Thursday, July 31, 2008

It's bittersweet

I wanted Junior gone. His death signal antics were the final straw. But I haven't been one of the typical Junior haters. I wrote this when he visited Seattle last year:

On Junior

Now's as good a time as any to write about my long Griffey fandom and the beautiful Mariner's poster that used to hang over my bed in high school. I graduated in 1995, so I guess you could say I was an early follower.

It all started with baseball cards. When I was in 8th grade, a friend of mine who happened to be a boy got a lot of my Griffey cards. Junior was in his second season when I started the school year, and I knew about him only because his father was playing for the Reds at the time. I knew about Senior and the Big Red Machine, of course, as my awareness of that team pretty much had come when I saw all the hoopla about Pete coming back. By the time Junior put on a Major League uniform, Pete had disgraced himself and was out of baseball for good. I'll never forget the scandal and the impression it made on my young mind. But I digress.

This friend of mine, Jeremy was his name, traded for most of my Junior cards, which of course were rookie cards. Back then, the American league was pretty foreign - the Mariners more so because they were so far away from Dayton, Ohio. But soon after I traded my cards, I began to wonder about what was so special about this guy that made Jeremy want those cards. Yeah, I know, I wondered too late - should have thought about it BEFORE I traded for all of those Paul O'Neill cards. Sure, Paul was a great player, but he was no Junior!

I also noticed that Junior was gracing the cover of every sports magazine. (I'm glad I saved a bunch of them.) I read everything I could about him, and very early in his career I began to dream of him coming home and playing for my - and his father's - Cincinnati Reds. I bought a beautiful Costacos Brothers poster of him, lots of Mariner teal and green, and hung it above my bed. He was right in the center, where not even Barry or Brett Boone hung. It was there for several years.

One Saturday night when I was gone, so were my parents, and my sister had a party. Someone stole that poster, which today could probably sell on ebay for $$$. I don't care about that, though. I want that poster. My sister bought me another poster to replace the stolen one, but it wasn't the same. I've tried looking for a copy of the poster but have never found one. (Perhaps I should post on Craigslist Seattle?)

The day we got Junior was one of the greatest days in my life as a Reds fan. Junior was going to be wearing red when he broke Aaron's record, and I just knew I would be at that game to see it when it happened. Seven years later, we all know what heartbreak this has been, but you know what? I don't regret Junior coming to the Reds - quite the opposite. I feel lucky that I've been able to see him play on a regular basis, not like when he was in Seattle and the odd Mariners game came on ESPN.

This year we are getting to see the Junior we have waited to see for so long, and it has been a blessing. But that 'what if' will always poison any success he has as a Red, for he has missed 350 games since he's donned the Cincinnati uniform, and 350 games is a lot of home runs!

I hope Seattle fans give him a five minute standing ovation when he is announced this evening. I plan on watching the game tonight. Even with the heartbreak, he's had an amazing career.
I attended the Reds game the day after he hit 600. That was Junior's game. It felt like we were saying goodbye at that game.

There will always be the what ifs.

Accept the trade, Junior!

Accept the trade to the White Sox, Junior. Accept it and we can kiss your whiny death signal butt goodbye! Don't let the door hit you on the way out - you might break something!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

2008 at Great American Ball(p)ark

Sticky sweet melody sings a river's waves
Makes canorous banks of two states,
Her weighted wet air sends baseballs soaring
Riverboats, speed boats, barges, jet skis
Passing the Queen in her summer glory
As fans pass through the pearly red gates

Their red robes worn gaily with wanton innocence
Their mouths wet with prodigal pleasure
Their eyes wooed by magnanimous hues of a game worn by time
Spending their wad in this moment of leisure
Spending it all to the very last dime
Spending it all to the very last cent

Their talismans turned inside out
The weary fans pray and shout and worship in the pews of legends
A choir thirty thousand strong
Sings the hymns of the Machine
Oh how it turned and cranked and burned!
And now?

The stockings they follow, the mighty, the just
Stumble behind the raging Cubs in pinstriped suits and bank accounts
Stumble behind the lager, the birds,
The thieves of the sea who are always the worst
And those who impersonate space safari
They, too, fly higher than our redlegged weary.

