You Boys just need a spark to beat those Cubbies

Come on boys. You can do it tonight. This is a big, big game. And Heavens knows I’m a watchin’ each and every one of you. You know Ol’ Marge loves ya, don’tcha Honeys?

Now could ya get me another Vodka on the rocks? No lime, no lemon. Just give it ta me would ya sweetheart? You know ol’ Marge gets awful thursty when she watches her Redlegs play those fucking murderers and rapists from the south side of Chicago. Oh Heavens am I thirsty, honey. Better make that vodka a double.

Phillips, you’re in a hell of a slump ya little obnoxious son of a bitch. Now, tell Schottzie you’re going to win for her tonight. Do it, go ahead. Be a good black, sweetie.

Don’t screw it up tonight boys. If you’re the winning team I’ll show you a good look at this nasty old growler I keep between my legs!

Curtis Granderson is blogging about a 10-day west coast road trip: Long road trips are cool for me, because I think it is actually less tiring than a short road trip. I can sleep on any plane. I have fallen asleep on a flight from Detroit to Cleveland which is a 30 minute flight. As long as I have a window seat, I am good to go. Most hotel beds I have no problem sleeping in as long as I have an AC control. I like to keep the room cold, and the noise helps to sleep. We also get to arrive at the ballpark an hour or so later than we would normally in Detroit. [Y! Sports Big League Stew]

That's a cat on the field at Wrigley

Last night’s game in Chicago was kind of wacky in that it had a few weird incidents. The first is sure to end up on a blooper video (do they still even make those?) 15 years from now. It was one of those classic scenes where a stray cat breaks into a mad dash onto the field and the grounds crew guy chases him away. We just want to know how a cat gets onto the field. Or to the field and into the stadium and down the aisleway. Please explain.

The second was dealing with the infamous Steve Bartman seat, and the Chicago Cubbie fans showing their true colors. A guy kind of took a foul ball away from Alfonso Soriano in left field and happened to be sitting in the same vicinty as the famed Bartman seat. The crowd erupted into a chorus of boos and irony would have it, the camera crew then panned Dusty Baker and the ‘2003’ flag banner hanging.

Clearly signs exist that the event still burns in Wrigleyville as it did the day of it all going down. Even though Moises Alou says he wouldn’t have caught the ball anyways.

(If you have a photo(s) that you’d like to see on Diamond Hoggers, please email them to us at DiamondHoggers_at_gmail_dot_com).

Throwing it around

They’re calling for 80 degrees this weekend all around the country, so break out your sunscreen and get tickets to a ballgame. Here’s some links while baseball is played at all hours today. Keep your eyes on the scoreboard.

-The M’s are proving that small ball is played in the AL. We like it. [ESPN Sweetspot]
-More on “Coors Field East” New Yankee Stadium. [Deadspin]
-Every team seems to want a young star to be their face of the franchise. [USA Today]
-Time to get Brandon Wood’s feet wet in Anaheim. [Angels Unplugged]
-Does Torii Hunter want to go back to Minnesota? [MLB Trade Rumors]
-Tigers GM Dombrowski says ‘absurd’ is the idea of trading Miggy Cabrera, thank goodness. [Rounding the Bases]
-An interview with former Astro J.R. Richard. [Bugs & Cranks]
-Tough blow to the upstart Pirates, Ryan Doumit is out 8-10 weeks with a wrist injury. [Pittsburgh Lumber Co]

Your Wrap & Recap

Orioles 10, White Sox 3

Nick Markakis could have been the whole damn show, but he also got help. He collected 4 hits and a walk. He’s hitting .389 now. Aubrey Huff homered twice and drove in four while Luke Scott had 3 hits. Brad Bergesen won his first big league ballgame. One has to wonder how much Jose Contreras has left.

Uh, we really didn’t see this one coming. We figured the Marlins would take aim at Jeff Karstens and not stop until he was in pieces all over the field. Instead, he held the Marlins to one run over six innings and allowed only three hits. Freddy Sanchez collected three hits and homered. The Pirates are going for the sweep as we speak type.
The Mariners beat a quality team at home and they’re now 9-5 on the season. Jarrod Washburn is 3-0 and Brandon Morrow picked up his 4th save. He’s flat nasty. Mike Sweeney had three hits and an RBI. It may be time to move Ken Griffey Jr. (.184) out of the 3-hole though. What are they thinking with that?
The Indians built a big lead with a Grady Sizemore 3-run bomb and held on for the win at an empty Progressive Field. Victor Martinez is officially back. He went 4 for 5 and homered with 2 runs batted in. Victor is hitting .397 in the middle of that lineup. Give the win to Aaron Laffey and tally Kerry Wood for the save.

