Saturday, January 31, 2009

Dunn with Dunn?

You may have noticed that I've taken down my "Dunn for Leftfielder" campaign sign. Well, after hearing that he is asking $14 million for this year, I'm not so sure I want him around. Hey Adam, you know Pat Burrell? The guy that's pretty much you? He got $8 million.

Something Brandon Phillips said on the radio last week got me thinking about Dunn. To paraphrase, he said that Dunn and Griffey weren't on the team so the team was no longer about two guys but about everybody. I mean, I know we all knew about Dunn and Griffey being a little, how should I say it? Stuck up? But how much did their attitudes hurt the team?

We'll never really know, of course, but if Brandon Phillips said he's excited to play on a team without the egos, well, there just might be something to that.

So I'm done with Dunn. It's time to move on. It's time to be excited about Bruce and Votto and hope they never grow up to be Dunn and Griffey.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The essence of nothing

There were a few minor occurrences in the Red org today that I could talk about. I like Stormy and I'm glad he's back, even if he's going to be slightly overpaid. I'm also glad the buyout for next year is only 400K. (I use the term "only" loosely.) He's an awesome guy and so unbelievably nice and down to earth that I will love him forever. I don't want Luis Gonzalez (as reported in a few outlets today) on the team unless he's paid league minimum as a bench player.

But frankly, neither of these two "stories" changes the situation (that being the Reds are going to STINK.) Bob Castellini can get as mad as he wants at us "non-believers," but frankly, you discard sound business policy as a small market team, and the criticism is warranted. But I'm glad he's angry. It's about time he gets angry about something. It may be too late, though. I'm almost beyond caring.

(But I'm not really. That's just the disappointment talking. I'll never stop caring.)

I've got a bit of writer's block right now, so I have nothing to say. But I did notice this thing today - in Ohio, people often ask for the "bill" at a restaurant instead of a "check." What's with that? Tres bizarre.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Yes, the economy is in crisis

Even the wealthy Mets can't afford a logo designer.

Metsgrrl has a suggestion for a better one.

My opinion is this: why do we need to have a sleeve patch for everything? It's getting ridiculous. Of course, I'm talking out both sides of my mouth, because I bought a GAB(p) Inaugural Season patch in 2003. Guess I answered my own question.

Metsgrrl also pointed out this story about Ted Williams by the great American writer John Updike, who passed away today at the age of 76. He writes this beautiful line about Fenway:
It was built in 1912 and rebuilt in 1934, and offers, as do most Boston artifacts, a compromise between Man's Euclidean determinations and Nature's beguiling irregularities.
America lost a great man today.

Rob Dibble will be the Nationals' color man

"I'm excited to join MASN in covering one of the great new franchises in baseball, and I'm honored to be part of the MASN and Nationals' families. I will try to bring my experience as a pitcher, a ballplayer, and a broadcaster to the booth and bring fans a deeper understanding of what's happening on the field," said Dibble. "I've never been shy about sharing my opinion, so fans will know where I'm coming from."
It seems old Leatherpants is bound and determined to continue his stint as GM of the Cincinnati Reds. His Reds love has gone beyond the ridiculous.

My guess is that he signs Dunner by the end of next week.

Field of Nightmares

I had the strangest dream last night. I dreamed that a gamma ray hit the earth and a reddish brown haze was taking over the atmosphere. This is a result of some show I saw on the History Channel yesterday about how science could fulfill biblical prophecies. Anyway, in the dream, I woke up and the gamma ray was only a dream, but it was 3pm when I woke and it was starting to get dark and I was mad at myself for sleeping so late. Then I played Legend of Zelda. Then I woke up in the dream again and it was only 11:30am, still late but not as bad as 3pm and I was relieved that it was earlier and that had only been a dream. Then I woke up for real.

Sometimes I think that when I do my daily check of Reds news that what I think is real about the Reds is only a dream, but it never is. Willy Taveras is still on the roster. There's still no leftfielder. There's still pop but no power. Jeff Brantley and George Grande are still broadcasters. Marty still thinks of Bill James as the enemy. Dusty Baker still chews toothpicks in the dugout. We still have an eight year (nine?) losing streak. But maybe I'm still in a dream and I'll wake up and Nick Swisher will be in leftfield (or Adam Dunn!) and Davey Johnson or Lou Pinella will be our real manager and Jarrod Saltalamacchia will be our catcher and we'll have a centerfielder who can hit it out of the infield. Or something like that.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Oh man, sometimes "The Bank President" really strikes a nerve. Today he writes on his blog:
MORE ON RUN DIFFERENTIAL: I mentioned in a comment on John Erardi's post that the Reds did a whole lot better as far as run differential after the Adam Dunn trade, which signalled the move away from the Dunn-Ken Griffey Jr. area. The trade happened on Aug. 11. The Reds went with Chris Dickerson in left, Jerry Hairston or Corey Patterson in center and Jay Bruce in right the rest of the way -- faster, more athletic.

They club went 22-21 the rest of the way and outscored the opposition 194-190. That projects to scoring 731 runs and giving up 716 over 162 games. That kind of ratio will put you right around .500. I think the team you'll this year will much more closely resemble the post-Aug. 11 team of last year.
I'm going to get grumpy here. Six weeks of a season and you think it's responsible journalism to "project" a season's totals and use 43 games to "prove" a point? Do they not teach statistics 101 in J school?

It wouldn't be so bad if some of the people who comment on that site weren't of the lowest common denominator and didn't take every word of the Enquirer as gospel. And they're the ones Mr. Castellini sees as typical Reds fans, which only contributes to getting rid of productive guys like Dunn in exchange for no OBP guys like Taveras.

The commenter Mr. Redlegs, whom everyone says is a former journalist, has the perfect response to the post: "Sample size." Well said. (Golf clap.)

The truth about run differential is written by the great John Erardi here. Now THAT'S good journalism. But what do I know? I'm just a lowly blogger.

Get off my lawn!

I'm having lunch at a cafe across the street from a store called "N. Ohio Coins-Stamps-Sportscards." At least, that's what the sign says. It's closed at 2pm on a Monday, so chances are it is no longer in business. It's located in a white, rundown building attached to other rundown buildings in a rundown town. The street is Ohio Street, so the name of the store isn't very creative. Next to it is a store called "Winals CD Vault." The sign in the window says "Yes, we're open" but nobody has gone in since I started my turkey sandwich about a half hour ago.

CDs and sportscards, specifically baseball cards, were two staples in my life during what seems a lifetime ago, that being the good old university days. I never lost the thrill of opening a new pack of cards and hoping to see some Reds inside. There rarely seemed to be Reds, though. When there were, it was usually some guy who'd already been traded or the manager. (I bought a pack of Topps cards in 2007, I think it was, and who was there but Jerry Morron.)

Both CDs and baseball cards have been replaced with something else. In the case of the former, they have been replaced by better technology, which is nice because you don't have to lug around big boxes of CDs when you move, though because the business environment has also changed, you have fascists like iTunes who make you buy your own album again when your old computer dies with your music on it, and they think they're being nice by offering the songs that YOU ALREADY BOUGHT for only 30 cents instead of 99. So there's that. But hey, no big boxes, right?

What replaced baseball cards was not so good. I get an irrational sense of nostalgia when I think about how kids used to revel in the glory of the cardboard, collecting shoeboxes full of ballplayers, putting the cards in the spokes of their bicycles, and trading the cards with each other. A lot of things set the decline of card collecting in motion, the first being the insanity of the American collector mentality. Somehow, junk became treasure. Somebody's piece of garbage old bench became labeled "antique." People started buying up rusted old farm junk and putting it in their yards, often planting flowers around it. Morons started paying $200 to buy stuffed animals that cost $5.99 in a store. A whole industry sprung up so people could store their excessive flow of junk in separate garages because it wouldn't fit into their houses. And business jumped on this. Turn on the television and you'll see advertisements for "Barack Obama Commemorative Coins." They look like toys from a Happy Meal, but they are "commemorative" and come with "certificates of authenticity!" For only $10, you can buy three quarters! There's so much "collectible" junk out there that nothing is rare anymore. That's how the baseball card industry killed itself.

When I first started collecting baseball cards back in 1987, they were 50 cents a pack. Instead of my post-game Little League treat, I got a pack of Topps cards with the wooden borders. In 1989, the Upper Deck company was born, bringing in the era of "premium card." We all fell for it. We liked the shininess of the cards. The other companies jumped on the wagon, producing shiny cards they inserted into their regular card sets. Insert mania drove card prices through the roof and the price of a pack of cards rose as the number of cards you got shrunk. What kid could afford to buy ten cards for two bucks? At that rate, it'd cost you almost two hundred bucks to collect a set of Topps cards.

I stopped collecting in college, in part because I felt I was getting too old for baseball cards, but mostly because it got to be too expensive. Now kids don't buy baseball cards. They buy Pokemon cards instead, and the baseball card industry only has itself to blame for that.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

There's a Reds fan at MLB Network

There have been very few "World Series Memories" shown on the MLB Network so far, but this morning, with my coffee and laptop before me, I flipped on the telly and there it was in all its glory - the 1990 Cincinnati Reds. Can you believe it? I had some tears, tears of joy, tears of nostalgia, and tears of sorrow for the state of the once great franchise.

