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?

Cincin13 081 Cincy20112 086 Random Mobile 031Cincy20112 023

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The All Encompassing Preaching Post

Obligatory

I’ve had two posts brewing in me for a couple of days.  (What does brewing a post feel like you say?  Basically imagine eating a big burrito and what that does to you) Those two posts are about 1)Fans, and the different types of fans. and 2)Scapegoats.  What follows are those two posts fully blended into one long long posts.

Preachin’

Ok I may get a bit preachy toward the end of this part, but its worth it I promise.

Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of “Die Hard” fans get mad at…well non die hard fans.  It got me thinking about myself and what type of fan I am.  Obviously I am a Die hard fan or I wouldn’t have started a podcast, twitter account and blog solely devoted to the Redlegs.  What other types of fans are there?

1)Casual-This would describe my mother for example.  She likes the Reds a lot, she will venture down the ballpark every so often and if they are already on television she will watch them, she wont make a point to watch but wont complain about them being on and may get into it.

2)Dire Fusty Casual-They cant stand the manager, everything is his fault, or its the owners fault, or its the 3rd basemans fault, its always someones fault, its always the same persons fault to no matter who that person was.  It was Jack McKeons, Ray Knights, Dusty Bakers, Dave Mileys and Jerry Narrons fault no matter the situation or score.  When they win its never because of that person it is always because the team overcame that person.  Generally the last manager they will feel like did a good job with this team was either named Rose, Pinella or Johnson.

3)Dire Fusty Hardcore-They know the stats, they know every person whose arm dusty has broken, they know every person who was on Dustys Giants WS team and why that person made it easy mode for Dusty to reach the world series and they will never believe that anything Dusty does will help the team win.

4)Griffeys Gotta Goers-You could change Griffeys name with anyone else here if that person make a ton of money and doesn’t hit a home  run every at bat to them they are underperforming no matter what.  Coincidentally they also usually think we can trade Mike Costanzo and a rosen bag to the Tigers for Justin Verlander straight up with the tigers eating most of his salary.

5)Super Positive-This was me growing up (and to a certain extent still now) Down by 6 in the 7th?  SWEET ONLY NEED 2 RUNS PER INNING TO TIE IT UP!  Super upbeat, super positive, always happy go lucky and may or may not tweet in the 9th inning down by 10 #RedlegsNeverSayDie (Ok its still me).

6)BallPark is a Party and Everyones invited- They go to the game because its something to do on a Friday, or Saturday.  They want to have fun, they want to enjoy themselves and they don’t in the end really care what the score is as long as they have fun.

Heres the thing, there are 6 types here to go with flat out Die Hard.  I could have listed pessimist as well, but I think I covered that with the “Dire Fustys”.  In the end all 6 types, plus the pessimists and the Die Hards are Reds fans (and you probably fall into more than one category).  They are, whether they live in California or New York, Cincinnati or Chicago or Seattle they are Reds fans.  The time they invest into the franchise be it watching television, going to the game or listening on the radio is valuable to them.  The money they spend on the MLB at bat, or hats, or shirts, or pennants is just as good as the money spent by the hardcore.

There is no reason to jump all over each others crap.  I don’t like the wave, or really the woo, or cheering for pizza when down by 100 in the 8th inning.  I don’t do those things.  (Although I should say I’ve been Wooooing for years at the ballpark, its the old wrestling fan in me.  I usually do it when its time to cheer, not in random out of place moments which is I think the part that most people have problems with).  That doesn’t mean that others cant though.  The wave got going yesterday and neither me or my father participated.  Those around us? OH YEAH! They loved it!  They were hoping for more times around the stadium!  I didn’t yell at them because its not my place.  It didn’t annoy me because again its not me having to do it.

Were it the bottom of the 8th Friday or today might it have annoyed me?  Perhaps.  I thank god didn’t have to witness either of those travesties in person.  Now all that being said my main point if it has been lost somewhere in this long long long ramble.  Everyone is there own fan, there is no reason to not only accept this but to embrace it.  Don’t let someone elses fandom get you down! Be happy! enjoy the team (or not) and enjoy each other for the different fandoms we all bring to the table.

Scapegoating

I’ve read more times than I can count that Baker/Jacoby/Cozart/Votto/Frazier/Bruce/Insert LF/Insert Catcher/Choo is the problem.  Who really is the problem?

