Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Loser Opened Pandora's Box

The 2008 season was kind of a lost one for us, wasn’t it? Throughout this painfully painful losing streak, this season was by far the most depressing. I had gone into the season with the same desperate optimism I had in seasons past, but that optimism was drained from me in April and never returned except in some frantic form a couple of times in spring. By the time the summer came around, reason and rationality had returned to me, and thoughts of October were no more.

The question is – why was it more disappointing than the other seven losing seasons? If you think about it, we’ve always had reason to hope throughout the streak. In 2001 and 2002, it was early, and we thought surely our team would be back in the playoffs next year, especially since Griffey “couldn’t be hurt every year.” In 2003 we were in contention for the first half of the season, and in 2004 we were in first place in the early going, even making the cover of Sports Illustrated as the surprise of the season. Of course, we all know about the SI curse. It was in full effect that year.

2005 stunk, but a change in ownership during the off season brought with it a great new hope, and indeed, that 2006 season was fun, even if it ended badly after we threw a quarter of our offense into the Leatherpants rubbish bin. To be eliminated in the last couple of days of the season, well, that’s something to cheer for after five losing seasons in a row. In the end, though, it just went as another L in the season column.

Still, our proximity to October baseball in 2006 gave reason to hope for the 2007 season. We could improve on the weak spots, and did – with one glaring exception. Our calfpen was terrible.

Ah, well, what can you do except go and sign one of the top closers in the game and another darn good relief pitcher and get rid of the garbage, giving a renewed sense of hope? And then they had to go and stink up every field in baseball. We were the “dark horse” of the league. Sports Illustrated picked us to come in second. But no, we had to start Corey Patterson in centerfield every damn day even as his batting average remained below the Mendoza line and his on base percentage rivaled that of a pitcher’s. We let our future star rot away in the minors for a couple of months to save a few bucks in arbitration while we were in desperate need of offense, a future star who hit 21 homers when it was finally deemed cheap enough to bring him up, too late to save the season.

And so now, after so many years of disappointment, what do we do? Can we allow ourselves to hope? Can we allow ourselves to think that maybe this is finally going to be our year? Can we stand up and raise our heads high, proud of the long winning tradition of our team, no longer one of the jokes of the Major Leagues?

Not when trade rumors swirl around the names of 22 year old Homer Bailey for 35 year old Jermaine Dye. Not when tornadoes fly around the names Edwin Encarnacion for Willy Taveras. Not when you have a new GM who seems to have a love affair for soon-to-be washed up veterans. Not when you don’t know if you have a shortstop or a catcher or if you only have one outfielder.

It’s been eight years, folks. There is a statute of limitations for hope. I’m pretty sure the one for Reds fans is up. So go put in your 1975 Big Red Machine DVD and dream away – it seems like a movie now, a work of fiction.

And yet…

Dude can't take a good picture

I was searching for a good photo of Bud Selig to use on my new website and did a Google image search. Look at it for yourself - it's a great laugh.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Just a thought...

I was away from any media for the last few days and just found out about the Citi bailout. I've always called it ShitiBank for no real reason except it sounded funny and juvenile, but now I have a big one.

I keep thinking about that brand new ballpark in New York I was prepared to call ShitiField (though the term should have gone to the last hunk of junk they played in). How much did the ShitiGroup pay for those naming rights?

If we are truly to establish a New Economic Order, I hope we see the end of the changing of stadium names every few years. Truthfully, I'd like to see us go back to naming things after individuals (like Shea or RFK) if we're not going to stick with team names like Yankee Stadium or Nationals Park.

UPDATE: Apparently, I'm not the only one thinking about this.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

This site under construction...

I checked out some html books at the library the other day. You know, the library? That place in every community where you can rent books for free? People still use them, you know. You can find everything there, from books on gardening and birdwatching to biographies of FDR and Barack Obama to books on The Rolling Stones and John Coltrane to books on how to make baseball bats or Guinness stew. Anyway, I found a couple of books on html and decided to open notepad and start from scratch. It's really quite simple to build a webpage - I had no idea. Could I do it without the books? No way. But with the books and a bit of time, by golly, I'm gonna build myself a brand new webpage. There are all sorts of neato things you can do that I never knew about. Like putting little messages over links so when you mouse over them, you can read secret clues about why that link is there. Boy, I've sure had fun with that on the new site.