Of course, it was played on a Sunday morning when no one watches television, but the fact is, they played it. There's hope for the Reds yet. I know there's a Reds fan at MLB Network and some lackey didn't accidentally think he was putting in a Red SOX tape, because when they play the commercial where the guy is about to watch a heart attack while watching baseball, they flash a clip of Browning's perfect game and Pete's 4192.

I wonder when they're going to have to start an intervention program for MLB Network watchers.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Just wanted to add...

In all of my pessimism about 2009, I have no problem with the Gomes signing and hope he has a killer year and wins the leftfielder job. But there are just too many ifs to be hopeful.

If Gomes can play as he is capable of playing.
If Dickerson/Gomes can be a productive platoon.
If Taveras can get on base.
If Hernandez stops being a lazy bum and hits like an All Star.
If Gonzalez returns to form.
If Cueto is more consistent.
If Volquez pitches like last year.
If Harang returns to form.
If Arroy can win 14 games.
If Cordero doesn't blow a bunch of saves.
If Edwin doesn't throw every ball away.
If BP can hit 30 homers again.
If Votto doesn't have a sophomore slump.
If Bruce hits better than last year.


Day Two of the We're Done Stage

Is there anything good to write about the 2009 Cincinnati Reds and their quit at no cost attitude* towards the season? I guess we can say at least we're not the Pirates with that owner who doesn't care about winning as long as he can run his team with the funds from revenue sharing. But it is downright embarrassing to be put in the same class as the Pirates and the Royals, and those two teams can say the same thing about us.

This is Bob Castellini's fourth year as principal owner. You choose to rebuild in year four, Bob? There is a statute of limitations on patience.

Contrary to some national sports journalist idiots, the Reds have a good farm system. So there's that. But we had that last year and the year before and the year before that. And by the time the farm boys are Major League ready, guys like Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto and Jay Bruce are going to be too expensive to retain. Have we turned into the Reds of the old days when the Cincinnati team was basically used as a farm system for the East Coast teams, when we developed players and just sent them away to the likes of teams like the New York Giants? Why haven't we signed Jay Bruce and Joey Votto to longterm contracts like other, successful teams have done with their young players? Why, if we are rebuilding, did we bother to get Taveras and Hernandez and those other jokers instead of just letting young guys like Stubbs play?

The recession is just a convenient excuse. It didn't prevent other teams from getting better. This is a result of poor business decisions, and I, for one, am not going to vote for a bailout. After all of the money I have given to this team over my lifetime, I'm just not going to do it this year. And it has nothing to do with recession. So have fun, Bob, raising revenue when you are losing even your loyal fan base. Adam Dunn could have changed things. Bobby Abreu could have changed things. Nick Swisher could have changed things.

Hal McCoy is right.
Swell. Rush to purchase those tickets now. Send in those season ticket applications. Everybody wants to see a fifth-place team. Everybody wants to see a ninth straight losing season.
One of the great things about baseball is that a bad year ends and you still have hope for the next year. Well, not this year. Remember last year when Sports Illustrated picked the Reds to come in second place in the division? I bet they pick us last this year.

It's a fairly warm day today. Spring feels like it is just around the corner. But for us Reds fans, it's going to be a year long winter.

*I hope they are quitting rather than thinking they actually can win with what they're fielding. Look, I said they rather than we.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

There goes 2009

With the announcement that the Reds are done for the winter, hopes for the 2009 Cincinnati Reds go out the window. So much for the "number one priority" of getting a righthanded bat.

One line in the article prompted a thought from me:
Meanwhile, the club is trying to find ways to generate and improve its revenue stream.
It isn't going to be from ticket sales, that's for sure.

I sure hope Chris Dickerson can surprise the world with an amazing season.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

That's why he's a Sox fan...

WARNING: IF YOU'RE A CUBS FAN, THESE WORDS MIGHT BE TOO BIG FOR YOU TO READ. has an article about Dusty going to the Inauguration. Apparently, Dusty has met President Obama and even has his cell phone number. Hey, hey.

It got me thinking again about what the black players in baseball have gone through. Dusty was a rookie the year MLK was assassinated. He played with Hank and witnessed what Aaron had to go through as he was taken down Babe Ruth's record.

But we know all of this. Although the article is interesting, I found the comments by Cubs fans more interesting. It seems that Cubs fans are capable of nothing but complaining.
I thought this was a Cubs site. Who gives dam that Dustbag went to Washington along with the rest of the sheep. I come here to get NEWS about BASEBALL. Maybe this explains why the Cubs can't win. You need to focus on BASEBALL. The election was over in November.
So you weren't interested in the article? Don't read it. You had to make the effort to complain about it? And the Cubs can't win because publishes an article about Dusty Baker going to the Inauguration? Go Cubbies!
I come to this site to read Cub articles. Dusty baker is of no interest as he is now the manager of the Reds. As a Cub he made such comments as (white players cannot play in the heat of day games), so it makes since he would attend this inaugration. Dusty Baker is ignorant & a racist & it makes no sense to have his name headlining a page for Cub articles. This fan is interested in Cubs & Cubs only, not politics or the new president. :)
The smile after he accuses someone of racism is only appropriate for the level of intelligence of the average Cubs fan.

This guy might not be a Cubs fan, but he has the same mentality as the others:
I am very disappointed with This is a site about baseball. I am sick and tired about hearing, reading and seeing stuff about this inauguration all over the darn place. They did not do this for Bush or Clinton and that was correct. Also, this is the most expensive inaugural ever, 4 times more than Bush or Clinton (present day dollars). I was upset with how much those inaugurals cost, because this is democratic republic, this is not some socialist-Marxist-kingdom. The president is elected by the people to serve the people, not the other way around. So, for this new president to spend like this in an economical period such as this is is disgusting. I was hoping that the MLB would do the right thing and stay out of D.C.'s news cycle. Stop with the politics and get back to baseball.
They didn't write about Bush, except here, here, here, get the point. There really was no internet when Clinton was elected, at least, not like we know it now. I mean, seriously, you don't want to read the article? Don't read it. You're the one making it political with all of your socialism paranoia garbage. Oh, and spending money in a time of economic crisis is a GOOD thing. Ask the city of DC if they are upset that two million people came into town, filled every hotel room and restaurant seat, and employed hundreds of people to prepare for the event.

Ok, ok, I know that not every Cubs fan is dumb. But, well, they did throw 20 baseballs onto the field when Dunn hit one out of the park. They are drunk. They are obnoxious. And I do feel sorry for the pre-Bartman fans who don't act like complete morons and who do understand the game of baseball.

The article IS about baseball. I for one enjoyed the article, and I wouldn't put myself in the category of fan of Dusty Baker. Baseball is one small part of our society, and though it has played a big role in fueling the Civil Rights Movement, in the grand scheme of things, the game itself isn't all that important. I like how streamed the Inauguration. I like how MLB Network showed a documentary on the Negro Leagues. I like tying baseball into current events. I like being aware of the world around me.

Then again, I am not a Cubs fan.

He put a curse on us once

A couple of Reds bits in SI this week:

Don Bouquot of Dayton writes in about the option of not receiving the annual swimsuit issue:
Since I am a Reds and Bengals fan, I wondered if you made the same offer regarding your MLB and NFL Preview issues?
And there's this bit about Pedro Borbon in the article "We Are the Chomp-ions."
1973 - After a Mets-Reds brawl Cincinnati reliever Pedro Borbon mistakenly picks up the cap of New York's Buzz Capra. When he realizes what he's wearing, Borbon takes a bite out of the bill and spits it onto the ground. And so begins a series of incidents that will earn Borbon the nickname Domincan Dracula. In a '74 fight he bites Pirates pitcher Daryl Patterson on the ear. Asked if Patterson should get a tetanus shot, Borbon says, "No, a rabies shot." Later in his career Borbon would be arrested for biting the chest of a Cincinnati disco bouncer and fined $200 for returning several pieces of rental furniture with teeth marks in them.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life...

I watched MLB Network’s “Pride and Perseverance” about the Negro Leagues this evening. If that’s the quality of programming we can expect to see from MLB Network, I may never leave the couch again. Really great stuff. I had tears in my eyes, which has happened quite a lot this weekend – tears of joy, tears of rage, tears of hope that we can put all of this skin color nonsense behind us forever. I suppose nonsense is too weak of a word.

One thing I found fun about the Negro Leagues is all of the great nicknames the players had. My favorite was Peach Head. There was Mule, Buck, Bobo, Chico, Double Duty, Cool Papa, Mack the Knife, Whip, Slim – it seems like everyone had a nickname, and not just had a nickname, but were known by their nicknames. Today we have weak names like A Rod and K Rod and Big Z. There’s The Big Unit, The Rocket, Big Puma, and a few others, and then more localized names like Adam “Donkey” Dunn, Voltron, Johnny Cuest, but no one calls them that outside of their markets. I think Chris Berman killed nicknames.

In the 1920s, black teams used to play Major League teams in exhibition games. It was said that Major League players loved these games because the competition was so tough, as the black teams often beat the Major League teams. Babe Ruth was a big champion of these games. Ohio’s own Kenesaw Mountain Landis banned these games in 1929. I remember driving past the sign in Millville that read “Birthplace of Kenesaw Mountain Landis, First Commissioner of Major League Baseball” on trips from Miami U. to Cincy. The sign stood so proudly. I think they should take it down. Bigots deserve no place in history.

