By Thaq Diesel
10. The fact that they’ve turned over a lot of talented players who show up on other teams (despite the fact that the main reason is that they couldn’t \ wouldn’t afford them). It’s just cool to say – hey, that’s an ex-Reds player in almost every game the Reds play.
9. Aaron Harang
8. Bronson Arroyo
7. It’s only a 120 minute drive for me to see a game.
6. The swagger and joy with which Brandon Phillips plays.
5. The fact that although Carlton Fisk’s Game 6 homerun where he was waving the ball fair is shown ad nauseum, the Reds actually won the World Series. It’s how I know my friend Charlie is a true friend indeed – he never tires of hearing me say that out loud when I see that stupid clip shown all the time.
4. The history and tradition of the team.
3. Griffey’s lazy homerun swing.
2. Marty Brennaman. I know he’s cranky. I know it’s his way or the highway at this point in his career. I know he utters profanities off the air like a Merchant Marine with Tourette’s. None of it matters. His voice is the voice of my youth – the voice of baseball for me. His home run calls, his indignant tone when the Reds are biting the big one defensively or not moving the runners over (basically all of last year), his declaration that, “This one belongs to the Reds!” I love it all. I can’t think of Reds baseball without him on the microphone. I refuse to.
1. Wayne Krivsky. He’s done some really shrewd moves during his short tenure. I think he’s going to get value out of the players he acquires, that he has a plan and that the Reds will be competitive for the playoffs almost every year with him at the helm. I can’t explain it – it just feels like he will. I hope I’m right.
By Thaq Diesel
Okay. I’m nauseated that I even wrote that but the thought crossed my mind as I saw that Sosa wants to make a comeback. Plus, Bonds and his agent insist he’s getting interest from many teams, so surely the Reds are in the race, right? The Reds need to remake themselves in some way next year. Granted it’s not in the outfield, but let’s just go through the exercise anyway.
Barry Bonds would create more of a circus to be sure: not only would the Reds have a statue in left field, there would be the incessant media coverage as Bonds counted down to breaking the career home run record. How cool would it be, though, to have Griffey, Dunn and Bonds batting consecutively in the middle of the order. Bonds would make Kevin Mitchell’s moods look like a boy scouts.
An aside here – whenever they show Aaron running the bases when the broke the record, the only footage you see is of two chumps running with him patting him on the back. What’s the deal with that? The media goes out of its way to not show fans running on to the field – why do those two clowns get immortalized? I’ve never understood that.
Sosa could try to explain away from the Reds dugout why he’s lost 30 pounds of muscle since the new drug testing plan was instituted (“Something glandular,” he would say in Spanish). Again, it’s a crowded outfield with Sammy in the lineup. Plus, he still has to prove that he can hit the ball in his later age and diminished physical form. I wonder what team in its right mind would sign him. Probably Tampa Bay or someone oblivious to criticism and who is willing to take a long shot on some kind of upside. What’s the minimum Sammy would sign for now, I wonder?
I’m done retching. Forget I even brought it up. It was just an exercise. Let’s forget we even discussed it.
By Thaq Diesel
I saw a recent listing of the single-season 50 home-run hitters of all time (full list below, ‘roid suspects in bold). I always hear about the perception that ‘roids are tainting the statistical tradition of baseball. I thought that the home run, the most hallowed and sexy of baseball statistics, would be a good way to test that theory. Of the people that have hit 50 home runs since 1977 (13 distinct players in all) I suspect seven of them took something to get there. I’m sure I’m probably low in my estimate.
It’s strange how I’d come across a name, like say Jim Thome, and mentally acquit them. Most of the people I’ve said I think are clean have bigger midsections (the Babe Ruth Body, as it were). Big Papi is in that category but is a question mark. I also have contradictory thinking. For example, the reason I thought Luis Gonzalez likely guilty is that his 2001 season was such an aberration from other years. Yet, I don’t include Ryan Howard, Thome or Andruw Jones for the same reasons because I think they ‘could’ hit that many. Jones has a huge booty from which I maintain he draws all his magic powers. I don’t include Griffey at all, but I believe that his God-given swing is the reason for his dingers and that he’d have hit 50 every other year if he hadn’t been injured so much. A-Rod appears to be a once-in-every-20 years kind of player, albeit one people like to pick on for some reason. It’s strange how my mind wrapped around this list as I looked at it and how my personal biases about players came into play.
