Thursday, March 27, 2008

Four days

Four days until our holy day! I'll be there! Yay!

Sports Illustrated has picked the Reds to finish second to the Chub$ in the NL Central. E$PN continues to mention the Reds in talking about surprise teams of the season. I won’t be surprised. I don’t think the Chub$ and Sweet Lou have enough to warrant the unanimous opinion among sports talking heads that the Chub$ will win the division. It’s too bad the Reds finish the season series with them in early September instead of the last week of the season as it has been in the past. Of course, it’d be nice if the Reds had the division wrapped up by then! Imagine, the Reds eliminating the Chub$ over Labor Day weekend…ah, to dream!

The Reds have it. Unfortunately, this reluctance to put the best team on the field is going to be a huge hindrance, especially if they keep three catchers. The acquisition of Corey Patterson continues to seem like a no good, awful, terrible, very bad move. Mike Stanton needs to go. Juan Castro needs to go. And what happens when Alex Gonzalez returns? And when Jay Bruce tears up AAA?

Here’s my roster preview, a combination of reality and some wishing and hoping:

Starting Rotation

Harang – One of the top five pitchers in the National League. An underrated, quiet guy who continues to be ignored as if he isn’t a “Number one starter.” Harang gets 20 wins this year against 8 losses.

Arroyo – Got screwed last year by his bullpen and his offense. Guy has been pitching well this spring. He’s going to have a career year. 18 wins, 12 losses.

Cueto – A Rookie of the Year candidate, Cueto’s going to be nervous during his first Major League start on Thursday and will probably have a rough April, but he’ll recover and win 12 games for the Reds this year against 9 losses.

Fogg – Fogg will serve as a decent enough filler until Bailey gets his head out of his butt and gets himself up to Cincy in late May, giving the Reds the best pitching rotation in all of baseball.

Volquez – A Rookie of the Year candidate, Volquez will strike out 180 this year and go 14-7.


Cordero – Pumped up by the Reds’ winning ways, Cordero will turn it up a notch and get 50 saves this year.

Weathers – My favorite pen guy, he’ll make last year’s 8th inning nightmares a thing of the past.

Burton – Despite a rough spring, Burton will recover by May and turn into the pitcher he showed us he could be last year.

Bray – The combo of Bray, Burton, and Coffey will make each game against the Reds a six inning affair.

Coffey – I gained a lot of respect for Coffey when I heard about how hard he worked this off season after his terrible 2008. He hasn’t given up a run all spring, and they say he looks better than he ever has. Awesome.

Affeldt – Affeldt had a terrible spring and was thankfully sent to the pen, where he was very effective for the National League Champion Rockies last year. If we get what they did, we may just have one of the best pens in baseball, a complete 180 from last year’s nightmare.

Stanton/Belisle – This is the question mark. Stinkton sux; Wayne’s trying to trade him. A bag of balls would be a good trade, just get him off the roster. As for Belisle, well, we do need a long relief guy, and he and Affeldt would be more than adequate to fill that role. We have two young arms we don’t want to ruin (hopefully three by the end of May), so we’re going to need Matt to suck up the fact he lost a starting job and just go out there and give us a good effort when he’s needed. And when Bailey comes up at the end of May, hopefully we’ll be able to trade Fogg, but if not, we can send Belisle down, right? Or is he out of options?

Opening Day Starters

Votto – Dude’s starting to come around after a slow spring. Dude needs to start on Opening Day. Dude’s gonna hit 20+ homers this year and for a .300+ average. Rookie of the Year Candidate.

Phillips – My favorite Red. Capable of going 30/30 as he did last year, though the statheads are unbelievers. Best darn defensive second baseman in the league. Orlando Hudson, eat your heart out. The Gold Glove belongs to Phillips!

Keppinger – This guy can hit. Good second batter guy. It sure would be interesting to see him batting leadoff with his on base percentage. A little unconventional, but as he doesn’t have much power, he’d be better off hitting ahead of those hitters who do.

Encarnacion – Will have a break out year after a slow April. Will hit .300, 30 homers, and 120 RBI. I believe this guy is an RBI man. And his defense is really incredible. You can’t look at his error total from last year – a lot of those were throwing errors and he seemed to figure out in the second half of last year. Will never compete for the Gold Glove because of my favorite National Ryan Zimmerman and David Wright, but he will definitely hold his own.

