Archive for August, 2007

The Race To… .500?

Great night tonight – Griffey hits a homer, Harang pitches a complete game shutout.  It doesn’t get any better than that. 

I got caught looking at the standings the other night and at 6.5 games out I kept thinking the Reds were ready to make a push.  And they subsequently lost a double header and fell back to 8 games just like that.  And let’s not focus on the records – at 61-72, the Reds should not even be thinking playoffs.  It’s still in range though and the NL Central is what it is, so why not get after it?  The equation at this point is simple – get to .500 and then look at where you are.  It’s tough because the Reds have three teams in front of them.  Yet the Reds can do something about it with two series against each of those three teams in the month of September.   Go Little Red Wagon!

Still lots to watch for to the end of the year – will Griffey get to 600 homers this year?  Will Brandon Phillips be only the third ever player to get to 30/30?  (Eric Davis and Barry Larkin)  Will Harang get any consideration for the NL Cy Young?  Will Josh Hamilton win the Rookie of the Year award?  It’s hard to believe at times that this team is 11 wins from .500.

Dav-ey! Hats Off To A Reds All-Time Great

I can only imagine how electric the atmosphere was last night at Great American as the Reds paid tribute to Dave Concepcion by retiring his number.  Davey was understandibly emotional and I can’t imagine there were many dry eyes in the house.  I liked Alex Gonzalez wearing #13 in honor of Davey, even if he didn’t play in the game.

It’s another reason I feel lucky to be a Reds fan – the steep tradition and history of the franchise.  It’s a nice departure from what many other teams have to endure.  Those teams are either devoid of past greatness (Seattle, Tampa Bay, Texas to name a few) or soulless in their success (Florida Marlins come front and center here – their management makes their fans want to forget they liked that team and those people never turn out to see the games for whatever reason.)

I keep peeking at the standings.  It’s human nature to want the Reds to keep up this streak of good play.  I know it’s silly, but I can’t help thinking that this team could make a big run.  I’ll just keep quiet on this topic for a few weeks.

Griffey is now nine away from 600.  It will take a hot hitting streak for him to get there before year’s end.  Go Reds!  Keep it up, even if you have to score double digits to win.

They're Doing the Chop!

I’ll never forget Jack Buck saying that phrase in his gravelly, distinct voice when the Tomahawk Chop became a big deal in the 90’s.  Truth be told, the Reds have gotten the beat down from the Braves much of the last 15 years.  The Reds have the worst winning percentage against the Braves (.392) [166 games] of any of their opponents since 1991 (minimum 15 games).  It bears noting that Cincinnati has an overall winning percentage of (.490) since 1991 [1300 wins – 1352 losses]

  • Cleveland (.431) [51 games]
  • Houston  (.463) [245 games] – it feels like the winning percentage is half this amount. 
  • NY Mets (.452) [146 games]
  • LA Dodgers (.455) [156 games]

This year, however, Cincinnati has picked themselves off the mat and are 5-1 against Chief Knockahoma’s crew.  It feels gooood.  Keep chopping them down, Reds.

  • Great night by Stanton tonight.  It’s been a while but he did well this night.
  • I really enjoyed watching Marty and Thom singing the anthem together tonight.  The fans didn’t know what to think of it, but it was fun.
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Reds on Modest Winning Kick Against League Leaders

Not a bad past eleven games for the Reds:  a  7-4 record against some of the best teams in the National League.  Cincinnati is taking the slumping Brewers out to the woodshed tonight.  They played the Dodgers tough, played well against San Diego and LA and broke the hearts of the Cubs a few times earlier this week.  All this with a young crew and with interim manager Pete Mackanin at the helm.

It is not a lock that Pete will return, however.  I’ve heard rumors about Cincinnati interest in Bob Brenly and Joe Girardi.  It might be nice to have a big name back on the bench but it’s moot unless this team gets some bullpen depth.  Mackanin wouldn’t be too shabby either – as long as he doesn’t tick off Griffey again by pulling him in a double switch late in a close game.

  • A lot of young Reds talent on display lately – Jeff Keppinger has been a nice bat and a competent defensive infielder.  I saw catcher Ryan Jorgensen for the first time against the Cubs.  He had four or five Victor Santos bouncer specials nail him in the chest protector. Then they showed his face up close behind the plate and he didn’t even look mad – probably because it was only his fifth-ever big league game. 
  • Elizardo Ramirez, one of my favorite hard luck pitchers besides Arroyo, will get the ball tomorrow night against the Brew crew.  Keep the ball down and you’ll be great, ‘zardo.  I hope you can put your stuff together and keep away from the big inning.  My golf game and your pitching career have startling parallels. (Par, Bogey, Par, Birdie, 9,…)
  • Alex Gonzalez is on bereavement leave again to be with his 10 month old son.  I can only imagine how hard it is to focus on your job when your kid is that sick.
  • Reds free agents next year:  Jeff Conine (retiring), Eric Milton (I’m assuming retiring and lighting cigars with his Reds money), Scott Hatteberg (they’d better re-sign him – he’s effective and cheap), Javier Valentin (pretty great pinch hitter – the Lenny Harris of his time), and Eddie Guardado (if he’s healthy, we know he can pitch well without overpowering stuff and he’s relatively cheap bullpen help)

Cubs Remind Us What We’re Missing

This is the time of baseball year where, if your favorite team is out of the running (or in my case has been for a long time), your senses become numb.  Usually a Reds win makes my day and a loss puts me in a funk (particularly if the bullpen has blown a lead, which NEVER happens…).  Now that any chances of playoffs this season are deep-sixed, I still go through the motions of watching games, checking out box scores & baseball news, etc…  But the feelings are not as intense.

