Monday, October 30, 2006

Blogger roundtable part 1

Shawn: Question 1: What were the best highlights of the 2006 season?

Red Hot Mama: I seem to recall a pretty good catch by Freel

Blade: I like the part that happened before the Kearns/Lopez trade

Clint: some of the bright points I liked were the emergence of Edwin Encarnacion, Aaron Harang becoming an ace and that sweet catch by freel

Shawn: The Harang-Arroyo tandem was sweet. Two aces was great to have, after none for so many years.

Blade: E squared was a bright spot. That guy can rake

Shawn: I liked the team a lot better before the trade too, Blade

Shawn: EE should be an all-star going forward

Clint: yeah same here Shawn. At first I defended the trade but as the season went on it was pretty clear it was a bad trade

Red Hot Mama: I like his facial hair

Shawn: Who, me?

Blade: I also liked things before Juan Rivas was locked up for two years

Clint: One thing I never thought I would say is that Rich Aurilia was one of the bright points of the season.

Shawn: Juan "Rivas" Castro?

Red Hot Mama: Yes, Shawn: your facial hair. I've never seen it, but in my imagination, it's awesome!

Blade: Sorry, they both suck so I got them confused

daedalus: highlights - harang. in hindsight, there isn't much else.

Clint: Daedalus, what about Edwin?

Blade: I almost forgot about it until you reminded me.

daedalus: maybe i'm suffering from the cardinals in the WS syndrome.

Shawn: Being in the race almost to the wire was terrific.

Blade: Yeah, the playoff run was cool

Blade: At least to me, it came out of nowhere

Clint: yeah, never would have thought that they would be in the race until the last weekend of the season

Shawn: It owed more to the Astros and Cardinals tanking than the Reds' greatness, but flirting with .500 was also good.

daedalus: edwin? maybe next year will prove he's the real thing...

Clint: actually I really wasn't too surprised by the final record, just surprised it would be good enough to keep them in the race.

Shawn: .500 was a surprise to me

Blade: Yeah, .500 was a surprise to me too

Clint: I am ready to call him the real thing, but he is my favorite player and I am a homer

Shawn: EE is the real thing...just like Coke.

daedalus: i thought the reds could reach .500 this year. i didn't know it'd be enough to make a playoff run

Shawn: I was figuring 85-90 losses.

Blade: I like Arroyo's first half too

Clint: oh and another player I was impressed with that hasn't been mentioned yet is Brandon Phillips. hopefully he is more consistent next year

Part 2 @ Red Hot Mama
Part 3 @ Reds Cutting Edge
Part 4 @ Olde 320 Pub
Part 5 @ Cincinnati Reds Blog

Friday, October 27, 2006

I hope the Deadbirds lose 162 games next year

83 wins, one game above .500, St. Louis sux. The MVP Corvette Hobbit, Jeff "I want people to suffer from Parkinson's" Suppan, Jeff "I got cut from the Angels Weaver," Albert "Tom Glavine struck me out four times he sux" Pujols, Jim "I'm Dizzy" Edmonds, Chris "I can't catch a flyball" Duncan, Scott "I'm ancient" Rolen, Scott "Worst facial hair in baseball" Spezio, Chris "I am the Walrus" Carpenter, and Tony "Mafia" LaRussa are on the worst team to ever win the World Series.

And now there's no more baseball. What am I going to do for four months? Probably will take me that long to recover from this horror. Oddly enough, I kind of feel liberated by the end of the season. I'm actually going to go to dinner with a friend tomorrow and go to a Halloween party.

At least Fox ended the season with U2. I think it's a sign that next season is going to be a good one...

On Wednesday I start writing my story for National Novel Writing Month. I've tentatively titled it "In the Big Inning," a play on that joke about how God is a baseball fan. (Appropriate, don't you think?) I have yet to decide on a name for the main character. His last name is O'Hagan, as the Irish in him plays a big role in his identity. Stay tuned...

That's it, I quit

None of my voodoo or prayers or knives in birds or pleading is making the Deadbirds lose, so I quit. A Deadbirds World Series win will just make the Reds West Coast trip that much worse. We won the season series against St. Louis - four more wins on the year and we could have done this, too.

Stupid Jerry.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Don't go!

Back when I lived in California and watched the Giants, Rich Aurilia was my favorite Giants player. Yeah, I love Barry, but he is on a whole other plane, standing atop of Olympus, while Richie is just a mortal who had some great years on a great team. My best memory of him was when he hit a homer during the World Series game I went to at Pac Bell Park.