Do you ever wonder what you would have been like had you lived in another time period? I’m convinced I would have been ostracized for eccentricities if I had been born any earlier. I know I would have gone to Griffith Stadium in DC to see Josh Gibson play, and I would have gone alone if no one would have gone with me. A single white woman going to a black baseball game? In some cities you’d probably be killed for that. Like Cincinnati. I would have been screaming my head of for Josh Gibson, my answer to the question, "If you could see any ballplayer play ball, who would it be?" Josh Gibson, the greatest baseball player who ever lived, a guy who was said by some to hit over 900 home runs in his career, a guy who was said by others to have hit a homer out of Yankee Stadium, tragically died of a stroke at age 35, three months before Jackie Robinson made his Major League debut. Sometimes, fate is a cruel mother.

I am very proud that baseball was a catalyst for the civil rights movement. True American human heroes emerged from the dark shadows of segregation, heroes like Jackie Robinson, Branch Rickey, Larry Doby, and the others who followed. It's just unthinkable to me that these stories are real, that those signs they showed on the documentary, the ones that said "We do laundry for white people only" and "White Entrance/Black Entrance" couldn't have existed. But they did. I know they did. I just can't wrap my head around it.

It we could realign the stars, I would love to see the 1931 Homestead Grays play the 1976 Reds in a series. The ’31 Grays went 163-23 that year. Josh Gibson hit 75 homers. The roster had five Hall of Famers: Oscar Charleston , Jud "Boojum" Wilson, Smokey Joe Williams, Willie Foster, and Gibson. Man, what a series that would be. Well, someday, when I get to that cornfield in Iowa, maybe I’ll be able to sit in the bleachers eating my hotdog and see that series. And yeah, I’ll root my heart out for the Reds, but when Josh comes up and hits a 500 footer into the waving green beyond the outfield, I will stand up and clap.

Those guys must be sitting up there beaming at America right now.

Let me in the sound

Early evening, April 4, shot rings out in the Memphis sky...

Mark Sheldon asks us a couple of questions today and the resounding answer is no.
Can anyone remember an offseason in which the Reds weren't feverishly trying to make acquisitions and improvements to their rotation?

How about a Spring Training where at least two rotation spots weren't up for grabs in open competition?
No and no.

Free at last, they took his life. They could not take his pride.

My very favorite non-U2 band, The National, are Reds fans, and I found this piece of information about the first band of two of the brothers in the band amusing:
At the outset, the duo was informally named Big Red Machine in a nod to the Dessners' Cincinnati hometown, but the brothers are now just going by their own names. "We think the Reds would get pissed off," Dessner says with a laugh. "They have the trademark."
Speaking of U2, their new single Get On Your Boots was released today. (Hear it here.) Good stuff. [begin rant]Of course, the U2 haters are trying their best to find things "wrong" with it. It sounds like Pump It Up. It sounds like Subterranean Homesick Blues. It sounds like Wild West. Did anyone ever complain that Elvis Costello ripped Pump It Up off Bob Dylan? No. You only hear the complaints now because it's U2 - it's "cool" to hate U2. Caring about the world is pompous and arrogant. (The haters are usually tone deaf people who claim to have superior tastes in music and have never picked up an instrument in their lives aside from the recorder in fourth grade and that Guitar Hero device.) I swear, music is the only field where you are demonized for being successful.[/end rant]

One man caught on a barbed wire fence, one man he resists, one man washed on an empty beach, one man betrayed with a kiss.

And speaking of guys who have been around awhile, this guy thinks the Reds should sign Omar Vizquel. Uh, no. The Reds have been there, done that as far as signing the ancients goes. But finding the post led me to the Cincinnati Reds Social Networking Site. Never heard of it, could be interesting. Will explore some more.

Remember, Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan are on Ellen today. I think the whole getting Clooney on the show thing is pretty funny, and so is this. (Don't click without muting your sound first.)

Don't forget to send some of your thoughts today to MLK and all of the great civil and human rights leaders in the world throughout history. We've come a heck of a long way, but we still have a heck of a long way to go.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

First class ticket

Every now and then, a ballplayer will do something that makes you feel warm and fuzzy all over. I thought the ad that Kerry Wood placed in Chicago newspapers thanking the fans was a class act.
"It has been an honor to have been a Chicago Cub for the last 13 years and to have played in the greatest ballpark, Wrigley Field," Wood said in the ad in the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times. "My deepest thanks go to my teammates and the Cubs organization for taking a chance on a kid from Texas and welcoming me into the Cubs family.

"Thank you Cubs fans, the greatest fans in all of baseball, for believing in me and supporting me over the years," he said. "I will always be proud to have been a Chicago Cub. Although I'm a member of a new 'Tribe,' I will forever be a Chicagoan."
The departure has to be bittersweet for Chub$ fans. He will always be one of those "what if" guys. Still, I'm glad he's gone to the American League!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Death on Olympus

I remember getting Reds pitcher Frank Williams' autograph in the parking garage under Riverfront Stadium one undistinguished summer. Do you remember when you could walk down ramp after ramp after ramp, every now and then getting to step on that squishy black stuff in the concrete, and then going to stand at the temporary fences, waiting desperately for a Reds player to come out from his shower and sign your stuff? That was my childhood, and Frank Williams was a tiny part of it. Loose Cannon at Red Reporter has informed us that he has died at age 50 of an apparent heart attack. His story is anything but common, as his life took a nasty turn.

Why am I writing about a nobody, a guy who was mentally ill and incapable of making it in American society? Maybe it is because this is a historic weekend, but I've been thinking a lot about social issues in the last week, really thinking, and this article aroused a sadness in me usually reserved for the death of a family member. Or an emptiness, worse than sadness. The guy only has a wiki because he died.

This is a sad story, originally told here but with a tragic ending in 2009. Frank Williams played Major League Baseball for the San Francisco Giants, Detroit Tigers, and the Cincinnati Reds from 1984-1989. He wasn't bad, either, posting a career ERA of exactly 3 in 471 innings pitched, averaging 96 innings a season, though that's a bit skewed, as he had two seasons of over 100 innings pitched and one only 50. If he had pitched in this day and age, he probably would have carried a fat wallet and have been in hot commodity about July 31 every year. Instead, he earned what is the league minimum today and blew through it years ago. My, how the game has changed.

Fate was not kind to Williams. In 1989 he was involved in a car accident that ended his baseball career. He had a bad marriage that may or may not have something to do with the accident. What followed was what most of us average Joes and Janes would consider horrific but is a daily reality for 3.5 million Americans. To paraphrase the Dalai Lama when he visited our nation's capital, how can so many have no place to live in the capital of the richest country in the world? How can any American not have a home in any city?

Frank, this nobody, this bum, was a guy more people than not would walk to the far side of the sidewalk to avoid. But he had once been on the top of the world. His wife took most of his MLB money, meager by today's standards, in a divorce settlement (it also is related to what I wrote about the Elijah Dukes case today) and he found himself in and out of homeless shelters and detox centers. All because his wife drove their car into a tree. But like when stupid people have no way of understanding that there are people smarter than them who actually think differently and more deeply than them, some people don't understand mental illness or addiction, and there is no way you can ever make them understand. Some people also don't understand that one second can change your life. May they never be forced to understand.

In a way, this story is another stake in the heart of my childhood. As a ten year old kid, the ink of Frank Williams was as precious as that of all but the greatest of players. It didn't matter if he was a mediocre relief pitcher - he was a Major League Baseball player. That meant he was a god.

Anyway, I wanted to write something for him, because the thought of the utter loneliness of his death, well, it just breaks my heart. He'd been the pride of his family, his town, and he became something people would rather spit on for no other reason than fate. I don't remember a single outing of his. I don't remember a single pitch he threw. I don't remember him ever coming out of the bullpen or shagging balls at BP or any of the mundane tasks a mediocre baseball pitcher undertakes. But I remember him signing my program. To a ten year old kid, that is everything. That is more than everything. That is divine.

Here's to him finally finding some peace.

How on earth do you blow $400K in 6 months?

Debt Likely to Climb For Nationals' Dukes
The attorney representing Elijah Dukes said yesterday that the Washington Nationals' outfielder, currently facing a $40,643.18 debt and a one-week deadline to pay it, will be able to come up with the money and avoid jail time. But even that resolution amounts to little more than a quick fix for an ingrained problem, several people close to Dukes said this week.
Dukes has neglected to pay his $6,527 monthly child support since October because he hasn't had the money to do so. He blew it all during the season.

Ok, two questions here. First, what the heck did he spend all of his money on during the season? He doesn't own a house or a car! What did he expect to live on in the off season?

And second, why on earth does he have to pay more than $6000 a month for child support? You know, I'm going to have to side with the fathers on this one. What is preventing the mother from getting a job to help raise her kids? $6000 a month? Hell, that was six months worth of child rearing for my two sisters and I growing up with a single mother. Then, get this:
On Feb. 24, Dukes again will have to be present in court when several legal yarns are untangled. Lawyers representing NiShea Dukes want to increase the monthly child-support payment to account for the couple's third child, born after the divorce case began. Those lawyers also will argue that Elijah Dukes should pay the legal fees for his estranged wife, a sum that will exceed $30,000.
Ok, ok, first of all, she needs MORE money? Is she buying her kids golden shoes or something? Feeding them liquefied caviar in their bottles? Washing their hair in Alterna? Secondly, SHE is bringing the court case and wants HIM to pay her legal fees?

