Archives For memories

It was 2001. Senior year of high school. A couple of my friends from the football team and I were putting together the mother of all March Madness pools. We sold 200 brackets at $5, and for a high school kid, having $1,000 cash stuffed into an envelop in your locker is pretty exciting until you realize the police department is bringing in the drug dogs that month to sniff around… Dodged that bullet…

Mike McQuery was about as far from an athlete as they came in my high school, but the guys knew his sports, and in the late 90’s/early 2000’s, that was a rare find. Stat heads hadn’t taken over sports yet, there was no public knowledge of money ball, and the word fantasy was used only in the context of cheerleaders.

Mike won our bracket hands down, basically uncontested, and it left a sour taste in a few of the jocks’ mouths. How did this guy know more about sports than we did? His answer, fantasy sports…

Mike was trying to explain fantasy sports to a group of us and to be honest, at that time it sounded like the dumbest thing i had ever heard of. This was coming from a guy (me) who had spent portions of his childhood playing Dungeons and Dragons, Final Fantasy, and collected all 151 Pokemon…. It was a collision of worlds… Dorks and Sports mixed like oil and water.

Now to be fair, in 2001, technology hadn’t embraced fantasy sports yet. Heck, Aim was all the rage, Napster was all i used my computer for, and cell phones were only good for playing Snake on, rarely was a text ever sent.* (editor’s note: this article is being typed out on a cellphone, we’ve come a long way in 13 years)

This breed of fantasy sports involved a 3 ring binder, a USA Today subscription and more #2 than an SAT prep class.

Fast forward 3 years.

It’s 2004, i’m now a junior in college, a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon, and finding myself a bit detached from sports now that I wasn’t competing myself. One of my brothers. Reintroduced me to the idea of playing fantasy sports, but by now, it was as easy as signing into Yahoo, plus, free chicken wings at a draft party sealed the deal.

That year i played in my first fantasy football league and also my first baseball league. I found that it was pretty fun and helped me to really get to know more players than just the ones that played for my teams. I got to know the guys i played with and it made watching the games on tv more exciting. Pretty good deal i thought.

No harm done right… That’s how all addictions start…

I had every intention of playing in the same leagues the next year, and did, but as i met new people, and shared my interest in fantasy sports, i began to get invited to other leagues. At first my heart revolted to the idea of turning my back on my leagues to join another one, that would be like fantasy adultery…

My heart was torn, old friends or new friends? What to do?

Well, i did what anyone would do, i played in both leagues… And the next year i was in 3, and finally it was 4… By the time ESPN got on board, i was in over my head. At one point i found myself owning so many different players in so many leagues that every play on an NFL sunday both helped me and screwed me. I needed help.

Luckily, moving away and having kids, took time away from fantasy sports. Overtime, leagues closed and college friends moved on and joined leagues with new friends, and eventually, i was back down to just 2 or 3 leagues.

This year, i finally made my exit from both Fantasy baseball and am playing in my last NBA league. Just one NFL league with local friends that is highly competitive.

Some of my favorite memories was my 2005 all Bengals team that won my first championship, my all Asian fantasy baseball team, and my dominating fantasy Nascar league win.

In all, this blog was started to fill the void that i had been pumping with fantasy sports for so long. Fantasy baseball is just so much work, and ain’t nobody got time for that!

Fantasy or not, being a fan takes some ingenuity and a willing ness to do your research. I’m excited for this year, not having to worry about losing a fantasy league because jay bruce bombed a homerun against me. It will be a return to purity, and a year of great memories, not fantasies!

Rounding third and heading for home, this one belongs to the fans!

Author – Brian McGee – February 25th, 2014

Being a fan of a baseball team that is out of town can certainly have its high points and low points. When you’re single, it’s mostly high points. You can stay up late, search through the city for that small group of refugee fans that gather together at a specialty bar to watch the game. Road trips to see big games… The possibilities are endless.

