Friday, December 21, 2007

Welcome to America

After seven hours of sailing over the Atlantic Ocean, chasing the red sunset, light finally won the race and we hit the snow covered mountains of the Canadian northeast in darkness. I had flown from Budapest to Amsterdam, sprinted through Schipol to catch my next flight on a three-legged seventeen hour journey, and arrived in Detroit wishing it were my final destination so I could get some sleep. Every time a plane lands, there is that sense of relief that, oh, you can finally stand up, walk around, and feel like you are a human being, even if you have a three hour layover and have to get on another plane to reach your final destination. I stood up amidst the shuffling and ruffling of bags and coats and the stiff joints of flight and slowly made my way to the door of the airplane. I felt like running through the gate just to get my blood flowing, running past all of the weary travelers pulling their luggage behind them, their wheels sounding like they were zipping up their trip. Out the gate, I headed toward the stairway that would bring us to the creepy customs area, where we would not be welcomed into the United States but interrogated as if we were all criminals. But that was beyond the stairway. What greeted me, what made me break into a huge smile was not the arrival into the United States but a picture on the wall, the picture which greeted all who entered the US through the Port of Detroit, the very first thing they saw of America.

It was a huge picture of Comerica Park.

No, there were no other pictures. No pictures of the Detroit skyline, no pictures of famous American monuments or national parks. Just one of the most beautiful sights one can lay eyes on: a dazzling green baseball field.

Welcome to America, y'all.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Mitchell Report

I don't want to hear it. (Fingers in ears. Lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala...)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Viva la revolution!

Stupid title, I know. I'm a little miffed at the fact that a bar/restaurant advertised free Wifi but kicked me off when they became "busy," as if I were not a paying customer. Mind you, they didn't tell me they turned off their internet, but I got the hint and pretended that I still could use it until they told me to go to the bar.

I was there for an hour. I had two beers and was going to order food. Word of advice: if you're going to have Wifi access and the only outlet is near a four person table, maybe you should REARRANGE YOUR FREAKING RESTAURANT/BAR. Oh, I'm so annoyed.

But the point of all this is to compare it to something baseball. And I feel the Tejada trade to the Asstros is akin to offering Wifi service as long as it suits you. That trade is just stupid. The Asstros have nothing, absolutely nothing in their farm system, and what they had in Hirsh they traded away. If they think that having the same team as last season when they finished 73-89 with the addition of oh, Miguel Tejada, is going to make a difference...well, they can't think that. It's just too stupid. Just like thinking turning away a customer who would probably come in every day for the next couple of days was a good trade for a non tipping family of three.

Really annoyed.

Here's a great quote:
"I was in Houston last week and I've played in Minute Maid Park in the All-Star game, so I think I'll do great in that city," he said.
Yeah, you've played a game there, so you really know! What a really great indicator of how well you'll do!

Coming performance enhancing drugs are a bigger American societal problem than just trying to win...Actually, probably not.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth

If you haven't seen the New York Times article about A Rod's properties, you have to read it. Rodriguez, who opted out of the richest contract in baseball just to make the Bankee$ pay him even more money, is a slimeball, a first class jerk, and I'm sure there is already a place in Hell reserved for him.

Back when Rodriguez played with the Mariners - was that when I was still in high school? - I loved him. I thought he loved the game. I tore the cover off a magazine with his picture and put it on my wall. But the things he said about Griffey when he left soured me on him, and his greedy pursuit of huge contracts completed the process.

The elbow to Bronson in the 2004 ALCS solidified my disgust for him, cheating on his wife made me want to throw peanuts at him, but that new contract created a burning contempt for him. And the fact that he won't do anything about fixing up the property he owns, that he will allow cockroaches and moldy mattresses to exist with no attempt to fix them? Charging people $100 for being a day late on rent? This is a low income place - that type of thing is bound to happen. $100 is two weeks' food for some people. How can someone who makes $30 million a year be such a jackass?

Don't answer that. Money corrupts the hearts of men. It has since the dawn of time, and it always will. But that doesn't mean you have to make excuses for the greedy.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I really thoughr we'd have a pitcher by now

But I'm glad Homer and Hobbs are still on the team.

Rule 5 draft is today. Last year we struck gold with Hobbs and Burton. Can we be so lucky this year?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Fear and Loathing on the Internets

The interwebs are a funny thing, aren't they? I mean, you get on your big rig and start driving through this series of tubes, and suddenly you discover yourself in strange neighborhoods looking at things you've never seen and hearing sounds you've never heard and you find your thoughts drifting further from whatever it was you set out to think about when you started your virtual journey.

I'm trying to write this piece about, well, heck if I know what it's about, but it has something to do with famous people from Southwest Ohio and reading On the Road because I shamefully never read it and also because I am on the road in search of some of the same things Sal a.k.a. Jack Kerouac was looking for, and well, one thought led to the other and suddenly I find myself staring at a column about baseball written by Hunter S. Thompson in 2000 which is quite funny, as so much of his work is. He wrote some suggestions for speeding up baseball games. Some highlights: eliminate the pitcher, all base runners may run to any base, and the CATCHER should be the highest paid hero of the game. My favorite part:
No, there will be no such thing as a base on balls. Each batter will get five "pitches" from the robot -- only FIVE (5) and if he doesn't get a hit by then, he is Out. ... And the CATCHER will control the kind of drop or curve or speed he wants the machine to throw. And it will obey.
Thompson grew up in Louisville - Reds country! He excelled in baseball but was constantly in trouble so it never amounted to anything.

I think Gonzo was a bridge between two worlds, a bridge that crossed from literature and baseball to television and the NFL. He said the NFL "blew the sacred institution of baseball off its 'national pastime' pedestal in less than 15 years." Baseball had been a part of the soul of the country; the NFL became a faster, more violent pastime. American attitudes were changing towards everything. That flag started whipping in the wind faster than we could see it, and America started to run out of breath just trying to keep up with the pace of life. I think in the end Thompson just couldn't take in any more air. The generation under him, my generation, felt it better just to use biting sarcasm about everything to cope. Seems to me better than a shotgun, but then again, what do I know about being a brilliant writer? I operate a Blogger blog and post poorly done photoshops of things that are funny for about, oh, five minutes, if ever.

I guess that's why I hate these winter meetings (that occur in autumn, mind you.) I hate the business side of the game, which has grown to be bigger than the game itself, bigger than the take-your-family-to-the-ballpark-on-a-Sunday-afternoon experience. I can't figure it out, what has changed, what has brought something that was felt in the hearts of Americans to get lost in the labyrinth of corporatism, but I have to tell you, I like Bob Castellini. He's reached down into his soul and pulled out his love for the game, a game that is intrinsically part of an America that sometimes seems lost in all the fast-paced madness of the information age, an America that probably never existed except in the romantic ideas in the minds of the emotionally literate. He's going for it; he's making decisions that don't stick to the corporate formula. Cincinnati fans suffered for years under swiftboater businessman Carl Linder, who was only concerned about coming out in the black rather than winning. It's nice to have an owner that is a fan of the game and grew up loving his team!

Baseball isn't just a business. I hate thinking about it that way, thinking about how human beings that I've come to adore as sort of real life fictional heroes could just slip from my heart with a trade. I know, I know, baseball has ALWAYS been this way, with teams trading players as if they were just cattle waiting for slaughter. There seems something inherently inhumane about it all, you know, the players BELONGING to the owners and all. When people ask why players such as Ryan Freel are able to don Major League uniforms, it's their love for the game. I sometimes feel I was born at the wrong time, too late, perhaps an incarnation of someone else because of my love for the game. Or maybe I just long for life to slow down, slow to the pace of a baseball game.

I don't know if Thompson grew up a Reds fan in Louisville - could have been the Deadbirds or the Cubs - but I do know he recognized that baseball had been desecrated by the greed of modern America, where both owners and players are at fault. As I sit impatiently awaiting the verdict of the winter meetings, I can't help but have all of this on my mind.

