Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Clincher

My friend, who shares our tickets, told me a great story (great story, not great happening) about his ending up in the ER instead of celebrating with Jay Bruce, et al. on Tuesday night. He got hit on the head by a foul ball and had to leave the game. (He's going to be all right -- or at least no worse off.) That got me thinking, I would like people to put in the comments where they were and what they were doing when the Reds clinched.

Rachel and I were in our room in the rental house in Florida listening on the I-Phone via the MLB At Bat app. We also had espn on (with the sound off) which was showing the Yanks clinching a spot in the playoffs. Suddenly, the screen split and espn showed GABP erupting. Then my espn ScoreCenter app buzzed (meaning a score in the Reds game). The I-Phone has a short delay, but we knew something good happened, and then we heard Marty's call. We've known for a while now the Reds were going to win, and we knew for about three seconds that they just won, but it was still a great moment.

Rachel and I have invested a ton of money, time, and emotion in these Reds, following them at home and away and just about every night on t.v. when we couldn't be at the park. It's taken over our entire summer (that and the foot). I think we both felt extremely proud of the team and happy they won, but also relieved and validated that we didn't waste all that money, time, and emotion. Without a doubt, this has been our favorite team. Once again, congratulations to Dusty and the boys on a great season.

The Trop!

On the day after the Reds clinched the division, we went to the Trop the day after the Rays clinched a playoff birth. They're still fighting it out with the Yanks to see who wins the division (and home field) and who gets the Wild Card (and Cliff Lee).

Interestingly, it was the Rays last home game of the year and the team gave away 20,000 tickets for free. But this was our only chance at a game at the Trop, so we went in for decent seats. My mother-in-law was with us (we're actually in Fla. celebrating her 75th birthday) and she doesn't get up and down stairs super great so we got handicap tickets. (You can check out my facebook page for the view from our seats -- and the cool hat I got.) We were on the top row of the lower section, but up higher than the section, so we could see over everyone, even when they stood up, which they did a lot. Plus, we had extra room and pretty comfortable seats.

The game was pretty ho-hum, with the Orioles winning 2-0. The Rays couldn't get to Kevin Millwood at all, in spite of playing their regular line-up in the hangover game (except Longoria, who is hurt). They got a couple of chances late, but couldn't break through against the Orioles pen. The Orioles have been really good the last couple of months, and last night was no exception.

The crowd was crazy last night with the horns and the cowbells. They literally cheered every strike. The venue was odd to say the least. The roof of the dome seemed really low, and I could definitely see where balls could get stuck in the cat walks although none did last night. It didn't really have a big-league feel to it, but the crowd was very enthusiastic. That place will be nuts during the playoffs.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Reds clinch

Loyal readers of this blog know that I predicted on September 15 that the Reds would clinch on September 28. Last night I was actually rooting for the Cardinals (for the first time in a long time), because I didn't want to back into the clincher and I wanted the fans to enjoy it at home. Unfortunately, I couldn't be there or see it on t.v., but we did get to hear Marty's call via the I-Phone. What a great moment.

And what a great season. A real gift, from Dusty, to the boys, to the front office. Hopefully, the Reds can pull out home field advantage. The main goal (besides home field) is to get that second seed so the Reds don't have to face the Phightin's in the first round. But more on that later. For now, let's just enjoy the division championship.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Blue Sox baseball back in Sunny Fla.

But not for spring training this time, just vacation. I'm blogging between the beach and the pool on the rented house's wireless (which I got working this morning with an assist from the firm's re-set desk). The Reds' magic number stands at one. Who'd a thunk it. They could clinch it tonight, but that would be anti-climactic because all of the guys are at home. Ideally, the Cards win tonight and the Reds clinch tomorrow against the 'Stros. I'm not sure the fans deserve a home field celebration, there hasn't been a ton of support, but the players and Dusty certainly do.

Wednesday night we will be heading to the Trop to see the Rays play the Orioles. They will probably have clinched at least a playoff spot by then. Look for a full report on that game.