Just think of the possibilities your secret decoder mouse can do on the new site! It's like the new DaVinci Code. It's like Stephen Colbert's "The Word." It's like when someone signs an aging veteran and thinks he's getting the same player as he was in his prime. It's irony in the literary sense of the word - you can say one thing and secretly write the exact opposite in an invisible little box that only those with the secret mouse decoder can decipher!

Anyway, I just wanted to say that if this site disappears in the coming weeks, it is because I did something wrong and the whole thing got sucked down the intertubes. I'm probably going to mess something up since I am self-taught, but I'm backing everything up multiple times. Besides, there's nothing basebally to write about, it being the off-season and all.

Some things I need:

If you have a blog and want to exchange links, let me know. I've been bad about getting to some exchanges, and for that I apologize. I'm trying to get to the messages I have about link exchanges - I promise I will get there eventually!

If anyone can tell me how to make a footer a footer and not just at the bottom of the posts, thanks. The footer is at the bottom of the post column (the middle one) but is running into the sidebar, which is rather annoying and very unsightly.

Update: Did you know you could make stuff blink with very simple blink tags? It'd be pretty annoying if you had much blinking on your site.

What does this do?

Wherefore art thou, Adam Dunn?

The time has come for us to wonder, where is Adam Dunn, or more precisely, where is Adam Dunn’s name? There seems to be no talk of signing him among the Rosenthals and Olneys of the country. A player who is very similar, Pat Burrell, gets a lot of ink these days. Why no Dunn, who has 278 career homers at age 29?

Strikeouts. People are obsessed with strikeouts. How is striking out any different than grounding out? It still counts for the same number of outs: 1. Granted, there are times when a grounder or fly can advance a runner, but the saberdorks will tell you that the number of times this happens – and happens to matter – is minuscule compared to the number of runs a guy like Dunn is actually responsible for producing.

We’ve heard the Nationals calling, but Leatherpants just traded for Willingham and currently has about 50 outfielders (only some of them former Reds, not all of them). I suppose that won’t stop him from signing another, too. Dunn can be with his buddy Austin again, just like old times.

Even if Dunn doesn’t end up on the Nationals and he’s still unemployed come February, it’s not like he’s going to have to get his 3 in 1 credit report and worry about where the dough will come from. He is not going to suffer the same fate has hundreds of thousands of Americans have in the past year, that being a layoff. Someone will sign him, someone who needs a leftfielder.

I’m hoping it’s the Reds.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008



I thought players on non-contending teams didn't deserve to win the MVP, Albert?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Some thoughts about thoughts

"Rats, vats, well, if we knew all the things."

This statement was spoken by Leopold Bloom in Ulysses. Bloom was having a conversation about the rats found in the Guinness vats at the brewery. For some reason, it just popped into my head. I didn't see any rats. I didn't see any Guinness. It just materialized into a thought that had long since been buried. I haven't picked up Ulysses in months.

It relates to something I saw on a documentary about the human brain the other day. I've always been fascinated by the brain. It is a mystery not unlike the mystery of the universe itself. Indeed, one day we'll probably find out how they are interconnected. How can this squishy little pink piece of gore do what it does? We haven't even hit the surface of understanding about the way it works. Still, when a neuroscientist discovers a tiny piece of the puzzle, I greedily lap up the knowledge and try to apply it to everyday life. The documentary on TLC did that for me by discussing how athletes used to focus solely on building strength and muscle. Indeed, we have the stereotype of the dumb jock. However, humans have pretty much reached the limits of what they can do with their bodies at this stage in the evolutionary process. Sports equipment like pitching machines that can emulate a wicked curve ball, high tech video equipment, lightweight and breathable catchers equipment, scientific weightlifting and cardio machines, aerodynamically developed Easton baseball bats, and performance enhancing diets and dietary supplements can only go so far. Sports are increasingly turning to the brain to further competition.

Adam Dunn famously joked that he had only read two books in his lifetime. People laughed. This is what are society has come to - the mainstream has no respect for intellectual curiosity or development. We are a culture that drinks down sports as if they are an oasis in the desert of our mediocrity. We think dumb is funny. But what if we didn't? What if we glorified education and intelligence? What could our athletes do if they strove not only to train their bodies to be the best they can be, but also trained their minds?