I didn't realize how much I liked him until the last few weeks with the talk of him going elsewhere. Now I think he might have been my favorite Red in 2006, taking that hallowed spot from Sean Casey (who took it from Larkin who took it from O'Neill, with a sprinkling of Griffey during the hopeful years.)

I hope he stays. I know it's not likely. :(

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Get your Voodoo Albert t-shirts!

For only $15 (which includes shipping), you can have this beautiful Voodoo Albert t-shirt to root against the hated Deadbirds! Shirt is 100% cotton, Hanes Heavyweight, preshrunk, durable, and guaranteed. Email me with your size and order I will send you an address to send a check or money order to. Shirt will be delivered within two weeks.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

When baseball, music, and politics mix

That's my cup o'tea - I have a blog on each of the topics. John Mellencamp's performance of the anti-Bush song "Our Country" before Game 2 on Sunday was a pleasant surprise and a welcome change from the corporate censorship that we've seen over the past six years on television.

Regardless, I'm sick of turning the games on and having to wait a half hour for a pitch to be thrown. There's no need to have Seger and Mellencamp performing before the games, or anyone else for that matter. Does this excess bring the casual fan to watch the game? I doubt it. Sunday night, I didn't think the game was ever going to start, since there was a half hour of b.s. before it. Sing the National Anthem, ok, but enough with all of that extra junk. Just play the game! It's bad enough we have to wait until the broadcast starts, but waiting until 8:30 for the game just makes us have to stay up later. Every October I suffer from sleep deprivation thanks to Fox.

It's too bad the song is used for Chevy ads (and is played every commercial break!) It's a good song. Verses:

I can stand beside
Things I think are right
And I can stand beside
The idea to stand and fight
And I do believe
There’s a dream for everyone
This is our country

There's room enough here
For science to live
And there's room enough here
For religion to forgive
And try to understand
The other people of this world
This is our country

That poverty could be
Just another ugly thing
And bigotry could be
Seen only as obscene
And the ones that run this land
Will help the poor and common man
This is our country

The dream will never leave
And some day it will come true
And it’s up to me and you
To do the best that we can do
And let the voice of freedom
Sing out through this land
This is our country

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Stadium Royale

Synopsis: Bond's mission takes him to Detroit, where he is to investigate a group of terrorists who are known as the Deadbirds. Following a lead to the visiting dugout, he encounters Prince Albert DePoopoo and his pal the Woodcarver, who are suspected of being part of the Deadbirds, a suspicion made greater by the red birds emblazoned across their shirts.

Bond discovers that DePoopoo is planning to hit a guy he calls Verlander, and he overhears the Woodcarver say he's going to strike out a guy named Ordonez. Bond investigates and finds an arsenal of wooden bats stored in a locker with DePoopoo's name on them. He concludes that the Deadbirds plan to slaughter the city's baseball team during the World Series and pump clouds of heartbreak over the city.

In Detroit, Bond aligns himself with Ivan, a stocky guardian of a valuable and sacred plate, and Sean, the mayor. While trying to uncover the terrorist plot, Bond meets a woman, Ima Horenstein, played by Scarlett Johansson. Captured by her stunning beauty, he does not realize that she is also part of the Deadbirds. However, she falls for his charms like the countless other bad girls, and she helps him escape after he has been stuffed into a catcher's equipment bag by DePoopoo.

The marathon games proceed with dirty tricks and violence reaching a terrifying climax. Will Bond save Detroit?

Yeah, I'm pumped for the new Bond movie, Casino Royale, which hits theaters November 17. It's kind of a prequel, a remake of the really awful television show that came out before Dr. No. I'm upset they didn't bring Pierce back for it, though. He was an awesome Bond - just look at him!

Hear the new Bond song here, performed by Chris Cornell. It isn't the final mix, and in my opinion, there needs to be less Chris and more strings.

New Bond film, new U2 CD/DVD, new, November's going to be a killer month!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Dear Deadbirds, how do I hate thee?

Let me count the ways.
I hate thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach with every ounce of might
To the ends of Being and in every way.
I hate thee to the level of everyday's
Gametime deed, by sun and stadium light.
I hate thee truly, as the falling snow is white;
I hate thee strongly, more than the hated Yankees.
I hate thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I hate thee with a hate I seemed to lose
After my Reds were done,–I hate thee with the breath,
Frowns, tears, of all my life!–and, if Tigers choose,
I shall but hate thee better after you lose.

