About Johnny D

I like legs that are Red, Jays that are Blue, and Sox that are White. 1919 was a very hard year for me. Moose.

We are, who we are.

I apologize profusely that this blog has fallen so far from what it started out to be,
I take a good chunk of responsibility for the lack of updates, and a general departure
from online posts. I feel like we’ve put so much into the podcast last season and early
this year, that it just seems like we’d be subjecting ya’ll to the same information.

But take this first post for the 2014 season as a starting point. We’ll do better to
keep you all in touch with our series previews as the season goes along.
All of that out-of-the-way, the Reds instagram account has had a contest running for
the last month. Each day is a new Reds related post, that has your personal touches
(and unbelievable filters).

This past week, I added what was only my second contribution, when it was a culmination
of sorts for everyone else. What being a Reds fan, means to me, or how we got here.

So let’s do a little history lesson, a quick rundown of how I got here.
Baseball is in my blood. My grandfather had one hell of an arm, and in the early 50’s
was in fact invited to the St.Louis Cardinals spring training. Personal circumstance
brought him back before he ever really got a shot, and instead started a family
with my Grandmother. My dad and his brothers all played baseball, so I grew up around
an entire generation of baseball players, and I cannot overstate how those summers would influence me as not just a baseball fan, but as a person.

Yeah, I know, hiss and boo because I have family ties to the enemy.

My mom’s side also has strong Pittsburgh roots, so feel free to run me out-of-town any
day now. And it was her father, my Grandpa Traverse, that really brought me into the
game. We would go on these province wide road trips that usually involved camping
myself and my three sisters in a pop up camper with both grandparents. It wasn’t the
trips, the swimming, the bonfires, or the wilderness hikes that I remember with
absolute clarity. It’s the late nights after everyone had gone to sleep, laying in a
bunk with my Grandpa, listening to Tom Cheek call Toronto Blue Jays games on the radio.
Where most kids had a lullaby, or stories to safely send them off to Neverland, for me
it was Kelly Gruber, Jesse Barfield, Tony Fernandez, Dave Steib and Tom Henke. I was
raised to cheer for the boys in blue. The sounds of the crickets chirping, the wind
playing the creaks and groans of the camper like a terrible orchestra backdrop to the
boys of summer. That’s where I came from. A good Canadian kid, that couldn’t skate, but
learned to throw a curveball.

I would split my summers between both grandparents’ towns. My Pops on my Dads side,
would tell me how the only player worth following was Pete Rose. He never slowed, he
never gave anything less than 100%, and how he’d kill a guy to win, and almost had at
one time. He never explained just how influential the Ray Fosse play was in defining
Charlie Hustle, but it’s something I still point to as a character moment for Pete.
At the same time, my Dad is a lifetime Phillies fan, so the Pete Rose influence for me
started early. It’s just that he was wearing a different jersey than I associate with
him now. My dad wanted me to be a third baseman, desperately, he’d send me out during
my practices to take grounders at third. My bruised and beaten arms and chest left a
lot to be desired, this is also why I gravitated to the outfield, the ball seemed far
less of a sociopath when it was hurtling back to earth, and ultimately my glove.

My relationship with my Dad early on was exceptionally destructive, his lifetime of
having an angry father took its toll, and had direct impact on his own four kids in
return. Don’t get me wrong, I do not begrudge or blame my dad for how he’d physically
reprimand us early on, it was all he had known. But this is also the catalyst for the
relationship and bond we share now.Dad entered anger management, where we’d have family sessions and openly discuss our feelings. With three sisters, I often felt left out of
the loop on time with either of my parents, mostly my father.

In 1995 my dad and I took our very first, and certainly not last, trip to a live ball
game. I had been to a few others, but with my Moms folks, never my own dad. We would
drive the two hours to Toronto, and talk about everything. How to read a ball off the
bat, what school was like. We began to develop a relationship that my own father came
to realize, he had always wanted with his own. My grandpa died in the winter of 1995,
one of two moments I have ever witnessed my hardened Dad cry. And not like, one of
those solitary tears and it’s over type deals, a full on emotionally devastated cry.

We had finally begun to cultivate a relationship ourselves, and it made my Dad realize
just how much he had missed out on as a kid growing up. So our baseball trips became a
yearly event, often times outside of Canada just to visit different ball parks. Our
first big road trip was to Jacobs Field in Cleveland, Ohio. I was enamored with Jim
Thome, and so badly wanted to see my favorite ball player live. And after a four-hour
rain delay, and a nine-hour drive home, I would be stuck waiting for another few years
before that came to fruition.

Our second trip, was to see the Los Angeles Dodgers take on the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Needless to say, I was fully behind the boys in blue that day. I detested the
stadium. From the trough style urinals, to the belligerent ticket lady that refused to
give me the Budweiser giveaway, because I was under the age of 21. The entire
experience left me disappointed.But hey, deep dish makes everything better.

