An extremely special day regardless of the game’s outcome

Let me briefly set the stage as to why yesterday’s Reds game was so special. By the way, it has nothing to do with the team moving into sole possession of first place in the National League Central.
As a kid, my parents took me to Riverfront Stadium several times a year. Some of my fondest childhood memories occurred at that ballpark. I remember sitting way up in the red seats for Johnny Bench Night. Marge Schott gave us her tickets one afternoon. But, I would have to say the 1990 NLCS and World Series were the best.
With both of my parents being disabled, it made it much harder to go to the games as they got older. They did get to take their grandchildren a couple of times to Great American Ball Park when my kids were very small.
About 3 1/2 years ago, my mother suffered a stroke and went into a coma. The doctors said that, if she ever opened her eyes again, she would have no idea who we were or that her family was standing beside her. After a lot of hard work, love and a little help from the Man upstairs, my mom was able to enjoy a Lemon Chill at the Reds game yesterday.
My family has four season tickets. My wife wasn’t able to come, so it was me, my two kids and my parents. Keep in mind that my mom was in a wheelchair and my dad was in an electric scooter. We still needed an extra ticket.
I went to the ticket window ready and willing to buy five tickets that were handicap accessible. I told the lady our situation and she came back with five tickets, all in the handicap area, and traded me for the seats I already had, only charging me for one.
When we got to the seats, the ushers allowed us to position ourselves so that my mom and dad could sit together in side-by-side spaces for wheelchairs. When the rain started, we went to the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum. Seeing the 1990 World Series memorabilia brought back some great memories.
Everyone in the Reds organization from the ticket-takers to the ushers to the elevator operators could not have been nicer or more accommodating. I want to sincerely thank the Reds for helping make it such a wonderful experience.
My mom’s ability to speak and communicate was greatly impacted by the stroke. However, the ear-to-ear smile on her face yesterday showed her joy better than any words ever could.

The Reds are Rolen

I have been out of the loop for several days as far as the blogging, twittering and facebooking goes. However, I have certainly been watching every move of my beloved Redlegs.
A lot of people say that good baseball teams win with pitching and defense. The Reds have won seven of their last eight games. During that stretch, the pitching staff owns a 1.88 earned run average. The team has not committed an error since May 3. That’s 11 consecutive error-free games.
The offense has been coming up with some timely hits as well. Yesterday, Scott Rolen got the Reds on the board with a two-run homer in the first inning. He drove in another run in the third inning with a single.
Bronson Arroyo (3-2) did his job on the mound and at the plate. He allowed two runs on seven hits en route to his first complete game of the season. Arroyo also contributed with a two-run single in the fifth.
The 7-2 victory over the Cardinals means the Reds now sit alone atop the National League Central for the first time since April 17, 2007. Is it time to start printing playoff tickets? Absolutely not, but this team is playing good baseball. They are doing the things that contending teams do. Let’s just enjoy it.

Cueto was great-o!

Johnny Cueto pitched the best game of his Major League career last night. He allowed just one hit in a complete-game shutout as the Reds rolled to a 9-0 victory. Cueto (2-1, 4.07) was accurate and efficient, striking out eight, not allowing a walk and throwing 102 pitches.
The performance by Cueto was especially impressive considering the fact that he often struggles with his control and appears to lose his composure on the mound from time to time. It was nice to see him having fun, smiling and pitching like everyone in Cincinnati knows he can.
The offense did their part last night, banging out 15 hits. Chris Heisey and Jay Bruce each had three hits. Heisey’s knocks were the first of his Major League career, one of which was a home run. Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto, Scott Rolen and Ramon Hernandez all had two hits apiece.
After being swept in Pittsburgh last month, the Reds look to return the favor this afternoon. Homer Bailey (0-2, 7.24) will be opposed by Zach Duke (2-3, 5.13).

End of the line for Griffey?

The Seattle Mariners have a tough decision to make. The best player in the history of their franchise is nearing the end of his career. Ken Griffey Jr. is hitting .208 with no home runs and people are starting to speculate on whether or not the team will release the future hall-of-famer.
Many people thought 2009 would be his final season. He hit .213 with 19 home runs and 57 runs batted in.
He has yet to hit his first long ball of 2010.
Griffey is unable to play the field because of lingering knee problems. He mostly serves as the designated hitter against right-handed pitchers.
Larry LaRue, staff writer for The News Tribune, has been addressing the issue.
Griffey is 40 years old and is unable to do the same things he could when he was 20. Few can. For the last 15 years or so, the natural aging process has not affected some of the game’s “great” players. That is mostly because many of them had a needle stuck in their *** when they weren’t popping pills.
Griffey’s struggles with injuries and general decline in physical ability are hard to watch, especially for someone who remembers when “The Kid” first stepped onto a Major League Baseball field. However, this is the way it usually goes for athletes when you aren’t a cheater.
The article I linked to states there have been times this year when Griffey sends text messages and leaves the bench during games. It also sites an instance where manager Don Waskamatsu was questioned about not using Griffey as a pinch-hitter last week. Two unnamed players told the press that Griffey was sleeping in the clubhouse at the time.
I have no idea if this is true or not. I won’t even go into the clubhouse etiquette that those players violated.
Regardless, Griffey needs to step away. My hope is that he does so sometime in the next couple of weeks and Major League Baseball plans some way to honor him at the All-Star Game.