Muscles mangled by a mounded marauder
A breaking pitch as black and parlous
As a sea swallowed by eternal night
Another pitch - a swinging strike
Another game has come and gone
Another season lost and done

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dragons pics

For lack of anything worthwhile to post given the Reds STINK, here are a few Dragons pics from a few weeks ago, not the infamous brawl.

I hope Mesoraco can learn to hit professional pitching, because it sure would be nice to develop a catcher of our own. Last time we did that, we gave the guy away before he ever had a chance to show he belonged in a Major League uniform. He then proceeded to have an excellent Major League career with Seattle. Does the name Dan Wilson ring a bell? Number one draft pick by the Reds in - what was it? - 1990?

I think he's pretty weird looking. Different, not weird. Gives him character, and if he can hit, he'll stand out in the big leagues. There's something about him I like. Maybe it's his position. I adore catchers.

Once upon a time I played that position. I vaguely recall it, but my knees tell me it really happened. Especially when it's about to rain. I hear the surgeon calling...

I was pleased to see Neftali Soto in a Dragons uniform. They hadn't even the time to sew his name on his uniform. Dude can hit. Can't wait to see him rise through the ranks of the farm system.

On a related note - GET RID OF GRIFFEY NOW. What a baby. He's a terrible influence on the young guys and he needs to go. Frankly, if I had to pick one reason above all others why the Reds stink this year, I would say three words: Ken. Griffey. Junior. What a freaking whiner.

A few more photos:

Monday, July 28, 2008

I have a headache

I have a headache
It's the color of blood
A little lighter, a little brighter
Bitter like wormwood
Bitter like bad Coffey
Like the sight of Corey on a lineup card.

I have a heartache
It's bleeding me out
It's leaving me fallow, hollow
Like that Chris Sabo bat
The one with the cork, the cheat!
I've been cheated.

Another loss, another year
Another end before the grasshoppers fly
Get me some aspirin!
Get me some beer!
(Maybe next year I'll have something to cheer.)

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Face of a New Generation

The wonders of Technology. Yes, I feel that Technology deserves a capital letter, as it has taken a persona of its own. It seems to rule us, control us, dictate our every move, and man, is it a fascinating thing.

Take Facebook, for example. I had been under the impression that Facebook was a toy for teens, a place to exhibit mindless dronery while talking in a language no grown up person understands. OMG! WTF? IDK. BBF. BRB.

Well, last autumn when I was in Bulgaria, I set up a page during a spot of bad weather. I spent about two days straight moving through the cyberjungle of Facebook, hunting for an answer as to why Facebook? Then, I became a promiscuous Facebook application junkie.

But I left my Facebook page alone when the torrent of Bulgarian rains cleared and I wasn't stuck inside anymore. I visited once or twice in 2008, but it wasn't until two days ago when I began to understand the value of such a technological development.

I've talked to people who had disappeared from existence in the past couple of days. Really amazing stuff. Used to be people stayed wherever they were born, so you never really lost touch with people. Then came transportation developments and industrialization, and people began moving around. You started to lose touch with people and then they were gone from your life forever. Well, technology has compensated for it.

Today, I found Total Baseball Manager 2008. I think it's like fantasy baseball, which I have never played. I wouldn't be good at it, because I'd pick mostly Reds. See my Total Baseball Manager 2008 team - Ross, Votto, Phillips, Keppinger, Encarnacion, Dunn, Bruce, Griffey, Harang, Arroyo, Cueto, Volquez, Bailey, Valentin, Gonzalez, Hopper, Burton, Affeldt, Cordero.

It's a little outdated. Scott Hatteberg is still on the Reds, for example. First thing I did was replace Corey Patterson with Jay Bruce. Boy, did I take delight in that.

It wouldn't let me put Jerry Hairston Jr. on the bench (or Griffey on the bench in favor of Hairston.) Only his brother Scott was listed in the program. It wouldn't let me put Andy Phillips on the bench, so I picked Barry Bonds. Only crazy, moral relativist fools would not want Bonds on their team. Seems to me America is a nation of them, seeing as how Bonds still hasn't been picked up. And he'd play for the league minimum at this point - though I suppose the Player's Union would never go for that.