With apologies, of course, to Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

I feel like the Reds just lost the NLCS.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

This is art

You can have your Picassian dreams or your Monetian landscapes. For me, I take the verdant beauty and incandescent symmetry of a ballfield over any varicolored canvas.

How can a person not be moved by such a sight?

(click to make image larger)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

We are in Purgatory

The baseball gods teased us with thoughts of October through much of the season - right up to the end - then they slap us in the face with these Deadbirds victories.

Such cruelty, baseball gods - why? What have we done to deserve such torture? You have cursed us time and time again, and we have suffered mightily for it. In 1981, we had the best record in baseball but were denied October glory. In 1994 we were denied October due to another strike. You sent us the wrath of Carl "Swift Boat" Linder for a miserable span of time. You kicked your fallen angel Pete from the Cornfield in Iowa and denied us another drink of baseball glory. You gave us The Trade.

Enough! Hand these Deadbirds their defeat during the next two days and give us our dignity back!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Why I love baseball, reason #30

Look at the beauty of that swing, the way the follow-through arm is parallel with the bat, the way the neck is in a perfect line with the middle of his body. This is the art of baseball, with its lines and shapes and angles screaming out to sculptors and painters to immortalize such a swing with bronze or marble or canvas. Add to it the aesthetic simplicity of the white on navy and the Old English D and you have a masterpiece worthy of the halls of Rome.

The beauty of a good swing is such that would make Michaelangelo cry.

Friday, October 13, 2006

I miss the Reds

The playoff games have been good ones, and I'm so happy the Tigers beat the Yankees. But last night as I was watching the Deadbirds lose, I realized how much I really miss watching Reds baseball. I became envious of Mets fans and hateful of Deadbirds fans. I want that. I want that screaming, the signwaving, the electric air. I want to have to wear a jacket to a Reds game to protect me from the cool October evenings. I want to watch fireworks shoot from the smokestacks as a Dunn homer brings a 2-0 lead, not apples and Beltrans. I want the country to be talking about a young stud third baseman who wears red, not blue, or the most underrated pitcher in baseball who led the league in wins, strikeouts, and complete games this year, not a 41 year old pitcher who's made 34 post-season appearances. I want the nation to worship Ken Griffey Jr. for a few weeks, to complain about how annoying Ryan Freel is, to talk about how Cincinnati baseball is back to its glory days.

Why can't I have that, Mr. Castellini?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Everytime a baseball player dies tragically

I kinda feel like I've lost a family member.

Cory, I hope you're pitching in a cornfield in Iowa now.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Une photo

Just got my photos of Shea developed (from June.) Yeah, I still have a film camera. Just imagine what I could do if I had a digital...

Click on the image to see it larger. I really like this one - it captures the essence of Shea and Mets glory. Plus the angles are pretty cool with that royal blue color.

Stupid Deadbirds

You don't deserve it. Go Mets!

Go Tigers!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Two inches

The sticky, suffocating August dripped from the South Carolina sky and slithered under the heavy camouflage that covered our skin. We marched on what would have been a dusty road had the dirt not been coated with the sweat of the sky, and our rucksacks were filled with weight but not substance, arms loaded down with M-16s, and pretend enemies hid in the tall Carolina pines. It was Basic Training for the Army. It was hot. It was humid. But most of all, I was missing baseball.

I had crammed as much baseball into June 2000 as I could. In April and half of May, I had been frolicking with the Irish around the Dublin environs and missed the start of the season. I managed five games in that abbreviated summer - two in Cleveland against the Indians - before life stopped. I was no longer a civilian.

When we stood in the chowline each day, there were newspaper pages posted on the walls, including the baseball standings. I skipped the Russian sunken submarine articles despite their tragic sadness and made sure I knew how Griffey and the Reds were doing.

I bought the two inch color television when Basic Training was over and I was stuck at Fort Jackson due to administrative error. I bought it for baseball so I could watch the playoffs and World Series. These days I carry it around every October so I don't have to miss a pitch. As I was watching it on the bus home tonight, I thought about that Subway Series on that two inch screen, when a tiny Todd Zeile hit a grand slam that counted as a single because his lack of ego stopped him at first.

Yeah, I'm rooting for the Mets, as I already feel some sort of connection with them. I'll live in New York soon, I'm sure. I hope the Yankees crash and burn. I had my Subway Series. I don't need to see another.

