Wednesday, April 30, 2008

MASS FOR THE CHANGING OF THE CALENDAR (May Day, May Day, we're going down!)

Here at the Church of Baseball, I try to have a positive outlook on things. I mean, that's what a church is for, right? With all the crap that goes on in the world, all the wars, poverty, disease, liverwurst, and one hit wonders, church is a place you can go to find hope. Well, there's hope in this church, hope for the Cincinnati Reds. Yeah, yeah, I know that comparing something so trivial as baseball to something so important as eternal salvation is a bit asinine, but I'm convinced Heaven is located in the middle of some cornfield in Iowa, so just bear with me.

We as human beings love symbols. We need symbols. And just like the wishbone C represents the entire concept of Cincinnati Reds baseball, from the team that has lost two in a row and 17 on the young season to Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Joe Nuxhall, and yes, the Wright Brothers - George and Harry, the guys who started it all! (although they used an Old English C for the Red Stockings logo), a calendar change is often symbolic. It's a new month of the baseball season, a new month for all of us. What will May bring besides flowers? New job? New love? New Cincinnati Red? Jay Bruce and Homer Bailey and first place by the first of June?

So hey, we lost a road trip for the 17th out of the last 18 road trips. We're five games under .500, 5.5 games back of the Chub$ and the Deadbirds. But if you pay attention, look closely, there are signs of drastic changes about to take place as we turn our calendar page. Adam Dunn is starting to hit, but what's more important is that he is hitting the other way! I believe his bad April stems from his working on that aspect of his game, and he's now starting to come around. He hit a homer to leftfield a few games ago and has had several hits there of late. Can we say goodbye to the shift?

And look! Edwin has hit seven homers in the month of April! He is on pace to hit 42 on the season. Can you imagine? Dunn's 40, Griff's 30, BP's 30, and Edwin's 30? 35? 40? Ooohhh, man, makes me want to go out and buy tix for September games!

Hang in there, Reds fans. Have faith. We will be rewarded for it!

I can't wait for a calendar change

When we're smiling at the Chubbie$ from the top in September, we won't even remember this nightmarish April. It's like every time I think they're getting it going, something like last night happens. It's amazing how that baserunning idiocy in the first inning killed the whole game.

I'm beginning to think Dunn and Griffey should never be in the same lineup together. Last night's Little League defensive display was incredible. Aside from letting balls fall in front of him on several occasions, Griffey had an error and looked like a blind man out there. And Dunn - Dunn's defense has always been bad, but that was atrocious. I mean, did you see him try to throw that ball when Glaus scored after hitting it to the wall? Little League.

I'm just reacting to a terrible game, but come one, that was pathetic. If the multi-million dollar twinkies were younger guys, they'd be out there after the game running wind sprints until their legs fell off. At least they would be if I were the coach.

Tomorrow's May 1. Time to turn it up a notch. But not until Aaron Harang and Voodoo Albert kick some Deadbirds but today.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Time to get out the pins

There are few players I detest more than Sr. Poopholes. The Deadbirds have been surprising some people, but I maintain that it's April, and April means very little.

I suppose if you're betting on baseball, you'd pick Satan Louis to win this series. But come on. Kyle Lohse is undefeated? He was last April, too, and we all know how that turned out. Bad Kyle will show up soon. That team is going to start playing down to its potential at the same time the Reds start living up to theirs! It's in the Cards! (har har)

Kudos to Mr. Walt for shipping Coffey out and bringing up Bill Bray. So far, he's 1-1 in the good moves dept.

It's time to get out the guns and shoot us some Deadbirds!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Backwards year

Ok, so I slept on it, and I'm not so ranting and raving this morning. But I do maintain that people need to start thinking positive. There is so much good about the team, so much to look forward to, but a booing stadium in April is not going to make the team start winning.

I call this backwards year. For the past several years, the Reds have had good Aprils and ended poorly. They've also had bad pitching, especially the bullpen. Now, those things are reversed.

The offense is also reversed right now, but that is going to change, starting tonight in a Bondsless San Francisco, where Barry Zito has been stinking it up. Take three from San Fran and go into the Deadbirds series with momentum. Take two of three there, and this very bad April will be behind us.

I'm going to see Homer pitch for the Bats tonight in Indy. I'll be back Sunday. In the meantime, stay positive!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The sky is not falling, and I'm going to rip into (some of) the Cincy media because I am sick of it.

Since there is little good to talk about at the Reds level at the moment, I thought I'd post some photos from Tuesday's Dragon's game. Here, third baseman Brandon Waring reacts as a pitch is thrown.

What a great park. I can't say it enough. It's really enjoyable to sit near the field - a small park is so intimate. You actually feel like you're a participant in the game in some small way.

The Dragons have several exciting players that won't be on the Dragons come summer's birth - they'll be in Sarasota. Pitcher Luis Montano, who threw 6.2 innings of no hit ball before giving up a triple, is one of those guys. Waring's another.

But the brightest prospect is Todd Frazier, who hit his sixth homer of the season. He's a college player, so he's on the fast track to the big leagues. Don't be surprised if he's promoted in the next few weeks.

Maybe I rave about him because I'm trying to ignore what is happening to the Reds at this point.

But what is happening to the Reds?

Perhaps the environment of negativity in which they play has finally gotten to them. Anyone who has ever played competitive ball - or any competitive sport, for that matter - knows what constant criticism and negativity can do for a team. And this team certainly is mentally down. Perhaps the Cincinnati media, some of baseball's absolute worst, have allowed doubt to creep in.

I made the mistake of listening to the jackass show after today's loss. I tell you what - it's hard to be a Reds fan when you have a bunch of talentless blowhards spewing their vile ignorance across the public radio waves. Those goons know absolutely zero about baseball. I wish Dunn would lash out at them publicly, tell them their vitriolic anger stems from the fact that they were a bunch of unathletic dorks in high school who feel the need to get revenge on the world because they weren't good enough 30 years ago to play sports for a living. And then there's Tracy Jones, former MLB player. Never very good, he has to tell shout at people that they don't understand the game to make up for his lack of MLB talent. And the thing is, people in Cincinnati actually listen to these people and then they repeat what they hear - enough people do to keep them on the air.