My lineup:

Bonds (they make you have a DH)

OMG! THREE LEFTIES IN A ROW! See, it's like having two top of the lineups.

Then, that's that. You press Play Ball!, you choose a team to play, and it gives you three box scores for the series. That's it. You can make trades and such, but you don't really do anything after you pick your team. I have no idea what the results are based on, and I grew bored with it. Maybe I'm just doing something wrong.

Another thing I added was the Stadium Tour where you mark all of the stadiums you've been to. It's for all sports, and they only go to AAA in the Minor Leagues, so you can't add, say Dayton. But, you know, it's kind of fun if you're looking for a diversion.

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Radio, radio, radio

Once upon a time, the world was not blessed cursed plagued experienced with cathode ray tubes and cabletology and digitality and plasmalogy and webology and the like. In 1921, in the midst of one of the greatest tragedies in the history of mankind, that being Prohibition, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Philadelphia Phillies could be heard through a little box known as a radio. It was probably a hot day, as it was August 5th in the Steel City, which was, back then, an important city in the United States of America, not the hollow shell it is today.

From then on, the great denizens of the United States, who were passionately in love with a little game called baseball, were able to hear their beloved game through these little boxes.

Nineteen years after Pennsylvanians heard the Pirates beat the Phillies, the first baseball game could be seen by people who weren't even at the game. The day was probably a hot one like the first radio game, as it was August 26th, 1939 at Ebbets Field, and Americans were once again legally allowed to enjoy the epicurean pleasure of a cold beer at a ballgame. The teams? The Brooklyn Dodgers were hosting the Cincinnati Reds. The two teams split a doubleheader, with the Reds winning the first game 5-2 and the Hated Dodgers winning the second 6-1. Television.

Despite the technology, broadcasting nearly every game has been a relatively recent phenomenon. For me, watching nearly every game has been even more recent. I subscribed to MLB.TV for the first time in 2004 and had a subscription every year until this season, and that is only because I am in the Reds market and can watch on FSN Ohio. Besides, since the death of my laptop, I have not had regular high speed internet access. It is my dream that a new laptop - or a gently used one - will fall from the sky so that I may rejoin the twenty-first century.

But I digress. I'm talking about watching every game. Watching it. Seeing the beauty of the game with my very own eyes without even being there! It's almost as if I am drawn to the cathode ray tube (or internet) against my will, as if I am an addict of the drug of the nation whenever the Cincinnati Reds come on.

I've just returned from a Walden week. Actually two of them. My parents have a cottage at Fort Loramie State Park, replete with one of those safari boats they use to travel down the Congo or the Amazon rivers, called pontoon boats here in Ohio. I don't know if they're called pontoon boats while floating over piranhas or in between hippos, but I don't see why not - they're boats on pontoons. Though some people live on the lake year round, many of the cottages are only in use during the summer weekends, making week life very tranquil and isolated. There is no FSN Ohio in the cottage, just a few radios. Even the boat has a radio.

I fell in love with baseball on the radio again.

I retreated to the isolation to get some work done and do some writing, and boy was I rewarded with productivity. There were no distractions, only the radio and the voice of Marty Brennaman telling me what was going on down below him. My imagination woke up; I was able to envision Brandon Phillips diving to his left and flipping the ball to Joey Votto for a Gold Glove out. I pictured the flight of the little white sphere stung by Edwin's bat as it sailed into the seats. I conjured up images of the home plate umpire ringing up another victim of a Voltron changeup, the arm pump jerking his body in that manner so dreaded by luckless batters.

We know so little about the human brain, but this we can surmise: television is lethal for the imagination. Our brains aren't forced to do anything when everything is presented to our eyes.

Hey, I'm not anti-television. Anti-garbage television, yes, but I enjoy some shows like 30 Rock, House, and Ugly Betty. And The Simpsons, of course, even today's Simpsons. When the world looks back at American society one hundred years from now, you can bet they will study the Simpsons. There are already university courses about the show. Brilliant, brilliant stuff.

Like everything in life, there must be balance in television time. Everything in excess is bad for you - work, red meat, alcohol, credit cards... Everything. Moderation is balance. Moderation is key to human health. Moderation is happiness.

