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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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!

So This Is What Being A Reds Fan Is All About?

 

So This Is What Being A Reds Fan Is All About? (WARNING: GENERALIZATIONS AHEAD)

The team is only a few games behind the division leading Cardinals and less than two games in front of the third place Pirates – the team that happens to be going up against the Reds tonight at GABP.  Even though it is a home game for the Reds, and the Pirates are shutting out the home team and winning by three runs (and end up winning 4-0), the crowd cheers wildly and suddenly erupts in cheers and fans high-five and hug all around the ballpark like Jay Bruce just hit a clinching home run.  The thing is, though… he didn’t.

I’m all for fans cheering and acting how they want to as long as it doesn’t make the fanbase – as a whole – look stupid.  The Woo (at any time of the game) and cheering for free pizza while the Reds are getting waxed does just that.  I would rather see the wave start in the 9th inning than hear Reds fans cheer like they did tonight while losing to the team breathing down the Reds necks in the standings (and I’m not a fan of the wave at critical game moments, either).  I think it’s time for LaRosa’s to rethink their promotion and make the offer valid ONLY if the Reds win. I’m pretty sure the Reds are right around .500 when striking out 11 or more during a game at Great American Ballpark, Yes, some of you may have to actually BUY your $4 personal pizzas from LaRosa’s, but maybe then Reds fans would care about the score and not just the strikeout total.

 

I’m Not Saying #FARRRDUSTY, But…

…when Dusty’s time with the Reds is over, I wouldn’t mind giving Clint Hurdle a decent lookover while searching for a new manager. The guy is a local product and makes positive things happen on the field.  Maybe his record doesn’t seem so high-powered, but he makes my short list, for sure.

 

Mat Latos Is My Favorite Pitcher

This guy has been an absolute horse for the Reds and seemingly just the guy you need in the Reds clubhouse.  I absolutely loved seeing Mat get fired up in the dugout when the butt-Pirates hit Choo. He had a bad first inning tonight, but put the Pirates in a virtual headlock afterwards.  He owns a 6-1 record and had FIVE blown games by the bullpen!  Remember when people were questioning if Latos was worth the “potential” the Reds traded away for him?  Makes me glad there are professionals handling the trades and not armchair GMs…

 

Speaking Of Armchair GMs…

…my buddy who was suggesting that Jay Bruce should be traded hasn’t come out to say he was wrong, but he’s hinted at it so much that I accept his apology for such a silly comment.  He has since said that he “always love Jay Bruce” and now sees the reason for keeping him.  Sometimes being pretty smart a super genius means you know when to give up a fight.  Knuckles, Andrew!

 

Pete Rose

Not sure what to say about Pete.  I mean, the camo hat was better than most of the headwear we’ve seen The Hit King sport at a Reds game. We’ve known he’s not the most fashion-forward guy dating back to the showing-off-your-hairy-body-while-standing-in-your-underwear advertisement, but who among us wouldn’t call in sick if Pete had an extra ticket for a ball game?  Let me just go ahead and fly this flag in case Pete sees it: Pete, if you have an extra ticket, I’d enjoy going to the game with you and talking about baseball. It’d make one hell of a Head First Slide posting!

 

Finally, Something Positive From Your Angry Blogger!

Congratulations to Richard (@HFSPodcast on Twitter) and his wife on the birth of their beautiful daughter.  Sunday was my first Father’s Day with my ten-month old little girl, but having a two week old must’ve made the day even more special, if possible.  For me, being a father has been the greatest thing to happen, and I’m sure Richard feels the same way with his new family.  Congrats buddy!

 

 

As always, thanks for reading.  I’m serious, Pete – I’d basically quit my job if you’d let me tag along to a Reds game with you. Yes, I consider this begging, but since very few people read my posts and even fewer read this italics part, I’m ok with that. Let’s make this happen!  For the non-Pete Rose readers, feel free to make fun of my begging ways in the comment section or on Twitter at @GeoffreyHoman.  Thanks again!