Just say no

My reactionary thoughts to rumors which have no value whatsoever except to make me feel better for saying them "aloud." (They become spoken in your head as you read. Wait, you don't say the words in your head when you read?) It's just that winter is so boring when rain drips from dull gray skies and I have nothing worthwhile to say except to complain about how cold I am and how I wish it were spring and you've heard all of that a hundred billion times before because all I ever do in winter is talk about dreams of green baseball fields. :)

Man, these winter meetings scare me with all the talk of trades. I mean, last year at this time, Homer Bailey was untouchable. The trade rumors swirling around him now are ridiculous. Why, because he didn't throw eighteen perfect games last year? Nobody is worth trading Homer for, especially not Dontrelle Willis, whose best years may already be behind him judging by his last two seasons. Nor is Eric Bedard worth Homer's potential, oh ye of little faith.

I tell you what else. Wayne Krivsky is the most irritating GM out there. Wayne, baseball is a business. Transparency in business is an essence. You are responsible to your shareholders, stakeholders, and customers. It is time for you to open up and speak. Cut the secretive crap. So tell us what is going on. Tell us Bruce and Bailey, the future of the Reds, are off the table. Please? Please?

It's going to be sad to see Josh Hamilton go.

Oh, and Happy Chanukkah!

Monday, December 03, 2007

On having a bright future

I can't remember the last time I was this excited about Reds prospects. Could be because I didn't pay attention to prospects the last time the Reds had such promise in their farm system. ranked four Reds in their top 50 prospects list, including Jay Bruce, the Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year, at number one. Homer Bailey came in at number nine, Joey Votto at number 34, and Johnny Cueto at number 47.

Four out of fifty seemed like a decent number to me, so I went ahead and broke it down by team.

The Team Formerly Known as the Devil Rays cleaned up with five prospects in the top fifty. Then again, when you are so bad that you get the number one overall pick every year, that should be expected.

The Reds were the only team to have four prospects in the top fifty.

Teams having three in the top fifty were the Dodgers, Bankee$, and Rockies.

The Tigers, Red Sox, Angels, Orioles, Royals, D'backs, Chub$, Nationals, Sausages, Mariners, Rangers, and Padres had two each.

The Deadbirds, Pirates, Indians, Blue Jays, Mets, Marlins, Phillies, and White Sox had a single prospect each.

I guess we can start calling Houston the Lastros for a long time to come, as they have no future! Also failing to make the top fifty: Braves, A's, Giants, and Twins.

These lists don't mean much, of course, and for me to sit here and count the number each teams has is, well, remember when you were a kid and you sat around sorting and resorting your baseball cards? Here is a puzzle to describe it:
She did nothing but eat chocolate and grew and grew
The hour is getting near
Some of these prospects won't pan out, but to have four in the top fifty is pretty cool. Bailey and Votto will start the year in a Cincinnati uniform, and Bruce and Cueto will be wearing Cincy red sometime during the season. I sure can't wait for that.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Schneider and Church for Milledge

I don't know how soon I will be returning to Washington (I am currently considering many post-Bulgaria options), but I think Jim Bowden really pulled off a good trade with the Mets in dealing Brian Schneider and Ryan Church to the Mets for Lastings Milledge. Schneider couldn't hit to save his life these last two years. As for Church, well, the Nationals just didn't like him. Hopefully he'll blossom in a new environment.

As for Milledge, if he expects the Washington area to embrace his egomaniacal antics on the field, well, he's going to get a lesson. Washington media, though more likely to bow to political pressure than New York media, in my opinion, is still tough, and people aren't going to put up with a jerk.

Lastings, consider this a warning. Grow up, produce on the field, and maybe someone will finally like you. You have a lot to prove. Good luck in DC. Say hi to Austin for me.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

123 Days

Usually, my baseball restlessness begins much later than this. I don't get out Bull Durham or Field of Dreams until January. This year, however, I am squirming in my seat, and it's not even December!

Seems to me around Reds cyberland, others are feeling the same way, all due, of course, to Mr. Castellini's demonstrated commitment to winning this year with the Cordero and Baker signings. The moves are winning over the national crowd, too, judging from the column by Sports Illustrated's Tom Verdducci proclaiming the Reds to be next season's 2007 Rockies. Seeing this article serves as fuel for the restlessness.

Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on February 14 - 77 days from now. The first Spring Training game is February 28 - 91 days from now. And the holy day itself is on March 31 - 123 days from now. That's a lot of life between then and now! Look at everything that must pass before we can see the glorious light of Opening Day, when we can celebrate the praises of the rebirth of everything, when color once again exists and darkness drowns in life!