Yes, we're all completely stunned, disappointed, and even angry at this start, but a 9-14 record on April 24 is not the end of a season. Three of the starters have been good or decent all of the time. Bronson is someone to be concerned about. That fifth spot? Who knows right now? But the pen has been good. It's not the end of the world. It's not even the end of the season.

I can't believe how short memories are in some of the most loudspoken critics. The offense won't continue like this. Something is going to click, and then you'll have your hatefilled radio show hosts saying "I told you all along this team was going to start hitting."

I am sick to death of Adam Dunn getting blamed for the team's woes over the years. I am sick to death of the Cincinnati media - but what do you expect from a station like WLW whose mantra is to spew as much hate over its airwaves as is humanly possible even at a time when most Americans are sick of it? I'm glad Trent Rosecrans works for them, otherwise I think that station would fall off the eastern edge of the world, which I guess wouldn't be a bad thing.

I like Mark Sheldon. Contrary to what people think, he is not told what to write by He writes well and is a good journalist who seems to get no credit because he doesn't write for a The Newspaper. I also like John Eradi of the Enquirer. It's the Volk at WLW who are the biggest problem, and unfortunately, Daugherty also writes really stupid, unresearched columns for the Enquirer.

You want a solution to this problem we're having? Bring up Jay Bruce. Bring up a kid who wants to play Major League Baseball more than anything in the world, a kid who has a head on his shoulders and a pure heart untainted by the negativity of the Cincy media and its fair weather fans. Stop complaining. If the Reds were 14-9, people would be raving about how Castellini wants to win, how this team will contend all year, and how great Edwin Encarnacion is hitting.

You know what else? Wayne Krivsky was unfairly fired. As frustrating as Wayno was, he was not a bad GM. Not great, either, but not bad. He may have cost us our October in 2006 with The Trade, but he helped give us one of the best farm systems in baseball. And you know what? He cared deeply about this team, and it just isn't right that he was fired in April. If the Reds had a .391 winning percentage in June? Maybe. But not after a mere 23 games.

I'm ranting, aren't I? Well, at least I put up some pictures so you can ignore the ranting if you want to. But I'm pissed off. The losing is depressing, but it doesn't bother me half as much as all the bitching. You have to have faith, people. You have to be encouraging, cheer them on instead of booing everything that goes on. Baseball players are human beings, and human beings who aren't sociopaths are affected by an environment of negativity. Have some faith. Believe in the power of positive thinking.

Results matter!

"My first year in St. Louis, our payroll was $28 million," Jocketty said. "In time, what we were able to do, we generated more revenues, and it enabled us to increase our payroll. We went from drawing a little over two million fans to drawing three and a half million fans. That's how to raise your payroll. You have to generate the revenue first and a reason for fans to come to the ballpark to generate the revenue. The best way to do it is winning."

The attendance figures are interesting. Cincy draws 2 million a year right now despite the seven consecutive losing years. Jocketty had inherited a team that went 53-61 in the strike shortened season. Thirteen years later, he had seven post season appearances and a WS Championship under his belt to go along with 1.5 million more fans a season.

Jocketty doesn't have to build from the ground up in Cincy as he did in St. Louis. Wayno isn't given enough credit for building Cincy's farm system into one of the best in baseball in only a couple of years.

The saberarmy complains about Jocketty's "old school" approach to the game. I am only slightly afraid that he'll trade away our young prospects for aging veterans. Who am I to argue with a guy who made his team into a perennial contender?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The farm is blossoming

I went to the Dragons game last night and saw Luis Montano take a no hitter into the seventh inning, getting two outs in the inning before giving up a triple. Montano lowered his ERA to 1.61. The boy is getting it done!

This is the second time this year I've been at a baseball game when a pitcher took a no no into at least the sixth inning. Hmm. (The first was Cueto's MLB debut.)

Todd Frazier hit his sixth homer of the season (and the third one I've seen this year) as the Dragons won 3-1. Frazier isn't going to be with Dayton much longer - I'm sure he'll be promoted to Sarasota sometime next month.

Good bye, Wayno

It's been weird.

I'm pretty shocked by this move so early in the season. Walt Jocketty gave the Deadbirds all of those playoff seasons and World Series appearances, so I don't mind a bit that he'll be at the helm.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I may be Edwin Encarnacion’s biggest fan

On every team there seems to be that one guy who gets batted around by the team, who falls out of favor with management for seemingly nothing. I watched Ryan Church get screwed by the Washington Nationals time and time again. He was one of my favorite players right from the start – you know, one of those guys you just sort of take a liking to after a few times of watching him play – and I hated that he was never given a real opportunity by Leatherpants to play everyday. Old Jimbo finally got rid of his punching bag boy in trading him to the Mets, where he is New York’s leading hitter right now at .388/.400/.456 with 2 HR and 11 RBI.

Edwin Encarnacion is the Reds player like that. Sure, he’s in his third season as the Reds’ starting third baseman, so he has been given opportunities, and he’s produced, but he takes the heat for everything, from leaving runners on base to allowing runs to score due to errors to not hitting 40 homers a year at the hot corner. The kid is 25 years old – he’s well away from the prime of his career and is going to continue to get better. He’ll be a .280 hitter, 20 homer, 100 RBI guy by the time he hits age 28. You can already see his improvement - the kid is learning to be more patient at the plate. He has 12 walks in 20 games. In 2007, he had 39 walks and in 2006, he had 41 BBs, so he’s well on his way to improving his hitting.

But he’s never been a slouch at the plate. Last year, he started off really slowly and in my opinion was unfairly shipped out to Louisville. He tore it up the rest of the season.