Arroyo’s strong outing keeps Reds in win column

After beating the Pirates 2-1 in the series opener last night, the Reds have now won three games in a row. They currently sit at 17-15, three games behind the Cardinals in the National League Central.
Bronson Arroyo pitched into the eighth inning and earned his second victory of the season. He allowed just five hits and one run before turning the game over to the bullpen.
Arthur Rhodes finished the eighth and kept the Pirates from doing further damage. The scoreless inning lowered his earned run average to a miniscule 0.69. Francisco Cordero raised everyone’s blood pressure in the ninth, but eventually closed it out to notch his 11th save.
The two Cincinnati runs came on RBI doubles. Laynce Nix gave the Reds the lead in the fourth when he drove in Jay Bruce. Scott Rolen had two doubles on the night, the second driving in Joey Votto in the eighth.
Read more at Reds Country.

Reds win in dramatic fashion…again!

The Reds beat the Mets 5-4 in 10 innings afternoon, winning the rubber game of the series. Both victories came on walk off home runs. Laynce Nix lifted one over the fence on Monday night. Today, it was Orlando Cabrera who launched one in the bottom of the 10th to give a “W” to the battlin’ Redlegs.
It was a typical start for Johnny Cueto, showing both the dominating pitcher and the one that seems to lose focus periodically. He did turn in a quality start, allowing three runs in six innings. Cueto struck out eight Mets’ hitters.
Arthur Rhodes and Nick Masset each pitched a scoreless inning in relief, holding the Reds one-run lead. Francisco Cordero couldn’t do the same as he allowed a run in the ninth to tie the game. Micah Owings shut out the Mets in the 10th and was credited with the victory when Orlando Cabrera won it with a blast in the bottom of the inning.
Read more at Reds Country.

Ernie Harwell, 1918-2010

Ernie Harwell was the voice of the Detroit Tigers for 42 years.  He passed away yesterday at his home in Michigan with his wife of 68 years by his side.
Being a Reds fan, this makes me think of Joe Nuxhall.
Children today don’t understand the importance of a baseball broadcaster.  There are so many different ways to consume media that the intimacy of your team’s announcer often gets lost in the shuffle.
Before the days streaming games to your phone and watching the high definition action on a big screen, baseball fans welcomed their team’s announcer into their homes through the radio.  I love modern technology, but sometimes I also like to close my eyes and think of old times.
There is a generation of Tigers’ fans that grew up listening to Harwell and feel like they lost a member of their family.  Please know that Reds Country knows how you feel and our hearts go out to all of you.

Some people just never get it

Anyone can have a momentary lack of focus or lapse in judgement.  Admit your mistake, learn from it and do everything in your power not to let it happen again.  When the same mental (and easily preventable) mistake is made over and over again, it becomes a glaring reality that the person in question either lacks the brain power to comprehend a simple concept or they simply just don’t give a ****.
Last night, Brandon Phillips crushed a home run off the left field foul pole in the bottom of the first inning.  He thought he had another dinger in the third when he hit a high fly ball to deep left-center field.  That ball hit the fence and bounced away from the outfielders.  If he would have been running hard out of the box, Phillips would have easily had a triple.  But he wasn’t, and had to stop at second.
The next batter, Joey Votto, followed with a fly ball to left that would have scored someone with decent speed.  Phillips has great speed…when he wants to use it.
The Reds ended up losing the game by one run.
“Probably, yeah,” Dusty Baker said when asked about the play. “It looked like, at first, he thought it might have been gone. Then he started running probably halfway, but it was a little too late at that time.”
Phillips also was the first player out of the clubhouse after the game and did not speak to reporters.
We have heard all this before.  There were several instances last season where Phillips wasn’t hustling.  He was even benched for a game after ignoring a take sign on a 3-0 pitch.
Baker and Phillips have discussed this issue.  Baker has expressed his displeasure through the media.  Obviously, neither has worked.
The next time this happens, call timeout after the play and pull him off the field immediately.  Make him make the walk to the dugout with his teammates staring at him.  Let the crowd boo him as he takes a walk of shame across the diamond.
Phillips is one the most physically gifted players on the team.  It makes me sick to see someone so talented, yet so clueless.
I have said it before and I will say it again.  Anybody can hustle, but not everybody does.  However, everyone on this Reds team seems to hustle and play extremely hard.
Except one.
Welcome to Reds Country

Mets give Reds a taste of their own medicine

The Reds did it again last night.  Trailing by two in the bottom of the eighth inning, Joey Votto and Scott Rolen hit back-to-back home runs to tie the game.  It looked like the battlin’ Redlegs were going to pull out another comeback victory.  However, the Mets had other ideas.
Francisco Cordero gave up a bomb to Rod Barajas in the ninth to give the Mets the lead back at 5-4.  The Reds went quietly in the bottom of the ninth to give Francisco Rodriguez his fourth save.
Carlos Fisher pitched a scoreless inning, striking out the side.
Brandon Phillips also had a home run.  Don’t worry, I am going to address the situation in a separate post later this morning.
The final game of the series is today at 12:35 and will feature Jon Niese (1-1, 3.10) against Johnny Cueto (1-1, 5.33).
Welcome to Reds Country

Rolen leads Reds to win in 10

The Reds started the first road trip of the season with an extra-innings victory over the Florida Marlins last night.  Scott Rolen led the way with two home runs and a run-scoring single that gave his team the lead in the 10th inning.  Orlando Cabrera also went deep for the Reds, his second homer of the season.
One of the most encouraging things about last night was how the Reds manufactured the go-ahead run.  Joey Votto led off the 10th with a walk and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brandon Phillips.  Rolen then took a slider the opposite way for a single that allowed Votto to score.
Johnny Cueto started for the Reds and was shaky, but left with a lead after five innings.  The win went to Nick Masset (2-0) and Francisco Cordero picked up his third save.