Nov 30 - International Computer Security Day - I'm not making this up. Also St. Andrew's Day, the patron saint of Scotland. Slainte!
Dec 1 - World AIDS Day - A disease that is wiping out an entire continent is also found in 1 in 20 people in our own nation's capital.
Dec 2 - International Day for the Abolition of Slavery - Yeah, it still exists, and it's actually making a pretty good comeback thanks to global corporatism. This is also the first day of Advent, the official church start of the Christmas season.
Dec 3 - International Day for People with Disability - Though they call it "international," it is only "observed" by people in Australia.
Dec 4 - First day of Chanukkah - I have a little dradle, I made it out of clay, and when its dry and ready, with dradle I shall play, dradle dradle dradle I made you out of clay, dradle dradle dradle with dradle I shall play.
Dec 5 - Day of the Ninja - Yeah, I don't know either.
Dec 6 - St. Nicholas Day - The day that started all of this gift giving madness that has descended upon us. Also, my sister's birthday. Happy Birthday, Jennifer!
Dec 7 - Pearl Harbor Day - A day that will live in infamy.
Dec 8 - Feast of the Immaculate Conception - Contrary to ignorant belief, this is NOT the day Christ was conceived but when Mary was conceived free of sin. How would she have conceived Jesus on the 8th and had him on the 25th? Also: Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji (Bikarami). It's a Sikh holiday. I just liked the sound of it.
Dec 9 - Independence Day for Tanzania - Go ride some zebras.
Dec 10 - Human Rights Day - Get out your copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It's a good read. Also Nobel Prize Day. Yay, Al!
Dec 11 - Proclamation of the Republic of Burkina Faso. The land of upright people. Seriously, that's what it means. Personally, I like the name Upper Volta better. Kind of sounds like it's full of robots or something. Or at least those people with weird ears and horns and stuff that you see in sci-fi movies.
Dec 12 - Agou - Arroyo (Manga la mer) - Voodoo holiday. Take that, Albert.
Dec 13 - St. Lucy's Day in Sweden - I have no idea who St. Lucy is, but I'd hate to be in Sweden at this time of year.
Dec 14 - Chingshan Wang's Birthday - Taiwan. Happy birthday to Chingshan!
Dec 15 - Bill of Rights Day - Did you know we had a Bill of Rights Day? Can we get off work?
Dec 16 - Boston Tea Party Day - Today they'd be called "terrorists." Also: first day of Posadas, a Mexican festival celebrating Mary and Joseph's journey into Bethlehem - not a certain aged Bankee$ catcher who signed a four year deal today. Also: Kazakhstan Independence Day. You like?
Dec 17 - Special Holiday - Solomon Islands. Real creative name there. Hey, I know - why don't we have a day and just call it Holiday. That would be fun.
Dec 18 - Arafa - Afghanistan, a day when everyone meets in the desert to see each other. At the end of the day they go throw rocks at Satan. So now you know - Satan is in Afghanistan. Personally, I thought he was in Washington.
Dec 19 - Asara B'Tevet - A day when a lot of wonderful dishes go uncooked and there are some hungry Jewish people around. (Oh, what I wouldn't do for a Jewish deli right now...)
Dec 20 - Eid Al Adha - The feast of the sacrifice, a Muslim commemoration of Abraham's sacrifice of his son to God. Lots of dead goats at this time.
Dec 21 - Winter Solstice - Ick. I hate winter. Also Yule, the pagan holiday from where we get our Christmas traditions like trees and such.
Dec 22 - Winter Solstice in Hong Kong - I wonder if there are any hardcore pagans out there who hop on a plane and celebrate the solstice twice?
Dec 23 - Festivus - The Reds really disappointed me this year! The bullpen stunk! Juan Castro, you need to retire! No bagel, no bagel, no bagel!
Dec 24 - Christmas Eve - Almost better than Christmas Day because of the anticipation.
Dec 25 - Christmas Day - Joyeux Noel! Feliz Navidad! Milad Mubarak! Nollaig chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ùr! Froehliche Weihnachten! Ojenyunyat Sungwiyadeson honungradon nagwutut. Ojenyunyat osrasay. Lots of baseball stuff appears from under my family's tree!
Dec 26 - St. Stephen's Day - The first Christian martyr, revered by the Irish. St. Stephen's Green is a nice park in Dublin. Joyce's Stephen Dedalus is named for him. Also: Boxing Day, which is just a stupid name for the day after Christmas. Also: Kwanzaa, a made up holiday.
Dec 27-30 - That dead few days when a lot of people don't go to work and a lot of people who do go don't actually work.
Dec 31 - Amateur Drunk Night - I would never step foot in a bar on this night.
Jan 1 - New Year's Day - Kind of boring because everything is closed, but at least you get the day off. Eat your pork and sauerkraut for good luck.
Jan 2 - Bridge Day - New Caldonea. I'm sure that one spans across the whole day.
Jan 3 - Revolution Day - People's Uprising - Burkina Faso. Are they sure it isn't the "people's uprighting?" Also: Iowa caucuses. Let the hatred begin.
Jan 4 - Trivia Day - Gansta or Ganster?
Jan 5 - Dia de la Toma - Spain. The anniversary of the capture or taking possession of Granada by the army of Ferdinand and Isabella. Seems to be a lot of bell ringing on this day.
Jan 6 - Epiphany - We three kings and stuff. Traditionally a day when people give their loved ones twelve drummers drumming.
Jan 7 - Orthodox Christmas - The Byzantines just HAD to be different. Also: St. Ivan's Day here in Bulgaria, the patron saint of the country.
Jan 8 - National Takai Day - Niue. I don't know what a Takai is. I don't know where Niue is. But it has to be better than celebrating Elvis' birthday. Also: New Hampshire primary. Is it over yet?
Jan 9 - Al-Hijra - When Muhammed got chased from Mecca to Medina.
Jan 10 - My birthday - Since I am no longer in my twenties, I am no longer protected by the invincibility of youth, so I'll freak out.
Jan 11 - International Thank You Day - No kidding. Because we're all still trying to get our thank you notes written from Christmas.
Jan 12 - National Pharmacist Day - Because we should celebrate people who prey on the health of human beings.
Jan 13 - Defenders of Freedom Day - Lithuania. The name of this day sounds suspiciously like talking points from this administration...
Jan 14 - Ratification Day - Apparently this day exists in America, too.
Jan 15 - Fiesta del Nino Perdido - Huancavelica, Peru. That must have been one bratty child that they celebrate it being lost.
Jan 16 - Prohibition Remembrance Day - The most ridiculous period in the history of America has a remembrance day? Let's go out to our local watering holes and celebrate!
Jan 17 - Birthday of Al Capone - Ironically the day after Prohibition Remembrance Day.
Jan 18 - Maintenance Day - USA. Don't ask, I don't know.
Jan 19 - Ashura - Martyrdom of Imam Hussein - Shia holiday.
Jan 20 - One year until Inauguration Day - Can't come quick enough.
Jan 21 - Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - If there were more people like Dr. King in the world, maybe it wouldn't be so insane.
Jan 22 - Tu B'Shevat - Jewish New Year for Trees. Sounds more like a New Age holiday to me. Just how many new years do you guys have?
Jan 23 - John Hancock's birthday - Note to self: when signing important, history making documents, write really big for immortality.
Jan 24 - Economic Liberation Day - Togo. I'm sure living in poverty makes you feel economically liberated.
Jan 25 - Burns Night - Scotland. Haggis is disgusting.
Jan 26 - Australia Day - Well, duh. Let's have some shrimp on the barbie. Mmm...shrimp on the barbie...
Jan 27 - National Activity Professionals Day - If you are an activity professional, kindly write me and let me know what it is that you do.
Jan 28 - Democracy Day - Rwanda. Because you're a democracy if you have elections!
Jan 29 - Martyrs Memorial Day - Nepal. My favorite restaurant in DC was a Nepalese place. Oh, was the spinach and potato dish beautiful! It closed down, though, as it was too close to Dupont Circle and all of the chain stores pushed the costs of rent through the roof.
Jan 30 - FDR's birthday - Now there's a guy who changed the course of history.
Jan 31 - Nauru Independence Day - No, I cannot point to Nauru on a map. It's somewhere in the Pacific. Also: Nolan Ryan's birthday.
Feb 1 - Imbolc/Oimelc/Brigid - Some pagan thing. People will probably go out to the woods, light fires, chant some nonsense, drink fake blood, and wear long, flowing dresses and robes that blow in the cold January wind.
Feb 2 - Groundhog Day - Will it be six more weeks until spring or six more weeks of winter? Also, my Uncle Matt's birthday. Happy Birthday! Also: National Change Your Windshield Wipers Day. Seriously, shouldn't you know to do that anyway? Don't answer that.
Feb 3 - Bean Scattering Day - Shinto holiday. Throw those beans! (But not Bean Stringfellow, Cordero's agent.)
Feb 4 - Commencement of the Armed Struggle - Angola. Don't most countries celebrate the ENDS of their wars?
Feb 5 - Mardi Gras! - Fat Tuesday, when people indulge in hedonistic pleasures in a manner that surely would disgust the one who gets the next forty days of their attention. Theoretically, anyway. Also: my mom's birthday. Happy birthday! Also: Super Tuesday - Presidential candidates will be decided.
Feb 6 - Ash Wednesday - When Protestants wonder why some people's foreheads are so dirty. Marks the start of a 40 day period called Lent when Christians make "sacrifices" like giving up chocolate. Also: Bob Marley Day and Waitangi Day.
Feb 7 - Chinese New Year - Oh man, egg rolls sound good right now. I know there's a Chinese restaurant somewhere in this town...
Feb 8 - Boy Scout Day - Are there still Boy Scouts? I thought kids these days sat around playing video games or watching television and not developing bone mass that is going to cause a massive outbreak of osteoporosis fifty years from now?
Feb 9 - Feast of St. Maron - Lebanon. Mmm...feast. Hummus, falafel, babaganoush...
Feb 10 - Feast of St. Paul's Shipwreck - Because it's always good to celebrate transportation accidents, right?
Feb 11 - Vasanta Panchami/Saraswati Puja - Hindi holiday. Birthday of the Goddess of Wisdom. Wisdom is good. There's not enough of it in the world.
Feb 12 - Lincoln's birthday - Get rid of pennies!
Feb 13 - Jerry Springer's birthday - What do you get when you cross a black transsexual with a KKK wizard? An ex-mayor of Cincinnati.
Feb 14 - St. Valentine's Day - A holy day ruined by Hallmark. Also: PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT TO SPRING TRAINING! Also: Winemaker's Day in Bulgaria. See why I like it here?
Feb 15 - National Flag Day of Canada - Thank you, Canada, for Arcade Fire. And for Joey Votto.
Feb 16 - Kim Jong-il's Birthday - How many people will he kill on this day?
Feb 17 - Random Acts of Kindness Day - Because you can't just be nice all year around? Also: National Public Science Day, because science is something you "believe in," right?
Feb 18 - President's Day - Stuffed between Lincoln's and Washington's birthdays, I'm not sure what the point of this being a federal holiday except maybe to give people a day off work so they can go to those big mattress sales at those stores where you never see anyone. Why don't we have Congress Day or Supreme Court Justices Day? Maybe we should - one in March and one in August when there are no federal holidays.
Feb 19 - National Flag Day - Turkmenistan. This year, their dictator will finally get around to putting his face on the flag. It's everywhere else in the country.
Feb 20 - Kurt Cobain's birthday - He was murdered, I tell you!
Feb 21 - Lantern Festival - China. I still can't believe Beijing got the Olympics.
Feb 22 - George Washington's birthday - I cannot tell a lie - you can't throw anything across the Potomac.
Feb 23 - Defender of the Fatherland Day - Russia. Who's gonna defend the journalists?
Feb 24 - Día de la Bandera - Mexico. Speaking of Banderas, Antonio's here in Bulgaria shooting a new movie.
Feb 25 - Norriture Rituelle des sources têt d' l'eau - Voodoo. A day when I will pour water over Voodoo Albert's head to drown his baseball skills.
Feb 26 - Liberation Day - Kuwait. The Iraq war that was justified.
Feb 27 - Dominican Republic Independence Day - Our new closer's homeland.
Feb 29 - Leap Day - One of the most bizarre necessities of human civilization. I wonder if Hallmark makes Happy Leap Day cards. Probably. They never miss an opportunity to make a buck or a billion.
Mar 1 - National Pig Day - Oh, I could really, really go for some Burbank's pulled pork right now. Also: St. David's Day, the patron saint of Wales. I don't care, I want the pork!
Mar 2 - Texas Independence Day - Good riddance. I hate the Asstros.
Mar 3 - Casimir Pulaski Day - Chicago holiday real Chub$ fans should know. Like the Sufjan Stevens song. Also: Doll Day in Japan. What if you have pediophobia? Also: a National Day in Bulgaria. Beer will be drunk.
Mar 4 - Town Meeting Day - Vermont. Shouldn't they meet more than once a year to run their towns?
Mar 5 - National Tree Planting Day - Iran. Because Iran really gives a damn about the planet.
Mar 6 - Alamo Day - Traitors!
Mar 7 - Anniversary of Bell's patent for the telephone. If only he could see his invention now. Wonder what his ringtone would be?
Mar 8 - International Women's Day - Because we're people, too!
Mar 9 - Baron Bliss Day - In Belize. I don't know what it is, but it sounds cool!
Mar 10 - Dry Season Celebration - In Myanmar. What happens if it rains on the celebration?
Mar 11 - Anniversary of Gorbachev coming to power. Fools were we to believe Russia would ever become a democratic state.
Mar 12 - Girl Scout Day - Mmm...Thin Mints...
Mar 13 - Revolutionary Attack on the Presidential Palace Day in Cuba - Castro's dead. Get over it.
Mar 14 - World Book Day - Turn off your freaking television! And Harry Potter books are for children! Read about Pi since it's also Pi Day!
Mar 15 - St. Lazarus' Day - Celebrated by Bulgarians. More beer surely involved. Also: Ides of March. Absolute power corrupts absolutely and leads your friends to kill you.
Mar 16 - Palm Sunday - I worship palm trees. I wish I could see them now instead of seeing my breath. Also: Freedom of Information Day. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Right.
Mar 17 - Guinness Day - The only commercialized holy day I have no problem with. Except for the Irish bars who charge a cover to get in. Yeah, you, 4 P's. And they raise the price of a pint by $2 to $7! What greedy pigs! This is about my favorite day of the year, but it sucks in DC. I've had the good fortune of being in Dublin twice for the day - awesome! Oh yeah, and that St. Patrick guy? They say he drove the snakes out of Ireland. He also introduced a big snake to the island.
Mar 18 - Recovery Day - Where's the aspirin?
Mar 19 - My grandma's birthday. Happy birthday! Also: St. Joseph's Day.
Mar 20 - Big day for holidays - Purim is celebrated by Jews, Muhammed's birthday is celebrated by Muslims, Petroleum Day is celebrated by Iran, and World Frog Day is celebrated by the whole world. Isn't it?
Mar 21 - VERNAL EQUINOX! SPRING! LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL! - Also: Good Friday and the Persian New Year, among other things.
Mar 22 - North American Wildlife Celebration - I'll pass on meeting a bear in the woods, thank you.
Mar 23 - Easter Sunday - What is supposed to be the holiest day in the Christian year and the reason for Christianity's existence is celebrated with giant rabbits bringing eggs and chocolates. I blame the dental industry, Cadbury, and Hallmark.
Mar 24 - Easter Monday - Lots of aching children's tummies. You know, I really like Cadbury Eggs. They're really about the only sweet things I love.
Mar 25 - Waffle Day - Seriously. In Sweden.
Mar 26 - Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana`ole Day - Hawaii. Do they know how lucky they are?
Mar 27 - Skyscraper Day - Just wow.
Mar 28 - Anniversary of the death of Virginia Woolf. Are you afraid?
Mar 29 - Cy Young's bithday - Holds the MLB record for most losses.
Mar 30 - E$PN extra profits game. Not Opening Day.
Mar 31 - OPENING DAY BEGINS WHEN THE ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS LOSE TO AARON HARANG AND THE 2008 NL CENTRAL CHAMPION CINCINNATI REDS! Truth be told, I wish they started the season against a more interesting team.