Look, I know there's the infamous tape of him threatening to kill his kids and all that (I'm not saying he isn't psycho), but I'm starting to wonder what the other side of the story is. Is she a psychobitch from hell? Remember, she told every one he took steroids but tests proved that to be untrue. She was arrested twice on battery charges. The whole tirade he went on with the killing thing was because she cleaned out his bank account. She asked for $28,000 a month in alimony and child support when his pay averaged just over $29,000 a month before the divorce. Public records of her greed are everywhere - she shouldn't be rewarded with more money. The judge should CUT her alimony payments come February 24.

I know Elijah Dukes is a first class jackass, was irresponsible in his spending, should probably be in an asylum, and appears to be a horrific deadbeat father, but there's a larger issue here that should not be overlooked. Our legal system is fubar.

The choir sings sweetly

What a strange coincidence that I discover a band I really like on the day they are scheduled to perform SNL. I had never heard of the Fleet Foxes until today, when I was searching iTunes for a new album to purchase with some Christmas giftcards. "Baroque harmonic pop jams" is how they describe their music. That description is right on. I don't know how they escaped my radar, except that I have sort of been out of the real world loop for about a year, having been mostly confined to a dial up PC since the death of my old laptop. But! It is 2009, and I have a beautiful new red Dell to return to life.

Which has nothing to do with baseball. In fact, I can't really think of any way to connect it to baseball. Usually I can at least stretch it, but I'm lost on this one. No connection to "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" or "Centerfield" or any of the other baseball songs I start to listen to come about February when the desperation for the game becomes nearly unbearable.

I have to recommend The Boxer Rebellion's new album, Union that came out last week. It's a digital release only - they have no label, no radio play, and no press, but they're already outselling bands like Coldplay and Kings of Leon on iTunes. This is one of the few bands I've fallen in love with from the opening notes of the first song I've ever heard of theirs.

NOW onto baseball. Well, there's nothing baseball to talk about today. One of these days I'd like to write about American League team names, but I'll save it for another day. There are bigger things happening this weekend than baseball.

Friday, January 16, 2009

What's in a name?

Snow isn’t so bad when there’s sunshine to brighten everything. I woke up this morning to a pleasant light flooding my window. Pleasant because I was indoors, that is. This negative ten stuff is getting old. Anyway, there are two cardinals, a male and a female, who usually are hanging out in a firebush outside the window, but they haven’t been around since the extreme cold hit. I wonder where they go when it gets this cold.

It got me thinking about how many baseball teams are named after birds. Aside from the Cardinals, there are the Orioles and the Blue Jays. There used to be the Sparrows and Robins. And then I started to think about the names of baseball teams in general. How did they come into existence? Well, I decided to do a little reading, and I found the history of team names quite interesting. Here are the histories of the National League team names:

NL Central

Reds – Us Reds fans know that the original name of the Reds was the Red Stockings, for obvious reasons. Founded in 1869 as the first professional baseball team, the Reds were one of the charter members of the National League when it was founded in 1876, but the team was expelled from the league in 1880 for selling beer at their games and for playing games on Sundays. In 1882, the American Association was formed (what is now the Midwest AAA league) and the Reds played in that league until 1890, when they were reinstated into the National League. The name was shortened to Reds in 1911, a nickname used by fans since the American Association days. In 1956, the Reds briefly changed their name to the Redlegs due to the hyperparanoia of wingnut freaks who thought a communist lurked in every shadow of America. Fear much, morons? Fortunately, common sense prevailed, and the Reds returned to the Reds in 1961.

Cubs – Prior to being an original member of the National League in 1876, the Cubs were known as the White Stockings. In 1890 they were known as the Colts and in 1898 they were known as the Orphans. In 1902, a newspaper writer who thought the team looked very young called them the Cubs, and the name stuck.

Cardinals – The Cardinals came into existence in 1882 when they were known as the St. Louis Brown Stockings of the American Association. The name was soon shortened to Browns, not the same team as the one that played in the American League some time later. In 1892 the team transferred to the National League, when they changed their name to the Perfectos. That name didn’t even last a season before reporters were calling them the Cardinals for the color of their uniforms. Reds, of course, was already taken. I guess coming in fifth place wasn't exactly perfecto.

Astros – Here is one of the few cities that actually had a violent team name – Colt 45s, after the gun. Leave it to Texas. The franchise changed its name to Astros when it moved into the Astrodome in 1965 after a legal conflict with the Colt Firearms Company involving the sales of merchandise that used the Colt nickname.

Pirates – The original Pirates franchise was formed in 1882 and played in the American Association, but they were known as the Alleghanies because they played across the river from Pittsburgh in the then separate city of Alleghany. They transferred to the National League in 1887 and still had no team nickname. The nickname Pirates came to be in the 1890s when the club was accused of "pirating" Lou Bierbauer, a star second baseman, in the Players’ League settlement following the 1890 season. What happened with the Pirates shows how player-owner relations have always been a problem. According to wiki:
In 1888, baseball owners established rules to categorize players and pay them according to rank. Since the owners set the categories themselves, their new system at first lowered, and then eventually froze players salaries. Shortly before this, in 1885, John Montgomery Ward, a current Major League pitcher and Columbia Law School graduate, had founded the "Brotherhood of Base Ball Players" an association to protect and promote players interests. Baseball owners had instituted their new rules in the off-season without talking with the players, and this led to a riff between them and the players. Despite yearlong efforts to negotiate with the owners over these new restrictions on players, Ward could not get them to bargain or even recognize the Brotherhood. Players revolted and in 1890 they started a new league called the Players' League. The Players' League was spearheaded by Ward, who not only gained financial backers, but he also solicited star players to jump from the National League and American Association to the new league.

With three professional leagues competing, many in the same cities, there was not enough revenue to go around, and each league lost money. Although the Players' League's attendance was the best of the three leagues, it folded after one year. The financially hemorrhaging American Association folded one year later, and the National League absorbed four of its teams.

In 1890, Philadelphia Athletics players Lou Bierbauer and Harry Stovey had jumped to the Players' League. After the Players' League collapsed, through a clerical error the Athletics had failed to reserve Bierbauer's and Stovey's services. Pittsburgh signed Bierbauer and Stovey to contracts. The Athletics protested losing these players, and this led to an impartial Arbitration Board, which included American Association President Allan Thurman. The board ruled in Pittsburgh's favor. Despite the ruling, the Athletics still grumbled at the decision, and ridiculed their cross-state rivals by calling them "Pirates" for "stealing" their players. The "Pirates" tag stuck and the alliterative name was eventually adopted as Pittsburgh's official team nickname. [8] By the time of the 1903 World Series, the team was commonly known as "Pirates", although the club did not acknowledge it on their uniforms until 1912.
Really interesting stuff there.

Brewers – As any baseball fan knows, Milwaukee was the home of the Braves for many years. The Brewers name dates back to 1890, when a team by that name played in the city in the Western League. They retained that name when the Western League became the American league in 1901. (That team later became the St. Louis Browns.) The name was used by a team in the American Association for 50 years, and even when the Boston Braves moved to Milwaukee in 1953, the team was still unofficially known as the Brewers. The current Brewers team came into existence in 1970 after a one year failure as the Seattle Pilots. I think the Brewers have one of the coolest names in all of sports, and that old glove logo, which they recently brought back, is one of the coolest logos in all of sports. I just wish we could put them back into the American League.

NL East

Nationals – The Nationals name dates back to the days before professional baseball. The Nationals have the distinction of defeating the Reds in 1868 for the Reds only loss of the season. (Of course, the Reds turned around and went all pro in 1869, going 57-0 in the first season of professional baseball.) A team called the Nationals played in the National Association in 1872 and 1875, the American Association in 1884, the Union Association in 1884, the National League from 1886 to 1889, and the American Association again (also known as the Senators) from 1891 to 1899. The Washington team that played in the American League from 1905 to 1956 (who became the Minnesota Twins) was known officially as the Senators but was called the Nationals by fans. Likewise, the Washington team that played in the American League from 1861 to 1970 (who became the Texas Rangers) was officially known as the Senators but was called the Nationals by fans. Renaming the Washington franchise “Nationals” in 2005 was just appropriate.

Mets – Sometimes when I think about it, I can feel the heartbreak of New York Giants and Dodgers fans when their beloved teams moved to the other coast. It had to be tough to find the heart to follow the new Mets when they arrived in 1962. I’ve always like the fact that the team chose the colors blue and orange as a tribute to the Dodgers and Giants. The original Metropolitans club played in the American Association, that rowdy league of which the Red Stockings were a part. I think its funny how other New York teams chose names that rhyme with Mets (Jets, Nets, Red Bulls…oh wait.)

Phillies – The name Phillies dates back to 1883 when the team first entered the National League. Philadelphians are called Phillies. Not much interesting about their name. Probably the most boring name in baseball. But they’ve never changed it, and that is something to commend them for.

