Boo Birds, and Red Legs.

It’s the second week of the 2013 MLB season, and for the first time in what seems like forever, I’ll be writing an ACTUAL baseball oriented piece. Shocking as it is, I feel somewhat restricted in what I post on twitter, as 140 characters can hardly do justice to the brilliance I spew forth on a regular basis in person. Now you may be saying “Ok, Pinocchio, keep it growing” and you’d be right. My eyes aren’t brown, but they have reason to be.

Most of you may know me as Johnny D, JD, MaskMetal, or just that eternally optimistic guy you had to mute to salvage a shred of your sanity. And to begin, I want to extend my deepest thanks and gratitude to Greg and Richard for even extending the opportunity to become more involved within the Reds fan community (I totally almost wrote out @Reds, so I may in fact be a twitter addict) and have the chance to meet some truly amazing people. Since my first rough spot on the show, the love for the Cincinnati professional baseball club has multiplied and grown into something that a few well chosen words still would fail to justly describe. Baseball is a love, and I wear that Wishbone “C” on my cap or chest with absolute, and unabashed pride. I am Canadian, my pet moose lives in the backyard, I love Bubbles, Julian, and Ricky. I know Mike from Canmore, and Tim Horton’s is sadly a dietary staple. I’m a life long baseball fan, relatively recent Redlegs convert, and firmly believe that the DH has no place in the game. I strive to see the positive side of everything, no matter how grim the outlook may appear to be on the surface, and while my level of snark may come through in rather challenging times, I can assure you all that I’m doing it with a broad smile on my face.

On to the first official post, Albert!

I was presented with the task of addressing the issue of how to approach the return of a star player adorned in a new jersey. Josh Hamilton signed with the Angels, and upon his return to Arlington, was heartily booed. I get that there was parting shots on his behalf, however, Rangers fans cannot simply throw their hands up and claim innocence. There was plenty of awful, rash, and hateful things directed at Hamilton during and after their last playoff exit at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles, so for fans to say they were “offended” by Hamilton’s comments, I wish that they could turn the attention back on themselves before so wilfully showering Josh with those Bronx cheers.

I have to step outside of the MLB context for just a moment, and provide an example of how a player should be treated upon their return. Nobody will ever mistake me for a Leafs fan (go figure, the lone Canadian on this HFS team, referencing hockey. Shocker), but the way Toronto embraced Mats Sundin when he made his semi triumphant return while in a Canucks sweater, is the way it should be handled by fans. This guy was a catalyst for your team for a number of years where you experienced unheard of success, in what likely had been forever, if ever at all. Leafs fans cheered, they stood, they applauded, they thanked a franchise player for giving them everything he had night in, and night out. However, the next time he touched the puck, they booed. Sundin smiled. It was the nature of the beast, the business side of the sport that led him away from Toronto, but it was with nothing but love that they welcomed him back. Amid the chorus of boos, Mats Sundin smiled. That moment right there, was the correct transition from beloved, to foe.

There is always a different way to approach the return of a star athlete in a different uniform, and while I would never condone Hamilton’s claims that Dallas-Forth Worth (also, the stadium is in Arlington) not being a “baseball town”, but those fans booed him before he left the organization, and there was very likely nothing he could do to prevent that reaction during the Angel’s visit to Texas for the home opener. I like Josh Hamilton, and I love the passion that Texas fans have for their professional sports teams, but when it comes to saying goodbye to a former star, there needs to be an adult approach to the situation, and sadly neither side seemed capable or willing to step up. It may hold true that everything is bigger in Texas, including the expectations of a fan base that has been starved of success for far too long.

Again, don’t take my posts for anything other than perhaps a different take on an issue, but if you have a star athlete leave for financial reasons, or to find a better situation for their family, try to imagine yourselves in that athletes position. Would you make business decisions based on what’s best for your family, or fan expectations. We, the fans, represent our organization as much as that departed athlete, try to remember that next time a guy makes his return. And future free agents are going to remember how a guy was treated, or even how the fans treated his wife in the stands, OR ON TWITTER. So thank him for what he did while with the team, and then let loose the hounds of hell the next time he steps into the batters box, or takes the mound.

Feel differently? Agree? Want to call me Shirley? Drop a comment below, let’s get some conversation going!

