undertaken my schizobaseballholic watching tonight with the Reds screen on top and the Nats on bottom. Not liking Milton's performance, shocked that Ward started and hit cleanup for the Nats and hit one out. Oh, and the neighbors had a live band in their basement, making my head swirl.

Marty was talking to Reds beat writer Marc Lancaster during the second inning about some guy who's in trouble with the law and Marty says some guy "is not the only one who is having problems with the law" wink wink. Marc says "that's why you're a Hall of Famer, Marty." HA HA! Love Marty - he says what he wants and means what he says. Fire Bowden!

The Reds game was ugly against the AAA Fish. It was more like the AAA Reds, at least in terms of pitching. If Uggla amounts to anything, he'll rival Dunn in cheesy headlines. I'm not the only one.

At least the Nats did well in their 10-3 romp of the Phillies! Church hits a grand slam - sooo nice to have you back, Ryan!

Some perspective for non-believers

A few Reds team stats (through Monday's games, stats are rankings in MLB)

2nd in runs with 80 (ATL has 82)
1st in doubles with 35
2nd in HRs with 26 (DET has 28)
3rd in RBI with 76 (ATL has 80, NYY has 78)
2nd in total bases with 235 (DET has 247)
1st in walks with 61 (tied with BOS)
4th in stolen bases with 10, thank you, Ryan Freel
5th in on base percentage at .363
1st in slugging percentage at .537 (tied with DET)
10th in batting average at .274 >:( (We need to work on that a bit.)

Monday, April 17, 2006

Dunn and Kearns go fishing

I gotta tell you - I'm glad the Nats have the night off so I can rest my schizobaseballic mind. I've been watching two games at once all weekend, and it's strange to cheer and jeer at the same time.

The Nats reeled in two of three from the AAA Fish and now the Reds are having at it against them. It's a great team to be playing after that heartpounding, suspense oozing series against the Deadbirds. Yes, the Deadbirds took two of three, but the two teams were evenly matched (except for Dave "We miss you Sean" Williams), which is a great sign for things to come. Prince Albert knocked another one out today for the MLB lead. I say good riddance and go Bucs.

Adam "[name temporarily removed]" Dunn cast one out in his first at bat in today's game, his eighth, a two run shot that temporarily removes his semi-derisive moniker. Austin "Happy" Kearns hit his fifth of the year, which has some fans wondering if this is the year of the Dunn and Kearns show. I certainly remember the hopes we had for them while they were roaming the beautiful yard in Dayton donning their green uniforms.

It was a feast tonight, a 9-1 romp over the AAA Fish. Claussen pitched well, there was one meaningless error, and Phillips was 3-4. The thing with Phillips is especially good, because it may make what Marty and Hal McCoy said about releasing Womack when LaRue comes up closer to reality.

Above all, it was a nice, easy win.

Fact of the day: Fifty years ago from tonight Frank Robinson made his Major League debut.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Week Two Wrapup: It's all about the pitching!

Time for the weekly wrapup, when I reflect upon my favorite teams and baseball in general. This week, one team did well, one team did poorly, and the other is hitting .190. I attended two Nats games, both losses, and started messing around with Photoshop. We'll see what comes of that.

Reds (7-5, 2nd place, thanks to Albert "ARGH!" Pujols)

The Reds had a decent week, getting some stellar starting pitcher (if we can forget about Dave William's forgettable performance on Saturday) in addition to their bombs. One of the highlights was Todd Coffey's performance on Friday, coming in to strike out two, including Jim Edmonds, to end a bases loaded threat in the eighth inning. It was nice to see a Reds reliever really step it up, and it soothes some concerns about the shaky bullpen. In 7 2/3 innings this season, Coffey has given up one run on seven hits and two walks for a 1.35 ERA, and he's struck out five and has three holds. Truth be told, Friday night's performance saved the game, and he did pretty well today, too, getting out of a bases loaded one out jam with no runs scored. Can Coffey become the full time closer? Weathers certainly didn't do the job today.

Cincy hit six bombs off Glendon Rusch on Tuesday, including Bronson Arroyo's second home run of the year, in a 9-2 rout of the Cubbies. The offense slowed during the series with the Deadbirds, as Solo Shot Dunn seems to be fond of leaving ducks on the pond and Griffey has a mysterious injury. (Hey, I love Dunn. He can just be frustrating at times!) But the seven runs scored against the Cards today may be a sign that it is picking up again. The team hosts the AAA Fish this week, so here's to some shock and awe at Great American Ball Park.

Ryan Freel continues to get on base and leads the Majors with six steals.