Dunn – Sign this man to a forever contract! 40 homers, 100 RBI, 100 runs, 150+ games EVERY year – how could you not want this consistency on your team for a long, long time. His defense has improved a bit despite what the statheads will tell you with their inside out range number.

Patterson – Stupid, stupid, stupid. The only liability in the starting lineup. Guy has a .299 career on base percentage, and he’s supposed to be a leadoff hitter? Wayne should have never caved to Dusty. It’s a GM’s job to sign the players, not a field manager’s. Freel got screwed, Hopper got screwed, and Bruce got screwed by this signing.

Griffey – Junior will hit 600 at the beginning of May, give us 30 homers, and have a season like he did last year, one last hurrah before he goes to Seattle next year.

Ross – Ross cannot hit as bad as he did last year. It simply isn’t possible. I think he’ll hit 15-20 homers this year with a .260 average, not bad considering he’s a pretty good defensive catcher, especially when it comes to throwing out runners. Didn’t he lead the league last year in caught stealing percentage? I could look it up, but nah. I know he was up there.


Hatteberg – I don’t want to see Hatteberg traded. What a great guy to have on the bench!

Freel/Hopper – One of these guys is going to go away. They’re trying to trade Freel. I wish they’d just keep Freel and get rid of Patterson, but Dusty’s in love. Hopper? Well, soon teams will figure out the bunting thing and his average will plummet. Who goes when Bruce comes up? Both of them? My ideal outfield for the season would be Dunn, Bruce, Griffey, and Freel as the fourth, but hey, I also want to put the best team on the field, so what do I know?

Valentin/Bako – Bako should have his bags on the truck bound for Louisville. I realize with Ross’ short spring that he might not be able to carry a full workload, but to carry three catchers is just stupid. Put Ross on extended Spring Training and let him get a few minor league games in, call him up in mid April, and send Bako packing. I don’t have anything against Bako, but I certainly have something against carrying three catchers. Fool me once, Wayne, fool me once, but fool me for a third season in a row? That’s just stupid!

Phillips/Green – It sure is nice to have some depth on the bench, isn’t it? I mean, it would be if we could be assured of carrying one of these guys instead of freaking Juan Hands of Lead, Bat of Foam Castro. If we carry three catchers, both these guys will be going to Louisville.

Castro/Gonzalez – I don’t see how it is possible that Castro stays on the roster when Gonzalez comes back. There’s simply no room for him. But you know, we have old Wayno for a GM, who surprises us from time to time with a bonehead move that keeps us from saying that he’s a good GM. I want to believe, Wayne, I really do, but you stole the 2006 season from us, kept three catchers when there were no bats on the bench, and then this Corey Patterson thing…I just don’t know, Wayne. Prove me wrong. Eat Castro’s contract when Alex comes back. I’ll even come down and help him pack his bags. I’m sure he’s a nice guy and all, and I don’t have anything against him personally, but he just isn’t a guy for a winning team’s roster.

Methinks a trade is coming soon. This team has great potential to win the division, but only if the names Castro and Stanton are not on the roster by May. We shall see. It stinks to cloud optimism with negativity, but such is effects of seven consecutive losing seasons. Still, the joy at hearing the national sports media giving the Reds some respect makes the cup of optimism overfloweth!

Monday, March 24, 2008

2008 Promotions the Reds Forgot

Goldfish Day – Why do they discriminate against pets? Why have a dog day but not a cat day? Or an iguana day? Or a guinea pig day? Well, I think we should take our goldfish to the ballpark. What other animal can live in a plastic bag filled with water for a couple of hours? Imagine sitting in your seat, holding up your goldfish in his plastic viewing area, and telling him, “Look, Goldie, Dunn’s up. Let’s cheer him on!” Clap, clap, clap, pop!

Dancing with the Stars Night – Come to the ballpark to watch your favorite stupid television show on the big screen! In between innings, watch as Cincinnati celebrities such as Nick Lachey, Jerry Springer, and George Clooney’s cousin hold their own contest. What are those uniformed men doing on that big, green field?

Pin the Tail on the Big Donkey Night – After each Dunn strikeout, fans are invited onto the field blindfolded to try their luck at giving Adam his tail. Contestants are advised to wear helmets, for the Big Donkey will be armed with a baseball bat. Every time Dunn gets on base, he is allowed to pin a tail on Paul Daugherty with a railroad tie for a pin and a big sledgehammer to drive it home.