I had an imbalance in my life. I watched too much baseball. Baseball grew dull for me. I grew dull. And then I went to Walden, and I experienced the All Star break and then I experienced radio baseball and I feel rejuvenated and some of the love for the game has returned. There's something about the radio, maybe the retro feel of it all that takes you back to baseball in more innocent times, maybe the recollection of childhood in hearing Marty's voice, maybe just the stimulation of brain activity, the animated use of the amazing human imagination, a divine gift so underused in the mundane ritual of quotidian existence.

Boy, I'm gonna miss hearing ...and this one belongs to the Reds! The time is fast approaching. We should suck it all in now while we can and appreciate what we have before it's gone.

OMG, breathe, breathe, breathe, and this one breathe belongs breathe to the Reds! What in tarnation is Cordero's problem? And I will say it again - Todd Coffey has no business in a Major League uniform. Why didn't they bring Herrera up again?

2009 Five Number Ones

Is this July? I feel as if the season's end has already arrived. Sixty-eight degrees at 11:30am? The death of summer looms as heavily as the infamous Trade Deadline. I hate this time of year.

Why hate the Trade Deadline? Well, knots, the knots that tie when thinking about losing what is so close to being good, losing a future star, losing a present star. It's like waiting for a meteor shower, that's what it is, waiting for the stars to fall from the sky. Who will we lose?

What I want to see next year:

??? Hairston/Keppinger???



A. Phillips

That leaves a space on the bench. I wouldn't mind keeping Affeldt, but I have a feeling he won't be a Red by the month's end. And I want to see Barry Larkin as the third base coach until Dusty's contract expires.

Seems like Bailey may have figured it out. Man, look at that rotation. It's like the Braves in the 1990s. Or better. There are potential FIVE number ones in that rotation!

When Thompson gets off the DL, bring him back here to get him some seasoning. Trade Fogg for a decent bench guy we can have around next year.

This 2008 team is a good team. They just need a season together under their belt.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

We won! Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Extra, extra, a hit and go home. Empty stands at 10:30pm, yet joy. Young Bruce, a hit. Dancing on basepath, then go. Kepp. Crack. Rounding third and heading for home. Edwin takes the helmet.

Johnny K, Johnny K eleven. One bad inning adds two extra frames. ONE HUNDRED EIGHTEEN PITCHES FREAK OUT. Cy Young is human in sixth. Big bats gone. No home runs. Run home. Score, score, score, SCORE!

Obscurity needs thirty stitches.

Too little, too late. No cards are wild for this one. Next year, maybe. Down with dead birds and sausage. Tomorrow, rock and roll with split end dead tone.

Bud Selig, meet Pontius Pilate

While I continue to think about how Barry Larkin's contract with the Nationals is up at the end of this year and work on a piece about the greatest Reds player in my lifetime and one of the best ever, I thought I'd take the time to post something. Anything. And it just so happens my thoughts are on Pontius Pilate, thanks to a sort of biography I'm reading by Ann Wroe.

My second favorite book in the world is Bulgakov's Master and Margarita. This is a book I had never in my life heard of (thanks to my poor public school education, no doubt) until I met a guy who had an MA in Russian literature (and German lit, too). The setting was Monterey, California during the early days of spring - not that the seasons matter in California except for the amount of light you receive during the day. We'd become friends on account of him noticing I always seemed to be carrying stacks of books, and we often went to Bay Books to browse their titles just for the joy of being in a bookstore, especially one that was independent of the mammoth stores whose employees couldn't tell you the difference between Sylvia Plath and Nora Roberts.

Well, on this early spring day, Bay Books had on display Bulgakov's classic allegory of life under Stalinism. It was most likely a moment of shear randomness that they had displayed the book; perhaps it was one of those employee favorites or something. But my friend told me I had to read it. That was six years ago (god, has it been that long?), and I've read it three or four more times since then.

In the book, the devil arrives in Moscow as a black magician, a "foreigner," as they call him. Craziness starts happening to the godless communists, really great stuff like the head of the Variety Theater ending up in Yalta in his underwear and sending desperate telegrams which make his employees believe he is sending them from a bar called Yalta because he couldn't possibly have made it to the city of Yalta in three hours; a black magic show where money falls from the ceiling but turns into beer labels the day after it is used and where people trade in their clothes for new ones, only to find themselves naked when they leave the theater; and a bunch of people ending up in an insane asylum. There's a big black cat that enjoys a good drink, vampires, a guy getting his head cut off, name it, it's all there, all representing one of the hideous sides of life under Stalin.

