It's time to get tough. It's time to rally the troops. These are confusing days for our Reds

After last night’s 8-2 loss in Toronto I realized that maybe I never should have had any hopes or expectations for this Reds team at all. Laynce Nix and Johnny Gomes are doing their best, but they’re guys that any of the other 30 MLB teams could have had. They weren’t even really in baseball last year. Now they’re being trotted out each and every night in the middle of our lineup. They have been depending on Joey Votto and Jay Bruce to carry the load as two young players who have not been asked to do that yet. Votto missed time due to emotional issues, and Bruce has had insufferably bad luck thus far this season. When those things don’t happen, you get lapses in offense like we’re seeing now.

Other then that, it’s a poorly constructed lineup. Willy Taveras is basically Corey Patterson from the right side. He’s struggled his entire career with getting on base. He’s just continuing the trend he’s followed his entire career. The Reds knew that going in. The Reds never needed Taveras. That money could have went elsewhere. It could have went to bringing back Adam Dunn and his production that is always there. The Reds could have slid Jerry Hairston into the leadoff spot.

The lineup really should go Taveras/Hairston, followed by Brandon Phillips (who the Reds have ruined by making him think he’s a clean-up hitter) followed by Bruce in the 3-hole, and then Votto in the clean-up spot. You run that out there every night and you’d have better production then we’ve seen up to this point.

And the production is just really bad right now. It’s excruciating to watch. I’ve never seen an offense this bad over this long of a period of time. It’s really showing up every night and when they get down by a run or two; they may fight hard, but it’s always too insurmountable of a deficit. Last night they had four measly hits. Johnny Gomes had two of them. They weren’t facing Cy Young.

They can’t hit left-handed pitching. Ownership went cheap on us and all offseason they didn’t go out and get the big right handed bat we needed to combat this weakness and it shows every time there is a southpaw on the hill. You wanna make money? Deposit some into an internet sports betting site and bet on the team with the lefty throwing against the Reds on any given night. You’ll win that bet 9 times out of 10.

The Reds have to pull it together and gut it out. They might not be that good but they certainly aren’t this bad. Basically, it’s baseball and the ball has to bounce our way sometime. We’ve got too solid of pitching to lose this way each night or sustain long losing streaks.

I hope that tonight is the turning point of the season. Somehow maybe they can rally and finish this road trip strong and get home and get healthy in the park that everyone seems to be able to hit in–everyone but us it seems at times.

But the Reds right now are killing me on a nightly basis. I believed in this group and while I didn’t think they’d be playoff material, I certainly thought they’d hang tougher then they have been and be a little bit more exciting to watch and they aren’t. I guess this is how it feels when something you believe in turns out empty.

Throwing it around

It’s Thursday, and we’re lacking enthusiasm for baseball right now. Our boys have lost three in a row and they just don’t hit at all. It seems like it will be another year in which we’ll struggle for reasons to even watch the All-Star Game; leaving tradition’s sakes alone as the sole reason possibly. We press onward, because the baseball season is a marathon not a sprint. Here are today’s links.

-Lou Piniella says there is no closer controversy in Chicago, yet. [ESPN’s Sweetspot]
-The rosters for the 2009 Futures Game. [Baseball America]
-Geovany Soto tested positive for Marijuana during the WBC. [Chicago Tribune Hardball]
-We remember Dunn pimping this homer off Joe Beimel, leading to a beanball. [DC Sports Blog]
-Jayson Stark on baseball’s top mysteries of 2009. [ESPN]
-Finally, another article evidencing how BAD of luck Jay Bruce has had in 2009. [Beyond the Box Score]

Dippers Review: Camel Snus–perfect for gutting in the office


If you are new to this baseball blog you might be wondering why we’re doing another review on dip. Well, a good chew is just as much a part of being a ballplayer or a fan of baseball as the red threads on the ball. Plus a ton of people come stumbling across the blog looking for dip. It really ups the traffic.

You’ll have to forgive us if the review isn’t accurate. We’ve actually never tried Snus. The review was conducted in an interview format from a friend of ours that stumbled across a coupon for a free can of Snus if you buy a tin of Skoal (our dip of choice).

So here is what we have on the early review of Snus (Camel brand):

Pros: Slight buzz, leaves you with a decent taste in your mouth and very convenient.
Cons: Packs less of a punch than traditional dip, pouches become unraveled in your mouth leaving the ants to run ramped and it feels weird swallowing the spit.