Where’s Bruce? Nights – Every game Corey Patterson starts, every day Jay Bruce is not on a Major League roster, come to the ballpark with your “Where’s Bruce?” signs. Each time Patterson fails to get on base, which will be more than seven of every ten at bats, sing the “Where’s Bruce?” song: Oh I went to the ballpark to see the Reds win, Polly Wolly Dusty, Where’s Bruce? A wasted at bat from Dusty’s best pet, Polly Wolly Dusty, Where’s Bruce?

Brand New Bag Night - Celebrate another season of commercials you were sick of the first time you heard them with a replica of a frozen square hamburger in a bag. Boogie on the table. Hooh! You get a brand new bag!

Real Men of Genius Night - (Real Men of Geniuuuus...Mr. Real Men of Genius Marketing Guy...) You, Mr. Real Men of Genius Marketing Guy, have brought us some of the funniest, laugh out loud commercials that we have to listen to over the course of a 162 game season. (It's a loooooong, hot summer.) You make fun of the losers of American society in a way Saturday Night Live has never been able to do. (It's no longer funny...) Four or five new ads a year, you make sure we hear every single one of them by the end of the first Spring Training broadcast. (Between every inning and pitching changes...) So crack open an ice cold Crudweiser and know that you make us laugh until about the All Star break when we can no longer bear the same commercials over and over and over again. (Mr. Real Men of Genius Marketing Guy...) Night – Join the "simple folk," if they can bear to venture to the big, scary city full of the people they hate the most – city folk who “drink $5 coffees” and “forget the good things in life.” Because when life is too fast-paced for your brain to keep up, lash out at those who are doing just fine and create something where you can pretend it’s still 1950.

Juan Castro Pinch Hits for Josh Hamilton Commemorative Statue Night – Remember when Jerry Moron pinch hit Juan Castro for Josh Hamilton? Now you can forever relive that unforgettable moment with this statue commemorating one of the dumbest managerial moves in the history of Major League Baseball.

Neil Diamond Sing Along Night – Is your favorite part of the game when “Sweet Caroline” comes on and everyone sings along as if it were the greatest song ever written? Join the Reds family as they celebrate the grating brilliance of one of America’s singer-songwriters. In between each inning, Diamond greats such as Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show, Shilo, Crunchy Granola Suite, and Thank the Lord for the Off Button will be played while grounds crew members lead the karioke style sing along. Jam to the seventies synthesizer sounds and terrible lyrics for which Mr. Diamond is so well known! Bom, bom, bom…

Exercise Night – Join the thousands at the ballpark who already get their weekly exercise by going up and down the aisles while a game is going on! Why watch the action on the field when there is overpriced, heart attack-inducing chemicals that resemble food to purchase? Run up and down the stairs for seven innings until you decide to leave to "beat the traffic!"

Sarasota or Goodyear Night – Will it, won’t it? Place your bets on where the Reds will be training in March 2010. Will it be the beautiful white beaches of straight down I-75 Gulf Coast Florida or the dry, cracked desert of Arizona, where there is nothing to do after you leave the ballpark if you don’t play golf, where it will take 1600 extra miles to drive from and to Cincy (more than $200 worth of gas in a fuel efficient car, much more if you irresponsibly drive a gas guzzling SUV), where there is a two hour time difference? (Can you tell what side I’m on?)

I know this is late, but some Spring Training photos...

We touched down at Sarasota-Bradenton Airport, checked into the hotel, and set off immediately to see the ballpark. The weather was incredible - a beautiful 80+ degrees, sunny, a real joy inspiring evening. Green parakeets and palm trees greeted us as we left the airport. I thought the week would be perfect.

Then came the weather...

We arrived at the ballpark before ten on the morning of the Indians-Reds game. Perhaps it was even 9:30. That is too early. The minor leaguers mostly stood around listening to guys like Tom Browning and other coaches. It wasn't until after 11 when the real Reds came out. It looked as if Dunn were leading the stretching exercises. It was a little funny to see the guys all out on the field like that. Reminded me of when I used to play ball.

As the Reds took batting practice on Johnny Bench field, Griffey proclaimed his meterological expertise by informing those around him that there would be no game, that the weather would take care of that. Because of his expectations, he told the two dozen people watching BP that he was "just going for distance." He and Dunn had a contest going of sorts, though neither of them hit many out. Among those watching the contest were Dusty Baker and George Foster. Despite their games, there seemed to be a serious attitude towards batting practice I hadn't seen before when it came to Reds BP.