The Master and Margarita don't enter the story until about halfway through. The Master is in the asylum because he had written a story about Pontius Pilate that was rejected and ridiculed by the Soviet appointed publishers of the day. Suffice it to say that the Master was a coward for not standing up for Truth like Pilate was a coward for giving in to Caiaphas when he could find no crime committed by Christ. Nutshells - they crunch beneath your feet.

Now, I know that comparing baseball to such an important thing as eternal salvation is, well, blasphemy, but I suppose it's no different than calling a blog "Church of Baseball." If we look at the "religion" of baseball, we can see that Bud Selig is the Pilate figure in the whole poor allegory. Selig sees himself as a pious representative of the empire, i.e. the profit side of the game. Yet there is this truth about the game, its beauty, something inherent in the soul of America, and he listens to it, and he frets about it, and he sees its innocence.

But he kills it anyway.

I don't like Bud Selig. He sat and watched from his palace as football took over as the national pastime (though I realize baseball was well into its decline way before he was appointed hegemon.) However, there are those who call him a saint like there are those who call Pilate a saint for his part in the inevitable.

No, Selig's done nothing lately to provoke this post. I just have little to write about a team that stinks so badly I can smell them over the airwaves. It's one of those putrid smells I still take some pleasure in, though, like jet fuel or rotting autumn leaves or the stench of burning hops that floats through the Dublin air from the Guinness factory.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I just have to go away and dream it all up again

Yes, I've been neglecting my duties as a faithful servant of the great religion of baseball. The truth is, suddenly, as if seven years of losing caught up with me all at once, I've had a sort of decrease in interest. I did watch the All Star debacle, all five hundred and fifty-five hours of it, and I felt a twinge of excitement when I saw potential 20 game winner Voltron on the mound (wood, where are you?) Despite his failure to protect the National League, I was proud of him. Can you imagine how he'll feel on Sunday, getting to pitch against his childhood idol Pedro Martinez? Proof that dreams do come true. Sometimes I need a reminder that they can.

I've been catching up on all the reading I missed during my woefully inadequate public education, all the reading that either Bible thumpers or outraged parents or lazy administrators failed to teach me about, and I was in the AP classes! I can't imagine what it was like in the what is termed college prep or below. Boy, are our public schools pretty worthless. I think they exist to make us all into mindless drones who will be content to sit in gray, suffocating cubicles and tasked to sell bolts to some Chinese defense contractor or to buy wholesale cheap plastic junk from said China to sell in characterless leviathan stores that have swallowed the economies of entire towns. The more I think about it, the more I marvel that I was able to read a book like Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man as a senior in high school, that I was allowed to read it. James Joyce - the spawn of Satan! Then again, I had as an English teacher one of the throwbacks to a time when thought actually mattered, he and my senior Government teacher and my sophomore World History teacher. These people actually had profound influences on my life that I am just coming to realize fifteen years removed from secondary education. So, Mr. Stephen, Mr. Weadock, and Dr. Ross, if you come across my blog in some random chance over the course of infinite universe expansion, thanks.

I wrote a nice little post about the All-Star game, but I wrote it in my head and failed to remember much of it, even the point of it, really. It was something of a lamentation for the days when baseball kind of meant something to America in the way that it means something to those few of us who still marvel at the game's beauty, its poetry. I look around and see empty playgrounds and yards and sometimes find it difficult to believe their are actually children living in this country. Used to be kids played stickball when there wasn't proper equipment. Now they Playstation their baseball, if baseball is even involved, if it isn't deemed "too boring" to pass for a pastime. I must be an incarnation of some long gone New York Giants fan who died of a broken heart when they left for California. I know it was the Giants because of the hatred I feel for the Dodgers in my current incarnation as a moody 31 year old woman who wants more than anything to be drinking a Leffe Blonde on the Grote Markt in Leuven, Belgium right at this moment.