The kid has a ton of pressure on his shoulders. Everyone knows the Reds can’t hit lefthanded pitching, and what is usually meant by the Reds is Dunn and Griffey can’t hit lefthanded pitching, which really means those two don’t hit most of their homers off lefties, so everyone else gets the blame for not picking up their slack. It’s worse for Edwin because he plays a corner position, where big offense is expected from a player.

But – I’m not a stathead. And I know fans jump all over Edwin for his errors moreso than his offense. A .935 career fielding percentage is not exactly great for a Major Leaguer. Last season he had improved from 25 errors in 2006 to 16 errors in 2007, but he already has 6 Es this year, which has earned him the cynical nickname “Triple E.” At 6 Es already, he’s going to have to have a Barry Larkin like year to not exceed his last year’s totals.

One of the things that perturbs me about the Cincinnati outrage towards Edwin is that the kid plays amazing defense at times. They don’t keep stats for would be hits taken away by fielders. The funny thing is before Sunday’s critical error in the tenth inning, Edwin had made some fantastic plays. Who knows how many runs he saves?

It breaks my heart to see him make those errors. I can’t be angry with him. I know he is a sensitive kid and internalizes those errors. You can see them eating at him. You could see it on his face when he hit that homer on Sunday after he had made the error. But his teammates picked him up, and I was pretty impressed with Griffey’s leadership in that game.

Dusty Baker gets a lot of criticism, much of it unwarranted, but one thing he is never criticized for is his care and concern for players. I think those days of Edwin being the team’s black sheep are over. Dusty Baker may just be the best thing to happen to Edwin Encarnacion in his short career, and I look forward to seeing him have a breakout year in which his name can be mentioned with the likes of David Wright and Ryan Zimmerman when some national spinhead is talking about Major League third basemen. Unfortunately, Wayno is still at the helm and is just as likely to trade him away as he is to keep him.

I love Edwin. I want to see him there every day, every inning. He is a vital part of the team's success, and I can't wait to see him at the plate some October in the near future!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Manos de Unemployedos!

YES! I just found out! We have finally rid ourselves of that most wasted roster spot on the bench. Juan Castro has been DFA'd and I am going to celebrate by having a Sam Adams in Wayne Krivsky's honor.

That Jerry Hairston Jr. was called up is not something to be worried about. Dude is hitting .400 something at AAA. If that doesn't carry over to the Major League level, so be it, but it does not hurt to try it out. One thing is for certain - he can't be any worse than Castro. While Hairston is not a long term solution, he is a good fit for the time being until we can get a righthanded power hitter for the bench or until Alex Gonzalez comes back.

I had been a bit down today. This news has put a smile on my face! Now if we could solve that Corey problem...

Good luck, Juan.

Cincinnati Hold ‘em

Hang on, this one’s pretty stupid! It’s not my fault – it’s just what came out when I started typing as I was watching Sunday’s game. In honor of the Pope’s visit to the U.S. and his mass at Yankee Stadium, a holy place in it’s own right, here it is…

With an off day, a few Reds decided to get together for a little day-long poker game at Bronson’s apartment up on Mount Adams. The sky held a strange, purple tint that wove through the dark clouds hanging over Cincinnati, and more than one Red commented about it.

The gambling group consisted of Ken Griffey, Jr., Adam Dunn, and Joey Votto, who had begged the others to be included in their media star clique. Bronson whipped up a batch of his special nachos, a delectable concoction of fresh tomatoes, red and green peppers, onion, garlic (four cloves), and jalepenos with chili powder, tabasco sauce, ground lime peel, cilantro, and Mexican oregano all mixed in with some JTM taco filling and a little something else to make them special.
“All right, they’re together again!” Griffey exclaimed when Bronson set the nachos in front of them as Dunn began to deal the cards. Bronson’s nachos were Junior’s favorite food. Griffey, Dunn, and Bronson began to chow down and eventually noticed Votto hadn’t touched them.

“Dude, you’re allowed to have some,” Dunn said.

“I’m a vegetarian,” Votto said to disgusted faces.

“How do you live without meat?” Dunn asked as he slurped up some taco filling meat off a nacho.

“You’re eating dead animal. That’s disgusting,” Votto replied.

“You don’t think eating dead plant is disgusting?” Griffey asked him. Votto paused.


“Why not?”

“Plants don’t have blood in them.”

The room grew silent. Cards were dealt, anties paid, bets were made. No one said anything unrelated to the game for several hands. Finally, Griffey spoke.

“Plants don’t have blood in them. That sounds like something JB would say.”

“Johnny Bench?” Votto asked, his face brightening.

“No, Jeff Brantley.” Votto grew sulky. “‘Cept Brantley wouldn’t dream of not eating meat. That’s all he DOES eat. Won’t touch the vegetables.”

“That’s a shame,” Votto said, nearly whispering.

You’re wrong, Griff,” Dunn said. “JB eats fried okra. And fried green beans. Hell, he’d probably eat fried broccoli if they had it.”

“They do have it,” Votto said. “They eat it in India all the time.”

“Man, is this India?” Griffey said.

“No, but lots of Americans love Indian food.”

“What’s Indian food?” Bronson asked. “Buffalo?”

“Not Native Americans,” Votto said, flabbergasted. “Real Indians, you know, from India, the country.”

“Why’d they name a country after our Indians?” Dunn asked. Votto’s mouth dropped.

“You Americans are really stupid. You use your schools for socializing rather than getting an education, eh?”

“Relax, rook, I was just pulling your leg,” Dunn replied. Griffey and Bronson laughed cornily.


The game continued in further silence until Votto had nearly cleared out his checking account.

“Don’t worry, rook,” Dunn said. “Keep up the way you’re playing, and someday money will be no object for you, either.” Suddenly, there was a knock at the door.

“You expecting someone?” Griffey asked.

“No,” Bronson replied. “Probably just some chick looking to get some from me. Happens all the time.” He went to the door and opened it. Standing in the doorway was the shock of their lives.

“Your Eminence, why, um, this is a surprise.”

“Bless you child,” the Pope replied.

