Archives For Losing

2015… man oh man… it truly was the best of times and the worst of times. Not just for the sports world that circled around Cincinnati, but also in my personal life.

I realize I didn’t post in 2015… it was pretty crazy. Having moved back to Ohio in the fall of 2014, I was still attempting to put roots down back at home and felt reinvigorated to make new memories vs dwelling on the old ones. So i lost my focus for the blog. I switched jobs 3 times from late 2014 through early 2016, so I was putting the ax to the grind. Each opportunity brought new challenges, some of them were the best of times, and then there were also the worst of times that saw the first two opportunities come to a close. My current role as the Director of Communications at my local church, Mount Carmel Christian Church on the east side of Cincinnati just a few minutes from my home has been an incredible opportunity and has helped me to refocus and get back into a grove of telling captivating stories that hopefully share their roots with many of you.

2015 saw the purchase of our first home, the welcoming of our 3rd child Asher, the MLB All Star game, and an 8-0 start for the Bengals. These were the best of times.It also saw the complete collapse and fire sell of a team that had been a playoff contendor for five straight years in the Reds, and an equally brutal, but much more sudden collapse of a team who was ushered out of the playoffs for the 5th straight wildcard weekend in a row for the Bengals. These were the worst of times.

Below are the pictures to capture these moment:

Reds 4 reds 3 reds 2
reds 1 bengals 1 bengals 3

1 – Aspen and I went on a daddy daughter date to a day game where were treated to some nice seats that came with her Red Heads memberships. The Reds beat the Marlins and we got to see Michael Lorenzen pitch who became one of our 1st half favorites to follow.

2 – Aspen and I attended a night game, this was us during the 7th inning stretch where we sang Take Me Out to the Ballgame together, which became her favorite song that summer. The Reds also won, and by the 3rd inning we were able to sneak down into the 11th row seats on the 1st base line and she provided ample entertainment for everyone around her ūüôā

3 – the Whole family got to attend a game for “Bark in the Park” night against my wife’s team, the New York Mets. This was Asher’s first game, and one of the joys of taking little kids to Bark in the Park night is watching them go up to all of the friendly dogs and say hello. They were so excited! I was just happy knowing that my kids wouldn’t be the most annoying aspect of the night since there were plenty of Dogs that had little to no respect for the game and it’s traditions ūüôā

4 – My dad and I took in all of the spectacle of the All Star game, it was a doozy, especially getting the watch Todd Frazier win the Home Run Derby in walkoff fashion in front of his home crowd. The electric nature of the crowd was as if we had just won the world series! Definitely a once in a lifetime moment, and I was ecstatic to share it with a great man after several seasons apart.

5 – My dad also purchased a Half Season home game package for the Bengals that got us tickets to the Chargers, Chiefs, Browns and Steelers home games. We mopped the floor with the first three, with the Browns game being a rather fun Thursday night game (overcoming the prime time curse), but the last two games were both brutal loses to the Steelers with the first one being a huge scare with QB Andy Dalton breaking his thumb which ended up being a season ending injury, and the 2nd (Picture #6) was a heart breaking playoff loss that for the most part was a frustrating 58 minutes followed by the wildest 2 minutes of my life…

When AJ Green caught what should have been the game winning TD with a minute forty something left on the clock, in a game that had seen some incredible hard hits and very intense action both on the field and in the stands, the roof blew off the building. 60,000 plus let out two decades worth of frustration as we felt the lack of playoff victories finally coming to a close. Who knew that two minutes later it would all slip away due to some of the most ridiculous on field and off field antics, poor control of both teams and refereeing that I have ever seen that setup the Steelers for a chip shot FG to win the game. It was a long, rainy, walk across the bridge back to KY where we parked our call. Just thinking about the season and how it played out, it just ripped your insides out. The reds had done it to us, but let’s be honest, we all saw it coming, and it was a long, drawn out process over a period of months that left you devastated, but at least it just seemed like business… The Bengals game was sudden and traumatic, and it felt personal. The time invested in the team, sacrificed from family time, would never be recaptured. All of those positive feelings I felt sitting with my dad at the Home Run Derby celebrating what felt like a personal win, were strangely inverted at that moment at Paul Brown Stadium where the exact opposite feelings poured out of us, trying to hide our embarrassment and shame in that brutal of a loss. What can you say… That’s just sports.

2016 will hopefully bring new memories, unfortunately most of them will be in front of a TV and not live in stadium until we can recover our faith in the teams in order to shell out the money to enjoy them live, but it helps me put into perspective the gamble of falling in love with a sports team, and how little of a gamble it is to fall in love with my family. My favorite moments of this year weren’t when my team won, it was when I was with them, win or lose. So, if nothing else, Thank you Bengals and Reds for giving me a platform to share special time with the ones I love, and for that, you’ll always be there for me, and I’ll always be there for you. Looking forward to this coming year!

