Author: Cory Juliano – February 17th, 2014
Being a fan of Cincinnati sports in New York means I get to look forward to very few things… Unfortunately it usually consists of disappointing endings to the seasons of my beloved Reds and Bengals. Both of those seasons have left a terrible taste in my mouth for the last couple of months. From the Reds terrible last week of the season and getting embarrassed by a team which was much more motivated in a one-game-winner-move-on scenario to, well actually to the exact same thing in the Bengals. I am ready for those memories to be erased by a new season. A new beginning. A new manager. A new centerfielder / leadoff man. A new HOPE for the coming months.
The only thing for certain in any sports season is every team starts with the same record. We all get to look at things from the same vantage point. We are all looking forward to a great season to end the misery of the season before… Unless your team won it the year before. In Cincinnati that has been 23 years, but who is counting? So in an offseason where the Reds did relatively nothing to improve their roster what is there to look forward to? I have two ideas.
The first thing I think we can look forward to is what the heck will happen with the leadoff spot in the lineup. The plain and simple fact is this; we lost the most effective leadoff man game and are replacing him with a guy who was not necessarily an on base machine in AAA last year. This is not a promising position to be in my friends. If Billy Hamilton can get on base it will be exciting with his speed and base stealing ability. Every pitch will be worth watching and people will be holding their breath waiting for him to make a break for 2nd… or 3rd… or home? A lot of good can come from him if he can produce. If he can not produce and get to first, it will be a very, very long season for the Reds. Fans complained about an inconsistent offense last year. What we saw last year was not great. We saw a lack of run production. We saw bad base running and poor situational hitting. We saw players underperforming. Last year’s offense was a smack in the face to a better than most starting rotation. Losing Choo’s production and watching a rookie trying to adjust to big league pitching will be down right painful in my opinion. Prepare to see Joey “MVP” Votto wearing out the first base line with walks this year. YAWN. Now that I think of it, I am not really looking forward to this at all.
So what exactly am I looking forward to as Spring Training in AZ kicks off? The same thing that comes with every baseball season. The true beauty and magic of this sport. Connecting with family and friends over America’s favorite past time. I am looking to the extra phone time with my dad through the season to talk about what has happened. The times when my phone rings late at night and my wife grins because she knows my dad is calling to tell me about something he just saw while watching the Reds. I am looking forward to my grandma calling to tell me Homer Bailey has a no-hitter through 8 innings (man I hope he throws another no-hitter this year). There is nothing more humorous to me than an old lady calling to tell me how mad she is at the manager. There is nothing more sad than realizing an old lady is more aware of what is happening in the sports world than I am. I am looking forward to having my friend Brian call me during the first inning of a playoff game in San Francisco to have me angle my webcam at the screen so he could watch the game when his cable went out (this has happened with more than one sporting event with the two of us). Baseball season means I get to text my friend Chad whenever the Reds and Cubs square off and laugh at our teams failures. I am looking forward to growing stronger friendships with people like Chris who I didn’t know was a “die hard” Mets fan for the first two years I knew him. I think his “die hardness” kicked off due to Johan Santana’s no-hitter, but he can argue that all he wants. I look forward to talking to high school kids about fantasy baseball. I am looking forward to going to the one game a year with my wife and some friends, even if its a Mets vs. whoever game. I do NOT look forward to going to a Yankees game with my 6 month pregnant wife when it is 107 degrees at first pitch on the hottest day Long Island had seen in years. This year I get to look forward to going to the Mets vs. Reds game on April 4th and actually getting on the field to watch batting practice with my dad, the man who taught me to love this game. I am looking forward to adding to the many memories I have with him, and others, through this sport. I am looking forward to what this crazy sport can do for me and for others.
Making memories with friends and family is one of the greatest things we can do in life. Those moments should never be looked over and we should do whatever we can to connect with people more and make lasting memories. We should look forward to interacting with those we love, even if its a quick phone call saying “HOLY COW DID THAT JUST HAPPEN” or a joking “my team is better than yours”. To me that is why baseball is America’s favorite past time. It creates nightly opportunities to engage in a new way with those around us. That is the magic in the sport. That is the awesomeness that is baseball. That, my friends, is what I am looking forward to.
Let me know what you are looking forward to this year.