David Wright rox. Go Mets. (Jose, Jose Jose Jose...)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

On surrogate teams

I was born a Reds fan in the winter of 1977 when the Big Red Machine were World Series champs. I would not experience the post-season as a living, breathing soul until 1990, and I had October joy only one more time in my life after that. It may have been a blessing, however; I can't imagine many young Yankees fans can truly appreciate the game of baseball, for they don't know what it's like to hope, to have that excitement that maybe this is the year, as they've come to expect winning.

My team's lack of participation in the glory of October all these years has forced me to adopt surrogate teams to root for when October comes around. Some of these teams I have personal reasons for liking, others I root for because of their rich histories. Here's a brief rundown of the teams I root for and the reasons, before I am labeled a "frontrunner." I'll start with the teams in this year's post-season.

SAN DIEGO PADRES - I was born outside of San Diego and saw my first Reds game as a one year old at Jack Murphy Stadium.

NEW YORK METS - Though not steeped in a century of tradition, I will root for this team over others because it is the team I will root for when I finally move to New York City. I also like how the blue and orange are a combo of the Giants and Dodgers colors to fill the void left by the greed of the owners who moved the teams to California. It was blasphemy. And who didn't like Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry before they wore solid orange in another place?

MINNESOTA TWINS - Kirby Puckett and small market winners - how could you not like them?

OAKLAND A's - Bash Brothers. The mesh A's cap I still have was stuck to my head until the Reds put an end to that. Dave Stewart, Dennis Eckersly - what more could you ask for?

DETROIT TIGERS - See this post.

BOSTON RED SOX - The anti-Yankees. Have you ever been to Fenway Park? Have you ever seen the whole city wearing Red Sox gear, even on their ties with their suits? One of my goals in life is to have season tickets to Fenway for a summer.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES - 1993 - Darren Daulton, John Kruk, Lenny Dykstra, Mitch Williams, Curt Schilling.

CLEVELAND INDIANS - Ohio comrades. All of those great years during the nineties were fun to watch with Thome, Manny, and Vizquel.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES - Spent my first two years in DC watching them. Cal Ripken. Brooks Robinson.

CHICAGO CUBS - Yeah, Reds fans hate them for some reason. They are in our division, I know, but it's only been 12 years, and there's never been any competition between them. Ryne Sandberg was one of my favorite players - I collected all of his baseball cards. Wrigley field is Heaven. Except for their crappy hotdogs.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS and WASHINGTON NATIONALS - I've lived in these places and root for these teams at all times, except when they are playing the Reds.

Do you have surrogate teams? Who are they? Why do you like them? (Non-New Yorker Yankees "fans" will be subjected to voodoo.)

Go Tigers!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

One hundred and fifty-eight games and four games

Note: I wrote this yesterday while watching the Tigers finish their collapse.

I'm back in the place I was at the beginning of the season - sitting on the front porch watching baseball on a brilliantly blue day, temperature clinging to seventy, sunshine warming my skin, only it is not joy and excitement I feel this time, but a sort of depression like the world has ended. I let out a sigh among a sea of sighs, for in a sense, one world has ended - the 2006 Cincinnati Reds are no more, a team that for six or seven glorious months was my world. Back in the spring, I had hope that the Reds could reach .500; I could never have imagined that would be good enough for a playoff run. The last game of the season is always tough, but this year we are left with a bittersweet feeling of what could have been.

Oh yes, the pain is real - the whole body is afflicted with melacholy when Marty signs off for a season and leaves us with wait and wonder. Tomorrow we'll feel an emptiness at about 7:05pm, an emptiness that will linger through the snow, ice, and bleak freeze of winter that stand between us and another Cincinnati baseball game. I'm not going to lie - this is an emotional day for me - and every year it seems to hurt more. Is it the recognition of the passage of time, an exclamation point on the reminder that we can never have this again, this team, this season, these memories?

Some seasons are easier than others, but this one is plagued with questions of what if. Four more wins could have made the difference. What if Adam Dunn had had four more clutch hits? What if Jerry would have started Aurilia over Clayton four more times? What if EdE had sat four fewer games? What if Stormy Weathers had blown four fewer saves? What if Franklin had pitched four fewer innings? In that vein, what if Krivsky had DFA'd four more players or had picked four fewer pitchers off the trash pile? What if he hadn't given up one-fourth of our offense?

We can say 'what if' all day, but it won't bring the season back. We have four long, cold months until pitchers and catchers report to spring training. A look back on 2006:

March Winds Blow

The year began with the World Baseball Classic, a tournament I was particularly interested in on account of my affinity for international affairs and travel. To see the game I love played by teams from every continent with MLB players was thrilling, and maybe my next summer abroad won't lack baseball. I'm looking forward to the next Classic in 2010.