Run Billy Run

nyredfanatic —  05/01/2014 — Leave a comment

Well it has been 17 games since our last post here at Riverfront Ramblings. The delay may have been since I have been busy. Maybe it is because we have finally had some nice days and I have actually wanted to be outside and do some yard work. Maybe I realized I am not that great of a blogger. But maybe, just maybe, I have not been that excited about this Reds team. We all know about their struggles to start the year. 3-7 in their first 10 without a lot of offense and a terrible bullpen wasn’t enough to carry me through the early season buzz. They got healthy (a little bit at least) and moved Joey Votto to the 2nd spot in the lineup and that seemed to help a little. The offense went on a 10 game stretch where they scored at least 4 runs. That was neat. They started to play better for that stretch and things were looking up. But as the smoke cleared and things settle down they were still 9-8 over those 17 games. The most inspiring portion of their season thus far and it was still barely over .500. Thankfully 5 of those 17 games were against the cubbies. As the season progresses that is what this team may end up being… A .500 team. That is not going to be enough to get us into the post season. That is the sort of season that will start to make me look forward to the Bengals earlier than I would like.

So what is the thing that keeps me checking the box scores for this team? Billy Hamilton. I know a lot of people have been harsh on the youngster for his lack of getting on base. Yes, I would like to see that rise as well to fill the void that Choo left from last year. Sure I would like to see a few more infield hits and successful bunt attempts. Yes, I would LOVE to see him be the best leadoff man in the major leagues. He has been far from perfect. He has been thrown out trying to steal bases on occasion. Five times to be exact. He has looked helpless and overmatched in some of his plate appearances. But in my blogger opinion, he is the only thing really worth getting excited about when it comes to the offense of this team. (The starting pitching has done well, especially Cueto and Simon)

Before screaming that Billy needs to be sent back to Louisville or pitted at the 9th spot in the lineup lets not forget the plays that he has made. I have never seen a guy go from first to third on a routine ground ball to the pitcher. Billy was running on the pitch and literally never stopped. It was pretty crazy. We have seen him tag from 2nd to 3rd on very shallow fly balls making RF’s look like little leaguers trying to throw him out. And seriously, what about the tagging from third to home on what was essentially an infield fly rule pop up. The most incredible thing about this is the right fielder called off the second baseman and was coming in on the ball making it an easier throw home… and he was still safe. He creates panic in pitchers. Just look at what he did to Francisco Liriano of Pittsburg. He was on base creating havoc when he gave up a home run to Joey Votto… that was Liriano’s first home run to a left hander in like 19 years. A week later again against Liriano, Billy drew a leadoff walk. In the next three pitches to Votto Billy successfully stole 2nd and then advanced to 3rd and then home to score on back to back wild pitches. That was not the first 9 pitches a starter wants to throw.

There is no doubt the kid is fast. Very fast. I wont knock him too much for getting thrown out a few times while trying to steal bases. Most of those caught stealing were on first pitches where everyone in the park knew he was going and the pitchers and catchers were on high alert. Not too many people at any level can successfully steal in those situations. The game I went to in NY was an example of this. Billy came on to pinch run and everyone in the place knew he was running on the first pitch. He got gunned at 2nd with a perfect throw. This will happen in the major leagues until he learns a little more of the art of stealing a base. This will come.

So in a season where I have almost forgot we have a guy named Jay Bruce on the roster, and where Brandon Phillips might be showing his age we need all the excitement we can get. Joey Votto’s lack of power has not been exciting.¬†I don’t tune in to see what he is doing¬†anymore.¬†The fact that¬†arguably the¬†best power hitter this season in Devin Mesoraco is on the DL for the 2nd time says a lot of this lineup. There¬†simply isn’t a lot to get excited for. It is¬†becoming easy to not pay attention to this team.¬†But with Billy in the line up I do catch myself checking the box scores. I check to see how he did. I watch the video replay to see what he can do on the bases. He is the guy that has my interest right now. So until this season swings around a little my battle cry for the Reds will remain: Run Billy Run

I tried. Honestly people, i tried. When I moved to New York I tried to at least embrace the local sports teams for the sake of connecting with the locals.

I got dragged to Shae and old yankee a handful of times, tried to engross myself in the excitement of the Met’s 2006 playoff run, but that let down to the Cardinals was too familiar for me to handle. But as the Apostle Paul reminded me that during his missionary journeys “He became like a Greek to win the Greeks”, I decided that it was ultimately better to swallow my pride and to just give it my full effort and see how it goes.

In 2007, the Mets were just as hot. In 1st place in the NL east and almost a guarantee for the playoffs with a 7 game lead in september right? WRONG. They messed with the wrong fan, and few people know this, but I am responsible for the historic choke of ’07 <You’re welcome Philadelphia>.