George Foster looks like he could still play. The guy is really nice, too. He signed a ball for me, and there was this sort of legendary glow about him and about that ink that cast a magical sense about the whole experience. I mean, this guy hit 50 homers for the Big Red Machine, that quasi-mythical team that I've only had the pleasure of reading about.

If this is your kid and you want me to take this picture down, let me know. I couldn't resist posting it. How cute!

We were sitting on the bleachers in between the practice fields watching the minor league pitchers and catchers who had just reported on the previous day and this kid was quietly playing with his Thomas trains. He was a very well-behaved kid, and I commend the parents - here's one kid I wouldn't mind sitting next to at a ballgame!

How long will Ryan Freel put on that Reds uniform? Even more than Jay Bruce, who got royally screwed by Dusty Baker's signing of Corey Patterson (come on, Wayne, stand up to the man), Freel suffers. Who wouldn't rather see Freel in center over Patterson? Or Hopper, for that matter? A lead off hitter leads off once a game. The whole concept is overrated. Besides, Corey Patterson has a career on base percentage of .299. That is NOT a lead off hitter's number.

The wind was fierce and blowing straight in from right field. The ugly day was not conducive to photos of the stadium, but we had three others to attend in the week, so I refrained from a lot of photos on the ugly day. Here's one, though. You can see how windy it was from the banner flying straight out. (And can the city of Cincinnati install these baseball lights on their lampposts?)

The game started despite Griffey's predictions, but we knew we would not avoid the rain. It wasn't supposed to start until 3pm but made its presence known to us and our ponchos an hour earlier than that. About two wet innings survived the weather until the tarp came on in the top of the fifth inning. It never came off.

Ed Smith has nowhere to get out of the rain except for the bathrooms and a couple rows at the top of the stands. We were wet, but fortunately it was just warm enough to keep us from being miserable. Aaron Harang pitched 4 innings for the win.

Grady made the trip, which I was quite happy about. Like so many others, he's my favorite Indian. Victor Martinez also made the trip, so the team wasn't totally devoid of its stars.

Good times, despite the weather. And the Reds won, too!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Been a long time...

On Baseball Tonight, the talking heads were discussing the Chub$' chances for winning the World Series this year. Just before they changed topics, one of them said, "And look out for Dusty Baker and the Reds in that division this year."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

12 days until Opening Day

and it appears there will be no tickets to go. :( I've always wanted to attend. I don't think it's right that the Reds have taken away the opportunity for the average fan to go. Those Power Packs they sell? They are nothing but packages for scalpers.

Maybe some day...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Some photos from Spring Training

I'm going to try to post most of the photos I took from Spring Training from last week. Here are a series of photos of Reds minor leaguers, whose pitchers and catchers had just reported when we got there.

test - blogger still messed up?

yes, it is. i still can't load photos and the format options are gone. it's been like this for days. i have a ton of photos to publish but can't.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Life Lessons from Spring Training

A guide for newbies:

1. If you’ve never been to Florida and you’ve haven’t been out in the sun all winter, even if you normally tan well, don’t overdo the sun. Your face may just swell up like a balloon – on the right side if you were sitting on the third base line at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland. Use ibuprofen for the swelling. Afterwards, your face will fall off, but at least it never hurt.

2. Don’t buy the Cincinnati Reds American Lager. It is an amber made by Crudweiser and costs twice as much.

3. Don’t bother bringing lots of stuff for autographs. Despite the fact that signing is a part of the game, most of the players think they’re too good for us common folk to acknowledge our existence. Retired players and Brandon Phillips are exceptions. Then again, if I had to deal with people like that woman who kept screaming “I’m gonna tell your mother!” at Adam Dunn when he didn’t look at the crowd, I might not look at the crowd either. (Eric Davis actually came over to her and told her to tone it down.)

4. When collecting sea shells, make sure you aren’t picking up living things. Like five baby clams, some scallops, a small octopus, a few cowries, and some sort of sea worm. They end up stinking when they die.

5. Remember it’s still winter, even if it is called “Spring” Training. Nothing like wearing a sweatshirt on your only full day at the beach. The water off Siesta Key was warmer than the air, which had gale force winds that aroused the sand to sting your legs. Make sure you bring long pants and a jacket, especially to games when it looks like it could rain.