Yet, if you play a road game against a team that is in the thick of a late-season playoff chase (to wit:  The Cubs this year), it’s hard to not get swept up in their enthusiasm.  Tonight’s game was a barn burner and Cincinnati did everything except let the Cubs tie the game.  The Wrigley faithful were going absolutely ape and I was riveted to my couch, wondering why Jared Burton was still in the game in such a critical situa – wait.  It’s not so critical for the Reds (this year anyway).  Why not let Burton develop in a pressure situation when the stakes are low?  For a minute, I felt like Cincy was in the postseason with everything riding on this 3-2 pitch – and it felt pretty good. I could almost hear Tim McCarver talking about my team telling me that if you don’t lay the bat down you won’t be able to bunt…  But, alas, it was only a night for the Reds to play spoiler.

If the Reds keep playing them tough, they’ll be reminding the Cubs of what they’re missing, too.  I kinda want the Cubs to make the playoffs in this division if it can’t be the Reds, but oh well. 

Finally, welcome back Josh Hamilton; it was a great night from you and I’m really hoping you get Rookie of the Year honors. 

Fear and Loathing in Cincinnati

If there was any worry that Harang was dinged up, last night he showed it was not the case.  That gem of a pitching performance led to this chat today with my friend and die-hard Reds fan Charlie (brknlegz):

[09:35] brknlegz: Here’s how beat down I am as a Reds fan.  I can’t enjoy watching Haring dominate a team as much as I should because I feel guilty having him.
[09:35] brknlegz: 🙁
[09:35] brknlegz: We don’t deserve top tier pitchers…
[09:35] brknlegz: He should go pitch for a contender…
[09:36] brknlegz: I’m sure someone has a minor leager they’ll trade for him, straight up.
[10:56] thaqzilla: No way
[10:57] thaqzilla: he’s the cornerstone
[10:57] thaqzilla: You build around him
[10:57] thaqzilla: You can’t replace him
[10:57] thaqzilla: and if Bizarro Arroyo goes away and the good Arroyo comes back after this year,  you’ve got two pitchers you can use as your foundation and lock in for 15 or so wins each a year
[10:58] brknlegz: I agree, but how do you tell a guy that good to hang on while the rest of the team tries to stop sucking?
[10:58] brknlegz: I guess you pay him.
[10:58] thaqzilla: I assume he likes cincinnati
[10:58] thaqzilla: It’s kinda hard to tell, but he usually gets his wins so I’d think he’s happy
[10:58] brknlegz: He’s 12-3.
[10:59] thaqzilla: right – they can handle a 1-0 lead with him on the mound
[10:59] brknlegz: You wonder, though, if he thinks he could be that much better on a bigger stage.
[10:59] thaqzilla: if Arroyo was pitching, they’d still be playing a 0-0 tie with about 35 strikeouts
[10:59] thaqzilla: I just dont’ get that vibe from him.  if he’s getting the salary, he’d stay
[10:59] brknlegz: I hope so.
[10:59] thaqzilla: but who knows.  Maybe it’s because I see him on all the Fox Sports commercials
[10:59] brknlegz: 🙂
[11:00] thaqzilla: as the face of the Franchise
[11:00] brknlegz: Why do the faces of the franchise always have goatees?
[11:00] brknlegz: a la Rick Nash?
[11:00] brknlegz: What would Marge Schott say?
[11:01] thaqzilla: “Well you know, honey, as I said to Schottzie 2, sometimes you’ve got to shave off that fur.”
[11:02] brknlegz: LOL

Although I didn’t agree with Charlie about Harang’s possible longing to be elsewhere, I understood why he felt that way.   I have to wonder at  what point did Reds fans begin to feel they weren’t worthy?  That has to stop soon.  We absolutely deserve the best players.

  • In other news, it has been a pretty good run by the Reds of late, despite letting one get away from them today in extras against the Dodgers.   The Reds are 18-14 since July 3rd, best in their (pretty horrible) division.
  • I’m holding my breath that Griffey can play a full season without getting injured.  I’m hoping he hits 600 home runs before year’s end, but it’s dicey given his track record of freak injuries.
  • With 21 homers and 21 stolen bags, Brandon Phillips is a 20/20 guy this year (HR/SB), the first Reds player to do that since Joe Morgan.  This further cements Brandon as my favorite Reds player and probably further dooms him to become the next Bip Roberts /  Pokey Reese Cincinnati second baseman I love that flies the coop. 
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