I'm hoping to use this week to give you some fantasy updates, look back on my pre-season predictions, and maybe provide some playoff previews. So stay tuned.

Friday, September 24, 2010


I read this and got depressed.

The big question

Is it too early to start blogging about the playoffs? I don't want to jinx anything, but I also think it's bad luck to be superstitious, so I'm going to go ahead (just like everyone else outside of Cincy) and assume the Reds are in. The Reds have basically won the division because they've stayed relatively healthy and had depth to fall back on when they weren't. Just about every game they've thrown a starter out there who one would have to believe has a decent chance to win. But that's not the type of team that typically does well in the playoffs. Conventional wisdom says you need an ace and good second to win playoff series against other playoff caliber teams. The Reds depth doesn't mean much (or so the thinking goes).

Along those lines, here is an interesting blurb from Christina Kahrl over at Baseball Prospectus about the Reds rotation and who should pitch in the playoffs:

Tough Choice to Make: Picking a post-season rotation. Even if we set Mike Leake aside as a likely shutdown, and Aaron Harang because of his problems with both health and performance, but keep Volquez in the mix thanks to the presence of pitchers on the 60-day DL who he could slot in for, take a look and consider the numbers of the other fistful of choices:

Arroyo 31 starts, 203.2 IP, 3.98 era
Bailey 17, 97, 4.73
Cueto 30, 178.2, 3.73
Volquez 11, 56.2, 4.45
Wood 15, 89.1, 3.43

So who does Dusty run with? Bailey seems like the easy guy to delete from the rotation, but what order do you line up the other four? Travis Wood has a pair of good games against the Rockies, and a complete-game shutout against the Phillies; he missed the Braves and had a bad day against the Giants. Cueto had a pair of quality starts against the Phillies, and didn't have a good game against any of the other potential playoff opponents. Arroyo has never won a game in Coors, he's 0-4 in San Francisco, he missed the Phillies, and he took a beating by the Pads back in April. Volquez had good games against the Braves and Rockies. Other than leaning toward Wood and Cueto against the Phillies, with Arroyo and Volquez at home on short leashes if that's their matchup, I'm not sure there's a happy pattern to pick from there. Leading with Wood against the Braves makes sense because of Atlanta's losing record against lefties, I suppose. But a quick glance at the options doesn't suggest an easy bunch of picks, and Arroyo's utility as an innings eater doesn't mean as much in must-win games against better lineups.

Blue Sox Baseball heads north

I was in Detroit on Tuesday and Wednesday for work (no, I'm not a full-time blogger) and was fortunate enough to have time to check-out Comerica Park for a Tigers/Royals game. Both teams are long ago out of the race, but the Tigers still managed to draw over 25,000 fans. Pretty impressive.

The park was about two blocks from our hotel in what looks like a pretty cool arts district. Ford Field was right across the street. We were able to pay a scalper $20 for two decent tickets in the mezzanine level just beyond first base.

What sticks out about the park is how big the outfield is, and that's after they moved the left field fence way in and installed bullpens. It's 420 to center. We saw numerous line shots to the outfield that died in an outfielder's glove. We did manage to see Miguel Cabrera hit one out in dead center. You talk about a no-doubter.

The park itself seemed very fan friendly with lots of stuff for the kids and tons of different food booths. Unfortunately, I wasn't feeling super great so I didn't try any of the local fare. But the game itself saw very few interruptions between innings like you see more and more of these days. Overall, a great experience.

Oh, the Tigers lost 9-6. It was 9-3 in the bottom of the ninth with Cabrera due up. Leyland pinch hit for him since the game was already "over" but the game ended with the bases loaded and the winning run up. Cabrera's spot was on deck. But the guy didn't get to make two outs in the same inning.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Dusty defends Coco

This blog post gets to the heart of what has been so frustrating recently attending games at GABP. I'm not saying the blogger is wrong in the last paragraph of the post. But I am saying Dusty deserves credit for getting this team in the position it's in. The Reds have already recorded a winning season, and the rest is gravy. We should be enjoying it, especially at the park, not dealing with the boo birds every time a reliever throws a ball. And, no, I'm not exaggerating.