“Come in, come in,” Bronson said confusingly. The Pope knocked his hat off as he passed through the doorway. He took off his outer robe and handed it to Bronson. Seeing several empty chairs around the poker table, he chose one next to Dunn and sat down.

“I’m sorry, You Holiness,” Dunn said.

“For what?”

“For us gambling here.”

“Why should I care? Us Catholics are not a bunch of uptight, puritanical hypocrites like those butter Christers you have trying to ban everything they don’t like in this country. We like to have fun. Just think of the Catholic countries. The Irish. The Italians. The Spanish – I mean, they have a daily naptime because they stay up so late! All of Latin America, with their carnivals and fiestas. We got the French, too, but they’re not so fun. Too busy looking down their noses to enjoy themselves, I say. But every group has their black sheep. Catholic monks are the ones who perfected beer and wine. Breweries in Europe? They were all started by monks.”

"Let's not forget raping and pillaging all of Europe and most of the Middle East, too," Dunn snapped.

“Let’s not argue here,” Votto said. “Let’s just play poker.”

“You’re just taking his side because you’re Catholic,” Griffey snapped.

“No, he’s right,” Bronson said. “Let’s just deal. You in, Your Papel Blessedness?”

“Call me Ben. And yeah, I’m in.”

“Wait. Dude’s got God on his side. I think that’s an unfair advantage,” Dunn said.

“You think God is up there helping me to win a poker game?” the Pope replied. “I think He’s got bigger things to worry about.”

“Yeah, like you stupid Americans warring all over the place, eh?” Votto said as he looked at the Pope. Griffey stuck his tongue out.

“Shut up, Canuck.”

They played a few more rounds in nervous silence, the Reds stealing occasional glances at the Pope as if he were going to shoot lightening bolts at them from his eyes. Votto’s luck began to change, and he started winning. He secretly harbored the notion that the Pope was mystically allowing him to win because he was a Catholic and not a heathen like the others. Then, another knock came from the door. Bronson looked at the others and shrugged his shoulders before getting up to open the door.

“Sorry I’m late. Bloody hell, don’t you Americans put up street signs? Or do you not name your bloody streets?” Votto shuddered at the word “blood.”

“Still haven’t found what you’re looking for?” the Pope asked a pissed off Bono.

“God, damn!” Dunn said. “This is a weird night…Sorry Pope. Gosh, darn! This is a weird night.”
“Your Eminence,” Bono started, looking around the apartment. “I thought you said this was a party.”

“It hasn’t started yet,” he replied.

“What party? This is just a poker game.” Bronson said.

“No, we decided to have a party at your place. You guys are dead. You stink. You couldn’t hit water from a boat. You might as well go up to the plate without bats. We thought we’d stop by to liven things up, get you all motivated to play ball.”

“Is God rooting for us?” Votto asked innocently.

“God roots for everyone.”

“Even the Yankees?”

“Oh, well, except the Yankees. His Son hates the Yankees. Plus Satan’s best friend owns them. And God isn’t too fond of the Cubs, either. Most obnoxious sports fans on the planet.”

“Is that why He never lets the Cubs win?”

“No, that’s the The Goat and Steve Bartman and Dusty Baker.” Votto gave him a pensive look. “God did send me here to put the spirit back into y’all, as you say in these parts. You look lifeless at the plate.”

“But I’ve been hitting!”

“Well, we didn’t expect you to be here. If I’m not mistaken, you invited yourself, right?”

“Oh. Yeah.”

Bono joined in the poker game, and soon he and the Pope were talking of other things like placing bets on baseball. Bono, who was secretly a huge sports fan, knew more than his share about baseball, and he was pretty knowledgeable about Major League Baseball odds and particularly the odds of winning the NL Central. Everyone on the planet knew the Cubs had no chance of winning a World Series. Bono was particularly apt at betting on sports. After all, he IS Irish, and betting on sports is an Irish pastime. It all started with betting on horse racing, at which the Irish are among the world’s best. With globalization came sports such as baseball, jai alai, and that sport in Afghanistan where they pass around the dead animal. It went on to include American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, and the six-year old Americheer competition.

“I’m placing bets on the Cincinnati Reds,” he said.

“But we stink. Even the Pope says it. How are we gonna win?” Dunn asked.

“No wonder you’re losing, with that attitude,” the Pope said under his breath. Dunn frowned, went to the fridge, and pulled out another beer.

“Your team is just stuck in a moment you can’t get out of. You need to walk on, some days are just better than others. Tomorrow will be a beautiful day, no more electrical storm. It’ll be the sweetest thing when you win.”

There was a knock on the door and another and another. Soon, Bronson’s apartment was filled with partiers. There were local partiers like Nick Lachey, George Grande, and The National. There were American partiers like Michael Stipe and Tom Brady. And there were international partiers like Tony Blair, the Dali Lama, one of Saddam Hussein’s look-alikes, and the sane members of Oasis, who informed Bronson that they no longer wanted him covering their songs. He responded by reminding them that they hadn’t put out a good album in a decade, so they rescinded their demand. The Pope and Bono spent most of the time arguing whether or not the transubstantiation was the actual body of Christ or if it was just symbolic. The Dali Lama congratulated Michael Stipe on R.E.M.’s new album Accelerate, the best since New Adventures, he said. George Grande had the first beer of his life, figuring that if the Pope was drinking, it must not be too bad, and he drained twelve Sam Adams, regretting how he had missed such a glorious pleasure over the course of his existence. The National played their song Apartment Story in honor of them being in Bronson’s apartment, and the sane members of Oasis tried to convince singer Matt Berenger to take the insane member’s place, to no avail. After half a keg, Noel Gallagher succeeded in convincing Bronson to be Oasis’ singer, an agreement they both fortunately forgot the next morning.

The party really took the edge off the Reds foursome. The next day, Griffey, Dunn, and Votto hit two homers a piece, and Bronson threw a no hitter in his next start. Their good fortune and renewed enthusiasm caught on with the rest of the team, which threw off its losing clothes and tore up the National League for the rest of the season.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

This should make your heart explode with joy

Even better...Aaron Harang tied him today with 8 Ks. But he has one more start than Señor Cueto.