I think the decline and fall of the Major League empire began with California baseball. Sure, Californians love and deserve baseball teams, but expansion - not transmigration of the soul - should have blessed them with franchises. Just think of all that happened after that. I mean, the DH, for one. Free agency. Two strikes that kept the Reds out of the playoffs when they were probably the best teams in baseball. Greenies in the seventies, cocaine in the eighties, steroids in the nineties, corporate rape in the whatever this decade is called. Tearing down Yankee Stadium. Yeah, there was something about that in the post I wrote in my head. I wanted to cry at the end of that game. It was like the baseball gods were trying to make that game last forever because it was the final time an assemblage of All-Stars would take the field there, at least an assemblage of All-Stars who don't wear the same pinstriped uniform. But our National Disgrace had to go and ruin it with the threat of a tie that he created back in 2002.

A piece of me kind of died during that game. A piece of America died.

The worst part about it all is that most people don't care. They just shrug it off as another one of life's sucky tragedies. Not even tragedy. Just a happening, like a picnic in a park. Do people even take picnics anymore? I mean aside from on the Fourth of July and Memorial Day and days like those? They don't care because well, the earth's axis is located in their living rooms or something. Right next to the plasma screen television.

I always admired the people in Boston, because they do care. They saved their park. But you know, Boston has given us so many great patriots that it seemed like just another great chapter in the great history of Beantown. Maybe they have better schools up there, schools that don't produce mindless drones that cause people to submit to rampant corporatism. Hell, I don't know. I've only been there once. It was pre-2004 so the fandom there was still genuine.

Anyway, so that's what I have to say about that. Disillusionment, you know. A sort of curse of the thinking class. Now I'm going to go have a beer and be annoyed by Jim Day on Reds live while trying to read John Dos Passos' USA. That's one of those books we never read in English classes. God forbid we touch the socialists! How evil! People who think that society is better off when we're not hiding behind our picket fences with loaded guns ready for the boogeyman who dares try to steal our DVDs! Run away! Run away!

If I post nothing this weekend, I'll be back next week sometime. In the meantime, Go Reds! We're only what, 7 games back in the Wild Card race? Only 5 teams ahead of us in the race, including the Mets, who we play four games this weekend? As they say, we ain't done yet!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Dusty Baker - L

Lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty lefty righty

Homer should have never come out of that game.

Monday, July 07, 2008

By the pricking of my thumbs

It was a little fun, wasn't it? Just when I have myself believing that I am done with baseball for the year, that I cannot take any more disappointment, the Reds have to go out and get a four game sweep to move within four games of .500. Irrationality strikes again as we go into a six game road trip against the Chub$ and the Sausages. Time to gain a few games in the standings and climb back into the race. A sprinkle of luck and a dash of hope, double, triple, toil and trouble, Chubbie$ burn and Sausages bubble! The Wild Card looks like it will come from the NL Central this year, so hey, who knows?

Don't get your hopes up, though. Besides, the sweep was against the worst team in baseball. Still, to sweep, perchance to dream.

I'm going to the Dragons game tonight. They've been pretty awful for the last month or two, but hey, it's Reds baseball, Version A.0.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

I can't watch

I didn't bother to watch the end of the game last night. I was so disgusted I turned it off. Losing two of three to the Pirates, wasting two home runs by Jay Bruce, having Corey Patterson still on the team, Josh Fogg wants to move back into the rotation, losing Gonzalez for the season, I just can't do this anymore.

I'm happy to see that the Rays completed a sweep of the Green $ox. Now there's a team that knows what it's doing, and a fun team to watch, too. And can you believe it? People are starting to show up at Rays games.

Now here's a good idea. Not the cowbells. The giving a promotion away only to those who don the team gear.
But the cowbells were only given to fans wearing Rays gear, a point that helped band together the faithful and elicit a sense of pride.
I'm jealous of "Raysmania." I look at the Reds and see the good young talent, but I'm tired of waiting for the future.