The Snusser also mentioned to us that he felt very privvy when the attendant at the convienence store reached into a refridgerator-like area to retrieve the can of Snus. He felt that he was ‘being served something special–like top shelf liquor’ because they handed him an icy cold tin of Camel Snus.

We have to admit, we’re not big on the idea but it’s sparked our curiosity. We feel that Snus is a high end Skoal Bandits. And Skoal Bandits are for pussies. Another thing the resident Snusser points out is that makers of Camel Snus actually urge the dipper to go top shelf and put the pouches in their upper lip.

Another question that we would have to fellow Snussers is: how is it safe to swallow? It’s still tobacco in a form, correct? So how can you just swallow it down without worry?

We look forward to finding a shop in our area that will sell us a tin of Snus so we can maybe answer some of these questions. But basically, it’s the rich man’s form of chewing, very stylish. It leaves you without mess and without ants. And every dipper knows that those ants will cause you problems whether it gets on clothing, carpet, or your girlfriend’s magazines.

Cincinnati tops list of most dangerous neiborhood cities in America

Cincinnati found itself #1 on the list of cities with the most dangerous neighborhoods in it. This is interesting because we’ve been around Over the Rhine many times in our life. Namely the summer of 2004 when we’d walk to the downtown courthouse every day to work. It’s no place where you’d want to be at night or anything, but it hardly seemed like we were a few yards away from one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the nation.

Surprising to me is that nowhere in Los Angeles made the list. Or how about Gary, Indiana. Those are certifiable shitholes. But little Cincinnati? Topping the list? Wow.

No worries, Reds fans. It’s a solid ten minutes from the Ballpark.


The cities with the top 25 dangerous neighborhoods in the United States. [Now Public]

Photoblogging: The Civil Rights Game

We didn’t put up an abundance of pictures in our Civil Rights Game Post, so here’s a few of the ones we took that we couldn’t slip in earlier:

Jay Bruce with the throwback look to honor the old time players. The funny thing is, after a strikeout looking Bruce went back to his natural look with his pants low. Then he doubled off a lefty. Funny how superstition works isn’t it?

We don’t usually sit by the Reds bullpen, but that’s where we found ourselves for most of the duration of this game. We were shooting the breeze (kind of) with Francisco Cordero, who’d throw us a ball after the final out was made when he was warming up.

Jim Thome vs. Arthur Rhodes. There’s a good chance this is the last time we’ll ever be in a stadium to watch Jim Thome, who is without a doubt a legend. Just had to get this on here. And by the way, Art Rhodes is a bad man (in a good way).

Here’s a close up shot of the Riverboat behind the right center field stands. The boat is called ‘M V Collin D’. I always wanted to know if the Reds pay someone to run the ferry while the game is going on, or if the Riverboat captains just do it during the game as part of a hobby or something. I’d be interested in learning more about this.

Girlfriend with Coco Cordero ball in hand, and a couple of Jay Bruce jerseys of course. We’re a sucker for anything Jay Bruce.

After a few beers on the way out of the game we found ourselves hollering uncontrollably at Jim Day, the Reds TV guy on Fox Sports Net Ohio. Day seems like a nice enough fella for sure, but there’s something also slimy and sneaky about his demeanor. Don’t trust him. He’ll sell you down the river. Lots of inside jokes about Jim Day amongst us and our friends.

Throwing it around

Full slate of games almost on this sunny Wednesday. Now that summer is officially underway as of a few days ago, there’s only baseball and a little golf on the weekends to worry about. Here are the links of the day:

-The original Moneyball script had a Billy Beane sex scene! [Y! Sports Big League Stew]
-Manny Ramirez went 0 for 2 in his rehab game last night. [Dodger Thoughts]
-Luis Ayala requested a trade out of Minnesota. [Twinkie Town]
-Red Sox gear being peddled at the Nationals park. [DC Sports Blog]
-A-Rod continues to struggle and be stalked by his past. [NY Times Bats Blog]
-Texeira and Youkilis are going to come down to the wire in All Star Game voting. [River Avenue Blues]
-Roy Halladay will aparently be back on Monday. [The Mockingbird]