Bruce returns, Reds lose first battle with Cubs

You try not to make too much of early season ballgames in April. But for a young team, some could make the case that this game at Wrigley Field (the first night game of the year in Wrigleyville) with a chance to call first place theirs for a day was a nice test. The Reds did not pass that test.
Jay Bruce made his return on this cold night, homering off a Rich Harden changeup to spot the Reds a 1-0 lead. Micah Owings throws like a 5th starter on a 5th place team throws. When your gets a run, don’t walk anybody and hang a zero. That’s what we were always told. Win the inning. Micah Owings didn’t do any of those things. He quickly gave up a home run to Micah Hoffpauir to tie the game at 1.
After the Cubs took the lead, Bruce tied the game at 2-2 with a single to right field. From there, all hell broke loose. The wind was not blowing out, but playing tricks with the Cincinnati outfielders. Chris Dickerson error really allowed the game to get away. Aramis Ramirez did was Aramis Ramirez always does. He had 3 hits and 3 RBI and the biggest hit of the game, a bases loaded double that basically ended the game.
The Reds are up against it tonight and have that dreaded + attached to a high number at all the sports books in Vegas because they’re facing Ted Lilly. But that dirtball is due to get kicked in the nuts unexpectedly. Tonight could be that night.

Breaking down the Cubs-Reds series 1

A big series starts tonight in Chicago. It’s been a while since we’ve been this excited about a regular season series in April. We’ll look back on this post someday and most likely laugh at the fact that it meant anything at all to us. The thing is, for Reds fans; this is the playoffs. This is our shot at relevance in the league. A 3-game sweep here by the grace of God would allow us to lead off Baseball Tonight for once in the decade.

Here’s how we honestly see the series breaking down.

Tonight: Micah Owings (0-1, 7.20 ERA) vs. Rich Harden (0-1, 5.00 ERA, 9 IP, 18 K)
It could get ugly. After a couple of big late/close wins in Houston, we would not be surprised for the Reds to come out completely flat as they sometimes do. It could be a night in which they get four hits and one run and that is all. They get Jay Bruce back most likely, but what a rough way to return against Harden who has as good of stuff as there is in the big leagues when he is healthy.

Tomorrow: Johnny Cueto (0-1, 4.22 ERA) vs. Ted Lilly (2-0, 3.86 ERA)
You know what? This is a game that also looks like a loss. Which is why everyone in the world will lay their money down on the Cubbies and the Reds will win. Sure, Cubs are at home and throwing a lefty who has been solid (and everyone should take note that the Reds just don’t beat lefties). But the law of averages will be in the Reds favor on this night. Lilly will be off and the Reds will pull away with a couple junk runs late. They’ll even the series at 1-1 in this ballgame.

Thursday afternoon: Aaron Harang (1-2, 2.70 ERA) vs. Carlos Zambrano (1-0, 5.21 ERA)
The Reds should feel best about this matchup in these three games. Big Z has been the best against the Reds in his career in throwing 181.1 big league innings against them compiling a 3.03 ERA and a 14-9 record. But familiarity breeds content. We feel that Dusty Baker knows enough about Zambrano’s tendencies to help give his young team an idea of what they’ll see in this game. Aaron Harang looks like the Aaron Harang of 2006 and 2007 again. This is a statement game and is likely to be a series deciding game before the Reds return home to Great American Ballpark. It will be an afternoon game in Chicago. The atmosphere will be electric as it is in those afternoons on the south side. What more could a young team ask for? Don’t underestimate the value of this experience on these young guys. They’ll come out hungry and get after Zambrano more then someone would expect. Coco Cordero is due to blow a game sometime soon though isn’t he?

In the end, we see the Reds somehow losing 2 of 3. But you never know; that is why they play the games.

Throwing it around

Another huge sports night both nationwide and for Ohioans. The Reds start a huge three game series in Chicago. The Cavs play game two of their first round playoff matchup. It’s a must win for the Columbus Blue Jackets in their first ever postseason game in Columbus. Good weather is on the way. Stick around and read some of these links, would ya?

-The Yankee’s greed is coming back to bite them in the ass. [It is about the Money Stupid]
-Mascot Kombat. Hahaha. [More Hardball]
-Wily Mo Pena has signed a minor league deal with the Mets. [MLB Fanhouse]
-Octavio Dotel got a hug from President Obama recently. [Y! Sports Big League Stew]
-A New York Post column causes the Mets to re-think the erasing of a Doc Gooden signature at their new stadium. [New York Post]
-Four high school no hitters in a row? Who is the opponent? The deaf and blind? [Deadspin]
-Andre Ethier was named NL Player of the week. [Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness]
-Breaking down Zach Greinke’s scoreless streak. [ESPN Sweetspot]

With George Grande, things are always on the up and up

For those of you who aren’t in Ohio, this is the guy who does the Reds television broadcasts about 75% of the time. We are certain that his on-air persona is exactly like he is in real life. George can make chicken soup out of chicken shit. He is the type of gentleman who smiles and finds the silver lining when he has a urinary tract infection. When someone rear ends his car, he gets out and offers to buy them lunch. When his daughter got her first yeast infection, he told her that it was a sign of her becoming an adult. When his lawn mower spits out a rock at high speed that lodges in his leg, he simply moves to the front yard with a band-aid on. George is full of zest and always loves life.

