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Well here it is. March 31. It’s Opening Day and the beginning of the 2014 season. I could not be more excited… well maybe if we didn’t have an inch of snow fall this morning on Long Island. But snow aside, it is here. The Reds start off their 2014 campaign with the St. Louis Cardinals. The Reds, trying to erase the bitter memories from the collapse of last season, vs the Cardinals, trying to stand up to the lofty expectations placed on them by nearly every “expert” in the game. I expect to see a close and competitive series. I want to take a few minutes to give a brief preview of the series and throw out my prediction for the next four days before the Reds make a trip out to NY.

Here are the pitching matchups for the next 3 games which offer up some pretty exciting match ups.

Game 1 (Monday @ 4:10 ET)  A. Wainwright (R) vs J. Cueto (R)

Game 2 (Wednesday @ 7:10 ET) M. Wacha (R) vs T. Cingrani (L)

Game 3 (Thursday @ 12:35 ET) L. Lynn (R) vs H. Bailey (R)

I like the pitching matchups in all three games and do not give an edge to either team’s starters. I feel Wainwright and Cueto are going to put on a good duel. Both are top of the rotation pitchers and familiar with the opposition. Cueto has been up to the challenge the last two years on opening day putting up good numbers. I expect both pitchers to go relatively deep into the game for this early in the season and turn it over to the bullpen. Game 2 features two of the better young arms in the game, Tony Cingrani and Michael Wacha. Both are looking to build off of their rookie seasons and solidify the fact that they will be forces in the big leagues for years to come. Game 3 is the one where I see the Reds having the leg up. I think Homer Bailey will have a great first start silencing the critics of his massive new contract and gets the best of Lance Lynn.

The Reds offense has some questions to answer. Can Billy Hamilton really lead off in the Majors? My answer is yes. He had a fantastic spring and surpassed my expectations of him. I hope it carries over and he creates some havoc on the basepath. I really worry about the back half of the Reds lineup however. 1 – 4 I think the Reds are as good as anyone. 5 – 8 give me a different feeling. I just don’t know if they will produce at the level the Reds need them to. I have the feeling we will see some slow starts out of these guys. The Cardinals are a better offense from top to bottom with no real holes in the lineup.

I really see this series being won with the bullpens. The Reds bullpen scares me right now. The 3 big guns in the bullpen all start the year on the DL. They are replaced by 3 guys who were not expected to be players at any point this year. This is not a good sign. I think Hoover, LeCure, and Parra belong here, but as for the rest I don’t think they can get it done. Being this early in the season your starters may not be able to go late and I do not see the Reds bullpen hanging in there when guys like Logan Ondrusek, Curtis Partch, Nick Christiani, and Trevor Bell have to come in. Lets face it, Partch, Christiani, and Bell are no Chapman, Broxton, and Marshall. Ondrusek goes from being least likely used arm in the bullpen to the 4th guy in line. I just don’t see this group as being lights out. I think at least one game will be lost because of the bullpen not coming through. I really fear a starter having to get replaced early.

While the Reds will play tough and competitive in all 3 games, I see them dropping 2 of 3 in this series and starting the season off looking up at the Cards in the standings. I think we drop a hard fought and low scoring game 1. I think we will see more run production in game 2 but the Reds again falling on the wrong side of the scoreboard. My prediction is the Reds win their first game of the 2014 season on Thursday when Homer Bailey shuts down the Cards.

Here we go Reds fans. Enjoy this opening day. I think it is going to be a fun year.

One of the things we will do here at Riverfront Ramblings is invite fans of other teams to post something about their team. We want to get a feel of what fans of the opposition think, feel, and believe not only of their favorite ball club, but the Reds as well. This is our first installment of this type of post. The following is from Bryce, a friend of mine back in Dayton. He is a Cardinals fan living in Reds country and has to put up with a lot of junk from some die hard fans. Bryce offers us fans some advice for the upcoming season.

As a lifelong Cardinals fan living in Ohio, I must always be ready. Reds fans don’t give anyone a break. You must know the latest box scores. You must know how Brandon Phillips BA with RISP compares to Yadier Molina’s. You must always have three stats you can throw back at a Reds fan after each loss.

You have to hand it to the Reds fans, they love a team who had showed them so little love in the last 20 years. They are loyal. They are proud.