 

 

 

The Half Minute Gifts That Pay The Bills

Video

 

Reds games are rarely confused with the NFL’s championship game. The action on the field can be just as exciting, but the advertising spots that keep the cameras rolling are no where near the multi-million dollar commercials aired during the Big Game. In fact, unlike the super spots at the end of the football season, the commercials during the Reds game gives you a chance to grab something from the kitchen, use the bathroom or read a chapter in Joel Luckhaupt’s newest guide book for Reds fans rather than glue you to the screen.

Two early favorites have emerged on Fox Sports Ohio that Reds fans out of the market may not have the pleasure of seeing. One is this spot for Muenchen’s Furnature featuring Pete Rose and his wife, Kiana Kim, who apparently can’t agree on ANYTHING for their house.

 

 

 

The other commercial has yet to appear on YouTube, but I’ll be sure to link it up as soon as I see it is available. In the meantime, you can should follow @MANdresonPR on Twitter for information about the Reds and random, cryptic tweets that show his love for the bit of common sense advertising.

 

 

Let me know what you think or would like to read about in the future on Twitter at @GeoffreyHoman

In Defense of Pete Rose

Its funny, all you did was read the headline and you already have an opinion.  Admit it you do!  Its ok, often we are all a little guilty of judging a book by its title.  We are predisposed to run everything we see through our own personal knowledge center as soon as we see it.  That knowledge center will make you read a headline and have a positive or negative reaction almost immediately.  The degree of either reaction will determine whether you click or not.

In my opinion way too many people having just read the headline to this article are having the wrong reaction.

I am biased when it comes to Pete, it’s true.  There’s no way not to be especially being from Cincinnati.  If you are from Cincinnati and you grew up anytime from the 60’s on you know the legend of Pete Rose.  A local boy who despite often not being the most talented player on the field would always and I mean always be the hardest working player.

Pete Rose in many ways ruined sports icons for Cincinnati, he showed us how to play the game of baseball.  No matter what you knew that when Pete took the field he was giving it his all.  It spoiled us.  Cincinnati has always been a somewhat blue collar town from its roots in the 1800’s to even now.  Pete made us embrace the working man, the hard worker who would give it his all because he knew how lucky he was to be there.

Decades later this would spawn another love affair between the city and a player, Ryan Freel.  Ryan was like Pete in many ways. He gave it his all on absolutely every play of every game, he just did so without as much talent as Pete did.

However it all came crashing down in the late 80’s.  I won’t go into the details you already know, its public knowledge and does not need to be rehashed at this point.  What was done was wrong, and against the rules there is not much else to say.

I want to talk about Pete since then.  It seems to me that there is some type of generally accepted feeling in baseball that Pete has become a Pariah.  Someone who doesn’t love the game of baseball and has only ever loved money.

I’m here to tell you that is flat out wrong.  I want to be clear first, there seems to be many whom take issue with Pete working in Las Vegas, or doing the Cooperstown gig that he does every year during HOF week.  To them I say shame on you.  Pete worked in baseball at a time where ball players got paid well compared to the common man, but not nearly at the level that they do now.  He should be allowed to earn a living however he sees fit and if that means signing his name several times a day and there is a market for it he should be allowed to do it.

I have never met Pete in my life, I have however interacted with him in two very different ways.  When I was probably about 6 or 7 we went down to spring training in Florida.  Back then for us kids Spring training was a real treat, the seats were all very close to the field and there were always ball players hanging around signing autographs.  We hung out following the game watching all the players and trying to get autographs.  Pete was the manager at the time and was hanging out with 2 “Rosie Reds” as they were described for us.

My mom yelled at Pete that he should get away from those two women so we could get a picture of just him, he looked on and with his trademarked Pete Rose grin told her “Eat your heart out”.  That’s who Pete was, he was larger than life and twice as awesome.