So you see, we still have what seems to be a lifetime between now and our holy day. But hey, at least that gives Wayne some time to trade for one more starting pitcher!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Bullpen thoughts

I've been thinking more about the Francisco Cordero deal and I just can't console myself when thinking about how a whole winter stands between us and the new season! I want it to start now!

The Reds converted only 34 of 61 saves (according to Mark Sheldon) last year. Think about that. The league average for blown saves was 14. We had 27. If we had been average, we could have won the same number of games as the Chub$ and perhaps even the division.

Well, we didn't - didn't even come close. But this year, we could win more. A bullpen of Cordero, Weathers, Burton, Bray, and Coutlangus, plus two others (oh, well, I guess Stanton has to be in there. Stupid contract.) would be much more effective.

I wonder, though, about the other spot. Will Coffey be traded? Do we have to put up with Majewski, and if we do, will he bounce back from his suckitude? What about Brad Salmon and Marcus McBeth? And is there a chance that we can get rid of Stanton? So many questions, but the biggest one has been answered.

As terrible as the pen was last year, they really did settle down in the last couple of months. So, things are looking bright, even through my Pete colored lenses.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

What? The Reds want to win?

Thank you, Bob. Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you.

That large, gaping hole at the back end of the bullpen? Filled! And by someone GOOD!

Francisco Cordero, welcome to Cincinnati. Be sure to try some Skyline. NL Central, here we come!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Feeling Green

The restlessness is returning. Two months since I was able to attend the last Reds game of the season, I feel an itch to go back to the ballpark. Yet there are still two and a half months until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training! It isn't even winter yet!

I thought being abroad would make me forget it was the off season, but no. With every chill that passes through me, every bit of wind that blows over the Yantra River, every molecule of fog that hides the mountains from my view, a bit of baseball warmth stirs within my soul. I am already imagining that first moment of the new year when you realize the days are starting to get lighter and that time in late winter when you can feel the air getting warmer. Green isn't just the color of the grass; it is a feeling. It is the warmth and the light and rebirth of everything.

As I look out my window, I can see the monument of the Assen Dynasty, which began in the 12th century and was about the last time Bulgaria was a major player in world affairs. The massive monument is black stone, built during the communist years and in the communist style. I think it is supposed to be imposing. It is not. How I would love to be staring out at the statues on Crosley Terrace instead, or perhaps the statue of Bob Feller in Cleveland or the statue of Roberto Clemente in Pittsburgh or the statue of Babe Ruth in Baltimore (yeah, Baltimore, where he was born.) I do find Bulgarian history interesting, but the Assens mean nothing to me. Give me Joe Nuxhall, Ted Kluszewski, and Ernie Lombardi!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Joe's finally reached home

When you were a kid riding around in a car going with your parents to the grocery or to the dentist or to your grandparents' house, you heard a voice you just assumed would be coming over the airwaves for eternity. When there was yard work to be done or house repairs and a game was on, there was the voice coming from a portable radio telling you how the Reds were doing, or, as often was the case, not telling you as the airwaves went silent. He didn't always get the names right, didn't always get the plays right, but by god, when he said, "Get out of here, baseball!" it sure was sweet.