But if I could pass one lesson along to Reds fans, be patient. Be patient when you have a four game lead in May and you’re comparing Zach Cozart to a member of the Big Red Machine. Be patient when the Reds inexplicably trade Homer Bailey for a washed up shortstop and some prospects. And most of all, be patient when the Cardinals come to town. Just because Molina is a punk doesn’t mean all Cardinals are. Just because the Cardinals have enjoyed more post-season success doesn’t mean Cards fans look at Reds fans like some sort of disadvantaged neighbor-boy. Be patient. We respect you, and count you as a formidable foe.

Here’s to patiently waiting for a tense September and trading blows in baseball’s second-best rivalry.


Well Bryce, thank you for the advice. We will be patient. As a Reds fan to start off this year we have no other choice than to be patient while our pile of injuries to heal and get us back to full strength (not an excuse for a possible slow start, just a reality). We will be patient to see if the young stars of the Cardinals will fold and provide an opening for the rest of the division. We will be patient to see if Yadier continues to be a punk… thanks for throwing that in there.

Yes, we Reds fans can be a little die-hard and over the top. We do look at stats… a lot. We can be rough and brutal on some of our opposing fans. We can be the best fans in baseball when we win… and then some of the most flaky when we are not towards the top of the standings. We do get ahead of ourselves when our team is doing well, and the reverse when we stink. On behalf Reds fans, thank you. Thank you for the advice because it is a long 162 game season and a lot can change. Thanks for showing respect. Thanks for being a fan. If it were not for fans of opposing teams some of the fun would be lost.

Now, I must be patient until the 4:10 PM ET first pitch. Happy Opening Day Reds fans… and best of luck to the Cards.


nyredfanatic —  03/23/2014 — Leave a comment

So here it is… March. My favorite month. The temperature starts to rise. The sun starts to stay up longer. March Madness in basketball. My birthday. Thoughts of baseball start to dance in my head , kind of like those sugar plums… Although I do not know what those are. Spring Training and Opening Day for crying out loud. March is a great month! It really is one of the greatest months of the year if you ask me. Secondly to December. I love all March has in store.

However, the madness of this month is starting to get a little irritating. Seriously I am almost fed up with March. The weather has been awful. I cant remember a time when the temperature would change from 60’s to freezing with this type of regularity. Looking at the 10 day forecast has become kind of like a weekly comic strip. The NCAA tournament has been a joke, or nightmare, concerning my bracket. As a result I am on the verge of having to do the dishes for the next month because my wife is destroying me on our picks. Thank you University of Dayton. Seriously, she picked them to go to the Elite 8 and she has not let me forget it. My birthday is still fun, but 32 really isn’t that great of an age. Nothing too exciting with it. So that leaves me with spring training to get my March satisfaction. This is leaving me a little worried for the rapidly approaching baseball season.

Following the Reds has been a bit depressing as of late. I will be the first to admit I am a little worried about how spring training is going  thus far. I know, I know, it’s only spring training but there are a lot of warning signs that do not look to be going well for the Reds. There are few bright spots. Billy Hamilton has been playing better than I expected. If he continues this same production into the regular season I will be pleased and I may soon forget that guy who played their last year… Ok, maybe not, Shin Soo Choo was pretty amazing in the lead off spot last year. We still have an MVP caliber player in Joey Votto. Brandon Phillips is healthy and seems to be focusing on baseball which is a good thing. We have a new manager that seems to be doing things a little different than the last and we can expect a different feel for the way the Reds play the game this year. These things leave me mildly optimistic.

The depressing thing about this March has been the injuries the Reds have had this far. In 2012, when the Reds won the division, they did so with a pitching staff that faced no real injuries. They started the same 5 pitchers the entire year. The lone exception was the emergency double header where they started a minor leaguer as to not throw off the rotation. The health of the rotation was a huge key to that season. So far our rotation looks to be disrupted and we haven’t even seen Opening Day. Mat Latos is likely to start the year on the disabled list. Having two surgeries in the last six months, no matter how minor people make them seem, still have me wondering how effective he will be all season. Latos is a work horse that we need in a bad way to compete this year. I really hope he doesn’t have an injury plagued season. I worry Johnny Cueto wont be able to regain his dominance with a body that seems to be breaking down since the first inning of the 2012 post season. He has been battling through some nagging injuries the last couple of weeks and I am willing to bet he will go to the DL some point this year. The big signing of Homer Bailey was great, but he has missed two starts this March due to a sore groin. Muscle injuries can take a LOOOONG time to heal and I am starting to think this may linger on in the cool months at the beginning of the season. Even Mike Leake has been struggling with a few injuries. The starting rotation which is supposed to be our backbone this season is not in good shape. We can only hope the Reds can survive a murderous schedule in April and get healthy enough to play well the rest of the months.