So i was approached by my friend Ben about going to a Met’s game on September 26, 2007. The Mets were playing the Nationals and at the time their roster was essentially the 2004 Reds, so i was game for that. One of our Young Life committee members had 4 tickets he wasn’t going to use and he asked us to take some of the junior high kids that were part of the “wyldlife” group (young life’s middle school outreach) to the game. Ben put the word out and and two of the kids Chris and Devin were super excited to go. They told us that they were the “Biggest Mets Fans of All Time”…

*Don’t ever tell Brian McGee that your the biggest fan of all time of something, because he will hold you to it.

As a midwesterner, going to the circus that is Shae Stadium, my brain jumped to this scene from Seinfeld:

But… I’m not really the one to be conservative… Especially when it comes to hanging out with “The Biggest Mets Fans of All Time”. The face was not enough… It had to be the full body.

igocrazyagainAs an art major in college, i would put my skills and school supplies to use on a regular basis for our basketball games as part of the University of Dayton’s mens basketball fan section “The Red Scare”, so this called for similar circumstances. We wanted to make this a night these kids would never forget.

DSC02260We pick the kids up, trash bags and gallon of orange paint in the back bed of my pickup truck. When we get to the stadium we hop out and begin the painting process, getting a few looks and laughs by those passing by. Since there were 4 of us, it was a no brainer to spell out the team’s signature cheer “M-E-T-S”. Then we put our shirts back on to get through security and started looking for our seats.

I by default started heading up to the nosebleeds before i asked Ben for the tickets. That’s when my eyes almost bugged out of my head… We were on the 1st base line, 11th row, box seats, valued at over $100 per seat… Man were the people around us going to be pissed…

We played it cool, were respectable, the Mets got up early 5-0 in the 3rd and the place was electric… That’s when the fan cam started scanning the crowd… And as an attention starved adult in his mid 20’s, i took the leadership opportunity to remove my shirt, quickly followed by the others as we stood up, swirling our shirts over our heads and leading the M-E-T-S cheer. The crowd went nuts, they loved it, the cameras love it, we were a hit. Then the 4th inning came. People caught wind of where we were sitting and now everyone and their mother wanted to come down and get their picture taken with us. This really began to irritate the people around us who had paid so much money to watch the game only to have such a circus going on around them. Security caught wind of this and sent down the Junior Varsity squad to politely ask us to consider relocating to the upper deck “with the rest of our type”…

STUNNED…. Did he really just say that… SERIOUSLY?

Well, instead of letting my pride get the best of me, we decided to head up to the nosebleeds and see if we could meet some other super fans.

DSC02267

Well… not really, just these clowns… We gave it an inning… Won the Bubba Burger Fans of the game, but were growing board by the pitch and wanted our seats back. The thirst for attention got the best of us. We wanted that jumbotron again, and this game was getting close. We got back down to our seats, and were met with a round of applause. The fans were excited to have the “Greatest Mets Fans of All Time” back.

It lasted an inning. This time it wan’t the JV squad, but the varsity goones. It was the 7th inning now and the head security honcho came down and said that we needed to pipe down and put our shirts on. Try telling that to 2 7th graders and see how long it lasts before they rebel. The Mets were starting to falter a bit, and we knew we needed to get the crowd back into it, so we stood back up, shirts off and were going nuts. Within a minute, the goones were all over us. I got grabbed on the shoulder and was told to follow the security guard and not to ask questions. I immediately wanted to know what was the problem, I didn’t realize that being a fan was against the law. You could hear a chorus of Boo’s from METS fans as they lost their fans, as by this point, we were more entertaining than the game. In my last stand, I boldly let out a furious boast of “YOU WILL NEVER WIN A GAME IF YOU CONTINUE TO TREAT YOUR FANS LIKE THIS!” With all of the boldness of that man with his goat probably did. We were rushed down a hallway, led to a gate, and thrown out of the game, accused of being a drunk and a bunch of hooligans. <neither was true>. While we were at the game, the camera girl came around and took our picture of us at the game. I thought to myself later that week… Hmmmm, i wonder if they posted this on their site…. Well, not only was it on their site, but they had also used the image to publicize their end of the season ticket sales stating “Come out to Shae and Cheer on the Mets!” I was outraged… Where was the subtitle “And get tossed out like a piece of garbage!” Grrrrrrrr. At least I had the curse, and I hoped they seriously never did win a game again…

They didn’t… They lost 12 of the next 17 games, losing their 7 game lead, and failed to make the playoffs on the last day. Nothing brought me more joy than watching that happen. I absolutely believed it. I really cursed the Mets. I had the control now and I wasn’t letting go. I held onto this vendetta for quite sometime. I guess it wasn’t really until the Reds made their return to the playoffs in 2010 that I lost interest in hating the Mets. But that was also the year that I married a Mets fan… which brought my hatred back full fledge!

DSC02272

<after being kicked out, we went all over Long Beach taking pictures of how awesome we were>

Well anyway, Rounding Third and Heading for Home, This one Belongs to the Fans!

Author: Cory Juliano ‚Äď 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 MLB.com 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!