Somewhere along the lines, you get struck with the love bug and most of the time for the out-of-state fan, that means that your spouse won’t initially share the love and devotion of your homeland’s teams. Overtime, most devoted sports fans can persuade their loved one to at least tolerate, and potentially adopt their ways and customs.


And then you get the news… You’re becoming a parent! Within minutes of your spouse setting up a registry you find yourself sneaking onto it to add team branded onesies.Games of catch in the back yard are already being rehearsed in your imagination. FINALLY, you have secured in your mind someone to sit next to you on the couch and watch the games with you, cheering just as passionate as you are. You have someone that you can indoctrinate from the moment of conception to blindly accept all of your customs and ways: how you sing the 7th inning stretch, favorite food in the third inning, multiple superstitions, etc.

All of these master plans are going amazing until the day of the baby shower when your spouse brings home merchandise from the local team designed to smother your baby in the one thing that painstakingly has suffocated your freedom of fanhood… What to do… What to do…. Where is the jug of bleach that I can strategically spill on these items so that they can never touch the sweet innocent skin of my beloved offspring?! Alas… fighting it is futile… you are left with a monumental decision to make.

PATH 1 – Raise the white flag. Think about it… your kid is going to walk into school at the age of 5, sit down at their desk, look all the other kids in the eye and tell them that they like a baseball team from another state… instant loner status … #ThanksMomandDad. When you were a kid, there was nothing better than to be able to easily get your hands on a packet of baseball cards from your grocery store of your home town team, to wear their jerseys and hats that were sold at nearly every store come April, to hop in the car and be at the professional stadium of your team in less than an hour. That was life… and it is the one thing you will be taking away from your kid if you raise them to love your team and your team only. #PAIN. Anyway, if you live in NY, Chicago, the Bay Area, or LA, there are a few ways around this. Multiple teams gives you a chance to use the ever so sly “I can’t cheer for another team in the same league… but it doesn’t mean I can’t follow a team from the other league!” In New York, that means the Yankees are a safe bet for a Reds fan. #Bandwagon #TheDevilMadeMeDoIt #TheMetsSuck

But then you get this disgusting feeling of having to live with a Yankee fan… ok, time to buckle the seatbelt and go into full blown War Mode

PATH 2 – You must do everything in your power to insure that your child loves your team with every last ounce of passion you have in your soul. If this means quitting your job and flying to Spring Training, then you do that. If this means emptying out your 401K to get playoff tickets, by the Lord Almighty you do it. Your kid needs to have a life time of arsenal to throw back at other kids who are going to dog them for not cheering for the home team. Your kid will be not invited to birthday parties – that means you throw your own party, regardless of the occasion. It’s a mad world out there, but it is the price you will have to pay. Guilt your child if you must, threaten to remove them from the will if you ever catch them in blue pinstripes… force them on pilgrimages back to the mother country, make it a religious experience if you must, but a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do. Your spouse might threaten divorce, neighbors might call CPS, try as they might, pray that your child will not depart from the truth, and will go on to raise their child exactly as you have damaged them… er I mean raised them.

Honestly, it’s a hard one. You have to find the middle path. Let your kid be themselves, choose whoever they want to cheer for. Educate them about the Reds, or your local team if you’re hear on this blog for other reasons. Give them a joyful history of your experiences, but encourage them all the more to blaze a new trail, whether it be with your team, or with another. Make a chart of all the major league parks, and set out on an adventure throughout their childhood to visit them all. The most effective way to ensure that your kid at the end of it all will love your team is if they love you first. Do what is right and just love your kid, give them the freedom to experience it all the way you experienced it, and teach them to love the game regardless of the color of the uniform. Teach them how to keep score (a lost art!) Instruct them on how to handle themselves at a game as a fan, and how to get other fans to do the same. Teach them that sportsmanship and showmanship go hand in hand. And above all else, teach them just how much you care about them, by sharing with them a game that they can love for all of their days, together, with you, and their kids. Well, Rounding First and heading for home, this one belongs to the fans!


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!

Looking Forward…

nyredfanatic —  02/17/2014 — 2 Comments

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.