Game 146: Just the opposite

Game 146, a 7-5 Reds win, ended exactly the opposite of game 145. In 145, the Reds had the bases loaded with 2 out, down 2. Drew Stubbs, the runner at first, got a huge jump on a line-drive gap shot hit by Ramon Hernandez and would have scored the winning run but for the nice play by Justin Upton to snag the ball and end the game.

Game 146 ended with the Reds holding a two-run lead. With two out and a runner on, Adam LaRoche drove a towering fly ball to right, which Jay Bruce somehow grabbed in the corner for the final out. I guess had it gone out it would have only been a tying home run (assuming it would have gone out -- I'm not convinced but others were) and not the go-ahead run, but Bruce certainly saved the game in the same vein that Upton saved the game the night before. Exciting stuff, and this time thrilling to be on the winning end.

The win gave the Reds an 8 game lead, which they promptly gave back yesterday (the Cards also won). I don't see how the Reds only get one run off of Rodrigo Lopez, even if they didn't play all of the regulars.

The Reds now start a very difficult 9-game road trip in Houston. With the magic number at ten, they could certainly clinch on the road, but I think it will be at home after the trip but before the last series. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Game 145: the streak lives

Scout made it last night to keep his streak alive (and even made the jumbotron). Unfortunately, he didn't help the Reds who fell prey to a great pitching performance by Daniel Hudson of the D'Backs. The Reds got to the bullpen in the 9th, but only for one run. Hernandez hit a gapper with two out and the bases loaded (no question Stubbs would have scored from first) but Justin Upton made a nice play to track it down and end the game. Hernandez hit it about as hard as he could have on a line, but to no avail.

But the Cards lost too, so the magic number is 12. Look for the Reds to clinch on the 28th.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Scout game-time decision for Bark in the Park

Scout has been to every Bark in the Park since they started them at GABP. I think that's five in a row. But his streak is in jeopardy. He's been struggling overall with some health problems and is very lethargic from his medication. And now he has an ulcer on his eye which has required he wear the dreaded cone. (See photo.) Last night, we decided not to put him on the D/L, but to make him a game-time decision.

He's had some great nights at the park, including getting a ball from Jayson Werth (Jay Bruce threw him one, too, but it went way over his head and he couldn't get it), getting on Kiss-Cam, and being on the front page of the Enquirer's sports page the morning after a game. I hope he won't miss this important opportunity to see a great run by his Reds, who have a winning team for the first time since the year he was born.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Prospects update

Here is the latest from prospect guru Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus on two recent Reds draftees:

Catcher: Devin Mesoraco, Reds
At the start of the year, many thought Mesoraco had entered into bust territory. A first-round pick in 2007, Mesoraco began the year with career averages of .240/.311/.368 and scouting reports that bemoaned a lack of conditioning. This spring, he showed up in camp looking more like a linebacker than a baseball player, and the results were clear, as he slugged a whopping .302/.377/.587 across three levels, and scouts believe in the transformation. Suddenly on the brink of the big leagues, Mesoraco is yet another reason to be optimistic about the Reds' short-term and long-term future.

Relief Pitcher: Donnie Joseph, Reds
A third-round pick last year out of the University of Houston, Joseph was seen as one of those college relievers who could move quickly, and he didn't disappoint. He traveled across three levels in the Cincinnati system, finished the year at Double-A, and struck out 103 over just 65 innings in the process. He doesn't throw anywhere near as hard as Aroldis Chapman, but his 93-95 mph heat is plenty for a lefty, and the key to his success for many is a slider than went from solid to downright filthy. If the Reds do the right thing and return Chapman to starting for his long-term development, they'll still have a power southpaw out of the bullpen in Joseph

Reds trade for Bloomquist

Today, the Reds traded for Willie Bloomquist. As the link points out, Bloomquist won't be post-season eligible, but he can play almost every position. No word yet on who will be cut from the 40-man. Presumably, the 40-man problem was why the Reds hadn't already called up another outfielder from Louisville.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Winning record

Few experts were picking the Reds to win the division this year. I think there was one guy for the New York Times that did. I wanted to pick them, but really thought a good goal for this season would be to have a winning record. The Reds haven't had a winning record since 2000, when they went 85-77, Jr.'s last super star season.