Beat up North of the border, by a guy with a Porn 'stache

[Box Score]
It doesn’t matter what kind of lefty it is that opposes the Cincinnati Reds. And it has been this way for a long time now. The Reds just don’t hit left handed pitching. Not a little, not at all.
Brian Tallet, who looks like your garden-variety junior high physical education teacher; could have done whatever he wanted with the Reds last night. They were at his mercy. I’m shocked that he was removed from the game after only 90 pitches. And I know when there is a lefty on the mound, the Reds are going to have to wait him out rather then attack and try and score off the lefty starter. Doesn’t matter who it is. It might as well be an off night and there might as well be no game on the schedule if they’re facing a lefty. It’s not even worth watching most of the time.

For 6 innings, Tallet cruised through the Reds lineup, striking out 7 and allowing only 3 hits with of course no runs. Micah Owings dug the Reds a nice hole, as they found themselves down 6-0 before Jay Bruce’s bases loaded double (off a lefty reliever) opened up scoring. The Reds would add a few more mercy runs, but would lose the game 7-5.

In Joey Votto’s return he went 1 for 4 with 2 strikeouts. Chris Dickerson went 2 for 3 with an RBI.
It has become so obvious that the Reds need to add a big right handed bat. Walt Jocketty says at this point that the Reds are buyers. Now is that time, as we’re under .500 for the first time since before mid-April. They’re 14-21 since May 14.

Votto's verbatim explanation of what he's been going through

Remember when we stated that Joey Votto was having problems with anxiety and panic and that he was having fears that he was dying? Votto spoke in the pregame about these issues and we were right on the ball. Read on to see word for word what Votto had to say. In terms of what he’s been going through, it’s eerie to know how similar of a situation we’ve found ourselves in before.

“As some of you know, my father passed away last August. The first day back I kind of put that all on back burner and just played baseball all the way to the end of September. I don’t want to use the word suppress because he was in my thoughts and I was dealing with it on a daily basis. But, as powerful a moment that is to lose your father so young in a way I did suppress it. From August to beginning of spring training, I was pretty severely depressed. I was dealing with the anxiety of grief and sadness and fear. Every emotion you can imagine that everyone goes through.

“I had a really difficult time with it. I was by myself down in Florida. I just was really looking forward to baseball. When baseball started up in February, I kind of did the same thing I did last August and threw it all on the side, threw all my emotions on the back burner and played baseball.

“I got sick in May. I had the upper respiratory thing and the ear infection. It was taking the time away from baseball and recovering from being sick when for the first time all emotions that had been pushing to the side that had been dealing with and struggling with in the winter hit me. They hit me a hundred times more than I had been dealing with.

“I was taken out of three separate games. The first game it was a combination of me being ill. But I could tell there was something going on. I couldn’t recover. I had this feeling of anxiety. I had this feeling in my chest. The second time I came out in San Diego, it was similar. But I was healthy and I felt like I could’ve played.

“The third time was in Milwaukee, and I was totally overwhelmed.

“I spoke to some doctors. They came to the conclusion I was dealing with obviously being depressed and anxiety and panic attacks. They were overwhelming to point where I had to go to the hospital on two separated occasions. Once in San Diego and once – nobody had been told about – but I went to the hospital once in Cincinnati when the team was on the road.

“It was very, very scary and crazy night. I had to call 911 at 3 or 4 in the morning. It was probably the scariest moment I ever dealt with in my life. I went to the hospital that night.

“The days I was taken off the field were little, miniature versions of what I was dealing with by myself. Ever since I’ve been on the DL and even the little bit before the DL, I’ve been really struggling with this in my private life. I’d go on the field and try to do my best and play well. I had my spurts when I’d play well. But going out on the field . . . I couldn’t do it anymore because I was so overwhelmed physically by the stuff I was dealing with off the field.

“It finally seeped its way into the game. I just had to put an end to it. I really couldn’t be out there. It’s difficult to explain what I was going through. I couldn’t do it. I physically couldn’t do my job. That’s what I’ve gone through.

“I’ve been talking and seeing some doctors. They’ve been a great help. And speaking to people in general – I spoke to my team last week – and letting people know what I’ve dealing and how difficult this grieving process has been. My father was young, and I’m a young man. I really wish I hadn’t lost my father so young. I’m the oldest brother. I feel like I’m responsible for my family. Maybe I have proclivity for depression or whatever it is.