Well to address that we must ask when did the problem start?  June.  May? 19-8. June 12-15. July 14-13. So June was our problem child and our basis for which to start.  (Can you believe they were above .500 in July?  Sure didn’t feel it).

Lets look at the outliers, I think we can all agree that hitting has been the problem right? Ok now that we all agree lets see.  In may the team had a .265 BA and a .781 OPS which is not spectacular for a player but actually pretty good for a team.  June?  .234 BA and .675 OPS.  July?  .260 BA and .730 OPS.

Team ERA has been pretty low too.  2.71 in July!  TWO SEVENTY ONE!  That brings us to the question in June and July who struggled? We talked a bit about this while recording the other night, but as I sit here I’m pulling most of these numbers blind so I’ll give some opinion on them as I go.

Lets go batting order shall we?  Choo

Split G GS PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS GDP HBP IBB BAbip
April/March 27 27 129 101 20 34 8 1 4 11 17 19 0.337 0.477 0.554 1.031 0 10 1 0.385
May 26 26 124 96 20 23 4 0 6 9 23 32 0.24 0.411 0.469 0.88 0 5 3 0.293
June 26 26 122 98 14 22 6 0 2 6 17 26 0.224 0.364 0.347 0.711 2 5 0 0.282
July 25 24 108 94 17 31 7 0 2 7 12 15 0.33 0.417 0.468 0.885 0 2 0 0.377
August 2 2 8 7 2 2 0 0 1 2 1 3 0.286 0.375 0.714 1.089 0 0 0 0.333

Conventional Wisdom was that Choo isn’t playing as well now as he was in the earlier months.  That appears to be fals.  He fell off in May and June but July turned it on with a .330 BA and .885 OPS!

Ahhh everyones favorite Scapegoat Zach Cozart

Split G GS PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS GDP HBP IBB BAbip
April/March 25 25 110 101 12 21 3 0 4 12 4 13 0.208 0.234 0.356 0.59 4 0 0 0.198
May 23 23 108 97 13 27 8 0 1 11 5 17 0.278 0.305 0.392 0.697 1 0 0 0.317
June 26 26 110 101 17 25 7 1 2 8 4 19 0.248 0.287 0.396 0.683 6 2 0 0.284
July 25 23 95 87 10 20 4 1 1 5 4 21 0.23 0.258 0.333 0.591 1 0 0 0.284
August 2 2 6 5 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 2 0.2 0.333 0.2 0.533 0 0 0 0.333

So Cozy has had a rough season at the plate.  His May was actually quite respectable and his june at .683 OPS is actually pretty respectable as well!  July on the other hand was rough for Zach.

Joseph Daniel Votto

Split G GS PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS GDP HBP IBB BAbip
April/March 28 28 132 103 17 30 3 1 4 11 26 29 0.291 0.439 0.456 0.896 3 2 4 0.366
May 27 27 124 103 28 40 7 0 6 16 20 19 0.388 0.492 0.631 1.123 2 1 5 0.436
June 27 26 115 101 11 30 5 0 4 11 14 21 0.297 0.383 0.465 0.848 2 0 2 0.342
July 27 27 117 94 17 27 8 1 2 11 20 24 0.287 0.402 0.457 0.859 3 0 2 0.352
August 2 2 9 4 3 3 0 0 1 3 5 1 0.75 0.889 1.5 2.389 0 0 0 1

Well we all know JDV has been sucking right?  Wait a tick, his lowest batting average month is .287?  He still had a .859 OPS in that time?  Well that argument went out the window.

Phillips

Split+A24:Q29 G GS PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS GDP HBP IBB BAbip
April/March 27 27 122 110 14 31 6 0 4 24 9 17 0.282 0.331 0.445 0.776 3 0 1 0.297
May 26 26 117 103 23 31 7 0 5 20 6 17 0.301 0.35 0.515 0.865 4 4 0 0.306
June 21 21 93 86 4 18 0 0 2 17 6 16 0.209 0.269 0.279 0.548 2 1 2 0.235
July 26 26 110 100 13 24 6 0 2 21 6 11 0.24 0.291 0.36 0.651 4 2 2 0.247
August 2 2 9 8 0 3 1 0 0 1 1 3 0.375 0.444 0.5 0.944 0 0 1 0.6

Well he’s the savior right?  He has the most RBIs so he must be.  Wait he batted what in June and July?  Holy Frijole!  His OPS was what?  .548 in June?  WOW.