If you are not excited as a Reds fan, you must be dead.

(Though I can see why you'd be upset when Krivsky drafted Drew Stubbs when Tim Lincecum was still available.)

Friday, April 18, 2008

A lineup I'd like to see

I'm not worried about the Reds' recent woes. Yet. I mean, Harang has lost two games - he lost six all year last year - and we know he's not going to continue on this road. The pitching has been fine. Sure, Stormy blew that game yesterday, but it's not like it was his fault alone for losing. The offense is in a black hole right now. Based on the past several years, we know that won't continue. With just one righthanded bat with some pop added to the bench, the entire makeup of this team would change.

Regardless, some lineup tweaking is in order:

RF Jeff Keppinger
LF Adam Dunn
2B Brandon Phillips
CF Ken Griffey, Jr.
3B Edwin Encarnacion
1B Joey Votto
SS Alex Gonzalez
C Paul Bako

Why not bat Kepp leadoff? No, he's not a conventional leadoff hitter, but his on base percentage is .367. Compare that to that Dusty import who's been hitting there - .246. Yeah, that's on base percentage, not batting average. Kepp's not a base stealer, but look who's batting behind him. You don't need to steal bases when you have 120 homers sitting behind you.

I know Griffey doesn't have the range to play center anymore, but I'd rather have him there than Kepp. Kepp doesn't have the range to play short, either, evidenced by the fact that the Reds have turned the fewest double plays in Major League Baseball. Last year when Alex was in the lineup, they ranked among the higher teams. I can't wait for Alex to get back. He'll give the team a much needed righthanded bat in the lineup, not some Corey Patterson whiffle bat. And he should take Juan Hands of Gold Bat of Foam Castro's place on the roster, provided that the Reds are willing to cut even more losses and rid the team of one of Krivsky's numerous mistakes.

Patterson can come off the bench to replace Kepp for defensive reasons late in games. The dude just can't hit. His three million bucks is tying the team's hands right now. Oh, Wayne, WE TOLD YOU BUT YOU NEVER LISTEN AND YOU NEVER LEARN. Isn't Jocketty sitting somewhere in the Reds front office? Can't he be consulted when Wayne wants to sign yet another washup/hasbeen/neverwas/veteran presence?

Adam Dunn's on base percentage is a whopping .423 right now. I've always liked him in the two hole. Conventional wisdom says he's a slugger, but Dunner is not a conventional player. Put him in the second spot of the order to take advantage of his high OBP. It's not like it'd be the first time he hit there. With BP, Griffey, and Edwin hitting behind him, he's gonna score a lot of runs. Not that he doesn't already.

The whole lineup runs righty-lefty until the Alex and Bako. I don't think it makes a bit of difference, but some people do, including Reds managers for the duration of this seasonal losing streak.

When the Reds finally call up Jay Bruce (next month), I'd like to see Kepp playing in five different positions during the week. So, say it's Edwin's turn for a day off - the lineup would go:

3B Kepp
LF Dunn
1B Votto
CF Bruce
SS Alex
C Bako

And Votto's turn:

1B Kepp
LF Dunn
3B Edwin
CF Bruce
SS Alex
C Bako

And on and on.

As for the Bench, Alex takes Castro's spot on the roster, so we'd get rid of him. Bruce takes Hopper's spot, so we get rid of him. Valentin stays. Trade Hatteberg for a righthanded bench bat (or sign Mike Piazza for a decent amount to be used solely OFF THE BENCH. Yeah, I like that idea. In which case you trade Scotty for a couple of minor league guys or a draft pick or something like that. I like Scotty, but he's a lefty on a bench in desperate need of righties.) I've heard that Frank Thomas is now available...:)

What to do about Ross? Well, he isn't hitting at AAA right now, and Bako is hitting at the Major League level, so keep Ross down on the farm. I thought the Bako signing in the spring was stupid, as I was certain we were going to carry three catchers again although that proved to be a stupid experiment for the past two years. (Leave it to Wayno, though, to continue to make the same mistakes again and again...) But since Ross is hurt, or was, we replaced him with a guy that's pretty much the same catcher with less of an arm. Remember when the Reds had the most productive offensive catchers in the NL a few years ago? Now it seems we're stuck with .220 hitters with no power. What's that they say about if it ain't broke??? Wayne.

Kudos to the Reds for pulling Fogg from the rotation. Too bad he just can't be cut, but hopefully a trade can be worked out so we can put this nightmare behind us. If Belisle doesn't work out, we've got Homer, who has only given up four walks in four games pitched at AAA. He also has a sparkling 1.07 ERA. But Fogg? I can't believe he was part of a championship team last year. He's not a bullpen guy. Or maybe he is. We'll see.

It's killing me to see a team with so much potential being butchered by arbitration clocks and guaranteed contracts. PUT THE BEST TEAM ON THE FIELD, WAYNE. I swear, I feel like this is Little League, when the coach's fatass, clumsy son gets to play third base when there is a real athlete toiling away on the bench.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Something to remember

For the past two seasons at this point, the Reds were in first place. We know how those years turned out. A five game losing streak is nothing, even if three of the games were to the lowly Sea Thieves. It is no way indicative of the way the season is going to go.

It's just that there is the feeling that a fundamental change needs to be made now, before it's too late. The Reds are already five games down in the standings.

Then again, it's just two weeks into the season.

On an unrelated note, the weather is beautiful, and there doesn't seem to be a spot in West Central Ohio with outdoor wifi, so my posting will be limited until the rains come this weekend.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Adam Dunn's Day Off - A Play in Two Acts. Act I

Scene I: A swamp somewhere in the American South. Daylight is waning.

Enter Dunn and Griffey.

Dunn [shouting.] Griff! Griff? Where's my flashlight? I can't find my flashlight!