Braves – The Braves began their long history in Boston and have a connection to the Cincinnati Reds franchise. Harry and George Wright, who founded the Cincinnati Red Stockings in 1869, found a more lucrative business opportunity in Boston and fled the Queen City for Beantown in 1871 to a franchise also called the Red Stockings. The team, a charter member of the National League, kept that name until 1882, though they were more commonly referred to as the Red Caps to avoid confusion with the other Red Stockings charter member of the NL, the Cincinnati franchise. The name changed to Beaneaters, at least until 1906, when it was changed to Doves. That name only stuck until 1912, when they became the Braves. The Braves name comes from Tammany Hall. The new Boston NL owner had been a member of the Tammany Hall political organization. Tammany Hall was named after an Indian chief and used an Indian image as its symbol. They were known as the Braves until 1935, when they changed the name to the Bees after a vote by the fans. Four years later, they went back to the Braves. They were done with name changes but moved on to city changes, moving to Milwalkee in 1953 and Atlanta in 1966.

Marlins – The Marlins name comes from a history of use with minor league teams in Miami. There were the Miami Marlins of the International League from 1956 to 1960, and the Miami team in the Florida State League was known as the Marlins from 1963 to 1970 and again from 1982 to 1988.

NL West

Giants – This franchise dates back to 1883 when the New York Gothams were admitted to the National League. The Gothams became the Giants when the manager was so overcome with emotion after an extra inning victory that he declared his players ‘Giants’ to reporters. The nickname stuck and was adopted as the team name in 1885.

Dodgers – The Dodgers franchise was accepted to the National League in 1890. Known as the Bridegrooms at the time because a number of the team’s players got married at the same time in 1888, the name Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers was adopted in the 1890s because of the number of trolley lines that ran through Brooklyn, and the name was later shortened to Dodgers because Trolley Dodgers is hard to say! Besides, how would you fit that name on a jersey? The franchise actually dates back to 1880, when they played as the Brooklyn Atlantics in the American Association. (The name Atlantics comes from the Atlantic Baseball Club of the 1860s who famously ended Cincinnati’s two year winning streak.) At various times in the early days, the team was also known as the Superbas, the Infants, and the Robins. Look, another bird name!

Padres – The Padres started out in 1936 in the Pacific Coast League. They were at one time the Reds AAA franchise, and Joe Nuxhall pitched for them after he made his MLB debut at 15 years old until he was ready to return to the Majors. In 1968, the Padres were promoted to the Major Leagues as an expansion team. The name Padres reflects respect for Spanish missionaries who founded the city.

Diamondbacks – What a dumb name for a team. It’s too long and barely fits on their shirts. Why was it chosen? Because it had a double entendre, as the Diamondback rattlesnake is common in Arizona, and you know, baseball diamonds and all. I can picture the executive who came up with that name and thought it was cute.

Rockies – Prior to the establishment of the Colorado Rockies Baseball Club in 1993, the city of Denver held the AAA Zephyrs franchise of the Pacific Coast League, a team with the highest attendance figures in all of minor league baseball. Colorado Rockies was actually the name of the NHL team that played there from 1976-1982.

Reds Hall of Famers Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan schedule to appear on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show"

From the Reds:
On Monday's "Ellen DeGeneres Show" (airing @ 10 am on WCPO-9 in Cincinnati...check local listings) Hall of Famers Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan will appear with special guest George Clooney.

For over two years, Ellen has been unsuccessful in her attempts to persuade George to be a guest on her show.

Then in early December, actor Noah Wyle was a guest on with Ellen and suggested that the way to "catch" George would be to get some members of the Big Red Machine to be on the show.

We immediately heard about Noah's mention of the BRM and made some calls to the Ellen show.

Fast forward to this week when we got a call from the producers saying that George would be on the lot and it was time to "catch" him.

We contacted Johnny and George (who both live in CA) and was able to arrange for them to visit the Ellen's studio on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank.
I love George Clooney! Has there ever been a Clooney sighting at Great American Ball(p)ark?

Update: article here. Funny stuff.
Story here.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Good Old Days

I'm finally got to watch MLB Network's broadcast of Don Larsen's 1957 World Series game. It wasn’t just about the ballgame, the beauty of perfection, or getting to see Hall of Fame players at their best. It wasn’t watching Jackie or Duke or Mickey or Yogi. No, the thrill and interest in this game was much more than that. It was a time period. It was Americana. It was nostalgia.

The men in their hats and the women in their dresses sat politely, not rowdy, not heckling, not unwieldy or unruly. There’s an element of innocence to it all, from their attire to their faces to the respect they seem to have towards each other. Americans were different back then. They looked different. Their faces were different. Their expressions were different. The way they spoke, too, was different. There was a sort of naivety about them, childlike in their adult bodies, not so arrogant.

Television. Before there was television, there was photography. Before photography, there was painting, sculpture, sketching. We can read our history books and visit our museums for an idea about how the past looked, how it sounded, how it felt, but records and art were commissioned by the wealthy. The record of the common man is sparse. But television, television was made for the common man. Television records his every move, his every look, his every word. Television gives his meaningless life meaning, gives his class immortality, even if his own name exists only on a headstone. There he sits alive, a bright October day in the Bronx, forever recorded for future generations who have the curiosity to see.

Ah, the good old days, how good they would be had they existed. Or maybe they did exist. That innocence is real there on those cameras and on other video recordings from the same period. But why was it there? Why did people dress respectably to go out in public? Why did they treat each other as they wanted to be treated? Why did they not need “family sections” so parents could sit with their kids without drunken idiots surrounding their children? Where did it all go?

This is more than “kids these days.” It’s more than nostalgia. Sometimes it’s downright unpleasant to go to a ballgame when you’re surrounded by bumbling idiots and selfish, arrogant bastards. Today’s Americans think they’re entitled to anything they want and screw whoever gets hurt in the process. How many times have you moved seats because of some moron around you? How many times has someone spilled beer on your stuff? How many times have you been subjected to some nimrod screaming obscenities at opposing players (or if you’re in Cincinnati, at his own players)?

I watched that crowd as much as I watched Larsen, as much as I watched Mickey behind him, as much as I watched Yogi catch each pitch. And while I am happy that I am no longer expected to wear a dress to a ballgame, that it is perfectly acceptable to wear my Reds tank top with shorts and flip flops, I still can’t help but feel a sense of nostalgia for something I never knew. Where has the civility gone?

Some Hot Stove thoughts

I’ve changed my mind.

I think the Reds should consider Andruw Jones.

Yes, yes, I know that he’s had two Corey Patterson-like seasons in a row. But the guy doesn’t turn 32 until April. The guy was “Future Hall of Famer Andruw Jones” for ten years. Look at these numbers. While I don't think they are Hall of Fame material, that is some massive production there.

Apparently, though, he’s been working out with the Braves (even though he hasn’t been officially released by the Dodgers – they’re expected to do that today.) I’m not sure, but I think the fact that another team wants him makes me want him.

Thirty-two. 32. He was hurt last year, and he was fat. He is neither of those now. A player like Andruw doesn’t just fall off the earth like this. (I’m sure there are a couple of examples, but I can’t think of any off the top of my head, no one this extreme.)

Of course, if he makes more than a couple million, it’s not worth it. Or is it? (Not over Dunn or Abreu.)

I’m telling you, Andruw Jones is going to be Comeback Player of the Year, and I’d like to see him win that with “Cincinnati” stitched across his chest. Unless the Reds resign Dunn.

I can hear the cringes now.

Also, don't Trade Edwin. He's gonna have a massive year this year.

Root, root, root for the surrogate team

I swear, I am not a television person. Sure, I enjoy a few shows like 30 Rock and House, but I don’t watch those every week. I find television annoying, mindless noise with pictures, the downfall of Western civilization.


I have watched a heck of a lot of MLB Network since it was born. I mean, we’re talking like everyday, sometimes for hours at a time. Granted, I’m not sitting there on the couch staring mindlessly at the screen – I am working on the new laptop while it’s on. Still, this is a lot of television and makes me think I should flip it off. But I can’t. It’s the off season. The whole world has disappeared outside the window in a whitewash. And I love watching the old stuff that I’ve never seen before or have since forgotten. I love this game. I love this network.

Yesterday, after Don Larsen’s ’57 World Series perfect game, on comes “Cathedrals of Baseball.” This one is the old Busch stadium. Ew. The most evil hated Deadbirds. But man, is that a baseball city, I mean a hardcore, doesn’t-run-their-best-players-out-of-town, knows-what-the-heck-they’re-talking-about baseball city. I’m jealous, I’ll admit. I’m jealous of their ten World Championships. I’m jealous of their fan devotion. I’m jealous of their recent success. And I hate them.

Then, a show on the 1996 World Series came on, a World Series I remember more vividly than most because it was the first appearance by the Yankees since 1979 and the whole country was watching. I rooted for the Yankees. Boy, what a series.

It got me thinking about past non-Reds World Series in my memory, which means every year in my memory except one. The first World Series I actually remember watching was the 1988 series between the A’s and the Dodgers. I vaguely recall rooting for the Tigers in ’86 and the Mets in ’87, but it was ’88 – when I was 11 years old – that I actually understood baseball enough and had enough knowledge of the players to appreciate it. I remember the disappointment in the Reds for missing it, and I became a Dodger hater as all good Reds fans are supposed to be. I would have rooted against that evil team even if the A’s, a team I loved, weren’t in it. Of course, the A’s lost.