I thought when Marty and Joe were no longer Marty and Joe but Marty and Steve, that the whole baseball world was out of whack. The few games a year over the last two seasons when it was Marty and Joe again made the world seem sane and brought back a piece of childhood. The curse of morality makes us hurt; we have indeed lost a member of our family.

Good night, Joe. See ya on the other side.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Supernova or black hole?

I'm finding the 2007 baseball season to be somewhat of a distant memory if not something unmemorable, if only because the Reds did so poorly this season and much, much worse than I had expected thanks to the stellar bullpen, and by stellar I mean like an imploding star.

If you are familiar with imploding stars - and I'm not, as I had to look up this information because although I find space fascinating, there's so much to know about it that one who is not in the field cannot possibly know but the smallest fraction about it - then you'll know that they can form either a new planet or a black hole. According to some scientists:
When infalling matter from the imploding star's outer layers reaches this neutron core, it bounces back and generates a powerful shockwave that blasts away the star's outer mantle in a stellar explosion called a supernova.

If material cast off from the explosion doesn't have enough velocity to escape the star's gravitational grasp, it will stall and fall back.

"It's like throwing a baseball straight up into the air," said study team-member Deepto Chakrabarty from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). "Unless you're throwing it really, really fast, it's eventually going to fall back down on you."

This so-called "fallback" material can land back on the neutron star's surface or coalesce into a spinning debris disk around the star.

If the fallback material lands back onto the neutron star, it can cause the star to become a black hole.
Yeah, he really did use the baseball metaphor. But do you know of anyone that can throw it so fast, it doesn't come back down?

We can only hope that the massive disaster of the bullpen this year will create a supernova during the 2008 season, because I don't want to see another season get sucked in by a black hole. Kinda tired of it!

Monday, November 05, 2007

GM meetings

Ah, the GM meetings. What will Wayne bring us? A washed up middle reliever? An overpriced Milton type pitcher? Will he trade a quarter of our offense for garbage? Or will he sit there and do nothing?

Wayne Krivsky takes the fun out of the off season. It'd be better if we didn't have to worry if he will throw away another season before it has even begun. I think I'm sinking into disillusionment.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


I've been on some great adventures recently and just found out that the World Series is indeed over. Can't say I'm upset that I didn't watch it.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Wayne's cousins

Saw this sign on a street here in Veliko Turnovo. Thought it was funny.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Hi, still alive

Not liking this Boston winning stuff. Just watched the second game. No good.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

An American ruined it

I didn't get up at 3am to watch the game last night. A bunch of us went out and I think maybe we got home about that time. I decided I'd watch the game today.

Unfortunately, an American was on the internet and read a recount of the game aloud to his friend, so I know what happens. I have the game on now but it is ruined.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I just found out

I'm very remorseful.

I've decided I'm rooting for the Rockies and will be up at 3am tomorrow to watch it live.

Very sad.

Very sad.

(To cheer me up, though, I've discovered church ads in the google adsense space. Funny stuff, given it's a sports site.)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A brief conversation

Last night I ran out of clean clothes and had to war my long sleeved Reds shirt - the kind they wear under their uniforms - to dinner. There was an Aussie, a Scot, two Japanese, a Quebecois, and our two Bulgarian hosts. The Reds shirt has "Reds" on the neck ans was sticking out form my sweater. The Japanese girl asked me about it, because she thought it meant Communists. I really got a kick out of that and explained my love for baseball and the Cincinnati Reds, telling her that the team once did change its name to Redlegs during the red scare. We then began to talk about baseball. She loves Ichiro. Her boyfriend is also a fan of the game and they root for the Yomiuri Giants.

The Quebecois had been a fan of Les Expos, and I talked of having had the season ticket package for the Nationals.

It was nice to talk about baseball.

Go Tribe! (Can't believe they had to go to game 7!)

Friday, October 19, 2007


Sitting at a cafe in this very old imperial city, my very own Left Bank in another century, another millennium, watching the BMWs and the Trabants go by. The table umbrellas say Heineken, the coffee is Italian, and the political flyers on the tables say Bulgarian elections are just around the corner.

My laptop has decided it does not like Bulgaria or something, as it hasn't started in two days, which means I have not been able to watch the rest of the ALCS. I know the Rockies are going to the World Series. I know Cleveland was up 2-1 and I know two games have been played since I last checked. Please don't tell me what happened - I still hope to watch the archived games. Maybe the laptop just needs a little rest - it's not the first time this has happened. The weather here has been so beautiful, so perfect, that I would not have spent time inside on a computer anyway. Besides, isn't one of the reasons I took this trip because I was sick of staring at a computer screen all day long?

Still, baseball is in my heart. I am thinking right now about playoff excitement, the roaring crowds, the crisp autumn air (not Coco), the little white sphere sailing through the October night. I am thinking about that beautiful green only a baseball field provides. My mind is full of the bright colors, the reds and blues (and purples?) of uniforms adorned with brand new LCS or World Series patches glowing under the incandescent stadium lights.

I will watch the World Series. The place I am staying has a computer, so even if mine has gone to the electronics heaven (or hell, which is where mine should go), I'll be getting up at 3am to watch! I just hope the Tribe gets there to make it worth it. I'm sure Fox is doing everything in its power to try to get the Sox to the Series for ratings. To Fox I say, get rid of the extra crap, the excessive commercials, your horrible announcers, your stupid graphics, and your year long pregame shows and people will watch.

Go Tribe!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I have never been this apathetic about an NLCS. Go Tribe!

Sunday, October 14, 2007


I just had to make a brief comment about the hysterical reaction of so many Reds fans to the hiring of Dusty Baker. GET A GRIP.

That is all. For now.

The Global Bankees

Took this photo at an outdoor exhibit of photos taken from the sky. It made me really happy to see it, even if it is the picture of evil.

The exhibit was awesome. Check out some of the photographer's shots on his website Yann Arthus Bertrand.

What is it, you ask? What could possibly be this green, oh beautiful green?

Here's a closer look.

It's an overhead shot of an outfielder in Yankee Stadium.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Deep Thoughts - by Jack Frost

If the Rockies use a humidor, could the Reds freeze their baseballs to give them a park factor advantage?

If the Tribe doesn't make it to the World Series, I may not make the effort to watch

I'm sitting in an internet cafe (cafe is more bar in Europe than cafe) and finally got my computer to boot (took me over an hour because it does not like to travel). I have last night's Tribe/Sox game online. I've managed to avoid looking at a score, so it doesn't matter if it already happened. My body is so confused about time and date anyway, so it feels like this is happening now, and I am just as excited as if it were happening live.

Although the Red Sox just took a 4-1 lead, so I'm not so happy. 5-1.

You know, I don't even mind watching mostly still framed video because the connection is so slow, because it's baseball! Anyway, I thought I'd write about my limited ability to watch October baseball.

Things I'm not missing:

10. Rockies vs. D'backs. Are these even MLB teams? Further making America forget the National League exists. (And is better.)
9. Drooling over "The Sox" by "Red Sox Nation Est. 2004."
8. The same freaking commercials every 15 minutes.
7. Sabathia's blubber.
6. Yoooooooooooooooooouk!!!!
5. Celebrity interviews on Fox. Yeah, Steven King is scary looking. We get it. Every time you do it. Every game.
4. Cell phone talkers in the stands.
3. Good internet connections that don't give you a bunch of still frames instead of streaming video.
2. Jeanie freaking Zlasko, Gamebreaks, half hour overproduced pregame shows, unnecessary graphics, and all of that other Faux crap they have on their broadcasts.
1. Tim McCarver.