Griffey [shouting.] Calm down, calm down! We'll find it. We still have some daylight left.

Dunn. Not much. I'm up to my knees in this muck. I gotta find my way out. I can't see you. Where are you?

Griffey. Bout twenty yards behind you. See me waving?

Dunn. Uh, no. [Pauses and perks up. A humming sound can be heard in the distance.] What's that sound?

Griffey. What sound?

Dunn. That humming.

Griffey. I don't hear no hu...wait, yeah, I hear it.

Dunn. What is it?

Griffey. Damned if I know.

Dunn. Where's my flashlight?

Griffey. Damned if I know.

Dunn. Where are we? How do we get out of this muck?

Griffey. Damned if I know.

Dunn. Do you know anything?

Griffey. I know how to hit home runs. I know how to drive my big ass yacht. I know how to play video games and I know how to watch movies on my big ass HD TV.

Dunn. But you can't do any of those things if we die out here in this swamp.

Griffey. We ain't gonna die. There's plenty of fish in these waters keep us alive forever. An' you get thirsty, you bend down and take a sip of this here water.

Dunn. Eww. This is fish water.

[The humming grows louder. A light appears.]

Dunn. Looks like someone's boat. Maybe they can help us out of here. Hey, over here! [Waves arms around. The boat changes directions and heads their way.]

Voice. Who's there?

Dunn. Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey, Jr.

Voice. Yeah, right!

Dunn. Seriously. We were out fishing and we got lost.

Voice. Will you sign my ball if I come pick you up?

Dunn. Sure!

Griffey. I don't sign.

Voice. Well then, forget it. [Boat turns around.]

Dunn. Hey, wait! I'll sign as many balls as you want! It's getting dark out here, and I can't find my flashlight! [Boat continues, disappears out of sight. Dunn turns to Griffey.] Why the hell won't you sign a ball to get us out of here?

Griffey. Jerk will probably just sell it.

Dunn. So what? If he needs to sell it for some cash, let him! Not everyone's as rich as you and me.

. It's my policy.

[The two of them grow silent as they try to figure out how to get out.]

Griffey. Hey, I see something!

Dunn. What?

Griffey. I think it's a boat!

Dunn. Where? Where's my damn flashlight?

Griffey. Over here. [Wades to an abandoned boat.] Looks like it's good. No holes. [Dunn wades over to him.]

Dunn. Sweet. Let's go. [They climb in and sit there for a moment in silence.] Well, there's one oar. Who's gonna row.

Griffey. You are.

Dunn. You're the boat captain.

Griffey. That's why you row. [They just sit there.] Well, aren't you gonna start rowing?

Dunn. I don't know what direction to go.

Griffey. Just head towards where that boat came from.

[They row in silence for two hours. The waning daylight fades into darkness. Dunn still can't find his flashlight. Suddenly, another light appears.]

Dunn. Hey, who's there?

Voice. Paul Daugherty.

Dunn. [weakly.] Oh.

Voice. Hey, can you help me out? I got my foot caught here under a log. I've been stuck here for two days. I'm starving. I'm weak. And I really need to take a dump.

Dunn. I don't think so, jerk.

Voice. What? What kind of people are you? You're just going to leave me to die out here?

Dunn. The world would be much better off.

Voice. You know what? Bleep you. You're a bleeping bleepity bleep. I hope you bleeping bleepity bleep bleep.

Griffey. Hey, Dunner, let's not forget to tell Edwin about this.

Dunn. [laughing.] We should tell all of Cincinnati. We'll be hailed as heroes!

Griffey. First time ever for us.

Voice. Hey, wait! Wait! I promise I'll never say a bad thing about you guys again! I'll get my friends to call into my shows and say nothing but praise for you guys! I'll even put you on my fantasy team! [Voice gradually fades as the boat continues to move farther away from him.] Hey, wait! Wait! Wait! You bleepity bleeping bleeps! Bleep you! Bleep you, you motherbleepers! Bleeeeeeeeep yooooooou!

[Voice can no longer be heard.]

Dunn. Man, is this a great day or what?

Griffey. Yeah, what luck to get rid of that jerk! Shoot, we gotta get back and put some bets on baseball.

Dunn. Griff! Don't you think Cincinnati has had enough of that?

Griffey. Yeah, I guess you're right. We'll bet on the NBA. I'm rooting for Lebron. You know, gotta go with the Ohio team. And Lebron kicks bleep!

Dunn. Good idea. [Pauses and speaks contemplatively as he stares into the blackness of night.] If only we could find our way back.

Stay tuned for Act II of Adam's Day Off. Will Dunn and Griffey get back in time for the 8:05 start at Wrigley tomorrow?

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Getting swept by the worst team in baseball...starting Hopper, Freel, and Castro at the same time...Coffey giving up four runs when the team is down by that many...stranding 32 runners on base in three games...Edwin leaving the bases loaded three times...Griffey bouncing into double plays...

Ugh. This team is playing as ugly as the weather has been.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The future looks bright...

I went to the Dragons game last night to see the Baby Reds take on the Baby Padres. What an exciting game! Not only did Todd Frazier hit a homer to win the game in the bottom of the ninth, but both he and Brandon Waring hit homers earlier, Waring's with Frazier on base. I guess these guys are like the Dunn and Kearns of 2008. Seems like they'll move up through the system at the same time.

What a great park. I hadn't been to a Dragon's game since the Dunnandkearns show, so it kind of felt like going to a new park. Unfortunately, a camera malfunction made me lose 50 photos, so I don't have much to show. Guess I'll have to go back soon to snap some more. I bet these kids that play for Dayton get spoiled. I imagine going to Sarasota, Chattanooga, and Louisville after playing in Dayton is a bit of a letdown.

Here is Waring's homer with Frazier about to score.