It is no coincidence, however, that in a game with such statistical roots, there was an 18 year gap between 50-dong hitters. And it’s no coinkey-dink that 22 of the 39 times it has ever happened came in the past eleven years. There’s something in the coffee.
I put in bold below the players whose numbers I, the Diesel, find suspect. I obviously have no proof and it’s just educated guesses. It also wasn’t against the rules at the time, but it still doesn’t seem fair to the record books for people to have had help. It’s all a big debate. I also don’t include Hank Greenberg of the ’38 Tigers, whose steroid-induced rages on the squat rack beneath Tiger Stadium would have made Albert Belle blush. Okay, I made that last part up.
73 — Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants, 2001
70 — Mark McGwire, St. Louis Cardinals, 1998
66 — Sammy Sosa, Chicago Cubs, 1998
65 — Mark McGwire, St. Louis Cardinals, 1999
64 — Sammy Sosa, Chicago Cubs, 2001
63 — Sammy Sosa, Chicago Cubs, 1999
61 — Roger Maris, N.Y. Yankees, 1961
60 — Babe Ruth, N.Y. Yankees, 1927
59 — Babe Ruth, N.Y. Yankees, 1921
58 — Jimmie Foxx, Philadelphia Athletics, 1932
58 — Hank Greenberg, Detroit Tigers, 1938
58 — Mark McGwire, Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals, 1997
58 — Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies, 2006
57 — Luis Gonzalez, Arizona Diamondbacks, 2001
57 — Alex Rodriguez, Texas Rangers, 2002
56 — Hack Wilson, Chicago Cubs, 1930
56 — Ken Griffey Jr., Seattle Mariners, 1997
56 — Ken Griffey Jr., Seattle Mariners, 1998
54 — Babe Ruth, N.Y. Yankees, 1920
54 — Babe Ruth, N.Y. Yankees, 1928
54 — Ralph Kiner, Pittsburgh Pirates, 1949
54 — Mickey Mantle, N.Y. Yankees, 1961
54 — David Ortiz, Boston Reds Sox, 2006
52 — Mickey Mantle, N.Y. Yankees, 1956
52 — Willie Mays, San Francisco Giants, 1965
52 — George Foster, Cincinnati Reds, 1977
52 — Mark McGwire, Oakland Athletics, 1996
52 — Alex Rodriguez, Texas Rangers, 2001
52 — Jim Thome, Cleveland Indians, 2002
51 — Ralph Kiner, Pittsburgh Pirates, 1947
51 — Johnny Mize, N.Y. Giants, 1947
51 — Willie Mays, N.Y. Giants, 1955
51 — Cecil Fielder, Detroit Tigers, 1990 (Bulking up meant something different to Cecil)
51 — Andruw Jones, Atlanta Braves, 2005
50 — Jimmie Foxx, Boston Red Sox, 1938
50 — Albert Belle, Cleveland Indians, 1995
50 — Brady Anderson, Baltimore Orioles, 1996
50 — Greg Vaughn, San Diego Padres, 1998
50 — Sammy Sosa, Chicago Cubs, 2000
Top Eight Riverfront Stadium Memories (Part 2)
By Thaq Diesel
4. I remember sitting the left field bleachers to watch Hideo Nomo and the Dodgers get beat by the Reds in 1995 NLDS. In fact, it was the last time the Reds won a post-season series. What I remember most about this game, however, was my friend Avi handing me binoculars he brought. I scanned the pressbox to find Marty and Joe. I remember actually being shocked to see Nuxhall drinking a beer in the booth. Ah, to be young and naive again.
3. It’s strange, but one of my favorite memories was the low-tech scoreboard advertisement that took place in the early innings. The umpire trying to make the call, “Yer a Big Red Smokie!!!! Yer a hot dog!!!!” with organ music playing during this sequence. It was total cheese, but these are the kinds of things that capture and hold your attention when you’re a kid. It set, I don’t know, an ATMOSPHERE of baseball. I looked forward to this sequence every time I attended a Reds home game. (Honorable mention – the lame ghost that warned “Walks will haunt” when the opposing pitcher walked the leadoff batter.)