What I miss the most:

10. English
9. The guy with the colored hats at the Jake (when they get there.)
8. Being able to overhear conversations about previous night's game on the street.
7. Not having to hear techno/house/trance/dance/minimal/whateveryouwanttocallit while watching a game at a bar.
6. Bars with heat when it's freaking cold and rainy outside.
5. Grady Sizemore.
4. Shots of Fenway Park.
3. Putting up with shitty Fox broadcasting because I love baseball that much.
2. Watching with family and friends.
1. Live baseball. Duh.

Five benefits of my situation:

5. Very fast games (due to fast forwarding.)
4. No "Red Sox Nation Est. 2004 fans" around.
3. Get to drink really good beer while watching.
2. Fast forwarding through Tim McCarver if I get annoyed.
1. Fast forwarding through commercials.

I love the fact that Bulgarians mind their own business. I've been to several other countries - United States included - where a woman sitting in a bar alone at 8pm on a Saturday night watching a still framed baseball game on a computer would be stared at, even frowned at. Here, people don't look. I suppose it is partially a result of the whole Soviet crap, when you had to mind your own business and kept to yourself because your neighbor would tell on you if you did anything that could be perceived as weird.

Maybe I should not have watched this game, since it is 7-1 in 5. Sabathia gone. 8-1. I groaned loud enough to warrant a stare. How can you be so crappy in Game 1 of the LCS!?!

Ahh...hearing the Reds mentioned in the context of the '76 World Series victory is pleasure...may we soon have another of those. With...Walt Jocketty as Wayne Krivsky's boss?!???? :) I can barely contain my excitement just thinking about it. Imagine - Krivskly's talent for finding offensive diamonds in the rough with Jocketty's ability to put together a bullpen? Can we just start 2008 now?

Of course, Jocketty has to actually be hired first. But the rumors about him coming to the Reds have persisted since late spring, and well, you know, he left the Hated Deadbirds and all...

Go Tribe!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Go Tribe!

A little disappointed that Blogger is in English here in Bulgaria - not like Hungary. Oh well.

I didn't get a chance to watch yesterday's NLCS. Thing is, I just don't care who wins. I suppose I want the Rockies a little more than the D'backs because they've never won, but it all doesn't matter because I am rooting for the Tribe all the way. I am going to try to watch the game tonight - it starts at 1am, so it may be doable.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Greetings from Budapest

I didn't realize Blogger turned into whatever language is spoken in the country you are writing from. Good thing I know where things are, because I certainly wouldn't know that mentes means publish.

So yeah, I've been meaning to write about my plans for awhile, but you know, when you quit your job and go abroad, there is a lot of planning involved, even if you are not a planner.

I got on a plane on Sunday, caught some of the Boston game in Cincy and some of the Cleveland game in Detroit, but it wasn't until just now that I found out that the Tribe was for sure in the playoffs. Thank god. I hate the Bankees and wish I could have seen the dejected looks on their faces.

Anyway, this post is not about baseball. I have to say where I am and what I am doing. I am going to be in Bulgaria for the next two in a half months starting Thursday. Why, you ask? Well, I just had to take a break from office life, with the whole monotony of fluorescent lights and computer screens and all. I'm not going to be doing much except tutoring in English on my own schedule, so it is pretty much a very long vacation. But putting my reasoning aside, I really am excited about being on European soil for the first time in nearly eight years.

I won't get into the reasons I am in Budapest right now, but I am here for another day. Right now I am STILL WAITING ON MY LUGGAGE and am sick of wearing the same clothes I have for two days! This is why I am posting now - that, and I wanted to say I am not abandoning this blog, but posting is going to be sporadic in the next week until I get to Veliko Tarnova, the city I will be in Bulgaria.

(Yay! My bag just arrived! Clean clothes! Woohoo!)

I will be continuing this blog as regularly as I have, as I've said before, and I especially look forward to the off season, which, if our GM is competent, should be a big one. But I invite you to follow my travels at my new blog Bulgariarox. There I will be chronicling all of my adventures and non-adventures as I seek something more than office life, something that can make me feel alive like baseball does. I will upload as many photos as I possibly can and hope you will all visit and enjoy them. I realized today that even as an amateur photographer with a layman's camera, I have a "style" of my own. It certainly was a beautiful day for photos today.

Yeah, I plan on watching the LCSes and the World Series even though I'll have to watch them in the wee hours of the morning. Right now, though, I am so excited to finally be in Europe after such a long absence that it is the only thing on my mind, so good thing the next games aren't for a couple of days!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

TBS reviewed

After four days (Monday's one game playoff between Colorado and San Diego included), I thought I'd write about TBS' coverage of the playoffs. Lucky for me, I am at my parents' house in Ohio for the week, and they have DirectTV. Back in DC, where I didn't buy cable, I would not have been able to watch it, at least not without using a international proxy server to get MLB.TV.

Top ten things I like about TBS' playoff coverage:

10. They aren't Fox or E$PN.
9. TBS has awesome camera shots from around the park and knows exactly when to use them. None of this zeroing in on a particular fan or a guy on the bench - we get to see more of the park and get a sense of what it is like to be there.
8. TBS doesn't dwell on the celebrities in the crowd. Celebrity interviews are quick and to the point. The only reason Steven King was on camera yesterday was because he was sitting behind the kid who caught Manny's foul ball and robbed the Angels' catcher of it. Great kid, funny stuff.
7. I don't know how many people noticed this, but at yesterday's Indians game, there was a guy who was sitting behind the lefthanded batters wearing an Indians cap - only we didn't know it was an Indians cap because someone in the studio kept coloring it with bright fluorescent colors. At first it was bright yellow, and I thought it a terrible distraction but then it changed to orange, red, blue, and pink throughout the game, and my mom and I couldn't stop laughing at it. Apparently the guy doing it got into trouble, because the last few innings just the Indian's cap was atop his head.
6. The announcers calling out LeBron James for being a frontrunner when he showed up with his Bankees cap. And then he didn't show up at all for the next game! Ha!
5. The way they show the scorecard line when a batter comes up to the plate.
4. Chip Caray, Tony Gwynn, and Bob Brenley. Funny when they need to be, don't sit there and talk about things that aren't relevant to the game, don't talk about "whenIplayed," and aren't Tim McCarver or Joe Morgan. The other announcers are good, too. They get that people don't watch baseball to hear them.
3. There aren't commercial breaks between every pitching change and you actually get to see some of what is happening at the game - kinda makes you remember what it's like being AT the game.
2. Their Game Breaks are done BETWEEN innings rather than during them. This is a pet peeve of mine, when Fox goes into their Game Breaks while the game is still going and shows a split screen with the game so tiny you can't see what's going on.
1. They show THE GAME rather than the announcers or interviewees in the booth or talking baseballs or all of that excess crap that Fox and E$PN think people want to see. When they do show the announcers, which is only a couple of times a game, it's only for ten seconds or so before they get back to the game. And when Craig Sagen goes into the crowd, it's very brief, to the point, funny, and you don't miss the game.

And the things I don't like (I couldn't think of ten):

5. TBS is a cable station, limiting the number of people who can watch the games.
4. There's only one October and Dane Cook. The Dane Cook who said that before the Red Sox were the Red Sox they were the Boston Braves and they scouted his dad in 1952. I wonder which store he bought his Red Sox cap from in 2004?
3. Frank TV commercials. Although that impression of Bush distinguishing between home runs and inside the park home runs is pretty funny.
2. Craig Sagen's wardrobe. Although the announcers making fun of it is pretty funny. ("Where'd he get that outfit - from Prince?")
1. The stupid 9 feet arrow graphic they use to show a baserunner's lead. There is no reason for it and it reeks of Fox or E$PN.

Fox and E$PN could really learn something from TBS' producers. I commend them for doing an excellent job.