“But I was dealing with some pretty abnormal circumstances – the combination of being a major league ballplayer, a young ballplayer and also dealing with my father and my family.”

—————————

We really feel for Joey Votto. We’re a year older then him. One day when we were 21, (and up until that time we lived life stupidly as if we were going to live forever, not a worry in the world) the same anxiety and panic hit our life. The fear of death. The thought that death, and the void it leaves, could happen to anyone, anytime.

It happened to me one night without reason. And it hasn’t fully left since then, and now I’m 26. I’ve just learned how to control my anxiety and thoughts, that after one bout with medication. I’m not doing Paxil anymore. It’s the Devil and it does more harm then good. But it’s definitely scary to hear that he is going through the same thing as we did at a relatively young age. He’ll battle through it. He isn’t done having panic attacks. It will be good and bad, especially at first (and we don’t know if he’s doing any anxiety medication at all), but we feel that Joey will eventually be fine and realize that there is nothing physically wrong with him. Anxiety is a monster, and it feels more real at times then a broken limb.

Joey Votto returns, but shouldn't be considered a season saver

Joey Votto is making his return tonight, back in the lineup at first base and batting third as the Reds begin a three game series in Toronto. This is great news but Reds fans are almost expecting Votto to come back and be an instant savior to this lineup. We’re just here to suggest that Votto; while being a very good hitter, isn’t ready to make this a playoff team.

The Reds were 26-20 before Votto went on the DL. Since then they’ve slipped back to an even 34-34. He’ll help. But the Reds are still at least one big bat away from being able to call this a serious lineup, and we’d even argue that they’re two away from it being a threatening lineup.

So by all means, we’re excited to have Votto back. It should get everyone else in the lineup more pitches to hit. But we’re not expecting the Reds to make a run towards the playoffs either. They guy is only 25 years old and it’s unfair to pile all the expectations some have on him, especially returning from the DL with the matter that he was facing (whatever that was).

So welcome back, Joey. We missed you. But the Reds still need to go out and get a big right handed bat.

Donald Fehr is no longer The Don of MLB Players

It’s going to be a relatively short and sweet week here on Diamond Hoggers unless there’s something monumental that needs us to react to. Well today something monumental happened. Donald Fehr decided to step down as head of the MLB Players Association.

Mr. Fehr’s most memorable involvement of course came when he urged the players to go through with the 1994 strike that bloodied my 11 year old heart and ripped the fan base of America’s Pastime apart all in one.
Fehr, who turns 61 next month, said Monday he will retire no later than the end of March.
Subject to approval by the union’s executive board, he will be succeeded by union general counsel Michael Weiner, his longtime heir apparent. Weiner will head negotiations heading into the expiration of the current labor contract in December 2011.
“I have no hesitancy in recommending to the players that he be given the opportunity to do this job,” Fehr said.
Like him or not, the guy did his job. When he took over 26 years ago, the average MLB player made around $289,000 a year. By last year’s count the average MLB player now makes around $2.9 million per year. It’s not all in testament to Fehr, but he definitely had a hand in a lot of it.

Civil Rights Game 2009

It was neat to say that we were one of the 42,234 in attendance for the first regular season Civil Rights Game in the history of baseball. Immediately upon showing up, our friend observed that there was a playoff atmosphere in the air.
It was a packed house and although the Reds built a 5-0 lead with their ace Johnny Cueto on the hill and let it slip away; it was still a night to be remembered in the history of this blog, being a fan in general, and in terms of baseball it gives one a perspective of how far we’ve came as a nation.
A fan in front of us paging through the complimentary program given out at the gates. We thought this was one of the better shots we’ve ever taken at a game. A ‘picture says a thousand words silently’ type of deal.
In attendance for the game was Muhammad Ali, Bill Cosby, and Frank Robinson (who threw out the first pitch).
Even after downing about 8 draft beers and the Reds squandering what looked to be a really nice lead and an opportunity to take the first two games of this series (that they’d end up losing 2 games to 1) our mood couldn’t be soured because of the great atmosphere.