Fast forward by 25 years and I was starting up Head First Slide with my friend (and hopefully someday contributor to this blog COUGH COUGH) Greg.  When we started the podcast we were looking for a name.  It was a tough decision for us as we really wanted something that would be uniquely associated with the Reds, but would work for all of baseball.  Immediately we started trying to rip off the Jamie Ramsey ideas and name it things that had the word “Red” in the place of dead stuff similar to “Red on Arrival” and “Red man walking”.   We came to the conclusion that would never work and we should go our own path anyway right?

We began to ponder the idea of using the name “Rounding third”.  Being a Hamilton native it would have been nice to give a nod to Mr. Nuxhall as he has always been such an inspiration to all of us here.  We went with that too for a time.  We were 99% sure that was going to be the title until Head First Slide hit me.

I was driving and out of nowhere it popped into my head and immediately I knew that had to be it.  I called Greg and he agreed without a moment of hesitation.  A title that worked for all of baseball, but was obviously associated with the Reds and in particular would pay homage to Pete Rose.

I told you that story to tell you this story.

If you’re on twitter you probably remember the Fake Pete Rose account from a couple of years back.  He fooled a lot of people including Aaron Boone.  So when a new Pete Rose account showed up I along with many others assumed it too was fake.  It made it easier because at the time he only had 27 followers on twitter of which I was one of them.  To add to it, he followed me back when we followed him!  No way this was Pete right?  Better safe than sorry I followed him, because if on the slight chance it was Pete I’d rather follow him and see what’s going on and what was the worst case scenario?

A few days later my questions were answered.  Pete revealed himself and began to post proof of who he was.  He posted pictures holding up his twitter handle and had his official website linked to his twitter profile (@PeteRose_14).  I was flabbergasted.  Not only was this PETE FRIGGIN ROSE, but he followed us on twitter!  I decided then and there that I had to say something to him, not that I expected to ever get a reply.

So I did.

I sent a little message that said something along the lines of “Hey just wanted to let you know we are big fans of yours here, we actually named our podcast in your honor”.  What happened next was purely ridiculous.

Pete tweeted back, he said thank you and that since we named it in his honor that he would have to give it a listen at some point.  I was thrilled, but at the same time figured that he was just being nice.  Which in itself was awesome, heck most celebs on twitter don’t even tweet back let alone say something encouraging and nice.

A few weeks go by and out of nowhere I got a DM on twitter.  Apparently Pete had one of his employees listen to the show (JD from PeteRose.com for those of you familiar with the show) and he seemed to really like it.  We had given Pete’s account as our twitter account to follow that week and apparently he told Pete about it.

Pete then made our head explode by offering to answer some questions for the show.  That night I had a little back and forth on twitter and Pete Not me Pete suggested that we should actually do it as a weekly segment for the show.  We would send him baseball questions on twitter and he would answer them and we would read them on the show.

What Would Pete Rose Do was born.  From June of last year until our last episode of the season almost every week we would ask between two and three questions of the hit king and he would be kind enough to answer them for us.

The questions would range from which World Series meant the most to you, to what’s your favorite restaurant in Vegas.

No matter what the question was though, he was ready to answer and would give us a snappy sometimes funny response.  When he hit the road at one point and knew it would be hard for him to respond did he say “hey little podcast I’ve helped you enough go ask Bench questions now you’re bothering me”?  Nope. He had us contact JD from PeteRose.com directly and JD would get a hold of him and transcribe back his answers in email.

He did all of this for us.  A little show who at the time that he contacted us was just starting out.  He never asked for any compensation, he never turned us down for a question, he was never anything but humble and gracious to us.

Does a man who’s only about the money do that?  Does a man who doesn’t love the game do that?

The answer to both questions is a resounding NO.

Pete Rose loves the game of baseball.  He shows it that love every day and in many ways it doesn’t show him the love back.  He’s constantly at Reds games when he is in town and constantly calls in to sports talk when he’s available whether he’s promoting something or not.

You can have your issues with what happened in the past, but I ask you not to dwell on that.  There can be no better ambassador for the game than Pete Rose and hopefully someday Baseball wakes up and realizes that.

-Richard

Follow me on twitter @HFSPodcast