So the rotation is dinged to start the season, at least we have one of the best bullpen’s in baseball, right? Ummmm. Well the bullpen is in worse shape than the rotation. Sean Marshall is likely going to start the year on the disabled list. This is getting to be a repetitive statement. Jonathan Broxton is just starting to throw to live hitters and most likely will not be in a position to start the year at 100%. He is likely to be on the DL along with Marshall. Don’t worry, there is the most dominate left arm in baseball. Aroldis Chapman. While the left arm is fine. It’s the left eye that is in bad shape. After a gruesome incident last week, Chapman took a line drive off of the face forcing him to have a metal plate inserted into his forehead. Reds medical staff say he will be back in 6-8 weeks. I think this is very optimistic and expect him to miss much more time than this. And when he does come back will he be the same? It is reasonable to think there might be a timid-ness to step back in and throw and pitch with the fearlessness he has in the past. I don’t blame him one bit. Some people can never fully recover mentally from something like that.

What about our position players? Well, Devin Mesoraco has been given the keys to the starting catcher spot. Devon is going to be a vital part of our team this year. He is not 100% healthy right now and can be expected to miss some time. One thing you don’t want on a roster is a catcher dealing with an injury, especially before the season even starts. Behind the plate is not a position where guys can play regularly and ride out time while injuries heal. We may be seeing the return of the mustache of Corky Miller to start the year. I really don’t want to see a third catcher taking the spot of a useful utility player on the 25 man roster. Even the guy brought in this off season to give us some depth has landed on the DL with a separated shoulder. Skip Shumaker injured himself while diving for a ball just a few days after the Chapman incident. He was the guy who was supposed to add depth and energy to the roster. We are not in good shape Reds fans.

There are some people who are playing well. I hear Roger Bernadina is playing very well, as is Jason Bourgeois. These two could add depth to the outfield. The problem they pose is they are not on the 40 man roster. Who will you remove from the 40 man roster to make room for these players? In my opinion we are in a bit of a predicament here. When dealing with injuries everyone on the 40 man roster is useful. Especially the pitchers who are on there. With the injuries I listed above we need every pitcher possible on it.. They have some decisions to make going into this season. I’m glad I am not getting paid to make the decisions. Actually I take that back, I would love to be getting that pay check.

I know I am being pessimistic. Maybe it is because it is supposed to snow 3 days after being in the 60’s. Maybe it is because I don’t know what the heck I am doing while filling out a college basketball bracket. Maybe it is because I am getting old. Whatever the reason, this madness of this month has not been fun. I am looking forward to April… I just hope I have healthy players to be looking forward to!

All is not bad though, I could be a Cubs fan right Chad? (4 for 4 if you are counting your blog shout outs Chad)

When you love something you can fall into the trap of doing dumb things for it. Sometimes these dumb things can drastically change an outcome. Sometimes these dumb things can change your entire education, your entire career, and even your entire life. Dumb things can have a HUGE impact.  As Opening Day approaches and I anxiously await the season to start I have been reflecting on some of the things I have done because of baseball. I cant help but wonder if my life would be any different if I had not been a die hard Reds fan as a young adult. Where would I be if I had not done some really dumb stuff to go to a Reds game.

The following is a list of some of the dumb things I have done because of being a baseball fan.