– Johnny D (@MaskMetal / @3RedsPositives)

The Best Week EVER!

Last week I stole a Canadian rock anthem for the theme of my post.  This week, I’ll go to a semi-entertaining show from one of those VH1-style channels. This post will determine who had THE BEST WEEK EVER!

First, let’s look at the Louisville Cardinals.  They defeated the Michigan Wolverines in the mens basketball National Championship game for their first title in a long time and came one win short of winning the women’s version. The mens win showed the power of teammates as the team had to rise above the nasty injury to Kevin Ware that was so bad that I hope I never have to see the picture of his dangling leg again.  The win also helped cover Rick Pitino’s nastiness as a morally casual leader of young men and cement him as a legend of the game. Being inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame doesn’t hurt that, either. Add in having a racing horse qualify for the Kentucky Derby and Pitino might have a case for his own entry as having THE BEST WEEK EVER. However, in this post, neither the Louisville Cardinals nor Rick Pitino are the chosen ones.

Tianlang Guan is fourteen years old… and playing in the Masters… on Sunday.  I thought it was a cool story to hear about this 8th grader who won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship. When I was in 8th grade, I was trying to make the move from trumpet to percussion in the concert band. This kid is making a 26-hour trip to Augusta, Georgia to play against the best golfers in the world in the most high profile tournament in the world. Making the cut to play on Saturday was a surprise to me, but does making the field on Sunday make it the BEST WEEK EVER for Tianlang Guan?  Not on my list.

Defenders of the “WOO!” are having a pretty good week.  The “WOO!” was easily noticeable on Sunday at GABP during the Nationals game and spotted “WOOs!” can be heard from PNC Park in Pittsburgh as the Reds play the Pirates. Not only that, but Twitter sources reported multiple “WOOs!” from minor league parks in West Virginia over the weekend. It seems as though the “WOO!” is catching on and spreading like the type of rashes they tell you about in middle school health education classes (abstinence is the only 100% protection, remember that kids…). For the life of me, I don’t get the “WOO!”. It’s not fun to do, it’s highly annoying and it makes all the fans at the park look like dolts as everyone gets lumped together in the “drunk redneck” label since you can’t pick out the one guy making the noise. However, some people love the “WOO!” and want it to live on. Seeing the “WOO!” in so many new places has to be a good week for those people, but I don’t think they are having THE BEST WEEK EVER!

Maybe THE BEST WEEK EVER should go to Head First Slide who received a little free press from the man himself, Marty Brennaman. On Saturday night, the “Ask Marty” segment was centered around sliding style and which was Marty preferred between feet-first or head-first. The Reds have seen some tough injuries to key players from each sliding style, but Marty professed his love for the feet-first variety by exclaiming “I’m not a big Head First Slide guy…”. If you live by the credo of “there is no such thing as bad press”, then this is a great moment for the guys at Head First Slide! Free press rocks! However, it would’ve been better if Marty said “I love the Head First Slide”, rather than cast it aside, so the Head First Slide Podcast and blog is having a good week, but not THE BEST WEEK EVER!

The St. Louis Cardinals… I hate em… Really, I do. However, look at their body of work since last Sunday.  The started the week dismantling the World Champion San Francisco Giants at SF. At the start of the next series, against our Reds who are favored to win the division by a healthy amount by most talking heads, the Cardinals surrendered 13 runs as they were shellacked in a ninth inning meltdown of EPIC proportions. Since that inning though, the Cardinals have given up a TOTAL of one run. That’s right – the Cardinals gave up a run in the 4th inning of Tuesday’s game then held the Reds and Milwaukee Brewers scoreless though games on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday (as of 4:05 EST).  That’s 37 scoreless innings against two offenses that were supposed to put up big numbers. Not only that, but the Cardinals seem to be scoring at will, averaging 6.5+ runs per game in the past week.  When you score a lot of runs and don’t give up any, and you’re playing teams that are supposed to be the cream of the crop, you’re sitting in a good spot. To make it better for the Cardinals, the Reds have been losing to the Pirates (!!!) and Johnny Cueto was taken out of the game on Saturday night with an upper arm injury. As I said, I am not a fan of the St Louis Cardinals, but the way they’ve been playing and the way the competition has been faltering, it makes sense to say the Cardinals are having THE BEST WEEK EVER!