Our third big trip, was to Veterans Stadium in its final year of hosting the
Philadelphia Phillies. I wish I could explain how excited my Dad was. A Phils, Eagles,
and Flyers fan, walking down Broad Street. At that point, I realized just how important
our road trips were. It didn’t matter where, because it was taking us to these
historically significant stadiums, cities, and seeing the teams that hundreds of
thousands of fans shared a love with. I saw Jim Thome play that day. But it was the
first time I saw the Cincinnati Reds in person. Years previous, we had been part of a
Scout Troop that visited Wright Patterson in Dayton, and while there a marine handed me
this rolled up paper. Years later, I would find it again. Great American Ball Park
plans, art work, blue prints.

It’s weird how this works, huh?

Our next three trips were back to Chicago, to see Frank Thomas, and the White Sox. If
you know me, you know my heart is broken into three pieces for baseball. The pale hose,
Jays, and our beloved Redlegs. I saw the Sox receive their world series rings, my dad
and I waiting in line outside of USCF for four and a half hours to ensure we got our
replica rings as part of the first twenty thousand through the gates. They had brought
Aaron Rowand back for the ceremony, and I teared up. It happens, baseball is so deeply
rooted in our hearts, that tugging at the strings of the old ticker happens a little
more easily. They lost to the bastards from Cleveland that day, Freddy Garcia pitched
like garbage but I finally experienced a chance to see my team celebrate a World Series.

We went to Detroit a few times after that, some minor league ball parks in Michigan, and finally back to Chicago in 2010 to see the same White Sox retire Frank Thomas’ number. Crying in baseball #2. I love the Big Hurt, and always will.

We’ve been through 12 years of baseball road trips, and in 2011, my dad and I made a trip to Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Reds Museum and Hall, a weekend long series against the Barves, and a Jonny Gomes bobble head later, we had our most memorable trip to date.

Friends from Wisconsin, Toronto, Michigan, and all over made the trip that weekend. We had 10 of our closest friends all in one place. After the Friday night game, and I will never forget this, Dad and I stood out on the concourse in center field above the Reds bullpen, the stadium lights the only thing left in the stadium. Dad turned to me and said one of the few things that ever really caught me off guard.

“These trips, make losing my Dad a little bit easier. Thank you”

I never realized how important it was until that moment, and even two years after our first trip, when we made our third pilgrimage to Cincinnati, I cannot express how full my heart is, knowing that while these moments have meant the world to me as a fan, they mean more to my Dad as a father.

Baseball is my heart, I share it with my best friends, my family, and the love of my life. So while we get ready for another season, I urge everyone to reflect on the moments that defined them as a fan. How they came to be Reds Country.

What’s your story?

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Link

Just as the title says, I collected a bunch of the suggestions from a whole bunch of Reds fans earlier this afternoon. Put together a little jam session for everyone to get them through until first pitch! Get it cranked! LETS GO REDS!

It’s looking like a #Reds October. Again.

I wrote this at the start of last August, and using it even today, I still get chills. Huge weekend series coming up, so I felt a re-posting would be appropriate. Get loud, Cincinnati…we’re here. Make sure you watch at the end, tell me how pumped you’re getting…this is what we CHEER for.

Can you feel it building? The realization that what this Reds team is doing right now is a historic run that has *rarely* been seen by previous generations. This team has almost passed the legendary team of the 70’s. This drives me as a fan, this motivates me as a member of Red Nation. So as to prepare myself and others for this weekend. I am meticulously putting my travel bag together, note sarcasm, and I can’t help but feel like this weekend is about more than baseball. Though it most certainly will be the most prevailing theme throughout, there is something different in the air and the energy it will illicit from anyone who dares look beyond the tree line.

There’s something grand about baseball, that people who do not follow the sport will never, ever understand until they have immersed themselves into a fan base. Laughed, cried, cheered, and jeered. Been to the pinnacle, and suffered in the shadows. The legends that built our franchise, that were once figures we held up next to the masked men in the Marvel or DC universe, they were our heroes. The guys who would save the day with a catch, a hit, or a pitch. There’s something next level about the mystique of the game we all love. The kids of the spring, boys of summer, and men of the fall…classic.

It’s Pete Rose and Carlton Fisk crushing anybody that stood in their way, Johnny Bench and Frank Thomas carving a legacy that likely will never be replicated. The Go Go White Sox, and the Big Red Machine. Good guys wearing black, and the hunt for a Red October. If you cannot experience the chill running down the sides of your neck, spreading across your back and raising every hair on your arm…you need to re-acquaint yourself with the icons that gave us the moments we re-enacted on the dirt of our neighbourhood diamond. Those guys gave us an identity as fans. A reason to smile and cry as a fan.

