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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REDS CARDS ON SUNDAY NIGHT BASEBALL

The Story Thus Far

This is a big game for our beloved Redlegs.  Bronson Arroyo takes on Lance Lynn and the Cardinals in a rubber match from this weekend.

This is a big game for the Redlegs.  This is as “Must Win” as a series in June can possibly be.  The Reds have had a tough time against the cards and a not particularly good first week of June.  After Starting the month off right with a win they lost Sunday Won monday and lost the next 3.  So they are right now 3-4 in June.  This game puts them back at .500 in june which again we’re 7 whole games in so its not exactly a feat, that being said by my count the Reds lost 8 games in May so to have lost 4 in the first 8 days of June is a bit concerning.

What’s Concerning

Please allow me to explain first: This is concerning, but what I’m going to say is a small sample size so its not like it can’t/won’t change.

Joey isn’t hitting in June.  Now this may have already changed because his bat woke the hell up tonight.  It woke up and it woke when we really truly needed it to.  He had our game winning hit tonight and seemed to have damn quality at bats the whole game.  Quality At Bats that result in outs while fun to watch still aren’t exactly what we’re looking for is it?

But its not just Joey in this young month the team is hitting .230 the lowest number thus far this season.  The teams OPS this month is .651.

Its not that this cannot change and will not change.  AGAIN this is a small sample size, but this HAS to change for June to be a month that will be as good as May. A month that will allow them to gain ground on those pesky Card’s.  A month that will allow them to go into the All Star Break with a couple of starters and hopefully several reserve players on the All Star Team.

Tomorrow needs to be a continuation of today not a continuation of the last 6 days.  I think this will happen.

The Wrap Up

Lance Lynn has had a very good career vs the Reds and his first start this year was a very good one having given up only 2 runs in his two starts against them.  He did this with 15 strike outs.

Let me be clear here, as good as Lynn has been he is playing above his head against our beloved Redlegs.  This game, Sunday our beloved Redlegs should help to bring him back down to earth.  Similar to how they brought Leake down to earth and similar to how we brought Tyler Lyons down to earth tomorrow Lance Lynn comes down to earth.

Sign Off

In case that did not fire you up enough for the game here is an old stand by for me 40 motivational speeches in 2 minutes.

-Richard

Follow me on twitter @hfspodcast

Remain Calm

The Reds lost a series today, lets be honest its a series I thought they would win, you thought they would win and the whole team thought they would win.  On Paper it looked really, really good. 

Games aren’t won on paper they are won on the field.

Lets take a look at some things shall we?

Last years team on June 6th? 31-24

This years team? 36-24

This team is winning games, they are winning games early in the season that in years past we lose.  Yes we had a couple of heart breaking losses in the last week but you have to see the big picture.  This team is in a fight, a fight to win the Central and a fight for the best record in baseball.  This team has the cards in town for a 3 game series and will go into this series 2.5 games back.  You have to figure you’re going to get Leake, Latos and Arroyo in this series, 2 of these guys have been pitching their balls off.  Yes I just said that and Arroyo just came off an outting where he pitched out of his mind against the Rockies.  I also would not be shocked to see Arroyo pushed a day and Cingrani brought in for one of these (or early next week).

BP is supposedly coming back this weekend as well.  Basically what I am saying is there is no reason to panic.  Yes todays loss suuuuuucked.  I mean really, really sucked.  But you have to see the big picture not just the little speck of paint.  This team is playing overall very good baseball, they’re winning at a better clip than they were last year at this point and just for the heck of it lets look at the next few series.

Reds Vs Card for 3 here at GABP, Reds Vs Cubs for 4 @ GABP North, Reds Vs Brew Crew for 3 here at GABP, Reds Vs Pirate for 4 here.  Those are series that can make a huge difference in the division standings just based on 7 games agains the Pirates and Cards alone!  I dont freak out easily, but honestly check back with me after those 4 series.  One way or another this team will have changed their season when those series are over.

This team will have ups and downs, every team does.  The 75 Reds lost to the Padres 11-2, the 76 Reds lost to the Phillies 15-5, the 90 team lost 10-1 then 6-1 then 3-2 to the Giants on June 4-6.  Every team even champions will have those games that they don’t look like champions.  What will matter for this team will be the last game it plays this year, whether that game be in early october or in early november its too soon to tell.

-Richard

Follow me on twitter @hfspodcast

By the way if thats not enough to cheer you up after yesterdays loss and give you hope I present BABY PICTURES!

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April 22nd, 2013…a date that will live in infamy

Monday, April 22nd, 2013… a date that will live in infamy…the Cincinnati Reds and all of Great American Ballpark was suddenly and deliberately visited by 4 of the Bloggers of http://headfirstslide.mlblogs.com/.