In ’89, I rooted for the A’s again, but my love for the A’s ended in 1990, when my own beloved Reds swept them for their only World Series Championship in my lifetime. The A’s beat the Giants, the latter with whom I had not yet developed a relationship. Yay A’s!

In ’91, I rooted for the Braves. Yes, the hated Braves. But it was their first appearance after sucking so long, and they played the Twins, a team about which I was indifferent. And remember, they had been in the NL East, so there was no real rivalry with the Reds. Plus there was the whole TBS thing, the smartest thing the Braves ever did. Ted Turner is nothing if not a good businessman. Of course, the Braves lost.

In ’92, I rooted for the Braves again, only because I was indifferent about the Blue Jays, and because they had lost the previous year. Of course, the Braves lost again.

In ’93, I really rooted for the Phillies. I loved that team, what with Darren Daulton, Lenny Dykstra, John Kruk, and the others. I actually felt depressed when they lost. I remember my grandfather buying me a Phillies cap that summer just because. Blame Canada.

The strike happened in ’94, robbing the Reds of what would have probably been their second World Series appearance in five years. Oh, how it still hurts.

In ’95, I rooted against the Braves, but I really was indifferent to that series since the Reds had lost the NLCS. That’s when the deep down hatred for the Braves really began, and that hatred festers as strong today as it was back then. The Indians were in, and I really liked that team, but I couldn’t in my heart find any enthusiasm for them that year. Of course, the Indians lost.

In ’97, I rooted for the Indians, naturally, being our fellow Ohio team. Back then, I liked Manny. Of course, the Indians lost. I’ve always had a sort of disdain for the Marlins because of this series, though I’m mostly indifferent to them. Florida baseball is for spring.

In ’98, I rooted for the Padres. I was born in San Diego and have always had a soft spot in my heart for San Diego sports teams. I saw my first Reds game at age 1 at Jack Murphy Stadium. I wore a Reds cap then, but I wore a Padres cap twenty years later for the World Series. Of course, the Padres lost.

1999 was a very disappointing year. The Reds' collapse at the end was the third most disappointing baseball occurrence in my life – the first being the strike and the second being the 1995 NLCS. Then the Braves and the Yankees had to go and play yet another series together. By this point, I hated them both, and I don’t even think I watched every game. I certainly don’t remember anything about this series.

In ’00, I rooted for the Mets. I know, I know, I should have hated them for that one game playoff in 1999, but I didn’t. I like the Mets. Someday when I live in New York City, I will be a Mets fan. (Never above the Reds, of course.) At the time, I thought a Subway Series was cool, but that was before I became bitter towards the large markets. I’d rather never see that again. The Mets in the series, fine. The Yankees in the series, may this abomination never happen again. Of course, the Mets lost.

In ’01, I rooted for the Yankees because I felt the city of New York deserved a World Series win. That was certainly an emotional, memorable series and one that won’t be easily forgotten, though it wasn’t really for what happened on the field. Of course, the Yankees lost. Why do the Diamondbacks hate America?

In ’02, I rooted desperately for the Giants. Living in Monterey for two seasons, I had become a big Giants fan and a Bonds fan. That was the one series I actually got to attend – Game 4, a 19-4 rout over Anaheim. My passion for the Giants was getting close to Reds levels. Of course, the Giants lost.

In ’03, I had been desperately rooting for a Red Sox-Cubs series. The Marlins again? They exist for a mere decade and already have two World Series Championships? Still, I leaned towards the Marlins, if only because I was sick of the Yankees, plus I liked Alex Gonzalez. Yeah, the Reds one. So he got his ring. I'm also a big Pudge and Dontrelle fan.

In ’04, I rooted for the Red Sox. You know, reverse the curse and all. The anti-Yankees. Plus there was that whole hatred for the Deadbirds opponent.

In ’05, I rooted for the White Sox, only because I hate the Asstros. I couldn’t have cared less about Chicago AL.

In ’06, I rooted for the Tigers, one, because I’ve sort of been a Tigers fan since I was a kid, and two, because the most evil team of all was playing them. Of course, the Tigers lost.

In ’07, I rooted for the Rockies, because the Red Sox already had a recent one and their new “fans” were obnoxious. I was really disappointed that the Indians collapsed in the ALCS. Of course, the Rockies lost.

In ’08, I had no preference, because I liked both teams. I only wanted to see seven games to prolong the baseball season as long as possible.

So that’s 20 World Series, 18 in which I had picked a team to root for. I’ve rooted for the winner 5 times for a 28% success rate. I must be a curse. Maybe I’m to blame for the Reds’ eight consecutive losing seasons. Of course, I had nothing to do with Jimmy Haynes or Eric Milton or Joe Mays or Dave Williams or Mike Stanton or Royce Clayton or Gary Majewski or Ryan Franklin or Juan Castro or Corey Patterson or Willy Taveras or any of the myriads of others I may have blocked from my sad little mind.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cold Soup

Today marks the one month day until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training, but in many ways, there is as much baseball going on now as there will be then. For many people, this time of year, with not much football going on and playoffs for other sports lightyears away, some attention is turned back to baseball. Fans just want to know what players they are getting.

Not if you're a fan of the Cincinnati Reds.

Unless we see players we don't want get signed by other teams (thanks, Leatherpants, for ridding us of Corey Patterson), we don't want to look at the info, because it's always bad for us. (Exhibit Z, Willy Taveras.)

Right now, names are being tossed around like an Edwin Encarnacion throw to first. Luis Gonzalez has been mentioned of late, and I pray to the baseball gods that the mentioning is because he is begging any team to take him, not because the Reds want him. The only way I wouldn't blaspheme the baseball gods if we signed him is if he were signed to a minor league deal and made the team as a bench player. As Crudweiser says, you have to know when to say when. There are too many aged hasbeens out there whose minds say yes but whose bodies are getting on base at a .2something clip. It's gotta be tough, you know? I mean, these guys have been the best at what they do for their entire lives, and suddenly mortality fails them.

I say we bring back the whole player-coach and player-manager concept to help ease the transition into old(er) age. Not only would you get a solid bat for the bench, given that they wouldn't suffer the wear and tear of everyday playing, but you save money by paying one guy for two jobs. Imagine Gonzalez as a bench player as well as the first base coach. When was the last time there was a player-coach? Pete?

Bobby Abreu. Now there's a name that would make me happy. Dunn is my preference. Swisher or Nady are acceptable. I still think we'll end up with Jim Edmonds in left once he realizes no one wants him for center. I'm only half joking about that.

Hey, we still have a month to find a good leftfielder. But right now, our Hot Stove is off, and we have to eat our soup cold.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Looking for work? Wear a big head.

Because it is my dream to work for the Cincinnati Reds, and because I am currently in a job search, I checked the "Job Opportunities" on the Reds site today and discovered they were looking for a mascot.

Events Assistant/Mascots - Cincinnati Reds (Cincinnati, OH)

Job Purpose: To perform as all (3) Cincinnati Reds Mascots and assist the Promotional Events Department with game day as well as non-game related events on a full-time basis.

 Adhere to Cincinnati Reds Organization Policies and Procedures
 Act as a role model within and outside the Cincinnati Reds Organization
 Perform duties as workload necessitates
 Demonstrate flexible and efficient time management and ability to prioritize workload
 Meet Department productivity standards
 Create goodwill in the community

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:
 Schedule appearances while overseeing and coordinating scheduling of other Mascot performers
 Develop opportunities for new appearances and increasing revenues
 Work with the Promotional Events Department at other events as needed throughout the year
 Extensive night and weekend work will be required
 Personally interact with Reds fans and audiences of other events
 Participate in pre-game and in-game promotions
 Perform choreographed cheer/dance routines
 Perform related duties as assigned.

Experience, Education and Licensure:
A minimum 2 years of mascot experience at the collegiate or professional level in any sport
Bachelor’s degree is preferred but not required.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:
Must have knowledge of Microsoft Office applications (Word, Excel, Outlook). The ideal candidate must have excellent communication skills, good grammar, voice and diction, strong interpersonal skills and a team-oriented spirit to provide exceptional service to our Reds fans. Must be computer literate, demonstrate proficiency utilizing the Internet, ability to understand products and services, research and communicate information and record daily activities in a fast-paced environment.

Independent judgment is required to plan, prioritize, and schedule appearances for events. Must have high level of creativity and interpersonal skills. Work requires strong organizational skills necessary for establishing priorities and meeting deadlines. Working knowledge of coordinating events, self starter, and ability to work independently.

Must be at least 18 years of age, a maximum height of 6 feet and a minimum height of 5 feet, five inches.

Work Environment:
While performing the duties of this job, the employee is exposed to weather conditions prevalent at the time.

Physical Demands:
Physical fitness is imperative for the stamina required in the performance of this role under challenging weather conditions as well as the risk of heat exhaustion and dehydration.