I was pretty pumped to get both of their autographs after the game. My ball was nearly full with the ink of the other players and since they were two of the last ones out, they had to squeeze it in. Would have had room but there is a ban on signing on the sweet spot, which still has an empty spot in the middle. Thanks a lot, you stupid middle aged losers who ruined it for the rest of us by getting stuff signed and then selling it. I also got Brad Chalk's autograph on the ball, the Padre's second round pick from 2007. I have no clue how I knew who he was, but most of his team had already come out and suddenly I asked if he was Chalk, and I was right.

The Reds are loaded with shortstops with Frazier, Chris Valaika, and Adam Rosales. Guess it's how it should be, considering our history of shortstops. One of these is bound to become the next Barry Larkin. Frazier doesn't seem all that apt in the field, but he can rake. Perhaps he'll be moved to another position in the future. They say that shortstops are the most athletic of players.

Good times!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Week One Review...They're Together Again

  • A winning homestand to start the season? Nice. But we’ve been down this April road before. Still, something is different. It’s called pitching, I think. Had to look up that definition because I forgot what it meant.
  • Though the rest of the country can’t figure it out, we all know what Aaron Harang is capable of. He pitched well enough to win twice but had a bit of bad luck, going 0-1 with a no decision the Reds ended up winning.
  • Bronson Arroyo stunk up his second start after getting a no decision in a decent outing five days earlier. Pick it up, Bronson. If the Reds are going anywhere this year, you need to NOT GIVE UP FOUR HOMERS IN ANY MORE STARTS. OR THREE, FOR THAT MATTER.
  • I made the trip down to Cincy to watch Johnny Cueto’s dominating Major League debut. I caught Reds fever quite early in seeing that performance.
  • Josh Fogg, go away. May Homer take your place someday. Soon. But it won't happen with that 91 MPH fastball, Homer. Get your head in the game.
  • Voltron! IT’S PRONOUNCED VOL-KEZ, NOT QUEZ. Man, is this pitching rotation exciting!
  • How about that bullpen? Holding leads? Is this really the Reds? Stormy had a bad outing in Cueto’s debut, and there has been a run here and there, but all in all, I’m impressed. And excited!
  • So the bats were slow. The Reds have never had a problem scoring runs, hovering in the top ten in the National League throughout this seven year losing streak. No worries there.
  • So glad to get rid of the Brand New Bag for Bronson’s “They’re together again.” Funny cheese.
  • George Grande is getting worse with his mispeaking. Any combo of Chris, Thom, and Brantley is fine with me, but Grande is nearly unbearable. I know he’s a nice guy, but my god, pay attention to what you’re saying!
  • I'm going to the Dragons game tomorrow - haven't been there since Dunnandkearns were roaming the outfield. I'll have a report and some photos of the game. I have an extra ticket if anyone is interested. I've never sat in the seats before, only in the lawn, so I'm looking forward to it. Let me know if you want the other ticket. It's $12.

Saturday, April 05, 2008


The sky is falling.

Sometimes I wonder if it really is, if it’s just one giant ocean up there that has cracked and is unable to hold itself up any longer.

The Reds lost a pretty crappy game last night, crappy all the way through from the weather to the performance on the field with the exception of Jared Burton, who K’d four of his six batters. Stormy did his job, too, but it was all too little, too late, because Josh Couldn’t See through the Fogg and gave up six runs in four innings pitched. The Reds bats never caught up.

The bitter drear of a game started an hour and forty minutes late because the sky was falling down, crushing what is supposed to be spring and forcing androgyny upon the hooded masses who dared to brave the wintry weather plaguing this part of the world. (I wonder in what inning last call came after such a long delay…) They were not rewarded for their loyalty, for Mr. “I turned down a four million dollar contract thinking I could get more and had to sign for a million with the Reds” stunk.

His former Rockie teammate stunk a bit, too, giving up Chase Utley’s second homer of the night, which turned out to be the 100th of his career. Affeldt calmed down after that, but the three run deficit was never to be overcome. Indeed, it grew, for Todd Coffey made a couple mistakes in the ninth inning and gave up another run to seal the loss.

The mystery of the night – indeed, a move that was downright Morron-like – was when Dusty pulled Dunn in the sixth inning. I get the double switch idea. I realize the pitcher’s spot was up next. But pulling your big power hitter when you’re down three runs with four innings to go?

This game put me in a foul mood, no pun intended. The Reds had runners on base with zero or one outs several times but couldn’t get them in. Dunn grounded into a double play to kill a rally and missed two good pitches, turning hits into flyouts. Griffey had two hits and two RBI, passing Reggie Jackson to move into 19th on the all time RBI list. Mostly, though, the offense just stunk. Phillies pitcher Kyle Kendrick did not pitch well through five innings but managed to wiggle out of trouble nearly every inning.

George Grande was simply awful, which only exacerbated my irritation. For example, a flyball was hit to centerfield near the warning track and Grande said it went to second base without bothering to correct himself. There were so many of these little errors that you never knew if what he said were true or not.

So yeah, it’s game four. There are 158 more to play. The Chubs have lost three of their four; the Tigers have lost all of their games. We haven’t even played enough games to warrant a glance at the standings. Still, I feel like the sky is falling, like the season is lost because Edwin might lose his position and Votto might be sent to Louisville and Patterson played a whole game when Dunn was pulled and we have no catcher and we have no good fourth starter and I hope Chase Utley gets a both ends stomach flu tonight that lasts about four days.

I guess my disappointment stems from the feeling of invincibility I developed after watching Johnny Cueto dominate the defending NL West champs yesterday. May an outing by our stud ace Aaron Harang lift my spirits after today’s game!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Nacimiento del lanzador

The drear was no match for the day’s events, a glimpse into the future as the present unfolded before our awestruck eyes. It was not the most comfortable game to attend – a cold wind blew off the Ohio River while a continuous drizzle dampened the baseball world below it - but those of us few thousand spectators who came to witness the birth of a new star bore it with little complaint.

We knew something was different when the first pitch blew out of our young hero’s hand into the mitt of his battery mate, a ball, but a very fast ball, indeed. This first ball mattered none, for Chris Young struck out the first of three times against him (four total), and Johnny Cueto’s Major League career was underway.