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When I got the email from Richard on Saturday asking if I would be interested in going on a Tour of GABP and watch the game that night, it took less than a minute to quickly punch out a message back and say: Yes, of course! Please take me! I wanna go!

Then the planning began…as an avid autograph collector I had to bring SOMETHING with me in case we had a chance meeting with Joey Votto in a hallway (HAH!) or some other once in a lifetime chance! Pen. Check. Red Sharpie. Check. Blue Sharpie. Check. then it was time to decide wether to bring cards or a ball? Both have pros and cons too numerous to mention here, but I decided to go with cards because I could easily slide them in my pocket! Okay…All set. Oh man I still had the most part of 3 DAYS before the game! Can you say Longest Weekend Ever!??! HAH!

Finally Monday rolls around and We meet up at the ballpark and are greeted by the wonderful Lisa Braun (@lisabraun) who was our guide on a tour of GABP. After a quick stop in her office (loads of cool stuff in there!) we were on our way to get FIELD PASSES!! Whoa! Now, I have posted before about the joy I have getting autographs and even made fun of my wife when she got her first one. I have to say walking down the hallway that led to the very 1st Major League ball field I have ever stood on is a feeling that can not be easily put into words. It just caused me to grin like an idiot, say things like “Wow!”, “There’s Latos!”, “Cingrani!” and other goofy things that I just mumbled.  I was in complete awe of seeing the action so very close!

Once the clouds lifted and I came back to reality, I started trying to figure out how I might be able to obtain a couple of signatures to remember this day by. With cards and Sharpies in hand I stood there watching, waiting and hunting! (LOL!) All of the sudden, the clouds parted…the sun beamed down…and lo’ and behold Todd Frazier (@FlavaFraz21) was walking our way! I scrambled to find a card of “The Toddfather” and when he was in front of me I was able to mumble “Can you sign this?”. He replied “Sure!” Quickly signed my card, thanked us for coming out and moved on to the next person. I was stunned. Speechless. A little giddy…okay ALOT giddy.

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The Toddfather & I

Todd Frazier

Signed in Reds red!

 Then as batting practice was wrapping up my luck doubled! Who should we see coming our way but Zack Cozart! He stopped by to thank us for coming out. Asked if we were having a good time? (All of us were ecstatic of course) He then explained he had a meeting to attend right away but wanted to be sure to say Hi! I took a chance and asked him if he would mind signing a card for me as well? He said “No problem!” BAZINGA!

Zack Cozart

I was 2 for 2!! I was so ecstatic we could have left then and I would have been happy! But NO, there was more to see! We headed over to the Reds Hall Of Fame to see the exhibits there. On the way there it was mentioned that they had a new exhibit called “Signature Reds: A Century of Reds Autographs”. This was AMAZING!!! Worth the price of admission by itself! This is how the Reds explained it:

“In 2013, the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum examines the extraordinary history of autographs in “Signature Reds” presented by Dinsmore & Shohl LLP, a special exhibit that explores the autograph phenomenon through the prism of Reds baseball. Highlighted by the display of autographs from virtually every player to wear a Reds uniform since 1920, “Signature Reds” will immerse visitors in the world of autograph collecting while taking them on an unforgettable journey through the last eight decades of Reds history. From superstars to journeymen to players whose careers were measured in single games rather than seasons, “Signature Reds” will include them all. “Signature Reds” will present the largest assemblage of Reds autographs ever made available for public display.”

I went into an autograph coma…there were autographs from almost all of the past Reds and LOADS of other famous sports players, Celebrities, Star Wars actors, Astronauts and so much more. I was stunned once again, it was so cool the way that everything was displayed. I couldn’t think of a better way of organizing and displaying the collection shown there!

After we left that exhibit and moved on through the Hall of Fame I saw many cool things and loved every moment of it. By the time we were done with the Hall it was time to head into the game and enjoy the rest of the night. The rest of the night was so much fun hanging out with the guys from HFS, cheering the Reds, Booing the Cubs and don’t forget WOOING too! LOL! What an amazing day!

As I wrap up this post about a the day that I will not soon forget, I want to thank HFS Richard, HFS Greg, Geoff, Lisa Braun and the entire Reds organization without all of you I would not have had the chance at such a wonderful experience! 

God Bless you all.
– Joe –

Feel free to follow me on Twitter @garpike28

“Is this Heaven?” ….. “It’s Cincinnati.”

HFS Richard: Greg, people will come Greg. They’ll come to Cincinnati for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up Pete Rose Way not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at GABP as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won’t mind if you look around, you’ll say. It’s only $20 per person. They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Greg. The one constant through all the years, Greg, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Greg. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh… people will come Greg. People will most definitely come.

Could this be Heaven?

Could this be Heaven?

Follow me on twitter @garpike28

-Joe-