1) It was March 31, 2003 (happy late birthday Dad!). That was Opening Day of the inaugural season of Great American Ballpark.  I was a sophomore at Georgetown College getting ready for my afternoon religion class where a midterm exam was about to take place. My phone rang and it was my friend DJ calling with an extra ticket to the game that afternoon. This was the chance of a lifetime for young Reds fan. After much thought, of about 3 seconds, I did what any good responsible college student would do. I skipped the test and went to the game. Yes, its true, I put my college education on hold and went to a baseball game. I took the one letter grade deduction for missing the test. I am not sure what the test score was but I will never forget the experience of watching the first game at GAB from about 5 rows from the top. Thanks for paying for my college Mom and Dad! It was well worth it. All in all my “dumb” decision helped lead me to one of my two C’s of my college career. But seriously, it was worth it.

2) In my first “real professional job” I did a lot of dumb things. Missing work or leaving early to go see games were worked into my calendar more times than I’d like to admit. On one specific occasion I came up with excuses for three straight days to leave early to get to every game in a series against the Texas Rangers. An inter-league series against the Texas Rangers might not seem so great but when Ken Griffey Jr. was sitting on 499 career home runs that changed things. You do whatever you can to see the history making home run swing from one of the greatest to play the game. After spending way too much money on scalped tickets to these games all I got to see was Jr. hit some lazy fly balls and one to the warning track. He went on to hit number 500 that weekend in St. Louis.

3) Again, while in the same job mentioned above, there was one time I took a personal day to go see a random day game with my dad. Actually, this happened twice… or three times. Okay, it happened with however many personal days I had. I think one sick day was burned as well. My dad and I saw a lot of games that year. There was at least one other time I blew off work to go to a game with my college roommate Jeremiah. We went to the second game of the 2006 season and saw Bronson Arroyo pitch his first game as a Red. It was a great performance to start off his tenure in Cincinnati against the Cubs. He also hit a home run in the game. Way to go new guy. Sometime later that summer I discovered and the greatness of a game cast on the web! My days in the office became much more enjoyable when day games were being played. Possibly a little less productive. I was later asked to resign from that job… something about not taking it serious enough. I don’t know I really wasn’t paying attention to their reasoning, there was probably a game on.

4) When I was working as a commissioned sales rep for Verizon Wireless I would continually take an extra few minutes in the supply room with my friend Chad (congrats buddy… you are 3 for 3 on being mentioned in my blog posts) to keep up with the games. I remember one time specifically passing up on new accounts to keep listening to the end of a game between the Reds and the Braves on the radio. On one hand I had a paycheck to earn… on the other the Reds needed me there in that little supply room to root them on so they could hold the save and get the win. I sat in the supply room and listened to the Reds blow a huge lead of 8 or 9 runs in the last inning. It was dreadful. That is right, a commissioned employee passed on new accounts to listen to the end of a game that left him heart broken. That was pretty dumb. I wonder why I was not more successful at that job?

So where would I be if I had not done these dumb things? My GPA may have been a tad higher. I could still be stuck in some of those jobs I actually didn’t care for at all. It’s fine though I am happy as ever doing what I truly love. I really am having the time of my life. One thing is for sure though; I would have missed out on a lot of Reds action. Is it March 31 yet? I really want to blow some things off to watch the Reds.

Author: Cory Juliano – February 24th, 2014

I have been thinking long and hard over who my favorite Red on the current roster is as Spring Training kicked off and players are fine tuning their skills down in AZ. While it would be easy to pick Joey Votto I feel it would be a cop out. It’s easy to root for an perennial MVP caliber player. Don’t get me wrong, he is the guy I would refuse to leave my seat when he is due up. Aroldis Chapman is another player that makes me want to stay glued to the TV on those rare nights I get to watch a game. Admittedly, I will tune into the radio broadcast on my radio subscription when a save situation is coming just to listen to Marty call the strikes. But no, Aroldis is not my choice of favorite current Red.

My favorite Red on the roster is still Brandon Phillips, even after the up and down circus he has been the last couple of months. Yes, I know he was rude and offensive to a reporter. He embarrassed himself and his at the time manager in a horrible way by going off the way he did on a guy for simply doing his job. It was hard listening to the bleeped out conversation. Hearing your favorite player act like that hurts. It is like seeing your favorite radio host and being several unimpressed by the way they look. Yes, he complained about ownership and how they were spending money. He should be happy with the contract he signed. Yes, there were numerous trade rumors in the off season saying he would be traded making us fans feel like he was not an important part to this team. Yes, he has shut down the media while at Spring Training. Yes, he has been less than perfect and hard to love as of late. In a lot of ways he has been a turd lately and involved in a lot of negative stuff.