The Life Coach

Split G GS PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
April/March 28 28 125 115 15 29 7 0 1 11 10 40 0.252 0.312 0.339 0.651
May 26 26 115 107 14 31 11 1 7 24 7 27 0.29 0.33 0.607 0.938
June 27 27 118 109 15 32 6 0 10 21 7 31 0.294 0.331 0.624 0.954
July 27 27 112 100 19 28 7 0 4 18 8 31 0.28 0.339 0.47 0.809
August 2 2 9 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 3 0 0.222 0 0.222

We all known Jay is the streakiest hitter on the Reds he’ll have one good month out of the year and a whole bunch of bad ones just look at his May!   Wait…..Well June just makes it 2 months….Wait July makes it 3 months. Well Shizer. No seriously, The Narrative that Jay Bruce is streaky and only good for one month can go away for now, he’s been one of the most consistent hitters on the Reds the last 3 months.

Frazier

Split G GS PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS GDP HBP IBB BAbip
April/March 27 25 108 96 13 23 5 0 6 19 10 27 0.24 0.315 0.479 0.794 3 1 1 0.266
May 25 23 100 82 9 18 5 1 0 12 13 23 0.22 0.34 0.305 0.645 4 3 0 0.295
June 25 24 100 87 9 22 3 0 3 6 9 20 0.253 0.35 0.391 0.741 2 4 0 0.297
July 24 24 98 89 8 22 8 1 1 12 7 20 0.247 0.316 0.393 0.71 1 2 0 0.309
August 2 1 6 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 0.167 0 0.167 0 0 0 0

Well Frazier has obviously sucked right?  Cause he cant hit his way out of a brown paper bag right!  Wait, nope not accurate either.  He’s still not had a bad OPS and while I’d like it to be higher he has by far not been the worst player on the team these last two months.

LF

Split G GS PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS GDP HBP IBB BAbip
as   LF 111 472 419 49 ## 22 3 10 42 40 95 0.248 0.32 0.387 0.707 6 5 3 0.298

I don’t have the heart to pull all of Left Field.  I just don’t, it would take an hour to grab everyone.  But seriously take a look at these numbers.  Then ask yourself if you penciled in Ludwick every day, how much better would they be?  They’d be better.  Absolutely, he’d have a few more Home Runs, and he’d have probably twenty to thirty points higher Batting average bringing his OPS up a bit, but Ludwick would not make this team that much  different.

Mesoraco

Split G GS PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS GDP HBP IBB BAbip
April/March 15 13 55 45 6 11 3 0 0 5 9 9 0.244 0.364 0.311 0.675 1 0 3 0.297
May 14 12 52 47 5 11 3 0 2 7 4 13 0.234 0.288 0.426 0.714 0 0 0 0.273
June 18 14 60 55 4 12 1 0 2 7 4 9 0.218 0.267 0.345 0.612 1 0 0 0.222
July 20 17 73 68 5 20 4 0 2 10 4 13 0.294 0.329 0.441 0.77 5 0 1 0.333
August 2 2 7 7 2 3 0 0 2 3 0 1 0.429 0.429 1.286 1.714 0 0 0 0.25

Mesoraco had a horrendous June, His July on the other hand?  Pretty friggin good!  Nice BA, had a couple of homers, respectable OPS.

Where am I going with all of this?

Basically, Theres no one player that has had an off month or two and the last couple of months?  They aren’t any one players fault.  The majority of this team has found a way to be frustrating together.  My other point?  Narratives don’t always equal fact.  Anyone in politics can point that out, you get a narrative started like Votto doesn’t look right or Bruce is streaky and it can get picked up and ran with.  Killing the narrative when it is not true or is no longer true is the hard part.

In order for this team to have a successful august (we’re only 3 games in) They have to play better all around.  We need .350 Joey back, we need .290 Phillips, we need Cozy and Frazier to play to the back of their baseball cards and we need Choo and Bruce to not drop off at all.

Those things can happen! THEY’VE HAPPENED BEFORE! THEY CAN HAPPEN AGAIN!!!

Thanks for reading,

-Richard

Follow me on twitter @HFSPODCAST

I have a hunch, you might be drunj.