Go Tribe!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Dear Bud

I'm not sure why this is tough for you to understand, but listen up. Baseball is not at the height of its popularity. Those "shattered" attendance records? They have nothing to do with how many people are actually going to the games and everything to do with corporate season tickets. Corporations don't buy season tickets because they like baseball; they buy them to beer and hotdog their clients. In other words, it's something for their clients to do.

Bud, if you counted the actual attendance - you know, the big butts in the seats - you would realize that baseball is not increasing in popularity. It's actually the reverse of that. Americans think baseball is "boring."

I was at a Nationals game this year in which not more than 10,000 people were there, yet the announced attendance was 25K+. I remember this game in particular because there was a strange echo bouncing around the emptiness of the stadium. I went to several other games where actual attendance was about half of what was announced.

Please start living in reality before you destroy baseball. If you don't do something to increase the popularity of the game and change public perception that baseball is a "boring" sport, then twenty or thirty years from now, even season tickets won't be enough to save the game.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Go Tribe!

I attended yesterday's Reds game - it sure was nice to be at GABp, even if the real Reds weren't on the field. I'd post pictures, but my mom has dial-up, and Blogger takes long enough to upload photos with broadband. I actually have to go back to DC this week to pick up some stuff that wouldn't fit in my car but that I didn't want to get rid of, so if I can't find a wireless connection somewhere around Sidney, Ohio, I'll just carry the laptop back to DC and upload there.

So we find ourselves sitting around trying to find surrogate teams to root for in October for the twelfth season in a row, eh? Good thing we have Joey Votto, the hero of yesterday's game. Man, can that kid rake! It is so exciting to have some of the best young talent in all of baseball. Jay Bruce was presented with his Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year trophy before yesterday's game. They said it was the first time a Reds player has ever won it. With all due respect to HOFer Ken Griffey, Jr., next year's outfield should be Adam Dunn, Jay Bruce, and Josh Hamilton. Just the thought of that makes me smile. With Votto at first - who was voted International League rookie of the year and presented with that trophy after Bruce's presentation - Brandon Phillips at second (or perhaps short?) - who was presented with a framed 30/30 award and a congrats message from Barry Larkin - and Edwin Encarnacion - who kicked it up a notch after his demotion to AAA, we really have something special on the field. Not that our offense - which was fourth in the league until all of our outfielders got hurt with a week still to play - wasn't already good!

So I'm going to root, root, root for the Tribe this year and hope that a rotation of Harang, Arroyo, Bailey, Cueto, and Maloney (or Belisle) and a bullpen of Burton, Bray, Weathers, and a healthy Guardado and Majewski can catapult us into October next year.

Oh, and Mets and Sausage fans, you have my sympathies. I was really disappointed with the Mets losing yesterday - they sure are a fun team to watch.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Wear a red shirt on Friday.

Not baseball related, but this is a forum I can use to spread the word.
In support of our incredibly brave friends in Burma: May all people around the world wear a red shirt on Friday, September 28. Please forward!
I dream of a world where governments no longer can oppress, abuse, and slaughter a people. Dare to dream. Dare. To. Dream.

I dream of a world...

where the Yankees don't make the playoffs.

Dare to dream. Dare. To. Dream.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Last call

I'm a pretty reflective person - some would call it emotional - and yesterday's Sunday's last baseball game at RFK was a pretty emotional experience and a fitting end to my tenure here in DC, at least this time around. Seen here is the last pitch ever thrown at RFK stadium, as Chad Cordero strikes out Jayson Werth to seal the victory for the Nats.

I have a ton of stuff to do before I leave on Saturday, yet I was not going to miss the final RFK game. At least I thought. I was not aware that the game started at 12:05. Seeing all of the fans arriving to the stadium at what I thought was fifty minutes early made me think Nationals fans actually do know how to attend baseball games after these three years. I was wrong. The flood of fans going to the stadium were going in late, because, as I found out, the game began one hour earlier than I had anticipated. Believe me, I was upset. I later found out that I missed the Nationals players handing out t-shirts at the gate. And I didn't get my t-shirt given to the first 20,000 fans who thought to check the game time before leaving for the ballpark. And then I found out that the game time was moved for stupid football! I hate that sport!

Since everything is slowass in DC, the will call line was no exception. I'm not sure how it is so difficult to find Smith in the S section or Jones in the J's, but my god, was it tough for those employees to use alphabetical order to find tickets for people. Tickets in hand finally, I entered the stadium for the last time in a rush because the game was going on! You have to understand that I never miss first pitch, and there it was, the bottom of the first inning, and the Nats were already up 1-0. It was such a gorgeous day, and the September sun cast interesting shadows across the stadium throughout the day. Was great for photos! There were few people who didn't have cameras out, and there were a lot of people - 40,000+ decided to show up for one last RFK fling. Gotta wear the rose-colored glasses for this baby!

Every moment I had spent in that stadium in the past three years came back to me as if I were living the past and present at the same time. Memories swirled around the stadium like hot dog wrappers on a windy day. The stadium is a dump, true, but I saw a lot of baseball there. It all began one gorgeous April day in 2005 - the second greatest baseball game I've ever seen (the first was a 2002 World Series game in San Francisco). The energy in the stadium was amazing. People were hungry for baseball and excited at the newness at it all. We entered through metal detectors because the Naked Emperor was throwing out the first pitch, and it all seemed like a zoo. Nobody cared about the inconvenience, though, because nothing could ruin the return of baseball to our nation's capital. I sat in the orange seats in leftfield that day, one of a handful of times I've sat in the lower level.

That first game was sold out, of course, and the atmosphere was simply incredible. From Vinny Castilla's homer and his 4 RBI performance to Livan's 8.1 innings pitch and Chad Cordero's save, the whole game was just amazing. We never could have guessed that this team would be in first place at the All Star break, but it was true. The team consistently received 40,000 fans at the ballpark, which shook with a joyous thunder as people jumped up and down and celebrated this great game. I'll never forget the feeling of bouncing concrete beneath my feet.

The second half of the season was heartbreaking. I found myself rooting against my own Cincinnati Reds during that series in desperation, as not only had the division lead slipped away, but so had the wild card lead. Officially eliminated in the last week of the season, September had been one filled with a disappointment like that of watching a tree go bare in autumn. It would be a cold, cold winter, one that has lasted two seasons so far with no warmth in sight.

Yeah, I know this one is running into the profane sidebar, but I just wanted to blow it up a bit to capture the beauty of a ballfield. (It's a shame that photos on Blogger appear grainy - they aren't like that on the computer.) This is the view from my seats, the best birthday present ever. What a glorious site to behold!

RFK isn't all bad. A creative person can find interesting shots around the ballpark, even during her twentieth game of the season! Of course, the September sky's brilliance is a photographer's best friend. The flag was far less cooperative, and it refused to fly all the way out so I could get both the stars and the stripes. Did I mention how beautiful the day was?

Normally I'm not fond of the gimmicky crap that's overtaken the game of baseball these days on account of this being ADD nation and all, but I gotta say, I absolutely love the president mascots. What a simple yet brilliant marketing concept. I can't believe they didn't let Teddy win the last game. The bullpen all came out and tried to keep the other three back, but Teddy never showed - he was supposed to be at the new ballpark, apparently. Not cool.

Chanting for Teddy erupted after Abe was booed for winning the race (was it Abe? I forget.), though it turned out to be a typical Washington chant, where different sections of the stadium couldn't get it together. This is the only city I've been in where people don't know how to cheer at a baseball game. I find it rather strange. But hey, at least the stadium was full.

I roamed around the stadium during the middle innings, taking it in one last time, going to corners I'd never had cause to visit like the very top row of the highest part of the park. I tried to imagine what the stadium had been like back when it was a new thing of wonder, when people marveled at its space age architecture, when you could tell whether the seats were purple, pink, or maroon (Don Sutton called them red in the post game ceremony), when there wasn't standing water sitting above the drains (yeah, and it stunk like sewage, too!). I noticed everything on this day, noticed the chipping paint, the cracks in the concrete, and the dampness everywhere. I suppose I had just gotten used to it and blocked it out until I was forced to use all of my senses to capture as many memories of the place as I could. The stench of this standing water - which was two inches above the drain and had empty beer cups floating on it like toy boats - is not something I want to remember. Then again, the whole dumpiness of the stadium has a sort of cherished nostalgia element to it, at least it does in my mind. Like a guy I work with who grew up in Costa Rica said, "Only in America would you tear down a stadium like this. In most of the world, RFK is world class."

