Archives For Baseball

Well… It can officially be the start of baseball season. I was going through quite a bit of denial with my school (The University of Dayton) striding its way to the elite 8. Had they made the Final Four, not only would have I been in a comma, but it would have made paying attention to the first week of baseball quite difficult. But sadly, they did go down against the Florida Gators in a hard fought, but overmatched game. So goodbye March Madness. Great run Flyers. AND LET’S GO REDS!

On Monday, the reds will take the mound and welcome the Redbirds to Cincinnati for Opening Day. It’s a 4pm game on ESPN, so I hope to catch the last half of it when I get home from work. Day off Tuesday, and then wrap it up Wednesday and Thursday. The reds than pack their bags and come to New York! They take on the Mets for a weekend series that I hope to either watch all of from home or snag some last minute tickets to go to one of the games.

This week we will feature some guest bloggers, some rants, and some rebuttals. We will hopefully get some video of this weekend and get a chance to stretch out our arms with a little game of catch.

It’s finally here, and we couldn’t be happier! Rounding first and heading for home, this one belongs to the fans!

Have you ever just felt something in your gut? Something that you couldn’t explain… Something you wanted so badly to happen, you felt like you just had to open your mouth and say it, as if the words would some how have power in them to make your dreams come true. It is what the things of wishes are made of. It seems ridiculous, but it is no different than the days of playing Super Mario Brothers on the Nintendo Entertainment System and thrusting the controller upward ever so slightly (or drastically) when you were about to make a difficult jump… as if jumping the controller would somehow increase the likelihood that your jump would be successful… I digress…

It is in our DNA to want to be able to control uncontrollable forces. Call me crazy, but I think as a fan, we do this all the time. Even if it is under our breath, we will mutter something like “Come on, make that 3!” and then when it happens we are all like, “CALLED IT! I CALLED IT! WHO HEARD ME CALL THAT!” — no one..

Baseball prophecy seems like a given. The game is designed for the viewer to get entranced in the game. It is sooooooo slooooooow moving that it begs the crowd to get involved. Whether it be the wave. The Charge Call. The Atlanta Brave Chop. You name it, the crowd firmly believes that it has influence over the game. A collected 30,000 voices getting into the opposing players’ heads all at once… now that you mention it, that does sound pretty powerful.

But I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about when you put yourself out there, in the most foolish of ways. Claiming something so preposterous that it would take Biblical proportions to come about. This is the kind of stuff that your friends sitting next to you pretend not to know you for. The stuff that fans from your own team laugh and mock you for. I did such a thing in 1995.

The cubs were coming to town, and I hate the cubs. One of the major reasons is because their fans are everywhere, and there has never been a game where I have gone to against the cubs where it didn’t feel like there were as many cubs fans in the audience as there were Redlegs fans. Frustrating. Anyway, as a bold 13 year old, I was about to say something so stupid, that it had to be from God. The reds were down 1-0, somewhere in the middle of the game. It was a freaking hot day, boring game so far, and i needed something to get the crowd around me fired up. I was sitting on the 3rd base line at Riverfront Stadium (cinergy field), with pitcher, John Smiley up to bat. I looked over at his career stats on the scoreboard, and like most pitchers, it was dismal. We had 2 outs. I stood up on my chair, and boldly let out one of the stupidest sentences to ever leave my lips – “John Smiley is going to hit a home run!” It was immediately met by a chorus of laughter by reds fans and cubs fans alike. Someone mocked me with a “yeah right kid!”… I just stood there. Silently. Waiting. The pitch was released…. CRACK! I think even Smiley was baffled. He had just hit his first major league career Home Run and the place went freakin’ nuts!

I felt this awkward sense of power. The block of fans around me were either stunned or had already forgotten my words, but at the end of the day, i honestly felt like John Smiley hit that home run just for me.

Prophecy or not, the power in the game belongs to the imagination of the fan. Rounding third and heading for home, this one belongs to the fans!

I have mentioned else where on the blog that the reason that I moved to Long Island was to take a job with Young Life. I moved into the community of East Islip. It’s a nice suburban community on the beachy south shore of Long Island, home of former Cincinnati Bengals QB Boomer Esiason. The community to the north, Central Islip, home of the independent “minor league” baseball team, the Long Island Ducks, was on of the first places that I started the work that I was doing with Young Life. It is a diverse community, full of all sorts of kids of different colors and economic backgrounds.

Now, when starting a Young Life area from scratch, it is important to find areas that you have in common with the local culture and try to establish relationships with people in the community. One of the things that I noticed right off the bat was that, gosh…. there are a whole lot of young kids here that must be fans of the Cincinnati Reds!! What a great way to start up a conversation and build a relationship than to talk about my favorite team!

That couldn’t have been farther from the truth…

So after a few failed attempts to connect with the youth culture of Islip, I was finally informed by someone that the reason the kids were wearing the Reds cap was because they were most likely gang members, and red just so happened to be their color… Boy did I have egg on my face… Gang members don’t really know a whole lot about a team 700 miles away. Well… maybe next time 🙂

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.

thumb.aspx

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!

#GoReds

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 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!