-Geoff
Have a response? Comment below or get at me on Twitter – @GeoffreyHoman

 

On a side note, I’d like to send well wished to former Red Austin Kearns who was sent to the hospital today for monitoring an irregular heartbeat.

One Thing Any Reds Fan Should Do

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It’s the shiny new car in the garage at my house…  Finally, after first hearing about the book months ago on Joel Luckhaupt’s Twitter account (@JLuckhaupt), I had the chance to go to an event I was looking forward to hitting up.  A book signing for 100 Things Reds Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die.

Last Saturday, the Reds invited Joel to Great American Ballpark for a meet and greet book signing event during the Reds vs Nationals game. The Bearcats were also taking on the nationally ranked Louisville Cardinals on the same field after the game. So many things I wanted to see/do/be apart of were happening at Great American Ballpark on Saturday… Unfortunately, another thing on the schedule for Saturday was work in Deerfield Township. I had to miss “The Event”.

So when Joel started promoting his book signing that would take place on Wednesday evening, I was excited! Not only was I free from the icy grips of the bossman, but the event time allowed me to not miss the Reds/Cardinals game AND meant I would be home in plenty of time for the new installments of Duck Dynasty (That’s right, JACK!)

What I didn’t realize was that this book would have the kind of hook that kept you reading long after your shows start, your wife goes to bed and you know it’s too late to be awake.  Before you know it, you’re reading about topics you’ve heard of for years, but the little bits of new information keep you reading along. Each chapter is just short enough that you say “I’ll read one more, then call it a night” until you get to the next topic and find that it is something you really enjoy, so when you realize it isn’t too long, you say “I’ll read one more, then call it a night”.

The list contains more things a Reds fan should “know” rather than what they should “do” before they die, and chances are that if you’re reading this Reds-based blog, you’ve already checked off most of them.  The to-do list is more of a validation checklist for the Reds-centric lifestyle we lead. That and an excuse to start saving some dollars for Reds Fantasy Camp.

One of the most interesting parts of this book was getting a chance to listen to the author speak about the book before the signing.  Joel fielded every question from the audience with a style of informative, interesting and funny-when-he-wanted-to-be answers.  He supported a youngster’s dream of working towards taking Joel’s statisticians job while being honest and letting the whippersnapper know that Joel never plans on quitting the job – ever. He listened while audience members told him did-you-knows about his favorite player, which is like telling Louisville Slugger tidbits about baseball bats, but Joel listened to the factoids and turned them into other stories for the audience’s enjoyment.

All in all, the event was a great time.  I highly recommend picking up this book for your Reds library (#71 on your list, by the way).  Keep a lookout for more signing opportunities through Joel’s twitter account because if you can, that is the way to pick up this book.

 

Thanks for reading!

-Geoff
@GeoffreyHoman on Twitter

Things I have observed….

Hey,

Me again.

So the baseball season is in full swing(YAY). I’ve decided to take a break from writing programs and creating databases to write a blog. Here are some of the things I have seen or taken away from all other teams in baseball or things that have happened.

– The Cubs finally realized that Marmol was not the answer as a closer. Good for them.

– Houston won their first game, but have not won a game since, they are also on pace to strike out a record smashing 1,998 times this year. Will they even win 50 games this year?

– It kind of looks like the Blue Jays attempt to “buy” a championship isn’t working to well. Their ace (Dickey) has been knocked around in his first 2 starts, and their offence is not clicking on all cylinders. I’m really rooting for the O’s in the A.L. East.

I have other thoughts and observations about the rest of the baseball world but I have way more about the Reds so here we go on that:

– Todd Fraizer’s start is making almost all Reds fans ask “Who was Scott Rolen?” He is on fire. It’s very refreshing to see him get off to such a great start. His showing that given a chance he can be a real superstar.

– Jay Bruce got off to an awful start and has yet to hit a home run this year, but after striking out 7 times in the first 3 games, and only having 1 hit he is seeming to see the ball exceptionally well now. I know we all love Bruce bombs but I am very happy seeing him go to the opposite field and hitting doubles and singles. He is currently hitting .324 and I know he is prone to ridiculous streaks of 1 for 32 and the like but I will take him batting close to or over .300 all season long and not hitting as many home runs. I mean the person hitting behind him is Fraizer and the people hitting in front of him are Votto and Phillips(for now).