So why is BP my favorite player? For a several reasons. The obvious one is the way he covers the right side of the infield. Watch his highlights if you don’t agree with me. Seriously, go to youtube and check it out. Go. Go now (but please come back). He has the best glove I have ever seen. He gets to balls no one else in the game playing second base can. He is a Golden Glover who brings excitement to the position in a way no one else ever has (or least that I have seen). He is the best defensive 2nd Baseman in the game. He has won 3 of the last 4 Gold Gloves. The fact it is not 4 for 4 is a JOKE. No offense to Darwin Barney but he couldn’t make half of the plays BP did in 2012. Even Cubs fans have to agree on that, right Chad? He is a Web Gem and Top 10 regular. His glove and arm strength easily make him a fan favorite.

Secondly, BP is my favorite because of his versatility at the plate. He hits where ever the team needs him to. Last year after the Reds lost their scheduled clean up hitter for much of the season on opening day it was BP that was called upon to step up and move from the 2 hole in the line up to the 4 hole. Now, I was never a big league hitter but this seems like a tougher transition than one would think. He changed his approach and did what he said he would and drove in 100+ RBIs. He has stepped up and lead off when needed to. His flexibility in the line-up is admired. He can hit with some pop (although he might be losing some of that) and he can choke up, shorten his swing and flick the ball out into right field with seemingly ease at times. And seriously, the grand slam he hit in Milwaukee a couple of years ago is still worth looking back at. Again, go check it out if you haven’t lately. He brought his big boy bat on that one and put it off of the slide in left center. Having seen that slide in person it is VERY far. He has possibly the coolest follow through in baseball when he knows he has hit a long ball too. Okay, so maybe his offensive ability is a stretch but I need to justify my opinion here. That is what a blog is all about after all.

So why else do I have a baseball related man-crush on BP. How about his interactions with the fans. He was one of the first baseball players to use social media to close the gap between us fans and pro athletes. Very similar to what Chad Johnson of the Bengals did before he went dumb and called himself a number. My favorite BP story is when a young kid in St. Louis asked him if he would come to one of his games while on a road trip via Twitter. On the off day in St. Louis BP showed up at a little league ball game to watch the kid play. Seriously awesome. Any pro athlete who would do something like this gets the nod in my book even if he embarrassed a reporter who was questioning his performance at the plate.

There is one more reason that he is my favorite current player on the roster. No, it is not because he puts on an MVP performance against the Indians, the team who traded him to the Reds because they didn’t value him as a prospect. No, it’s not because he names his gloves and treats them like girlfriends and “breaks up” with them if they are not performing up to his standards and then goes back to them when the others fail. No, it’s not because he pulled off one of the funniest plays ever. May we never forget . Most likely the reason he is my favorite is because he assisted me in my hatred of my most detested player in MLB. Yadier Molina. Yes, I vomited in my mouth a bit as I typed that curse word. I HATE Yadier Molina. Maybe it’s because he destroys the Reds. Maybe it’s because after the bench clearing fight he turned around and hit a home run. Maybe it’s because he has that little smirk on his face when he is doing it. Maybe it’s because he kicked Phillips bat away during Phillips’ normal first at bat ritual with every catcher and refused to shut his mouth before the fight. Or maybe it’s just the neck tattoo. Heck, I don’t know, maybe it is simply because he plays for the Cardinals (more vomit in my mouth). Whatever it is, I do not like that guy. Watching him and Phillips square off at home plate made me root for BP even more. So much so that me and my dad went to the next game to see if he would dare tap Molina’s shin guard again. The stupid umpire stepped in between them and didn’t give him the chance. Stupid umpires take away all the fun of baseball.

I like a guy who will stick up for his team and create a little excitement in the sport. To me, that is what BP does for the Reds. He gives a little character to a relatively calm and sometimes boring group of guys (go back and think about the end of last year if you want to call me out for saying this team was calm and boring). He brings excitement. He brings energy. He brings a little something else every ball club needs and that is why I still consider him my favorite Red. He is one of the reasons I excited for March 31. And I sure hope he gives Molina another “tap” for good luck in that first at bat. GO REDS!