With the win last night, the Reds clinch a non-losing record of at least .500. No doubt they'll win again (hopefully today) and will finish with a winning record. To me, the division championship is enough for Dusty to come back as manager. With the young talent the Reds have, I don't think just a winning record would have been enough.

Playoff odds

This is a cool site. They do computer simulations of every remaining game (like a thousand times) and publish the results. They predict the Reds to go about 11-9 the rest of the way and give the Reds between a 96% and 97% chance of making the playoffs. I've cited a similar feature at Baseball Prospectus, but that's a pay site. You can get this for free.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pete Rose

Pete Rose and I have a checkered past. I hated him as a kid, mostly because I was an Oriole fan (and an American League guy). Probably the height of my hatred was in 1980 when he caught the ricochet of the foul ball off of Bob Boone's glove in the World Series and then spiked the ball. Everyone says Pete played the game the right way, but he was one of the original hot dogs in baseball.

In about 1982, however, I decided that Pete would likely break the all-time hits record and set out to collect all of his baseball cards. Right now, I have way more than 100 different Pete Rose cards, and every regular issue card but his rookie and second-year cards. I also have some pretty cool first day covers (popular in stamp collecting) from September 10 and 11, 1985, from Chicago where Pete tied the record and Cincinnati when he broke it. They're autographed. I paid $8 for them when they came out, but have no idea what they might be worth now. So I had a lot invested in Pete making the Hall of Fame and being one of the all-time greats. (What I should have done is started collecting Nolan Ryan cards, but that's another story.)

The Reds are honoring Pete tonight on the 25th anniversary of his record breaking hit, number 4192. (He ended up with 4256.) The Reds got an exemption from MLB to allow Pete to be recognized. If Pete had told the truth right away, these types of appearances would have been common place for him. (His last such appearance was for the Master Card sponsored All-Century team.) But baseball was never going to let Pete back into a clubhouse. What Pete really wanted (wants?) was to be a manager. Or, more cynically, a paycheck from a major league team. That's why he didn't tell the truth. He doesn't care about the recognition; he wants the paycheck.

Overall record

I looked through the books and my current record stands at 16-11, a .593 winning percentage, which is a hair better than the Reds' overall record. That includes one game without Rachel. I can't remember if she's been to a game this year without me.

Since witnessing O-Cab hit a walk-off 10th inning home run on May 5 against the Mets, our record is 15-7, a .682 pace.

We're taking a break from the Reds tonight to head down to Lexington to cheer on the UK Wildcats. Thanks to a loyal reader and fellow blogger for the tickets. Go Cats!

Game 141: Reds break the losing streak, barely

The Reds blew a 3-1 lead in the ninth last night, only to win it on a error in the 12th. It was an absolute must win, so we won't argue with how they got it. They got it. And, let's face it, it was a home game against the Pirates.

The Missile is certainly cruising along with another 10 pitch 1-2-3 inning. He really looks solid. But his performance lead me to create a new rule. You're not allowed to complain about Dusty's managing if you don't know Chapman's name. The guy behind us first complained that Dusty left the starter in too long (it was actually Cordero in the closer rule) and then wondered why Dusty took out "what's his name?" meaning Chapman. (For the record, Dusty pinch hit for Chapman in the bottom of the eleventh.)

Some of the band wagoners are becoming annoying, too. You can always tell them by their negativity and their volume. Apparently, it's important for them to tell everyone how smart they are. (Incidentally, that's what blogs are for.)

The Reds trimmed their magic number over the Cards to 17 last night with the win and a Cards loss to the Braves. With 21 to go, their playoff odds still look pretty solid.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


I'm at a complete loss for what to write about. I know, I just shouldn't write. But I feel like the Reds are at a critical juncture and I should have some good insight for my loyal readers.