2. I snuck down for a weeknight game. It was cold and windy and the Reds were losing in the early innings. A young Reggie Sanders smacks a pitch opposite field down the right field line. He gets a great jump and is closing on second base. The right fielder is trying to chase down the pinballing baseball. I realize as he passes second that Reggie is going for an inside the park HR try. I got goosebumps and I simply found this to be one of the most exciting sports moments I could recall. I yelled and cheered like crazy. The right fielder (who I believe was none other than Reds killer Mark Whiten) threw a rope to the cutoff man. Reggie slid headfirst into the catcher and was called out on a close play at the plate, though I think the catcher blocked the plate and Sanders never actually touched it. As exciting as this potential inside-the-park try was, the aftermath was equally as depressing. Reggie was down at home for a few minutes before slowly getting up and walking off. He was handed his glove and headed out to left field, but spent most of the time with his hands on his knees. Larkin spent the whole inning looking at Reggie between pitches. Luck would have it that no balls were hit to left, which was fortunate since Reggie left the game after that half inning to be admitted to the hospital with a collapsed lung. That ten seconds of excitement for me, though, were only exceeded in Riverfront by one other event.
1. Eric Davis was in his tobacco-chewing prime. His defense and power had won over the city who were just getting used to this new talent. Whoever was pitching for the Reds that game had already given up a run in the first inning and had a runner on third with no outs. The hitter smacks a long fly ball to deep left center. The crowd exudes that slowly rising nervous roar it makes when an opposing team hits a potential homerun. Davis tracks the ball and at the last minute skys upward and puts his glove over the wall. The entire stadium is silent for a full second. Davis comes down with the ball and throws it into the infield. Riverfront explodes with a roar unlike any I’ve ever heard. It was an amazing play by a talented player in his prime and I had goosebumps. Of course, the runner tagged from third and scored, but the stadium didn’t care and cheered Davis for the next two innings straight, every person saying to the stranger next to them, “Did you see THAT?” I don’t even remember if the Reds won that game and it didn’t matter. Moments like Davis’ over-the-wall catch are the things you see once in a lifetime, if you’re lucky.
Top Eight Riverfront Stadium Memories (Part 1)
By Thaq Diesel
This list contains events that were witnessed in person at the late, great Riverfront stadium. Again, they only span my experiences with the Reds, so they won’t cover the Big Red Machine or Pete Rose’s record-breaking single. I also lament that I never personally saw Schottzie or Schottzie #2 take a dump on the worn astroturf. If I had asked her, I’m sure Marge would have said something to me like, “You know what honey, it wasn’t all that exciting. She does it every day…”
At this point, I have a confession to make: I have yet to make a trip to the Great American Ballpark. Life events (grad school, children, increasing job responsibilities) have simply precluded a trip to Cincy to make it happen. It will happen this season (the subject of a future article, in fact). I’m told balls fly out of there faster than at the Las Vegas adult video awards show. But I digress – on with the list:
8. I witnessed my first live triple play. Runners were on second and third, one-hop hard shot to Sabo who fielded the ball with his feet already on the bag at third. Boom – a 5-4-3 triple play. It happened so fast, I had to think for a minute about what I had just witnessed. I saved the scorecard for as long as I could, but alas, my wife eventually threw such “trash” away not long after we were married.
7. It was Griffey’s first (half) season with the Reds. I travelled to the ‘natti to see him live only to find he was under the weather and not starting. It was the seventh inning I believe, Reds down by 1 with two on. Griffey comes up to pinch hit. I would witness a classic Griffey at-bat that demonstrates in one stroke his incredible cockiness and unmatched raw talent. He takes two pitches; strikes down the heart of the plate. Griffey then does his patented two-strike step out of the box to call time just as the pitcher is getting ready to start his motion. (I promise, despite my bitching, that I really do love the guy. But come on! If I was a pitcher, I’d probably bean him or throw over his head if he was doing that to me; it’s so disprespectful) Still, this was the honeymoon period and this quirk was new to me. Griffey then takes three balls, never moving the bat from his shoulder. With the 3-2 count, he takes his first lazy swing and summarily deposits the ball in the right field bleachers directly in front of me. I remember feeling both awe and giddiness that we had ten more years of such greatness in front of us… (which of course would later be laid bare by a consistent barrage of freak injuries)
6. It was the magical 70 homerun season for McGuire. I went to Riverfront late in the season to see if Mac would hit a homerun, and it became one of the few sellout crowds I was actually a part of. Almost everyone was in their seats for batting practice. MacGuire gets in the cage and lays down a bunt on the first pitch(which, had people been paying attention, every single Cardinal had done to that point). People booed him mercilessly. The second batting practice pitch was a monster, I mean MONSTER 512 ft. homerun into the Reds seats in left. He absolutely destroyed that ball. He was walked most of the game so that was the lone highlight of the day. It didn’t show up in the box score, but that moonshot was still very memorable
5. I was watching the Reds play Pittsburgh and Barry Bonds in 1993 (this was the skinny, but still incredibly-talented-as-long-as-it-wasn’t-the-postseason Barry Bonds, mind you). I didn’t like him then and during the game (where he had to that point posted an 0-fer) I had deluded myself into believing that he was really not very talented at all. Barry cured me of this when, in the top of the 9th and down two runs with two outs, he smacks a two-strike bases-clearing triple. I remember thinking to myself, “Okay, we’re probably going to lose this game, (which the Reds did, in fact, do.) but I have to acknowledge that was a moment of greatness. “
By Thaq Diesel
Alas, it’s my first entry as a writer for Reds Cutting Edge. As an introduction to all of you and to provide insight into my perspectives, I give you a brief history of me as a baseball fan.