I'm not upset that Thompson gave up 7 runs. I'm upset that Affeldt and Bray gave up two more. I'm upset that the team didn't hit, that without Bruce's two homers and Dunn's one, there was no offense. Again. I'm upset that Ken Griffey, Jr. continues to bat third in the lineup. I'm upset that only the worst place Washington Nationals have a poorer hitting team. I'm upset that an offense that has been pretty good over the last several years was fixed so now it's broken because of some old school obsession with strikeouts. Yeah, great, we've cut down on team strikeouts. We've also cut down on HITS! And that small ball crap? We're third in baseball in caught stealings. When we do manage to get runners on, they just get thrown out on the basepaths!

I'm tired of it all. Fed up. I have nothing to write about any more. Baseball has ceased being fun for me.
"We played some good games with these guys, but the bottom line is you've got to win," Bruce said. "Good games don't count as wins."

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Press One for Baseball, Two for...

I lost my cell phone about six weeks ago - I think it was at a Reds game. I wasn't too upset - it was a cheap phone with a pay as you go plan. I'm not a big phone person. I'd much rather be sitting across a table from someone drinking beers and having awesome conversations about life than talking into a little mechanical device where you don't get one hundred percent of communication, where you're missing the facial expressions, the hand gestures, the body movement. That's as much a part of communication as the words, maybe more, because words can lie, but unless you're a world renown poker player, your expressions and your gestures can give you away. Besides, I find it difficult to concentrate on what someone is saying over the phone because there are so many distractions.

I spent two years of my life without a phone. Not just a cell phone. No land line either. I had run up my cell phone bill due to what turned out not to be included text messaging to an outrageous amount and canceled my service because of what I felt was deception. I didn't bother to get another phone and I had a laptop for wifi, so I communicated by email. I tell you what, it was funny watching people try to deal with a person who had no phone. My favorite memory was when I was late to a Nats game due to a meeting at work (sometimes people call those happy hours). It was a giveaway night, and my friend Stephen didn't want to miss the promotion, so he went inside. Being used to my lack of phone, he waited for me at the food court that hangs over the main gate at RFK. When I arrived, he dropped my ticket to me. That's what people did before cell phones. I think there was a lot more thinking going on back then.

I didn't miss the first pitch or my promotion, and I still managed to meet up with him. Another time I was late I found him seated at the stadium. I used my legs and walked around looking for him. I suppose it's easier when you're only getting 20K on a good day, but I was able to use my sense of reason to overcome the lack of a phone.

That being said, it was tough to live in 2005 and 2006 without a phone. I finally broke down and got one, but I didn't get anything fancy because I knew I just wouldn't use it enough. I say "I'll meet you there" and meet someone there. It's quite a simple concept actually. Still, it is nice to say you're running late or something like that. I'm not anti-technology - I mean, I run a website fore Pete's sake.

So I lost my phone about six weeks ago and figured I'd have to pay full price for a new one and the area code would be 937 instead of Washington's 202, where I plan to go back to anyway, and I just didn't bother with getting another one, I thought I'd just wait until I got back to DC. Only my Reds fan friend Clark asked me if I'd gotten another one yet since we are probably going to meet up this weekend at GAB(p), and I thought, you know, I really should check to see if I can order a new phone. Funny thing about how I met Clark. Last year when the Reds came to DC for that terrible sweep (oh, the agony), I had four tickets to the first game and only three people to use them, so I sold one to a scalper. Clark, a Reds fan, bought the ticket from the scalper.

Anyway, so I find out today I can get a free replacement phone if I pay the shipping costs. I can even order it online. First, I had to suspend my account. Nobody's used the old phone because my account balance is still there, probably because the battery was about dead when I lost it (hence the reason a good samaritan couldn't call me to say he'd found it. At least that's what I choose to believe.) I order the phone, type in all of my information, and hit send. I get, we can't process your order now, call 1-800-blahblah. I find that quite irritating, but I make the call.

I am still suffering the after affects of the ordeal. I am emotionally drained. We all know the frustration a customer "service" call can bring. I call, and get a somewhat pleasant but kind of abrasive voice on the line - a recorded voice. I think her name is Simone. She tells me to say English for English, so I say English. Then she gives me a host of options to say. I hate those stupid voice systems. Why can't I just press a button? I have a generic American accent, not some nasally old twang you can find in the Midwest, yet I always seem to have problems with those systems. Didn't matter though, because they didn't have my option. They also didn't have an option for talking to a live person. I pressed 0 and Simone says, I know you want to talk to a live person, but I need to know what you're wanting to talk about. Say blah for blah, blah for blah, etc. I tried to say talk to someone. Talk to a live person. Talk to a customer service representative. Simone told me she didn't understand. Then she asks a question and tells me to say yes or no. I scream No. She doesn't understand. She doesn't understand the word no? She asks me something different. I scream No.