I do know this: the Reds need a win or two in the next two days.

About two weeks ago I was writing about the Reds being the only team in the league with six outfielders and the only team in a while to be platooning the entire outfield. They're now down to three, and all three seem to be struggling a bit.

The pitching (non-Harang category) has been good not great. It's the offense that has struggled (see above re: the outfield). The bullpen in particular has been stellar save for the Missile's issues on Monday. With Cordero throwing strikes and Masset throwing lights out, I like where we sit, especially with Rhodes and Chapman in the pen. That's a solid late-innings relief corps.

Let's hope Pittsburgh and the D'Backs at home can help the Reds whittle that magic number, which is now down to 20.

I guess I'll cry the cry of the truly desparate and ask you, the readers, for ideas for me to write about. Let me know in the comments section.

Monday, September 6, 2010

My first fantasy championship?

My first foray into fantasy baseball (unless you count the team I had back in 1988 for one season) was in an A.L only keeper league (the bgal) in 2006. I named that team the Blue Sox and came in second. But for a stupid roster move with Ryan Garko, I could have had second. The next season I came in second.

I'm now in three leagues, the bgal, the Colonial League (N.L. only re-draft league), and the League of Nations, a Yahoo! head-to-head, mixed league.

We just wrapped up the regular season in the League of Nations and I finished in first by 5 games. I now have a bye for the first round of the playoffs (the quarter finals). Next week, I'll play in the semis and, if I win, a two-week final for the championship. But finishing in first for the regular season is cool. I'm treating it like a real team would a division crown with a playoff nod.

By the way, I'm in first in the Colnial League by about six points. If I can hold on, I may have two championships in one season.

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm in seventh in the bgal.

Game 134: Busch Stadium

The new Busch Stadium was really nice. I felt a bit nostalgic going to the stadium. I'd been to a lot of games at the old Busch, but it had been several years since I'd been to a game there (like about twenty?). In fact, one of my clearest memories from the old Busch was a double-header that my family went to when we first moved to the area back in 1978. My brother got a home run ball that Mike Schmidt hit into the upper deck. Of course, there were other great moments.

We did not have great seats and they were expensive. The more road games we go to the more I realize how great we have it at GABP.

Unfortunately, the Reds lost. It was the second straight game that Arroyo lost 3-2. The loss evened our road record to 3-3.

We didn't go Saturday, which the Reds won 6-1. We thought about trying to go Sunday, but came home instead. Good thing; the Reds lost again 4-2.

The Reds survived the series, winning one and only dropping one in the standings. They still have a seven run lead. Everyone but me seems convinced the Reds are going to win. The media, even the St. Louis media, are writing off the Cards. This commentary from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is particularly good and worth reading.

If the Reds survive the four-game series in Colorado, I may relax some, but I'd like to see that magic number in the teens (it's 21 right now) sooner rather than later.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Math update

We paid for playoff tickets the other day, so we now have a financial interest in the pennant race. (Although if the Reds blew it, it would certainly save me a ton of money.) After 133 games, the Reds sit at 78-55, 23 games over .500 (a .586 mark) and a remarkable 8 games ahead of the second-place Cards. Using the standard "if we go .500 the rest of the way" line, the Reds would finish 93-69. (A 15-14 to finish; I gave them the benefit of the doubt.) To tie and force a playoff with the Reds, the Cards would have to finish up 24-7, an unlikely .774 pace. The Reds' magic number sits at 23.

Might it be time to start thinking about things like home field advantage rather than whether or not we win the division? The answer to that is, "check back next Friday when the Reds come home to play Pittsburgh." With three in St. Louis this weekend and four more in Colorado next week, the Reds can put it away. Or, they can make it a race again. But I don't think they can lose it. Everyone assumed the three game sweep of the Reds by the Cards last month would be it for the Reds, but they bounced back. So even a tough road trip won't count us out. But a winning trip probably seals the deal.

Game 133: Yeah, I remember my first baseball game.