With the majority of my esteemed co writers away at GABP for the night, being shown “the ropes” by media director, and super kind/helpful Reds rep @LisaBraun, I will be taking the hours leading up to first pitch with the Cubs to touch on a few different subjects. I understand most will be accessing my rants and madness for insight on the Reds, but with the amount of people we have writing fantastic articles on the team, I’m going to use this soapbox to address broad ranging issues that baseball fans all face. Not just necessarily those in Cincinnati, or the tri-state area.

 

Previously I had covered the subject of the appropriate reaction to have when a former star returns in the uniform of another team, I offered my opinion on the subject, and with any luck I hopefully opened a few eyes. This week, I really have a particular annoyance that seems to only rear its ugly head when I’m attending live games in Toronto, though other ball parks I have frequented could also stand to benefit from the lessons learned in Canada. This post will be easier to create, knowing that I have Adam Dunn’s undying approval, as his bobblehead is constantly affirming my stance.

 

We’ve all been subjected to it. The guy that sits behind us, that knows the game better than anyone else in the world, and that profound knowledge and insight is exponentially more enlightening by the time he has arrived at a certain level of inebriation by the fourth inning. This is more agitating when I have specifically purchased tickets in an alcohol free section, with the understanding that I no longer have to deal with this particular type of “fan” and be allowed to just enjoy the game with my Pops, and my girl. For starters, the kids in the section, were surprisingly worse than the drunks in the nosebleeds. If you plan on taking a GROUP of kids to a game, moderate the ENTIRE groups behavior. Please. I would be furious if I was sitting a level below, and wound up with chewed, and spit covered sunflower seeds because you didn’t see fit to discipline the child you are responsible for the moment your tickets were scanned. It’s a family section, your 12 year old shouldn’t be calling ANYONE an “effing see you next Tuesday”. That, once again, is on the chaperones. I’m bothered by it, and I highly doubt another family with their six year old is going to be impressed by your lack of common decency either.

 

That being said, if they aren’t allowed to serve alcohol in this section, there should be some form of restriction on the people that go get drunk for two innings and return. The entire philosophy is that you curb the behavior, to the benefit of the people trying to enjoy the game, by eliminating the source. I get it. I love the family section for that reason. However, what is the point if Johnny Dumb Drunk can leave for an hour, come back drunk, and exhibit the same behavior people in the section were expecting to avoid? This seems ridiculous on multiple levels. Do not allow drunk fans to return to their seat in the alcohol free/family section, simple as that. Another idea, expand the zone to a full two sections, allowing the organization to justify having extra staff that are trained and able to spot these particular fans and help keep the sections operating the way they were intended. And trust me, if enough people complain about the offenders, stadium staff will have them removed. The reason the ushers are there is to keep the peace, and allow everyone to enjoy the game they have paid to see, so if someone is intoxicated to a point of concern, mention it to the staff. Most of them are unbelievably helpful and friendly

 

Let me say this, just to clarify, I do not think these people are “bad fans”. I do believe, however, that there’s something to be said for being polite and cognisant of the people and other fans in your immediate vicinity. If someone has their young family there, there is no need for the foul language or aggressive behavior. If you wouldn’t behave, shout, act the same way in the immediate company of the local law enforcement at the ball park, you have a pretty good gauge on the fact that it’s time to re-assess how you act in the stadium. There’s so many other ways to enjoy yourself and feel like you’re involved. Most teams have a terrace where like minded individuals gather to enjoy, shout, drink and act a fool all in celebration of the perfection that is our favorite game.

I am not against drinking at a baseball game, or any sporting even for that matter, what I am against is people who do not respect the game, the other fans in attendance, or the opportunity to be part of something bigger than themselves. If getting drunk is your only incentive for attendance, please stay home, and allow someone else to fill your seat that actually cares about what’s happening on the field of play. Now I know I may sound negative about this, confuse it for being old and whiny, but the thing is, everyone has paid for their right to enjoy the game. And everyone that is there, has that right, up until your presence has a direct and immediate impact on another persons ability to enjoy the game without distraction.

So go to the game, get wound up, lit up, and loud. But please be aware that not everyone is there or defines themselves in the same way. Let everyone enjoy the game as they want, and expect to. So long as it doesn’t negatively impact another persons enjoyment of the same game!

 

And it goes without saying, so I’ll say it anyway, but

 

GO REDS! Please beat the Cubs. Badly.

 

Hugs and high fives from Canada.