6. Don’t expect it to be like a real game. I was amazed at how many people got upset when the starters came out in the third and fourth innings. But those were the younger touristy folks – the old folks know how to watch a baseball game, and there were a lot of them. There was none of that getting up and down during innings, no whining children with parents who won’t tell their kids to sit in their seats, and not a lot of cell phones or drunk people. There were also no gimmicks or videos or 500 mascots with their big heads blocking the view as they roam the stands. While I appreciated all of this immensely, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of loss knowing that once the season begins, so will these annoyances.

7. Don’t ever assume a pop up is going to stay in play. I waited a split second too long as I sat in disbelief that a foul ball was blowing my way and missed the catch, only to turn around and grab it on the carom. Second foul ball I’ve gotten in my life. But man, is it tough to catch those high pops when the wind is whipping around the stadium. I’ve never seen a ball blow like that.

8. Read Ernest Hemingway while you’re down there. It makes the whole Florida experience come to life. You can almost pretend that Sarasota isn’t one continuous strip mall with a few retirement trailer parks and a couple of golf courses stuck in between and beaches full of drunken college students.

9. Don’t get to the ballpark four hours before game time. The minor leaguers don’t start their drills until 10am, and watching their drills gets old real quick.

10. Don’t get too depressed when you step outside the airport as you make your way home and you see the ground covered with several inches of snow, ensuring a quick loss of your tan over the next few days.

11. Have fun!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Spring Training update

Wow, this week has flown by. I'm sunburnt, which is a bit odd because I usually don't burn, at least not like this, even if it is my first time in the sun since about October.

Yesterday's game versus the Yankees was great. The Reds batted around in the first inning off of Wang, who couldn't even finish the inning. Yankees fans littered the sold out stadium; some of them were real fans with Bronx accents and some of them were frontrunner bandwagoners, but all of them got their due. Of course, Jeter, ARod, and Posada didn't even make the trip, but that doesn't matter, because the Reds got six runs off a real Yanks starter.

The weather was still crappy but not as crappy as Tuesday when the game was called after 4.5 innings. Yesterday it only rained enough to think about getting out a rain poncho but it dried up and was rather pleasant aside from the cloudy darkness that hung over the stadium. It's hard being down here near all of these great beaches and not be able to use them, but being sunburnt from the Tigers-Phillies game on Wednesday, that might be a good thing. Sky looks the same this morning.

My impression of Reds Spring Training is probably skewed because I went to the Indians game with 5500+ people on Wedensday and 6000+ yesterday. Today I'll see them take on the Pirates, so I'm sure there'll be plenty of empty seats despite the fact they made those of us who wanted Yankees tickets buy this game, too. I lost count of the number of Yanks fans yesterday who asked if I wanted to buy their tickets for today.

So what is Spring Training like, you might ask. Well, the first two or three innings are pretty normal. When the Bats and Lookouts start pinch hitting in the third and fourth innings, things start to get a little strange. Sure, guys like Rosales and Janish may have a future with the Reds, but they aren't the real Reds right now. I know a thing or two about the Reds' system, but it seems like half of the stadium has no clue who these players are.

Aaron Harang pitched well (as usual) yesterday, but it was strange to see him come out after three innings. He still gets the win, though, because rules are bendable during Spring Training. Just as the game on Tuesday was a complete game after four and a half innings, yesterday's game length was a bit unusual. You don't read about it in the box, but yesterday with the Reds up 12-8, the top of the ninth ended and the Reds had won. People got up from their seats and headed for the exit (those who remained). Suddenly, the PA guy announced that they would still play ball in the bottom of the ninth. Chris Dickerson ended up hitting a three run homer and the Reds scored another for a total of 16 runs, though the last four didn't officially count. Seems like Baker just wanted some of his guys to get some ABs.

Autographs aren't as easy to get as I had imagined. In fact, the only current Red I have is Jeff Keppinger. He said he accepts his role as utility infielder but really wants to be a starter. I like that guy. The other Reds I got were gems - Eric Davis and George Foster. George gets his own ball; Davis signed the Keppinger ball, but it's still Davis' ball because he signed the sweet spot. I got Bobby Abreu's ink on a ball with two Yanks' rooks - Colin Curtis and Austin Jackson. Ellis Burks, now an Indians coach, signed my mesh Indians cap. Chris Snelling and Pete Laforest signed a squishy Phillies ball I brought along. I'll see what I can get today - there must be a trick to it I don't know about.