The possibilities of humanity are only limited by our own biases and prejudices. People say, "that's just the way it is." But history is one long, continuous story of the progress and development of not only humanity but of all of creation. History is change. Won't it be something to see not just one Reggie Jackson quoting Shakespeare in a dugout, but a whole team of Jacksons discussing Joyce's post-modernist style? How about a Cy Young winner talking to the teammate on his right in flawless Spanish and then turning to the teammate on his left and conversing in flawless Japanese? Or a 50 homer a year slugger who can calculate the necessary degree of the angle of his swing to knock a ball out of the yard? What if a baseball player could find a way to keep the rats out of the Guinness?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Just say no to trading Edwin

It's the middle of November, and the gray Midwestern drear seems to have finally settled in. I have that inner chill that comes with winter, a sort of iciness like my blood is close to freezing. I'm not good at cold. Right now, my hands feel like ice. I'm thinking gloves. I find a stretchy glove. I find some batting gloves. I find a thick pair of winter mittens with no fingers. But how am I to type?

As you know, I hate winter. I hate the absence of light in the days. I hate the absence of warmth. I hate the absence of baseball. It isn't enough to read a four paragraph article speculating about trades. Trade rumors aren't real. Trade rumors send more worry than anything. We in Cincinnati baseball land have had some pretty crappy off-seasons in the last few years. Several years. Off the top of my head, the only recent noteworthy off season transactions seem to be the trade for Bronson Arroyo (he of the double-eared batting helmets fame), the contract extensions of Arroyo, Aaron Harang, and Brandon Phillips, the signing of Dusty Baker, and the trade of Josh Hamilton for Edinson Volquez. The other noteworthy moves involved getting rid of players who had no business in Major League uniforms, like Eric Milton and Corey Patterson.

Every morning I wake up wondering what disaster the Reds have bestowed upon us. I know I am not alone. It's some sort of syndrome unique to Reds fans, some psychological scar we bear.

We've heard speculation about trading for some crappy players on the Rockies and possibly giving up Edwin Encarnacion in the process. That would be a huge mistake. Edwin is only 25 years old - he hasn't hit his peak. There's no telling what kind of player he will become. If only people would have some patience.

I hope we don't lose Edwin.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Second place isn't always so bad

They say second place is the first loser. That means fourth and fifth place are the fourth and fifth losers, respectively. But the excitement inspired by a second, fourth, and fifth place finish in the Rookie of the Year voting (even if one of them wasn't technically a rookie) is more excitement than you'll ever see in some other second, fourth, or fifth place finish.

I'm not feeling the same foolish optimism I had last year. We have one outfielder, no catcher, and half a shortstop. We're missing half a team, something an awesome pitching staff won't overcome. Walt passed on Holliday (or the Rockies passed on Walt), so there goes that idea. I am not looking forward to seeing Jim Edmonds suit up for the Reds in centerfield next year.

Yet - I still feel hopeful. Something is happening here. Something is being erected before us. Something to keep us warm during this long, cold, dark, gloomy, football-laden winter.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Joey for ROY!

I know it won't happen because Giovanni Soto had a great year at a tough position on a winning team. But we can be proud of our own Joey Votto, who will win Mr. Congeniality.

Joey's numbers: .297/.368/.506, 24 HR, 84 RBI. Votto led all NL rookies in batting average, home runs, multi-hit games, hits, total bases, on-base percentage and slugging.

149 days until Our Holy Opening Day.

Thursday, November 06, 2008's new look - and more BP love

I know I've been gone for awhile from the baseball world, but when did finally catch up with the rest of the world and allow comments on its articles? And the whole new profile and social networking thing? I like it. They still need to allow video sharing on social networking sites, as they are behind the times when it comes to their obsessive-compulsive "protection" of copyrights. If I want to share SNL clips or entire Colbert Report episodes, I can do so, but I can't share the Brandon Phillips Gold Glove winner clip? Check out the new to create your profile.

I'm going to Nats Opening Day.

First Barack, now Brandon Phillips

Brandon Phillips won the Gold Glove! Yay!

BP might be my favorite Reds player. He was leading, but then Votto and Bruce got called up and the exit polls are too close to call. We are very lucky to have one of the best second basemen (2009 shortstop?) in the league.

I have a feeling that 2009 is going to be a very, very good year.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Looook into my crystal ball

I missed this article the other day, but I saw the headline "Nationals targeting slugger to clean up" and I knew that Adam Dunn would be a National next season. I don't mind that at all, because I will be back in DC for next baseball season. But I can't help feel a little sad, because I was hoping (and am still hoping, honestly), that Dunn would resign with the Reds.

Get yourselves out and vote!