The Reds were dressed in their Civil Rights Uniforms, with the names below the numbering. A lot of fans remarked that they’d like to see these become the full time home uniforms. I wouldn’t, but it was nice to see something different. The Chicago White Sox were dressed in a very deep blue solid colored uniform. It was a cool throwback night at the ballpark.
As for Mr. Bruce, we remarked before we left for the game that we hoped he’d feel the Diamond Hoggers presence and do something special. While he didn’t have the greatest game of his career, he did provide us with some flashes of his brilliance.
Bruce had four at bats against tough lefties. He doubled in one of them and then with two outs in the ninth inning, he took a Bobby Jenks fastball into the right field stands for a no-doubt home run. There’s nothing like seeing your favorite player murder a fastball that’s right down the middle of the plate deep into the night.

It was a beautiful and muggy evening in Cincinnati. Here’s a shot from the riverboat deck behind the right center field stands. You can see over into Kentucky across that Ohio River.
And we of course have to give some props to Coco Cordero, who threw us a baseball as the game ended from the bullpen. In the end it was a 10-8 loss that the Reds let slip away, but another beautiful night at the ballyard in which we will never forget.

Diamond Hoggers Sunday Sermon: Fathers and Baseball go hand in hand

What else would I write about this week? It’s fitting that Fathers Day falls in the middle of the baseball season.

I wanna tell you a story about the OYAA Little League Blue Jays. It was the summer of 1995. As we battled through that summer and the intense heat that was the hottest I ever remember playing baseball in, Hideo Nomo and Randy Johnson faced off as the All-Star pitchers. The Cleveland Indians were mighty. And the OYAA Blue Jays of the central Ohio Recreational League were unstoppable in their own right.

 
I had gotten cut from the select team or traveling team. Basically, it was done with politics and ran by a bunch of fathers who were more worried about scratching their own backs then having the best kids available on the team. Admittedly, I also got really nervous during tryouts. I knew going in that I’d have to look really good and for a 12 year old kid I put a lot of pressure on myself. It meant so much to me. It meant too much to me. I pressed and didn’t have a good tryout that day and I got cut from the team.
 
I was heartbroken. So my father who is a rugged and hardened man; did one of the most loving acts that he could. He decided he was going to coach that summer. He was going to make sure that I played every inning of every game and although my dad knew little about actual baseball, he did a pretty good job.
 
Athletics were never important to my father. Not like me. He was a father to my older brothers when he was just a kid himself at age 18. He took up smoking early on. He was much more interested in hunting and fishing. He has killed as many animals as any man that has paced the earth. Where my brothers had a passion and thirst for finding out how to kill fox or deer, I had a thirst for hitting fastballs. My dad bought me a Remington shotgun that same year for Christmas. But he understood that my first love was the game of baseball.
 
So there we were. The boy who loved baseball and his father; the retired cop who now drove a dump truck to support his family. We set out that early spring and my dad took my to the league draft. He figured I could help him with the picks, as he didn’t know the kids in the league and who could play and who couldn’t. As we selected player after player, I kept looking up and down the roster telling my dad that we were going to have something really special. We had a lot of talented players who could have played select baseball if not for the Godforsaken politics that existed for us during that period. It was magic from that night forward. We were going to kick people’s ass. It also didn’t hurt that my dad had the finest player in the league on his team, me.
 
Back then you see I had a passion for pitching too. I don’t know why. I really liked it. As I became older I hated to pitch in a game because it took away from my mental approach hitting. Back then, I loved to pitch though. We made out our first lineup, I was in the clean-up spot and on the mound; just like my dad promised. We headed for the park and the nerves got to me. I stayed up late the night before listening to my Sony discman thinking about my dad and me lifting the little league championship trophy at summer’s end. I was going to dominate and my father and I were going to steal the headlines.
 
Well I put too much pressure on myself. I walked the bases loaded. Then I walked in a run. And then I walked in another and another. I kept walking guys. Dad pulled me and put me on first base. We were in a 6-0 hole before the first frame was over with. I was heartbroken. I have no trouble admitting that tears streamed down my face as I stood on first base, feeling like I let my dad and my team down. We battled mightily that day but in the end we fell short. We lost the game 6-5 and on the ride home I was completely heartbroken. My dad urged me to knock it off and ‘stop showing any sign of weakness’. He told me that our day in the sun was ahead of us and that we were going to rack up some wins in that league and have a good summer. I wasn’t so sure. My dad, as he has so many times in life; was right in seeing the foreshadowing when I could not cut through the fog and see it myself.
 