I never dreamed of October as the winds of March blew in our great summer.

Forget April in Paris, How About April in Cincy? (17 - 8)

April came, magic April, when the team charged out of the gate faster than any other Reds team in history. They surprised everyone, even us fans, who suddenly found ourselves allowing thoughts of October to slither into our minds. Opening Day, that most hallowed of holy days, was a cold disaster, but by April 30, it was all but forgotten. We were introduced to Brandon Phillips, who took over second from Tony Womack and subsequently earned NL Player of the Week honors. I saw the Reds sweep the Nats at RFK, which didn't bother me a bit - Bronson had a one hitter during that series, a game in which my future husband Ryan "Brooks" Zimmerman, R.O.Y.! ruined the no-no.

April Showers Don't Always Bring May Flowers (12 - 16)

The Reds played in reality in May, going 12-16. Highlights included Griffey's walkoff homer in the 11th in his first game off the DL, Arroyo leading the Majors in ERA, a two game sweep of the Deadbirds, and the start of that beautiful eight game win streak. It was this month when we realized the full extent of the disaster we had for a bullpen, as they proved it in their performances. We also learned that our defense was Little League caliber. Despite a 2.94 ERA in the month, Harang went 1-3 thanks to 6 unearned runs in his starts.

Something Wonderful Happens in Summer (15 - 12)

Ah, June, glorious June, which started with an 8 game win streak and the sweetest of all sweeps - a back-to-backer against the Asstros and the Deadbirds in which we handed Roy O his first defeat against Cincy and tasted the sweet honey of first place. Stormy Weathers was the epitome of suckitude then, as he posted a 10.80 ERA that month. I got to see the Reds play two games at Shea, one in which Brandon Phillips won the game when Billy Wagner blew the save. June solidified our October dreams. It was a cruel, cruel joke.

Black Day in July (11 - 14)

It was a messy battle with suckitude, a period of time when we first were sure we had a moron for a manager based on his use of a bullpen and the way he'd sit a guy the day after having a good day at the plate or the day after he made an error. We knew something would happen over the All-Star break, and we welcomed it since we couldn't get through the season with our craptastic bullpen. We couldn't have envisioned, however, that Wayne would lose all sense of reason and thus, as it turned out, our season by trading away a fourth of our mighty offense for nothing.

Oh! What It Seemed to Be (12 -17)

In August I began an earnest search for jobs in Cincy so I could go to the playoff games. We had been sitting atop the Wild Card all season, with an occasional glimpse at what is known as first place in the NL Central. Yeah, we knew it would be tough down the stretch, but the total collapse - that horror of a West Coast trip - shocked us into depression. We had our second NL Player of the Week in Edwin Encarnacion, whom Jerry finally started playing everyday. I saw the Reds beat up the Phillies at Citizens' Bank Ballpark, a game that included back-to-back-to-back homeruns and the first game that Richie got to play short instead of Clayton.

Wake Me Up When September Ends (13 - 14)

I finally made it to Great American Ballpark over Labor Day, but thanks to Stormy Weathers, I did not see a win. It was a crushing defeat after that disasterous West Coast trip.

After that, Jerry stopped trying to win games, Griffey decided he didn't want to play anymore, Freel broke his thumb and our spirits, and we were staring at a seven game deficit, void of hope and kicking the rocks on the sidewalk.

Suddenly, though, God seemed to have changed his mind, as the Deadbirds began a collapse of their own. Mutations of hope appeared to Reds fans once again - irrational, illogical, delusory hope that carried us through the second to last day of the season before it was snuffed out rudely by a Deadbirds win. We truly were moths to a flame, weren't we?

I, like many Reds fans, found myself tuning into every game, skipping social engagements and other events to follow the team. When I recall the summer of 2006, I will recall baseball. There was nothing else - 22 MLB games in 5 stadiums, including 7 Reds games in 4 stadiums and 17 games in RFK. If only I could have seen a game in Pittsburgh this weekend...

So what did we get out of the year? We learned to hope again, to look forward to the next season. Harang led the National League in both wins (tie) and strike outs (surely he'll get a few Cy Young votes?) We had two pitchers hit 14 wins. Dunn had 40 homers again. We finally beat Roy O. We had more walkoff wins than anyone. We got a second basemen who could be good for a long time. We have some of the best prospects in all of baseball - Bailey dominated, Votto kicked butt, we had two Minor League MVPs, and we have hope for the future.

We also have a great blogosphere. (Last.)