Though it seems to be a dying practice with today’s youth, like most 30-something men I played Little League as a youngster. I played for the Fort Myers Giants and North Fort Myers Royals as second base and outfield. The Kansas City Royals were a decent team then (mid-80’s) so it was an exciting time to be a baseball fan.
My favorite team growing up was the Atlanta Braves. Keep in mind that at the time, other than the baseball game of the week on Saturdays, the only baseball you could see in Florida was on TBS. Dale Murphy was my favorite player by far; I consider it a crime that the steroid-padded standards for the hall of fame will prevent this two-time MVP’s entry. I hold sacred my personally-autographed Dale Murphy baseball, which my wife has tried to throw away twice. (I’ll admit that in my youth, I was pursuaded to use it to play outside once because nobody had a ball. I still feel somewhat sick when I see the faint dirt marks on the ball) I moved to Ohio in 1987 and have loyally followed the Reds since then.
As for this blog, I will bring to you my insights into the Reds, its place in baseball as a small-market team, and my favorite Reds memories (which will obviously be post-1987, but will be vivid nonetheless). Despite what looks to be a bleak pitching staff in 2006, I will do my best to not be overly negative. It’s pretty obvious how the past few years have made Marty Brennaman a grouchy dude. And I may throw in some fun minutiae every once and a while to keep things interesting. Did you know, for example, that the bronze statue of Joe Nuxhall on Crosley Terrace was sculpted so you could put a beer in his left hand and a cigarette in his right (in honor of Joe’s two biggest passions?). One of my college friends is the twin brother of Tom Tsuchiya, who sculpted the lifelike statue of Joe and shared that fun piece of info with me.
Thanks for reading and I look forward to sharing the coming season with you.
There’s nothing more exciting then a rookie making a huge impact on a championship ball club. And there’s nothing like a rookie being thrown into the fire and being asked to close out games on a consistent basis. Rawly Eastwick finished more games for Sparky (40) then any other Red and he led the National League with twenty two saves.
Over 90 solid innings, Eastwick posted a 2.60 ERA (ERA+ of 138) and a WHIP of 1.133. He also topped the team with 6.10 strikeouts per nine innings.
Let’s take a look at the rest of the numbers…
Innings Pitched 90
Pitching Runs Above Replacement 37
Definitely some nice numbers, but this is like running into a Mack truck with your tricycle. We all know Willie Hernandez had one of the single best seasons for a reliever ever, and while Eastwick threw well, he just can’t match up
Scorecard – 1975 Reds 7, 1984 Tigers 8
You can read Brian’s analysis of Willie Hernandez over at Tigerblog.
So we’re done with the debate, and the 1984 squad edged the Big Red Machine. I know all the Reds’ fans will flood me with mail about how this isn’t the best way to compare the teams, but before you do, I just want to say I completely agree with you!!!
One of the biggest differences between the Reds’ pen and Tigers’ pen was that the 1975 Reds had a fourth option. Where three Tiger relievers logged 90 innings (although you can make a case for Dave Rozema, who split time), four Reds relievers logged 90+. The missing person from this whole thing is Pedro Borbon, who had a fine season as well. Not that I’m complaining…..
Anyway, it makes this a little more difficult to compare, because where Will McEnaney logged just over 90 innings, his opponent, Aurelio Lopez, logged a whopping 137 2/3. Regardless, McEnaney was Sparky’s left handed option out of the pen, and 1975 was his career year as only in his final season with the Cardinals in 1979 did he post an ERA+ above 100 like he did in 1975.