Above all, though, I have to lament even the thought of the Reds moving away from one of the most beautiful beaches in the world - Siesta Key - to the desert. Yes, Ed Smith could use a face lift (and yesterday they had to shut down the restrooms because the water pressure was gone), but time and time again I've heard people say they just can't make the extra 1600 mile drive down to Arizona. Seems to be a club of people here who come down every year. I can see how one can become addicted. Despite the rain, when I think about the ice and snow back in Ohio, I have to look down at my shorts and flip flops and smile.

More to come...

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Sarasota in brief

The game was called after four and a half innings, so yeah, it rained. But it was 76 degrees. The PA announcer tried to cheer us up by telling us it was 30 degrees in Cleveland and 34 in Cincinnati. It worked. I'd much rather be getting rained on in a ballpark than getting snowed on somewhere else!

I have traveled to five continents, thirty-something countries, and thirty-two states in the US, but this is the first time I've ever been to Florida. My impression of Florida was that the only people who languished here were old people and tourists. I laughed as we got behind two seniors who were barely moving up the ramp as we disembarked the plane, my first experience on Florida soil backing up my idea, which hasn't left me since. The game yesterday was full of retirees, retirees who knew how to sit and watch a baseball game. There wasn't all of that getting up and down during innings or talking on cell phones or screaming, writhing children who get everything they want and spend more time on the playground than they do in their seats. It was enjoyable to be there, watching a baseball game surrounded by others who were watching a baseball game and who wanted to watch a baseball game.

Ed Smith feels like a minor league stadium with Little League fields behind it. It was full yesterday - there were rumors of a sellout but there were still a few seats around. Once the rains came, there were plenty of seats.

We arrived at the complex early to check out the happenings. The minor league pitchers and catchers were there for their first day of practice. The only names on the backs of shirts that I knew were Viola, Klinker, and 2007 number one draft pick Mesorosco. I watched him hit a bit before I abandoned him for the "real Reds" who had come out to take BP.

I've taken plenty of photos, but we're getting ready to head over to Lakeland to see the Tigers take on the Phillies so I'll have to post them later along with a full description of yesterday's baseball experience. The Reds are down in sold-out Fort Myers today to take on the Red Sox. It's beautiful right now, sun is shining, weather is sweet. The sun that hid from us yesterday is sure to sting us with redness today.

Monday, March 03, 2008

I wore shorts, a t-shirt, and flip flops

Enjoying your snow and ice up there in the North??? :)

Saw Ed Smith Stadium today but arrived in Sarasota much too late to visit or to go to the beach. But man, is it awesome to be wearing summer was 83 degrees today! Can't wait for the game tomorrow! I hope Corey Patterson breaks his leg!


Man, does this stupid signing piss me and Reds country off. I was willing to give Dusty Baker the benefit of the doubt. This puts me over the edge. Should I go to the ballpark tomorrow with a FIRE DUSTY sign already? (And yeah, Wayne only signed him because Dusty told him to.)

Sunday, March 02, 2008

15 hours

In 15 hours, I leave for Sarasota. In 42 hours, I will be watching a live baseball game. In 38 hours, I'll probably be stalking the players on the practice fields.

Look for my Spring Training reports every night! It will probably be after ten when I get to post, because I plan on spending all day at the ballpark and the beach!!!


Saturday, March 01, 2008

Thinking back...

Do you think that if you imagine hard enough, you can't transplant yourself someplace? I mean, I could almost feel the warm Florida air while listening to today's game, at least until Gary Majewski came in to pitch. That always makes my stomach turn.

I was sitting in a place with five Reds pictures hanging in it. One is a treasure, a photo of the Big Eight sitting on a tractor with the words "big red machine" on it. It is signed by all of them. To the left of it is a picture of Rose - it isn't labled, but I'm sure it is number 4192. Bruce Bochy is catching and everyone at Riverfront is standing, even the Reds in the dugout. Next to it is a photo of Bench tagging out Willie Stargell at home. On the other side of the autographed photo is the picture of the Big Red Machine celebrating on the mound after winning a World Series. At the far end is a photo of some players standing on a baseline during the national anthem.

I think about the guys we have now, the younger guys like Dunn, Phillips, Bruce, Votto, Encarnacion, Bailey, Cueto, Volquez, Burton, Roenicke and wonder, can the Reds ever come close to that again? Can the Reds field a team whose starting lineup included three Hall of Famers and two more who should be in the Hall?

I'm only sad that I missed all the glory. I was born too late.