My favorite comedian is Steve Martin, and I've been known to throw out a quote or two in my day. On one of his records (Wild and Crazy guy, I think) he does this bit about his mood watch, which really doesn't go anywhere. Later, I heckler yells out, "What's your mood watch say?" and Steve chuckles and says, "yeah, I remember when I had my first beer." A great response to the heckler.

Last night, we enjoyed another great appearance by the Cuban Missile. (I somehow avoided another Cuban Missile blog post title.) He came in in the 8th, and pitched another one, two, three inning, this time needing 10 pitches, but he did get two k's. The Reds got 6 in the bottom half of the inning, so Chapman got his first big league win for his trouble.

Of course, the crowd went crazy when Chapman came in and most people were standing up. A guy behind us got a little overzealous when someone behind him suggested he have a seat. After the guy carried on a bit too long, Rachel came out with the, "yeah, I remember my first baseball game." Hilarious ... to us. The guy wasn't as amused. But hey, we're all Reds fans and it was a big win so everyone got along in the end.

Triple Crown (or lack thereof) update

As alert reader Scutch pointed out in the comments section of my recent post on Chipper Jones ruining the Triple Crown race, Tony Gwynn did in fact win the batting title in 1996 when he came up short on the required number of at bats, but still won after adding o'fers for the required number. Here is a detailed explanation of the rule.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Game 132: Gomes treats Dave and Rachel to an anniversary home run

I know, game 132 will always be known for Aroldis Champman's major league debut. And this post should have been titled something like, "Cuban Missile launches." But it was our anniversary and Gomes hit a home run for us; so that's what I'll remember most.

On to the game. What a great night at the ballpark. I took a wrong turn on the way home from a deposition ("Why are we entering Tennessee?") so I was a little late and missed the first inning. Fortunately, Rachel had snagged a scorecard and kept perfect records so that I didn't miss anything in the book.

Only about 19,000 folks in attendance last night, which was a bit disappointing, but the folks there were certainly not disappointed. Harang was good not great while in there, but threw too many pitches and had to leave after four. LeCure set the stage with three good innings and the offense cranked it up. In the eighth, the Reds had an 8-3 lead and they went to Chapman. The crowd went crazy. You'll recall Rachel and I drove to Toledo to see his professional debut, and now we would see his major league debut. 8 pitches, 7 strikes, one strike out, no base runners. A perfect inning, 'nuf said.

What was so great, though, was his demeanor. He seemed completely unfazed by any of it. We took a flip video of his first pitch and I'll get that up as soon as I can.

Games 129 and 130: Sports Anderson

I'm a little behind on my blog posts and keeping up with games we've attended. Sorry. (I had to buy a new score book for last night's game, which I will get to. I know you want to read about the launching of the Cuban Missle.)

On Saturday night, we had some friends come up for the game. We didn't have our seats, so I got the best available (non-diamond club division) seats, which turned out to be in the upper deck. The seats weren't too bad and on the plus side they were only $14.00. But no one up there pays attention to the game. It was pretty annoying. Anyway, Arroyo pitched well, but not well enough to win.

On Sunday, our friend was singing the National Anthem (which was great by the way), so we had planned to go for a long time. It was brutally hot. After Rhodes gave up two in the top of the eighth to tie it on a two-run homer by Fukudome, Fukudome gave back the lead in the bottom half with a throwing error that allowed the go ahead run to score. The Reds scored one more, giving the Reds the 7-5 win and the series win.

The best thing at the park came on the Fan Fortune game. You'll recall that yours truly participated in this game not too far back. The clue was #10. You get R-E-D-S, already, so the guy had:

S _ _ R _ _
_ _ DERS _ _

You get to pick three more letters (ahead of time). I don't remember what other letters he picked, but two were P and N. So he had:

SP _ R _ _

His guess? Of course, Sports Anderson.

Oh, and we went to Morton's Sunday night for a pre-anniversary dinner (we had Reds thickets for the acutal night of) and saw Gomesey eating in the bar. He promised to hit a home run for us for our anniversary.