I went on some kind of tear after that. I had a string of 3 for 4 and 4 for 4 and even 5 for 5 ballgames. I ended up hitting .538 that summer and winning team MVP with over 30 RBI and 4 home runs. The Blue Jays went on to win 14 games in a row that summer. Teams around the league hated us. It was every little leaguer’s dream. We showed up for a game to find the other team’s ‘expert’ coach making the other team run wind sprints. My dad relaxed the boys by telling them to ‘grab some bench with their ass, let them heat themselves out before the game even starts.’
 
He was unorthodox but he had a way with those kids. There’s still a gleam in his eyes when he talks about those little league Blue Jays. All I have to do is say the name of certain players on the team, from the runts to the guys who made the league All-Star game. That’s saying something for my father who doesn’t remember his kid’s exact birthdays. But once again, he’s got his own style about him. He’s not perfect, but in so many ways he has a beauty about him.
 
We got into a certain routine that summer. I’d lay in the air conditioned house all day and mentally prepare to go out and put on a display of great baseball that evening for the game. Dad would speed home in his truck in time to throw on his uniform and head out to dominate. He’d expect me to have the lineup done by the time he arrived. He’d quickly look it over and sign off on it. We were on the same page mostly. It was the lineup he wanted usually. We’d head to the park in time for some routine warm-ups and for the course of the game, my dad managed that team to the best of his ability. The guy may not know what a squeeze play is, but he likes
to win. He’d suck down Lucky Strike non-filtered cigarettes for the duration of the game. He managed in sandals while the other dads coached in tennis shoes. But those kids loved my dad for his differences just like I did. And every day, part of that routine became coming home and sitting on the porch to talk about the victory that we’d earned that summer. Over and over again that summer we did it.
 
Dad fell in love with that team and we kept on rolling, as did I. I even got my pitching under control. That team that beat us on opening night of the league, the A’s; the next time we faced them we beat them 13-3 and laughed at them. Dad wasn’t big on sportsmanship. He taught me that when you are between the white lines your only friends are in your own dugout and you have to decide if you’re there to beat someone’s ass or not. The Blue Jays definitely were.
 
We rolled all the way into the League Championship tournament, and we were the odds on favorite to win it all. There was no mystery to it. As we were in the semi-finals I had one of my finest games. Our offense was stifled that day. We had an ace, and I was not that guy. A pitcher that we had to save for the championship game and even Dad knew this was a key. We had to use me to get there, and my shaky nerves and control. Our bats were stifled that night against the OYAA Indians. It was 2-2 until the late frames. I actually remember earlier in the game that I’d drawn a walk and we were down a run. I had to steal a few bases because we weren’t hitting. The opportunity was golden and pivotal and even as a kid I felt the urgency. I took off for second base and I knew the throw down was perfect and had me beat. Then something happened that I remember being in slow motion. I slid head first short of the second base bag. I rolled sideways out of the way of the shortstop’s tag and reached around him for the base. The hunger that lived inside me for me and my father to get to that base is something I cannot explain. It’s just too deep. I looked up to the umpire and he was right on the play. He awarded me fairly, I’d stolen the bag. I stole third and then scored on a ground out to tie the game.
 
I came up in the top of the 7th (games were only 7 innings in Little League) and there were guys on 2nd and 3rd. I knocked a big base hit into the left center field gap and gave us the lead. Dad handed me the ball and told me I’d gotten us that far, take us home. Take us to the title game. I had pitched really well that day. No semblance of a pitch count, dad knew I had to take us home whether my arm fell off our not. I didn’t complain one time that summer about it hurting and this time was no different. I’d laid in bed so many nights and thought about this moment, and I could taste it now. You think I was going to let down my father and what had became our little slice of dream together?
 
I could feel it now. In the back of my mind I was scared of shitting the bed and sending my team home. Collapsing as I had did on opening night. But on this night, in this inning; I let it rip. I blew away the next three hitters 1-2-3, all strike outs. The final was 4-2. The Blue Jays were going to the title game and my father and I had another night to celebrate. We’d done it.
 