No game is more alive than baseball, a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow - God's promise that he'll never wreck the world again. (Boy, wasn't THAT a lie!)

I'm pretty torn about this ending, being fond of symbols as I am. I was younger when they tore Riverfront down - yeah, it was only four years ago, but four years makes a huge difference in your twenties - and I didn't attend the last game there. I did have a few tears in my eyes as I watched the implosion - it wasn't just a building, it was my childhood. It was the Big Red Machine and the 1990 World Series. It was Eric Davis and Barry Larkin and Chris Sabo and Tom Browning. But it didn't hit in me in the same way as going to the last game at RFK because by the time they tore Riverfront down, I had been long gone from Ohio. The last game at RFK coincides with my departure from Washington, so it's the end of a chapter of my life.

The team woke up in the late innings, like that 2005 team with all of its comeback wins. I remember thinking back then that no late deficit was insurmountable. On Sunday, that feeling returned to me, and I think the whole stadium kind of felt like we were going to win. We had to, I needed it, I needed to end it all on a good note, a note that I can hum sometime in the future when I'm thinking about DC.

Most of the crowd stayed until the end, unlike the rest of the season, when nary a soul was left in the ninth inning of a game. When we stood after Cordero got the second out in the ritual attempt to will him a final out, we weren't just standing for a game, we were standing for an era. It may be an era that many don't look upon with fondness, what with the dumpy stadium and the losing and all, but it was an era of infancy that we nurtured, we who went to the games regardless of the team's woeful inadequacies. In the end, it's the game itself that matters, summer's game, when light and warmth permit us to enjoy the great outdoors with our friends and family and we can stuff our faces with overpriced hotdogs and beer and suck in every ounce of life that surrounds us.

The game ended in the same manner as the whole RFK experience began back in 2005 - with a thrilling victory. For the first time since that exciting first half of that exciting first season, I felt a stirring of true love for the team of my city of residence, despite their terrible record, despite their terrible players, despite their terrible stadium. This is something we can never have again, not only the stadium or the players, but the relative newness of it all, the growing pains, all of the headaches of a lack of ownership and modern baseball amenities. We've been there from the very beginning rooting for a team because Major League Baseball finally gave the city a team and we live here and they are ours. For me, the Nationals are a big part of my Washington, DC experience. My head is filled with images of the Capitol Building, the White House, and RFK Stadium.

Last call's come and gone, my glass is empty, the game is done, and it's time for me to move on.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Friday, September 21, 2007

10 things I hate about today's MLB that have nothing to do with Bud Selig, E$PN, free agency, market disparity, the DH, or those other standard evils

10. Wrigley Field night games. It's kind of like holding a satanic ritual in the Vatican.

9. Playing teams in your division a billion times in April and September but not any time in between. Nothing worse than seeing Bill Hall fifty times a year.

8. That stupid hill at the Asstros' park. And that train. And that horrible jackrabbit mascot. And Lance Berkman.

7. Seven men in a bullpen. It'd be fine if they all were good, but you always have two or three requisite filler arms who shouldn't be wearing a Major League uniform. Or if you're the Reds, four or five.

6. Fans who complain about everything that has to do with their team. Are you a fan or not? You sound like an or not. Also, "fans" who come late and leave early. You are the spawn of satan. Also drunken cussing fans and obnoxious hecklers.

5. Aramark's more often than not cold hotdogs. We're paying twenty bucks for your processed meat product - you could at least give us hot hotdogs. And for that matter, I want hot fries as well, not mushy lumps of potatoes.

4. People who buy tickets for bobblehead nights but don't stay for the games. I thought about tripping some of them on the way out of the Presidential Bobblehead Nights at RFK just so their bobbleheads would break. HA HA.

3. Flat brimmed hats. For those who don't know, gangstas do that as a sign of their idiocy. Major Leaguers shouldn't mimic it.

2. Multiple mascots for one team. Or mascots in general. But why do some teams have five mascots? And why are so many of them just stupid? Like Screech, the worst mascot in baseball. Gapper isn't far behind.

1. West Coast games. I'm not twenty anymore, and I am pretty tired!

If that was the real Homer, we are going to have fun as Reds fans in the next several years

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away called Texass, a boy was born. He was named David after his father, but his family quickly learned that having two Davids in the house was too much, so they took to calling the boy Homer after his grandfather.

Homer was a special lad, a lad who'd been given extra strength in his arm as a gift from the gods. In exchange for the gift, he was tasked with saving Cincinnati Baseball from the throes of market disparity and leading the team back to its winning tradition. It was a high burden for a 21 year old to carry, yet try he did with mixed results.

The devil management sent him to wander the desert after a few starts, and many fools forgot about him. David Dewitt Bailey, Jr. is NOT Brien Taylor, however, but has a future in the Hall of Olympus. Homer came back a couple of weeks before the start of the Holy Month of October, the most holy time in the Baseball religion, and he pitched like a Major League ballplayer - a really good Major League ballplayer. Granted, it was against one of the worst teams in 2007 baseball to a lineup full of rooks and sucks and no Barry, but it was a masterful performance - excluding the first inning, when he was a bit nervous. He settled down and retired 15 in a row at one point. We saw a glimpse of the future last night, a nice, shiny future.

Oh man, am I excited for that future. With a rotation of Harang, Arroyo, and Bailey, and perhaps Maloney and Cueto in the second half, a bullpen with Burton and Bray, and the offense the Reds have now...look out, 2008 NL Central. We're going to eat you for lunch.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Officially eliminated

Remember when you were little and you were never allowed to stay up to watch the West Coast games? Oh, wait, I'm too old for that - back in those days, baseball wasn't on every night. Sure, we could listen to Marty and Joe every game, but televised games were few and far between unless it was the Cubs and Braves.

I'm watching this one. I'm watching because Homer gets to pitch again. Last night, insomnia kept me up until 2am. Too bad my system didn't wait until tonight to choose to be awake. I sure hate West Coast games.

The Reds were officially eliminated after yesterday's loss. Looking back on the season, it's pretty amazing that we managed to stay in the race - I mean theoretically - until the last ten games of the season. Yeah, the whole NL Central sux, but considering we have five other teams to play in the division that amounts to what seems like half a season, we kind of played to its level. It's a real shame that Narron wasn't fired earlier in the year (like say, January) and that Wayne kept shipping the same bullpen losers in and out of Cincy instead of acquiring new arms or using some of the farmhands. The Reds lead the Majors with 27 blown saves. If we had won only half of those games, we would be buying our playoff tickets with Sausage and Chub$ fans. And those 27 games don't count blown ties like last night or the numerous times we were only down by a run or two in the late innings only to see the pen put the game out of reach.

Then there were the wasted roster spots - we still suffer through that with Jason Ellison on the bench. But think about how Chad Moeller and Juan Castro were on the bench at the same time for too many games this season. How many times did rallies die because these jokers were sent to the plate since we had no one else to pinch hit?

Bottomline is this team was mismanaged badly, and it's led to our seventh consecutive losing season. We haven't had more than three losing seasons in a row since an eleven year stint way back in 1945-1955 during war years. In the time since then, we've had two three-year losing streaks (1958-1960 and 1982-1984) and one two-year losing streak (1997-1998). Single losing seasons came in 1966, 1971, 1989, 1991, and 1993. That's it. Every other year since 1955 we've had a winning record - 33 of 46 seasons until the current streak began in 2001.

We should be more vocally angry than we are. We should picket games, storm the field, viva la revolution! Sigh...