He is an honest man, he loves his wife. He goes home every night and kisses her. Just celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary to the only woman he’s ever kissed. George is only 54 years old. You figure it out.

This is also the reason that we wanna wrap our hands around George’s neck on some nights. When it is 11-2 and Albert Pujols steps to the plate with 4 hits and 3 home runs already counting on his stat sheet, George still has that zest. When Jim Edmonds robs one of our Reds of a home run that costs us a win, he exclaims “HE GOT IT! HE GOT IT! HE GOT IT!”

We’ve grown to love you, George. Your greatest strength is also your weakness. Shine on you crazy diamond.

Reds hang on in Houston to take 3 of 4 in series

Our Cincinnati Redlegs really excercised some demons in what has been a house of horrors our whole life–playing ball in Houston. Maybe its just that the Astros are going to be that bad this season. Or maybe the Reds; who scored just 10 runs all series long while missing Jay Bruce for the final 3 games are built the right way.
Bronson Arroyo improved to a perfect 3-0 on the season. Not bad for a guy who was set to start the season on the DL with carpal tunnel. Edwin Encarnacion got not one but two 2-out RBI hits. The Reds did not commit an error. Joey Votto doubled with the bases loaded off the left center field wall to put the Reds ahead to stay. Francisco Cordero came in to save his 5th game in 5 chances.
Right now, it’s just about stockpiling wins. Sure, they don’t have enough offense. Yes, they win games ugly. But there is a glimmer of hope. If they can continue to overachieve–and if you watch this team that is what you’ll see they are clearly doing–then possibly the owner Bob Castellini will go out and get us a big bat or two. That might be all that keeps this team from being very good. They lack the firepower offensively to score in bunches. But the piery n is there and it is keeping them in games every night right now.
The next 5 games are going to be a true test, and more glaring; the next three in Chicago. The Reds are a half game out of first place but they’re about to find out if they can hang with the big boys. They face Rich Harden, Ted Lilly, and Carlos Zambrano. It could be another low scoring couple of days for the Reds offense unless something strange happens, which seems to happen somewhere in this game every day.

And on the third day, he sat

Jay Bruce is still out of the lineup. He hopes to play tomorrow in Chicago. This season is already spiraling out of control. Make no mistake about it, when we really get behind a player he absolutely crumbles. We’re sorry, Jay. It’s all our fault.

So the flag will remain at half mass until Jay returns heroically to the lineup. But somehow, we just know in our hearts that this injury will continue to drag on and on and on all season long and just be another thing that derails our boy from being a fucking star.

Wonder why we’re so upset? Well look at that collective bunch of scrubs the Reds send out there tonight and then you’ll know why. Get well soon Jay. Please.

Update per John Fay Twitter: Bruce took about 40 BP swings and looked pretty good. He even hit a couple out. Likely to play tomorrow in Chicago. Best news we’ve had in a while.

If you celebrate 4/20 at 4:20, it's time for a new hobby

So you probably know that today is the National Pot Smoking Holiday here in the US. If you didn’t know it, pat yourself on the back. We’ve got mixed feelings on the drug. Sure you can operate a car when you are high and you aren’t going to go and shoot someone with a handgun or anything; but at the same time it’s pot. You don’t wanna be a pothead, do you?

We remember back in our high school days our classmates would make sure to notify someone every period of the day that it was indeed, 4/20. They wanted everyone to know that it was time to “blow some trees” shortly after the final school bell rang that day. They’d write it on blackboards. They’d draw pictures of their new one hitter bong. They’d skateboard.

Look, we’re not going to lie to you and tell you we’ve never tried it. But unless you’re a sophomore in college who thinks you’re better at Tiger Woods Golf on Playstation 2 when you’re extremely ripped, you probably shouldn’t be smoking that dope. It’s an education, a learning experience that everyone must in life. Why do you like to smoke pot and what would make you not need to smoke it anymore. Some people would read this and say they are going to smoke it forever. Sooner or later, it might catch up to you ya little hemp-haired hippie you.

It all ties in. We owe it to the sport of baseball for why we didn’t smoke more joints in life. Another reason why baseball is the greatest sport on earth. Although it didn’t work for Jeff Weaver.