– Choo. What a great addition. I would like to talk about my opinions on him. Yesterday he made 2 errors in the game against St. Louis which were costly. We knew going into the season that we were trading defense for a real lead off hitter. He is going to make errors and I am personally fine with that. We are not always going to be able to come back and demolish teams like we did yesterday. However lets look at what he did in the 9th. He led off with a walk and scored the go ahead run. Then he came up with the bases loaded and hit a bases clearing double, then scored again later in the inning. So his recap of yesterday was 2 errors, 2 runs scored and 3 RBI’s. I believe the result of his errors was 3 unearned runs. With the runs Choo scored and knocked in he pretty much nullified his errors in my opinion. Yesterday my twitter feed was filled with calls for the Reds to move Choo to left and Heisey to center. That would be extremely counter productive. What happens when Ludwick comes back? Choo needs a chance to learn center and get used to it. Moving him now just to move him back when Ludwick comes back would hurt us more in the long run than help.

– The Reds have certainly come out the door running, They have take 2 out of 3 from 2 teams that are slated to do exceptionally well this year. Not only did they win but in one of those wins they completely destroyed the Nationals pitchers with home runs…. in April. The Reds outscored and out pitched the team that almost everyone has picked to win the World Series 27-10. It makes me sad that so little was said about this, I watch a lot of MLB tonight (I try to stay away from ESPN. I’m not a huge fan of their coverage of sports) and it seems like the biggest things that analyst took from these 2 series were the struggles of Josh Hamilton and Bryce Harper hitting his 3rd home run. I know I don’t get paid to analyze baseball but Josh Hamilton ended last year horribly, so bad in fact that he was booed in his last game of the year at Texas. Bryce Harper who came to Cincinnati with 3 consecutive multi hit games went an outstanding 3 for 13 and 0 for 4 in his first game. Not a word was mentioned really about the fact that the Reds threw out the 4, 5, and 1 starter against the very potent lineup of the Nationals. It just makes me sad that the Reds aren’t really receiving the attention they deserve because they are playing as a team, much better than a lot of teams in the majors, and playing above what I expected from them to start the year. 

Well I guess I have said enough to entertain you for a few minutes. I sadly must go back to writing programs and creating databases. 

Go Redlegs

-K

A good old fashion butt whoopin’

13-4

13-4

13-4

GOOD LORD!

If you said to me this team would beat StL on their opening day I would have told you I was happy with that.

For that matter if you listened to our season preview all I really wanted out of the Reds first week was for them to take 6/9 of which I wanted at least 2/3 from the Cards *Cough 3/3*. After last weeks opening day disappointment I think for many of us this becomes so much sweeter.  Opening day while still fun, and miserably cold was to a certain extent ruined by the loss.  Today The Reds got to ruin another teams opening day.   Not only did they ruin it, but they left it laying on the floor for dead.

I am honestly shocked by how good this team performed in the 9th inning today, they hit, they walked, they scored, they manufactured runs.  They got the breaks, the balls went where the gloves were not. It felt like by the end of it that Frazier getting struck out was more a mercy ending than anything else.

Now for just a moment I’d like you to remember a few things.

  1. Losing sucks, and just as disappointed as we were last week those that went to StL’s game today felt the same way, and yes they aren’t the nicest fans on twitter but going home after a loss sucks, going home after a opening game drubbing sucks way more.
  2. Its one game, one out of around 300 times we will play the Redbirds this year, lets not get ahead of ourselves and crown ourselves central division or NL champs.
  3. This first 9 games is a huge test for this team as they do have 3 incredible opponents, but there is a reason a season is 162 games and not 16.  Baseball is a Marathon, not a sprint.
  4. Not all of the players are living up to their potential, some are playing way above their ability.  Either way please remember what I just said,7 games in, 9 at the end of this series, don’t freak out.

I think they take at minimum one of the next 2 games, which one I am not sure.  I think its a helluva chance for them to really remind everyone that they are the reigning division champs and that were it not for a meltdown this team should have and would have been in the nlcs and possibly world series.

-Richard

@hfspodcast