Three up, three down, five times in a row, each inning igniting more glances up at that hit column, the zero glowing brighter as the number of outs changed from one to two to three and turned over again. The pitch count was low, the ball count even lower, and when seven nearly perfect innings had passed, 68 of 92 pitches had been strikes and the opposition hitters had been baffled. The only blemish was a mistake to Justin Upton, whose ball landed a few rows of seats above Adam Dunn’s head for the only hit and only run the defending National League West champions could muster.

Everyone knows you don’t mention a no hitter while it is in progress, but we all were well aware the potential was there, and you could feel the tension mounting until the homer prompted a standing O from the crowd for Cueto’s effort. It’s almost better that Upton got that hit in the sixth, because Dusty did not have to decide whether or not to leave this young arm in the game in pursuit of perfection, pushing his pitch count up to 120, no sweat for sturdy veterans like Aaron Harang, but too many for a 20 year old whose body has yet to fully develop and who has a long season ahead of him.

Ten strikeouts - D’back’s hitters looked clueless at the plate. 96 showed up on the gun several times, and you could see and hear and feel how hard that ball was popping. Then there was the beauty of the changeup and the early, empty swings it incited. There were few two ball counts, no three ball counts, and aside from the homer, only two balls resembling anything like a hit, both falling into the glove of Dunn in leftfield. The oft criticized Dunn made a great catch at the wall on one of those balls for the third out of an inning, and our young pitcher waited for his leftfielder to make his way towards the dugout to thank him for saving his no hitter. The kid proved he has the mental stuff, too, because even as you could see his heart sink when that Upton ball landed in the seats, he came right back and got the next six batters to complete his seven innings and put himself in line for the win.

Few Major League debuts have been better than the one I witnessed today at Great American Ballpark, a debut that injects a new shot of hope into the veins of my Reds fandom. If this kid pitches like this most of the year, all I can say is look out, National League.

Vocablo del día de Cueto: lanzador = pitcher

These 2008s should be 2007s. I don't know what year it is, I guess.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Blessed Be Baseball (Part 3 of 3 posts about our Holy Day)

I didn't notice the rain.

Not at first, not when it was coming down on our parade, the one to celebrate our holy game. It was my first Findlay Market Parade, and the weather did not seem to deter anyone from enjoying the festivities. It wasn't until we left the parade for the ballpark did I notice how absolutely soaked I was.

The gates had just opened when we entered the park for the first of 162 games of the 2008 baseball season, but there was already a mad throng of people buzzing around the confines of the stadium, faces stuffed with hot dogs, livers swelled with the first beers of the new baseball year. We grabbed some Crud Lights and a program at the gate, our hands too full of beer and bags of extra clothing to fill out the various contest forms shoved under our noses from the get go. One woman seemed not too happy that I could not fill out a form, but has she ever seen a three handed person? I haven't.

The rain intensified as we moved inside that cathedral we call Great American Ballpark and navigated our way through the mass of people who clogged the arteries of the stadium. The tarp glowed under the passion of daylight that seemed so desperate to get through the gray skies, and it succeeded in intimidating away some of the gloom. But it was Reds baseball and the birth of a new season that did most of the work, and it was hard to put down our soaring spirits. The warmth helped in keeping away any misery that may have ruined this holy day.

Misery would have come had the game been cancelled. I think, though, Joe was up there trying to convince The Big Guy to turn off the faucet, because not only were we able to play the whole game, but we even got sunshine through the last three or four innings, much to the delight of the cheering crowd, which seemed to respond louder to the sun than to events on the field. The Reds' three hits - one of which was Harang's - left little to cheer about when the team had bats in their hands. Brandon Phillips' triple was the most exciting part of the game. Well, aside from it actually being that glorious thing called "Opening Day."

We plowed our way through the wall-to-wall people who were trying to take refuge from the dripping sky, and it was not at all pleasant, especially for someone who is 5'3" and a little claustrophobic in crowds. It was irritating, and at one point I nearly forgot there was baseball to be played - or perhaps I didn't think we'd get the game in - and started pushing my way through. Hey, they were the ones who were just standing in big groups in what was supposed to be a walkway. Is there no common sense left in America? Stand to the side, people, stand. to. the. side!

It didn't matter, though. Everything was beautiful, because it was our holy day, Opening Day, and even the cracks in the sidewalks seemed perfect! The tribute to Joe, with everyone coming out with Nuxhall 41s on their backs and then Harang wearing a Nuxhall jersey throughout the game, was a brilliant celebration of a good man departed. Hey, maybe the rain was Joe crying because he was so touched or because he wasn't next to Marty in the radio booth. I know I wasn't the only one with a tear in my eye. I was too far away to get any closeup photos, but you can see some good photos of the jerseys at Redleg Nation.

Here is the first pitch of the 2008 Cincinnati Reds baseball season. It was a strike, the first of many to be thrown by one of the best pitchers in baseball, who ended up striking out six in his six innings of work.

We had standing room only tix but found some unclaimed bleacher seats in leftfield and were able to sit there the whole game. I think I spent half the game trying to convince myself that I was actually there and that baseball season had finally come. I had expected my heart to burst with joy when I walked through the gates, but the disbelief coupled with the rain left me more in awe than in joy. The joy set in about the sixth inning, but the loss put a bit of a damper on it. Just a bit.

The seats were sandwiched between the two homers Harang gave up. It's funny to sit in the outfield because you can tell from flight of the ball that they are gone. When you sit behind or around home, you often can't tell if it has the distance and you have to watch the outfielders to judge the ball's flight path, but in the outfield, it's coming at you, so yeah, you know as soon as it leaves the bat. The first one wasn't so bad, but two batters later we wondered what was going on. I mean, this is Arizona, a team with zero power, and they ended up hitting three dingers.

What a great experience! I am so excited about this team and this season that I can barely wait for tonight's game. It's all I've thought about since I woke up this morning, and it's only 11:30 now. If only the outside temperature would start being more baseball-like...