To my original point. I am sitting here, listening to the start of Hells Bells. One cannot help but feel it’s pertinent to this weekends series against the Bucs. The Reds have the hole dug, shovel in hand and leering over a team that is on the cusp of potentially ending their season. But Pirates fans, listen closely. Can you hear it? The soft *thump*…*thump*…*thump* your pulse is slowing down. The chill of defeat is beginning to make it’s way up your spine…the song lyrics ring hauntingly close to reality on the eve of this series…

I’m a rolling thunder, a pouring rain

I’m coming on like a hurricane

My lightning’s flashing across the sky

You’re only young but you’re gonna die.

Listen carefully Pirates, you can hear the pulse of your season…the dull thump of of your heart rate as it slows…that chill…listen carefully…stare into the grave. Houston lies there beside Chicago and you can see the writing on the wall…Cincinnati is the reaper, and he’s ringing the bell for you.

Reds fans. I don’t want you sitting down as the boys take the field the next three days. Get up, get obnoxiously loud. We want those people sitting around at Newport suddenly stopping in their tracks wondering where the thunderous noise is coming from. We are not the Big Red Machine, no…this team is something more…a different animal all together that has momentum and a hunger for the one thing the fans in Missouri constantly hang over our heads. They’ve won. A lot. But while they clutch to pictures and memories, this team has something much more tangible. This team has it’s foot in the door, and an opportunity to drive the nails a little further into the coffin reserved for the 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates.

Can you feel that electricity? Your heart rate picks up… I humbly request that whatever differences we have as fans of this team, are set aside for three days. For three days, we nod in silent agreement that any previous transgressions are being put on the back burner until after this series. I don’t care if you’re team A or team B. We need to be one team right now, without division amongst the ranks. This team needs the fan support, the players know what having their backs represents. Get on board with Ludvig Von Swattenheim, steady yourselves and deafen the city as they Release The Chapman. If you’re sitting at home, get off your couch and cheer for every play, because from the banks of the Ohio River…even now…they can hear us in October…

Johnny…

Pete…

The Nasty Boys…

Sparky.

A new chapter of the fall classic screams to be written, Reds fans…they can feel it…destiny awaits this team…a legacy waits to be left…new legends born…there’s a new generation of kids waiting to fall in love with this team and remember what happened in 2013.

Snakes…I hate snakes!

indysnake

 

The Reds, fresh off of a four game split against the “competitive” Pittsburgh Pirates, head out on a crucial eight game road trip. And this isn’t your run of the mill road trip, this is your dreaded west coast road trip! Any of you familiar with the twitter community for the Reds, will remember that last years big west coast swing was the starting point of the “Reds Twitter Fam”. Also known as the slumber party, because most games ended at or near 1am EST. It starts with three at Arizona, two in Oakland, and finishing with a three game set at the ball park in Arlington.

 

Redlegs In The Empty Park!

Johnny Cueto is back, and healthy to take the ball for Dusty Baker on Friday night, posting two victories while sporting a shiny .086 ERA in his last three starts. Johnny over his career has started six games against the D-Bags…Backs! D-Backs! And has five wins to show for it, along with his 1.66 career ERA against Arizona. A .143 BA against, doesn’t really give us much cause for concern going into Friday nights series opener. That is until you really take a look at the lineup that the 2013 Diamondbacks offer up. Wade Miley counters for ‘Zona, with an ERA flirting around the 6.50 mark over his last half dozen starts. Players to watch against Miley on Friday? There’s nothing much more than a small sample size of our hitters against Miley, however, those that have faced him, have hit him with success.  Bruce is mired in an ofer streak against the D’Backs, and hitting behind BP, I’m going to hesitate a guess that he continues his torrid streak, adding to an already sterling start to his 2013 season. Cozart is 0-7 with 3k’s, so it will be interesting to see where Dusty lets Cozy hit tomorrow night as well. On the flip side, watch for Martin Prado to continue hitting Cueto well (.417, 1.200+ OPS in 12 career AB) and cause some grief on the basepaths ahead of Goldschmidt.

 

Tony Cingrani, and the Scowl of DOOOOOOOM!

 

The second game in the series promises to be fun to watch for most baseball fans, as Mike Leake and his outstanding 2013 season, square off against Cy Young candidate Patrick Corbin, who sports a 9-0 record to compliment his unbelievable 2.28 ERA thus far in the season. I look for recent trends to continue, as Leake has been approaching the potential he was drafted for, and D’Backs/Reds fans to be treated to an unbelievable pitchers duel. That being said, it will wind up being a 10-9, or 12-10, game and hopefully have our “Never Say Die” Redlegs on the winning side. With Corbin having never faced a batter in the Reds lineup, I look for Choo/Votto to cause him the most distress when it comes to our hitters leaving a mark. Unsettling numbers for this matchup? Leake’s ERA  is a hair under 8.00 in three career starts against Arizona. Maybe the good old Black Sleep will keep our batters knocking around AZ’s staff. “MANNY PARRAAAAAAAAAAA!”