The statements herein are intended to describe the general nature and level of work being performed by the employee in this position. The duties listed do not represent the intent to be an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties and skills required of a person in this position. An Equal Opportunity Employer

Note: When you apply for this job online, you will be required to answer the following questions:

1. Yes/No: Do you have at least 2 years of Mascot experience?

Unfortunately, I do not have two years of mascot experience, so I guess I can't be Mr. Redlegs or Rosie Red or Gapper. And hey, where's Mr. Red? With the myriads of mascots we have, I want to see a REAL LIFE Reds race, not that predictable video version. You know, like the sausage race? I suppose that's impossible, given they want one person for all of them.

What's amazing to me is that they want a college graduate. To wear a big head?

Everyone loves lists

I could talk about my favorite baseball players all day long. There are some I like because they are good players – like Adam Dunn. Others, like David Weathers, I like because of personal encounters. Some, like Brandon Phillips, are a result of both. My top ten favorite current players are (in no particular order) Brandon Phillips (who is number 1), Joey Votto (number 2), Jay Bruce, Ryan Zimmerman, David Wright, Derek Jeter (yes, Derek Jeter), Josh Hamilton, Sean Casey, Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins, Miguel Tejada (despite playing for the Asstros). Well, that’s eleven.

Barry Bonds would be on the list at number one if he were playing. If more people had had the opportunity to watch him play in San Francisco in the early part of this decade, the Barry hatred would be minimal. I’ve never seen anything like him, and I doubt I ever will again.

But my favorite players are not the topic of this post. No, this post is about the players I hate. It is inspired by Rickey Henderson’s election to the Hall of Fame. I hated him in his day, and I really don't know why. But you don't have to have a reason for someone to rub you the wrong way, right? Many on this list will join Rickey in the Hall someday.

1. Jeff Kent – I don’t know if he is going to play this year, but the uncertainty still qualifies him for this list. Jerk Kent has been my least favorite player since the early aughts (is that what this decade is called? That’s what the 1900s were called.) It wasn’t just that he whined because Bonds got all of the attention. It wasn’t just that he got into a fist fight with Bonds in the dugout. It was mostly because he broke his arm before the 2002 season started while being an idiot on a motorcycle (wheelies) and lied to the team, saying he fell off the top of his truck while washing it. I know he’ll probably get into the Hall of Fame based on his numbers, but if I were a baseball writer, I wouldn’t vote for him based on the way he conducted himself as a player and a teammate.

2. Albert Pujols – What’s to like about him if you are not a Deadbirds fan? I wonder why he didn’t reject his 2008 MVP award. After all, when Ryan Howard beat him out a couple of years ago, he whined that players on non-contending teams didn’t deserve the award. He’s also a Reds killer, though the Reds are not his only victim. Plus he points to the sky every time he hits a homerun, one of my pet peeves.

3. Curt Schilling – Bloody sock aside, this self-righteous crackhead can’t keep his mouth shut. I do hope that when he runs for office in Massachusetts after he retires from baseball, Massholes can look past Game 6 and remember what he stands for – a virtual theocracy, where his version of morality is legislated. Schilling is a borderline fascist, and there is a reason he has not been well-liked by teammates in Philly, Arizona, and Boston.

4. David Eckstein – I don’t have a problem with any of the personal aspects of Eckstein. As far as I know, he has never said anything to warrant personal animosity. Yet he is one of those pests that can do anything to mess up your team’s chances of winning. He is annoying. He can’t hold his bat still. And he’s not good enough to be a starting shortstop but people keep giving him that chance. I am afraid Jocketty might sign him to be on the Reds.

5. Manny Ramirez – Manny being Manny is annoying. His hair is annoying. His loafing is annoying. Manny would be fired from any regular job us common folk hold, where you have to look and act professional. He is unprofessional, and I am glad the Dodgers made him put his hair up. That being said, I would be ecstatic if the Reds were to sign him. He’d still annoy me, but I’d be able to put up with it if the Reds were winning.

6. Alex Rodriguez – Tabloid trash, A-Rod has fallen far from my favor since he came up with the Mariners all those years ago. A former poster-on-my-wall boy, I now keep this photo of him near to me. My list of grievances includes being a slum lord, cheating on his wife, breaking up Madonna’s marriage, switching from Team USA to Team Dominicana, getting out of the richest contract in MLB history only to sign for even more money, and all of the garbage he said about Griffey when Junior left Seattle. I’m sure there are more. Despite that, I look forward to him breaking Bonds’ HR record, if only to shut up the Bonds haters.

7. Chipper Jones – Larry Wayne Jones, Jr. is good, very good, no doubt a future Hall of Famer. He had the misfortune of playing for the Braves all of these years, a team I hate more than any team but the Deadbirds, Bankee$, Codgers, and Asstros. He also strikes me as just plain dumb. If he hadn’t been blessed with baseball talent, no doubt he’d be working in a Super America truckstop somewhere. But I sure do like to watch him play.

8. Lance Berkman – Not only is he a Reds killer, but he plays for the Asstros, and he’s one of those that thinks Jesus is up there on a cloud making him hit homeruns. He’s just one of those players that has something about him that rubs me the wrong way. I can’t really think of anything specific.

9. Jose Guillen – I’ve had the misfortune of having to watch this guy on the Reds and the Nationals. What a big baby. Remember how he whined about not getting to play above Ken Griffey, Jr., the Ken Griffey, Jr. who had yet to be plagued by injuries, the Ken Griffey, Jr. who had just been named to the All-Century team, the Ken Griffey, Jr. who was on pace to break Hank Aaron’s 755? There is not a bigger pouter in all of baseball.

10. Corey Patterson – Poor guy. I’d feel sorry for him if he would just realize he needs to switch careers. He should have faked an injury in 2008 to take one for the team, because he singlehandedly wrecked the team on numerous occasions. His playing time was largely Dusty Baker’s fault, though Walt Jocketty should take some of the blame for sitting on his butt and letting Patterson stink up the roster.

Least favorite manager: Ozzie $#@! Guillen. That guy just needs to STFU.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Rickey steals second, steals third, scores on a basehit by Carney Landsford to tie it

Good old MLB Network played Game 2 of the 1989 ALCS between the A’s and the Blue Jays in honor of Rickey’s day today. I turned it on in the fourth inning when Rickey walked. Mustached A’s third baseman Carney Landsford strode to the plate knowing full well what was about to happen. Jays’ pitcher Todd Stottlemeyer stood on the mound, his shoulders tense, his attention on only one thing, and it wasn’t pitching. He threw over. Rickey got back. He threw over again. Same result. Staring into the catcher’s mitt, Stottlemeyer stood and waited. The diamond became frozen in time, when players moved nary a muscle in anticipation. The fans grew impatient, and a scattering of boos grew in intensity. Finally, the pitch. There he goes!


The batter in tight eighties pants stepped out of the box and took a few swings to give the base thief some time to remove the infield dirt from his home white uniform. The rattled pitcher remounted the rubber, and the dance was repeated. A look back, a pause, another look back, a pitch. There he goes!


Rickey trotted home on a Landsford basehit, manufacturing a run for the series favorites. Landsford then scored on a skinny Mark McGwire double.

Rickey came up again in the bottom of the fifth and promptly singled to left. He took off for second in the fifth but Landsford grounded out to end the inning, one of the more disappointing outs of the game. In the seventh, the Jay’s pitcher committed a cardinal sin by walking Rickey. There he goes!


There he goes!


Rickey stole third for his fourth stolen base of the game – a record for a post season game – and his sixth in the series. In Game 2. He manufactured another run when Landsford was picked off first and the throw down to second went into his back.

Rickey ended the series 8 for 8 in stolen bases and went on to steal 3 of 3 in the World Series infamous for the earthquake. A perfect 11 for 11.

I was 12 years old when this series took place, yet I remember it as well as any series that happened this decade. I loved that A’s team with Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. Remember, McGwire was the “second best” player on the team. Canseco was my favorite player not in a Cincinnati uniform back then. Jose did not start the game due to a “migrane headache” but pinch hit in the sixth inning against a skinny David Wells. (Yeah, Wells really was thin once. Or thinner. He still had a gut.)

Boy, that was a good team. They had two Hall of Famers (Henderson and Eckersly), one should be Hall of Famer (McGwire), and one could have been Hall of Famer (Canseco, if he hadn’t destroyed his career. Dude still hit 462 career homers despite it all.) Then there is future Hall of Fame manager Tony Larussa (and his trusty sidekick, Dave Duncan). It’s no wonder these guys went to three straight World Series.

Some related notes:

It’s funny, but none of us could have predicted that the Reds would be World Champs the very next year, defeating these same A’s in a four game sweep. And I couldn’t have envisioned it would be the Reds’ last for a very, very long time.

Bob Costas is an excellent baseball announcer. It’s too bad corporate media won’t let him broadcast games anymore because he works for the wrong network. Why do we have to suffer through the likes of Tim McCarver and Joe Morgan when there is a true baseball fan who is skilled in the art who is relegated to lesser sports?

I love watching old games. Wouldn’t it be something if there were a website where you could go to watch any game that was ever recorded? What kind of servers would you have to have to host such a service? MLB could charge a subscription fee or add a few extra dollars to an MLB.TV package. They could also sell DVDs of each game – with the ease of burning DVDs these days (even I have a DVD burner on my new laptop), it wouldn’t take much effort (or money) to burn an obscure game from 1965 someone wanted because it was his first ever MLB game.