Reds player of the week: Aaron Harang. Harang outshined last year's Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter in a game that should prove to the naysayers that the Reds are for real, they can compete with the big dogs. (I've been saying all spring you need to have this guy on your fantasy team! Did you get him?) Harang gave up four hits and a walk in seven innings of shut out ball, a game where the intensity level rivaled a September pennant race.

Nats (4-9, cellar dwelling with the Fish)

I saw the Nats lose back to back games this week against the Mets, with the team as lifeless as the fans in the not-sold out home opener. (But at least we're getting larger crowds than the AAA Fish.) The next night, the Nats made it more interesting, but they could not overcome a stellar performance by Pedro. When it was all over and the Mets finally left town, the Nats had been swept by them and found themselves in the basement, yes, even below the AAA Fish.

After some roster moves in which B-Dub was sent to his rightful place in New Orleans and Ryan Church, who hit his first two homers of the season today, took his place on a Major League field, something seemed different. No, the Nats did not win the game that day, but they won the next day. It wasn't something they were really doing different - it was that they started to get a few breaks, the most important being the hit that Brendan Harris caught for an out to end the game on Saturday and end the Nats six game losing streak.

After today's thrilling victory, about which I have yet to see any "Church on Easter" headlines, the hopelessness that plagued the Nats seems to have lifted a bit. We'll see how the team does against the Phillies beginning Tuesday.

The biggest problem? The idiotic baserunning. The Nats are being gifted all sorts of BBs, HBPs, and Es, but they aren't taking advantage of them. They either make bonehead base running plays for outs or are leaving baserunners out there. Kind of like the Democrats not stepping up when the GOPs are handing November to them on a silver platter.

Nats player of the week: John Patterson. This one's a no-brainer. The week was a nightmare for the Nats, who lost every game this week until Patterson's stellar performance last night. He threw only 108 pitches, 75 for strikes, through eight innings. I am of the opinion that he should have gone out to pitch the ninth, too, given his pitch count and Chief's problems on the mound. Giving up three hits, a walk, and one run, J.P. struck out a career high tying 13 batters. His Bugs Bunny curve was wicked, and those poor young Fish didn't know what happened as they trudged back to their fishy dugout. Patterson leads the Majors with 24 Ks.

Giants (6-4 through Saturday's game, 1st place)

Yes, Bonds has bone chips in his left elbow. Yes, he's hitting .190. But a lot of things are out of whack in San Fran. It has been wet, really wet. Wet enough for the Giants to have to play a double header against the Asstros. Wet enough to have a two hour delay against the hated Dodgers. Sure, it rains in San Fran, but it usually isn't enough to leave things soggy.

Vizquel, Winn, and Alou, with his gimpy calf, are hot. So is Worrell with 4 saves in 4 opportunities. Jason Schmidt, however, has not been at the top of his game, one the reasons the Giants aren't sitting more comfortably at the top of the division. But hey, Schmidt's just getting his losses out of the way early, isn't he?

Giants player of the week: Jamey Wright. Wright pitched eight brilliant innings of one run, five hit ball against the hated Dodgers, raising his record to 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA. The Giants' combination of Wright, Schmidt, and Morris has the potential to keep San Fran on top of the NL West, where they currently sit, all the way to October. Wright had much success at Mays Field while pitching for the Rockies, and getting out of Colorado may make him the star pitcher people always expected him to be.

Around the horn
  • Albert "Can't you play in the American League" Pujols and Chris Shelton lead the Majors with 8 longballs. Adam Dunn, Jim Thome, and Travis Hafner each have 7.
  • The Mets tore up the week with a seven game win streak, including a three game sweep of the Nationals in which Mets hitters had no problems going yard in RFK Stadium, contrary to what some players would have you think. Are the Mets the team to beat in the NL East?
  • Check out this article about Effa Manley, the first woman to be inducted into Cooperstown in February 2006.
  • The Pirates lost first baseman Sean Casey for 6-8 weeks. Get well, Sean!
  • Ben Sheets makes his first start of the year for an already strong Brew Crew.
  • It's early, but this is still nice to see (through Saturday's games):
Boston 7 4 .636 -
Baltimore 7 5 .583 0.5
Toronto 6 5 .545 1.0
Tampa Bay 6 6 .500 1.5
NY Yankees 5 6 .455 2.0

Goat of the week
Jose Vidro. Jose publicly whined about the fences at RFK Stadium and complained about how upper management doesn't care about the players, then proceeded to get into a shouting match with Nationals' Team President Tony Tavares. He sat out on Saturday's game for some weakling injury. Just shut up and play, Jose!