 

Mat Latos, and the needed FUNKBLAST-ADE

Surprise, surprise, Mat will be pitching on another Sunday before a travel day. Stop me if any of this sounds familiar just yet. The best performance from a pitching standpoint on the weekend, may in fact, come from the guy who has faced this team the most. Mr. Dallas will be set to make his seventh career start against Arizona, going in with his 3.25 lifetime ERA against the team, and 41k’s in 36 IP. With the way our staff lines up to face Arizona, look for the bullpen to get a much needed breather over the next three days, heading into another off/travel day before facing the Athletics.

 

I predict a 2-1 series win, improving the overall 2013 road record to 20-17, and a big weekend for Devin Mesoraco. Bruce keeps it rolling, Votto gets back on track with his average, and we see a potential Cy Young duel on Saturday. Yeah, the Mike Leake game, try not to forget that Mike leads this team in wins AND ERA right now.

 

I’ll leave you with this. The real series preview, the Reds know there’s blood in the water!

 

Eat Lightning And Crap Thunder, or for the rest of you, A Redlegs at Phightins Preview

So here we are in the city of brotherly love. The birthplace of Rocky Balboa. The home of the Broad Street Bullies! The Cincinnati Reds, however, are not facing an opponent that strikes fear into the heart of adversaries as they once did. I’m afraid that not even Eye Of The Tiger, or Burgess Meredith could convince this Philly team to fight. Although, seeing Charlie Manuel perform Meredith’s “Penguin” would be worth the price of admission along, the match ups this weekend have Cingrani facing Lee on Friday night, Arroyo squares up against Kyle Kendrick on Saturday at 4:05 EST, and then the finale will pit Batman against Pettibone with a scheduled 1:35 EST first pitch.

Friday nights game sees Cliff Lee take the hill for the Phils, and if we can rewind to April 15th, it was the Monday night game where Lee posted a respectable line of 7 ip, gave up 5 hits and allowed 2 ER. But the biggest moment that may stand out from his previous start against the Reds, was the walk that Jay Bruce(!) drew after the Reds notorious “Wild Pitch” offence pushed Votto across the plate. Lee has been effective against the Reds in his career, but with an ERA approaching 4, he’s also liable to give up a few runs to Cincinnati. Factor in that he’s also given up ten runs in 20 innings of work at home this year, and suddenly scoring 3-4 off of Cliff doesn’t seem like much of a stretch in the “hitter friendly” Citizens Bank Park. Interesting matchup to consider against Cliff Lee within the Reds lineup; Cozart is hitting .333 for his career against Philadelphia. Meanwhile, BRUUUUUUUCE! has absolutely raked the Phils pitching staffs over the years with an OPS nearing 1.000 and ten funkblasts in fewer than 150 AB’s.

This could, finally, actually, legitimately be the series that Bruce finds his power stroke. He has absolutely demolished the Phillies throughout his career, and I expect nothing less than a replay of that history this weekend against the pitching staff at CBP.

Jay Bruce preparing to take batting practice b...

Bruce has hit .308 with 10 HR, and 28 rbi in 143 ABs with an OPS of .936! So if you’re looking for two guys that will give Lee the most trouble, watch for both Jay and Zack to have some quality AB’s.

On the flip side Cingrani hasn’t faced the Phillies yet, but beyond Mayberry and Brown who hit left handed starters extraordinarily well, so long as Tony “Bunches Of K’s” can get ahead of their hitters early, the 2013 Phils are notoriously prone to striking out. None more so than Ryan Howard who also happens to be hitting a measly .190 against lefties this season, and only .260 for his career against the Reds. For performances from the Dark Side, I expect that Brown and Utley will do the majority of the damage, if any against the Reds starters this weekend. Arroyo sports an ERA of an even six in his career against the Phils, so if there’s a game that the Reds drop in this series, I personally expect it to be Bronson. Then again, he has had a string of decent starts, and Dusty also appears to have realized just how quick the hook must be when BronsOFF makes his sixth inning appearance. Coming off back to back sweeps against both the Fish and the Brew Crew, I certainly don’t see a third straight sweep, but posting a 2-1 record, and a 5-1 start to this road trip is a most welcome sight. And for those of us that were stressed over the previous months inability to win a game on the road, remain calm. If you’re still worried, the Mets are on the horizon, and a road trip that goes 7-2, by my logic anyway, is a pretty successful one.

TL;DR version of this series preview? Just like the Broad Street Bullies of the 1970’s, this current lineup for Philly looks an awful lot like Bobby Clarke

bobby-clarke-wink

No Teeth.