Imagine the possibilities. Why can’t we order a DVD copy of the games we attend while we are at the ballpark? Have a stand specifically for ordering them while we are at the game, where we can pay for them right there, and then have them shipped to us in a few weeks. You could even have your own personalized copy – you can have someone with a camera walking around the stadium taking some shots of you and your family and friends that can be inserted into the game. There were a couple of games I attended in 2008 that I would have liked to purchase if such a purchase were possible, the first being Johnny Cueto’s rain soaked Major League debut and the second being the debut of Jay Bruce.

But – back to Rickey. I hated him as much as a 12 year old could hate anything. I hated his arrogance. I'm sure a lot of it had to do with what other people said about him, being impressionable and all.

But what I wouldn’t do to have another Rickey Henderson in the league. In this day and age of sterile media, of tape recording quotes and formulaic articles, we certainly could use some personality to spice up our baseball reading. Aside from Joe Posnanski, Jeff Passan, and a handful of other writers (I find our own Trent Rosecrans entertaining, and I am becoming a big fan of the Enquirer’s John Erardi), baseball media is pretty dull. The formula is a little of what happened, quote, a little more, quote, a little more, and the quotes are directly out of the "Talking to the Media" handbook the players seem to have. I'd rather have no quotes and some real writing than:
"Player hit a two run homerun in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded to win the game. 'I'm just doing what I can to help the team,' player said."
Wouldn't it be nice to see:
"Henderson hit a two run blast in the bottom of the ninth to win the game. 'He threw Rickey the pitch he wanted, and after that, it was just Rickey being Rickey.' said Henderson. 'Rickey knew it was out as soon as it left the pitcher's hand, because that's what Rickey does. When he's not stealing bases, he's hitting homers. No one can stop Rickey.'"
Oh, and congrats to Jim Rice, too. It's about time.

Friday, January 09, 2009

It's Friday Night! The Reds still stink! And other observations

I spent some of today watching the MLB Network and marveling at Roy Hobbs' performance in the Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium last year. (I miss Hobbs, but I'd rather have Voltron on the mound since decent pitching is tough to come by.) I thought Chris Berman was a little annoying, but he wasn't Tim McCarver, so there's that. I didn't watch the Derby when it actually happened - these types of capitalist exhibitions can sometimes be nauseating - but because Hobbs, er, I mean Hamilton, was exceptional, I allowed myself to turn some attention towards the show.

I am somewhat disappointed that the MLB Network has had limited programming in its first couple of weeks - one would think that in the 140 years since the Cincinnati Red Stockings became the first professional baseball club, the network could show some old games and not have to repeat airings of the 2008 Home Run Derby. I'd love to watch some random game in which Willie Mays played, being not born when he played and all, or maybe Mantle or Snyder or Bench, Morgan, Perez, and Pete. I don't want to watch the 2008 World Series or the 1996 World Series or anything recent, because I've seen those. I want the old stuff, the legendary stuff, the stuff we've come to glorify and forget that the game "back then" wasn't perfect. To us right now in 2009, the likes of Willie, Mick, and the Duke are gods. I want to see the gods come to life.

But I'm not complaining. I'm not a television watcher, yet I've managed to watch about 16 hours of MLB Network since its birth so far - maybe more, maybe less, I'm not really counting.

So, John Smoltz in a non-Braves uniform and Trevor Hoffman in a non-Padres uniform? Tragic. Makes me respect Barry Larkin's retirement even more. Though we tend to forget that guys like Mays and Ruth ended their careers with other teams, it's still tough to see the few guys who've managed to stick around for 15 or 20 years wear another uniform. It's part of the game, I know. But why does it have to be?

In three hours I turn 32, Tom Browning's number. I think that means a Reds pitcher is going to throw a no hitter this year. Cueto's my bet. He took a few no-nos into the second half of games last year, but nothing was as spectacular as his MLB debut. I don't think I'd ever in person seen a game as well-pitched as that one. We were at that point when our eyes kept stealing glances at the zeroes on the scoreboard, and though we never mentioned it, we all acknowledged that the possibility was in the air with a nod or a smile. All 12K or so of us who were there, that is.

Anyway, some random thoughts for a rather mundane week on the hot stove.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

OMG! The end of the world!!!11!

I do it all the time. The power of the "publish post" button is such that it invites reactionary commentary before one even has time to think. You see some bad news, you explode upon impact. I've never felt so roller coastery in the offseason as I have this one. One day I feel like I shouldn't bother looking at the 2009 schedule for games to go to, and the next I have that characteristic irrational hope that maybe this is the year, that maybe the ifs will finally turn into whens and we can by some miracle win 90 games and collect our $200 as we pass go around Wrigley Field.

Jocketty says that Hairston is not the everyday shortstop as had been reported yesterday. Boy did I overreact about that. Of course, I knew I was overreacting even as I wrote about my despair - hyperbole is a staple of this blog. Yet it relieves me to no end to know that Jocketty does have the sense not to depend on Jerry to be the everyday shortstop. This is one loud "whew!"

We should give Walt Jocketty the benefit of the doubt, given that he's taken a team to two World Series and a heck of a lot of playoffs in this decade. It's just that it's been so darn long since the Reds had a winning season, and we've seen so many stupid blunders, what with signing, resigning, or trading for players like Eric Milton, Joe Mays, Dave Williams, Corey Patterson, Ryan Franklin, Royce Clayton, Gary Majewski, Mike Stanton, Juan Castro, Chris Hammond, and a whole host of others I've blocked from my memory as a sort of defense mechanism against mediocrity.

Maybe we should focus more on the positive aspects of the team, because there are many. For the first time in a heckuva long time, we aren’t really concerned about starting pitching. Sure, we have some ifs - will Harang return to form, can Bronson win 14, can Cueto improve, can Volquez repeat, will it be Homer or Owings or Thompson or Ramirez or Maloney, but these are all ok concerns to have, not like last year when we had Harang and Arroyo and who knows going into Spring Training.

Then there are Bruce and Votto and Phillips and Edwin, all young players capable of producing thirty homer seasons. We have a loaded farm system. (If the Reds really do want to throw in the towel for this year like it seems they are doing by signing Taveras and Hernandez, they might as well bring up Stubbs and Valaika and the like, but no, they don't even get Spring Training invites?...Ack! There's that negativity creeping in again!)

And hey, we still have a long way to go before the season starts. Anything can happen in that time. (Does my smile look fake?)

Thirty-six more days until pitchers and catchers report!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

To come so close

I never had the dream of playing Major League Baseball, being a girl and all. But for many American boys, "I want to be a Major League Baseball player" is a standard answer to the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

Imagine, then, actually achieving that dream. What it must be like to step onto the field for the first time in a real big league uniform rather than a replica with your favorite player's name stitched on the back. It's one of those moments in life akin to a wedding or the birth of a child, those moments of pure joy when only the present exists. Hear the buzz of the biggest crowd you've ever played in front of. Feel the softest, best manicured lawn you've ever stepped on. Look around at the legends who play beside you.

What pain it must be for someone like John Patterson to be forced to retire before his 30th birthday because of persistent pain. The dream was there, he tasted it, he could have been one of the great ones, but it just isn't in the stars for him.

I won't forget that magical 2005 Nationals season, the new team in the crumbling stadium, the whiff of October that hung in the air until the very end. John Patterson was part of that, and I will always feel a pang of nostalgia for him and the others who played for that team. I wish John the best of luck in whatever fate holds for him. Too bad it wasn't baseball.

Oh boy, here we go. 2009, meet 2008 and 2007 and 2006 and 2005 and 2004 and 2003 and 2002 and 2001...

Merde. It seems their is no end to the destitution from which one suffers as a Reds fan, no light at the end of the tunnel, no oasis in the desert of our discontent. No, we have done something to the baseball gods for which we must suffer eternal punishment, committed some atrocious act that has stripped us from divine favor. But what was it? How did we offend thee, oh gods of the diamond? How did we, who once were smiled upon by thee, who witnessed the Big Red Machine, who started this whole business of professional baseball in the first place, how did we fall from your grace, oh holy lords of the ballyard?

Jerry Hairston, Jr. as the starting shortstop? Really?

What the heck happened to Alex Gonzalez?

Was it really so tough to get a real shortstop like say, Furcal or Greene or anyone who is an actual shortstop and who is an actual starter?

Our offseason thus far: David Weathers, Ramon Hernandez, Arthur Rhodes, Willy Taveras, and Jerry Hairston, Jr. That's a winning team, isn't it? Ugh.

Nine losing seasons in a row - that's long enough to miss an entire generation of new Reds fans. Just think of years age 2 through 11 or 3 through 12. Those are the formative years. Those are the years you lay down your roots, lay down your loyalty, become a diehard fan who will never walk away despite the torture of the Eric Miltons and Joe Mays of the world sitting fat on your roster. But what kid wants to become a fan of a team who always loses? What kid has the patience to hear stories of past glories while the current roster kicks balls around the field? Baseball has to compete with the likes of Pokemon and video games and the NFL for the attention of kids these days. To perennially not field a team capable of staying in contention through a whole season is death to the fanbase.

Why, baseball gods, have you forsaken us?