At this point, I've been on the phone for about twenty minutes trying to figure out what option I should say to take me to a live person. I continue to press 0, which only brings more questions from Simone. Now I'm starting to cuss a little. Ok, a lot. Screaming, actually. I want to talk to a live person! I want to talk to a live person! With some words in between those.

Finally, I hung up. I tried again. Same deal. So I go online to try to find a different number. I google Virgin Mobile lost phone. A different number comes up. I call it. I get a live person very easily. I talk to him, tell him my frustration, tell him I just want to order a new phone and it wouldn't let me do it online. Then he asks me what province I live in.

I thought it strange, but since my number is DC, I said DC. He thought for a minute, then said, oh, you're in the States. He was quite nice about informing me I had called the Canada line. Very nice, actually. Then he proceeds to give me Simone's number.

I finally decided to just make answers up and if I ever got a live voice, she could transfer me to the appropriate department. I got someone, some bimbo with no personality and a strange inability to write down numbers as you spoke them to her. She wasn't nice. She wasn't nasty, either, just sort of there, a voice on the phone.

Oh well, I ordered a new phone. Should be here in two days if she wrote down the numbers correctly.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Road trip - Sunday's game

Sunday was Slider's birthday at The Jake. They gave away Slider hats to kids 14 and under. I tried to get the guy at the gate to give me one, but he just laughed. Everyone was really nice. The guys at the merchandise stand where I went to buy an interleague ball (I collect balls from various stadium and events I attend) remembered me on Sunday when I couldn't resist buying a pack of 2008 Topps cards. Even though I no longer collect baseball cards like I once did, I still pick up a pack every now and then. As I stood at the cash register, I remembered why I stopped buying them. For ten cards, I had to pay $4. No wonder kids don't collect baseball cards anymore. I got Alex Rodriguez and Andruw Jones and Tony LaMafia and Jermaine Dye, Jason Isringhausen, some dumb league leaders card, some dumb this guy did something on this date card, and I can't remember the other three. They never put any Reds into the packs do they? Last year I bought a pack and got Jerry Narron. I thought about sticking voodoo pins in it, or at least taping a picture of a brain onto it. But we got Pete Mackanin and all was pretty good for awhile. Those pics of him sitting watching the Reds as a scout last week sent a little flutter through my heart. I couldn't help thinking what if he were the manager this year?

Sunday's game was pretty fun, though the weather was weird. At one point the rain came down and drenched everything in site for about a minute and that was it. There wasn't really any time to think about putting the tarp on the field. We were lucky because we were sitting under the restaurant and didn't have to move, but the scene of everyone rushing to leave was pretty funny, especially since by the time they got to shelter, they were soaked and the rain had stopped.

Bronson still didn't have his best stuff but the Indians were missing everything so it was A-OK. I really hope the Reds don't trade him. He'll be a great number five pitcher when Thompson and Cueto get their youthful jitters out and Harang rights the ship. He has personality, you know? He gives a face to the team. It's dangerous when you become attached to individual players in this day and age, because you'll just have your heart broken when they leave, but I can't help it.

I love Edwin Encarnacion, too. I was pumped to see him hit one out.

I just loved the photo of the kids in the hats, and I love that a kid is wearing a Dunn jersey in it. Smart kid. Sign Dunn to a longterm contract!

Baseballs soaring into the Cincinnati night

Hey, the Reds got the lead in Baseball Tonight even before the ten straight minutes about the Red $ox game.

Those kind of wins are the best. Send your heart soaring with delight.

Junior looked pissed while batting, pissed while circling the bases, pissed during the scrum at home plate, and pissed while doing a postgame interview. I wonder what was up.

We have Volquez going tonight after a bad outing. Let's take this win streak to four in a row! Maybe we can make this leap out of last place permanent.