McEnaney threw in 70 games, which was one short of the lead league, and his fifteen saves was good for fourth. His WHIP wasn’t anything special (1.264), but his 2.47 ERA amounted to a solid ERA+ of 145. His hit rate was about one an inning, but he was stingy with the walks and the homers.
Let’s take a look at the number:
Innings Pitched 91
Pitching Runs Above Replacement 29
The ERA, walk rate, and homer rate all topped Lopez, but Lopez struck out almost an extra batter and a half every nine innings, and his hit rate was a very solid 7.13. On top of that, he was a little better over almost 47 more innings. So I have to give this one to Senior Smoke.
Scorecard – 1975 Reds 7, 1984 Tigers 7
So we’re all tied up again, and we have the top relievers coming up. I have a bad, bad feeling about this. You can read Brian’s analysis of Aurelio Lopez at Tigerblog.
One of my favorite quotes out of the fantastic book “The Long Ball” was Sparky’s about how he handles his starting pitchers. I don’t have the book with me (I loaned it to Brian), but it went something like this…
For the first five innings, the game belongs to the starting pitcher. For the rest of the game, it belongs to me.
I didn’t put quotes around it because that might not be what he said verbatim, but boy did Sparky love his pen. At the first sign of trouble, Captain Hook would be out there. And for all three of his championship teams, he had a great pen to work with.
Clay Carroll was one of Sparky’s workhorses and will be going up against Doug Bair. I had to decide between Carroll and Pedro Borbon, since we’re only going to look at three relievers, and Caroll seemed just a little better.
Carroll and Bair match up pretty well. They’re almost equal as far as how much they worked, so the comparison will be easier. Carroll had a better ERA, while Bair had a better WHIP. And while Bair had a better strikeout rate, the one area where he’s grossly overmatched is in the homeruns allowed category. Carroll was stingy in allowing the long ball, and gave up only two throughout the entire 1975 campaign, while Bair game up ten in 1984.
Let’s take a look at the numbers:
Innings Pitched 96 1/3
Pitching Runs Above Replacement 34
That homerun rate really stands out. Between that, and Carroll being worth 13 more runs then Bair (around one win), the nod has to go to the Reds.
Scorecard – 1975 Reds 7, 1984 Tigers 6
We’re in the lead again!!!! You can read Brian’s analysis of Doug Bair over at Tigerblog most likely tomorrow (if you can believe what he says).
Alright, the suspense is killing me. For those of you who are visiting for the first time, Brian over at Tigerblog and I have been debating which was Sparky Anderson’s best team, the 1975 Reds or the 1984 Tigers. Step one has been going position by position, and whoever wins the spot gets a point. Pretty simple.
While I initially thought the answer was obvious and that the 1975 Reds would destroy the 1984 Tigers, it’s gotten a little closer then I initially thought. As it stands, we’ve gone through all the position players and all the starting pitchers. And after all that, we stand DEAD EVEN at 6 a piece.
So as we go into the homestretch, I wanted to give the new readers a chance to easily go through what has transpired over the last few months. Here’s the rundown (By clicking on the player’s name, it will take you to that player’s writeup).
Catcher – Johnny Bench beats Lance Parrish (Reds 1, Tigers 0)
First Base – Tony Perez beats Dave Bergman (Reds 2, Tigers 0)
Second Base – Joe Morgan beats Lou Whitaker (Reds 3, Tigers 0)
Third Base – Pete Rose vs. Howard Johnson (Reds 4, Tigers 0)
Shortstop – Dave Concepcion vs. Alan Trammell (Reds 4, Tigers 1)
Left Field – George Foster vs. Larry Herndon (Reds 5, Tigers 1)
This is where the wheels begin to fall off the wagon:
Centerfield – Cesar Geronimo vs. Chet Lemon (Reds 5, Tigers 2)
Rightfield – Ken Griffey vs. Kirk Gibson (Reds 5, Tigers 3)
SP1 – Gary Nolan vs. Jack Morris (Reds 5, Tigers 4)
SP2 – Don Gullett vs. Dan Petry (Reds 6, Tigers 4)
SP3 – Jack Billingham vs. Milt Wilcox (Reds 6, Tigers 5)
SP4 – Fred Norman vs. Juan Berenguer (Reds 6, Tigers 6)
So the Tigers have won five of the last six, and I figure we have three more to go. Once we’re done, the final battle will take place over at an upcoming site, Simulation Baseball. There we’ll run a few simulations using Diamond Mind Baseball to determine once and for all who reigns supreme.