The Championship game was after a several day lay off and as far as we were concerned we were already the Champions. We weren’t safe about it. We were brash, cocky, and down right counting our chickens before they’d hatched. The league commissioner spoke to my dad the night before the game about being gracious champions when we won it and told him he’d really done a heck of a job in the league. He asked my dad how he had this success as a first year coach, as he couldn’t ‘get his own team to gel’. But to be humble wasn’t our style. We were going with the girl that brought us to the dance. In fact, family friends made banners that day congratulating the Champion Blue Jays. A newspaper article was already set to run about the Little League Champions with the team photo. Our side of the ball diamond was lined with distant family members from all of my teammates, and my own family. It was a huge outpour and the post-game celebration was organized by our mothers. I woke up that saturday morning like I had all summer, ready to go out and take home that league issued trophy in my dad’s Buick Skylark. I wanted the trophy to wreak of Lucky Strikes and Michelob’s (dad’s favorite and only beer as long as he’s been my dad).
 
And we went out and baseball taught me and my dad a life lesson. It just wasn’t meant to be. The champions from the other division, the Rockies were on a mission that day. They’d all caught wind of our shit talking. Our cockiness. Our considering ourselves the champions before this game was even played. And it hurt us. Our ace pitcher that we’d wisely saved and rested up didn’t have it at all that day. I had been used up to get to the game. We had to turn to our 3-guy early in that game and he wasn’t really on either. Most of all our mighty bats were silent as well. I felt so helpless. I looked at my dad on the bench late in the game and saw the hurt in his eyes and he saw it in mine. He often talks about what I said to him at that moment; trailing 9-2. “Dad, you gotta do something! We’re going to lose man”.
 
I know that quote stuck with him forever. And he talks about feeling helpless like I did. We scratched across a few late inning runs, and we lost the game 9-4. The dream was over. There were moms crying in the rented out concession stand for our ‘championship celebration’. The Rockies were the champions. We’d let it slip away. All the dreams I had when I listened to that walkman all summer long and thought about nothing but being a champion with my pops were gone.
 
My dad said at our banquet that ‘no matter how long any of us boys played the game of baseball, we’d never have another summer like that one or be on a team that won that many games in a row and took a league by storm like we did’. He was right. He saw the future once again.
He’d coach the next season as well and the magic was gone. We had a late surge but for most of the season we played .500 ball. That’d be my last summer in a recreational league, as I’d once again go on to hit over .500 and a few area coaches caught wind of what I had done. In fact, the coach who cut me for his select team ended up being extremely embarrassed about it and apologizing to me and my family years later. I would go on to play in high school and college ball and it never would have been possible if not for my father.
 
He’s a tough son of a bitch. He instilled that in me the hard way. He doesn’t own a computer or know how to use the internet so he can’t read this post. But my father showed me what it’s all about to be a dad in this way. I owe him forever, but you know what? All in the same he really ended up digging in and enjoying himself.
 
Happy Fathers Day to you and your dad.

Diamond Hoggers has Gone Fishin'

We’re giving ourselves the day off. And maybe tomorrow unless something monumental happens that we just have to hope on the CPU and react to. Otherwise we’ll most likely mosey back to these parts sometime around fathers day and give a nice rundown of the Civil Rights Game and everything else baseball we can possibly write about.


You have yourself a grand Friday and Saturday. You only live something like 20,000 of them.

Lou Piniella is obviously prejudice against Jake Fox

Question for any Cubs fans out there that stumble across the blog. What in God’s name did Jake Fox do to Lou Piniella that makes him hate him so much? We take particular interest in this guy because a teammate of ours from college roomed with Jake Fox in the Great Lakes Summer League and said Fox was a great guy. Fox came out of the University of Michigan. We’re pulling for him to do some business at this level because there’s a good chance we could rub elbows with him. One thing is standing in his way right now: Sweet Lou!


Fox hit the shit out of the ball in AAA Iowa this season. He’s had a good stick in the minor leagues. Now he gets to the Major Leagues and he’s sitting behind Mike Fontenot and Geovany Soto. And all the rest of the Cubs who don’t ever hit. I mean, a game goes 15 innings and Piniella is going to Carlos Zambrano for a pinch hit rather then Fox. If Fox does get in a game it’s sure to be 6 days between at bats. He gets one start, strikes out three times and Piniella made his mind up then that he’s not gonna trust him.

I bet if we talked to Fox or Lou for that matter and got the truth, there’s something to this story. Piniella doesn’t like something about this kid. It’s just quacking like a duck too much.