Breaking the silence in the name of Home-Dawg Bailey

We have to chip in here with something, as the Reds pulled out a 6-4 win earlier tonight in front of the home crowd to snap a 6-game losing streak.

We gotta give some props to our homeboy Homer Bailey. In a season that’s been unbelievably frustrating in so many ways, prominent only in the amount of disappointment we’ve faced as fans of this franchise; and not short on heartbreak–this just might be the year you can look back on and say that Homer Bailey arrived a little bit.

If you watch the guy pitch and don’t look at the box score, he’s been even better then advertised. You know what I love about him? The way he goes after the best hitter in your lineup with his best stuff instead of backing down. That’s what a young gun is supposed to do. In recent weeks (and including tonight) he has slayed big dragons such as Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard, and Adrian Gonzalez when they were having nice at-bats. He got them to strike out with his best pitch deep in the count after they fought off several.

In our opinion the guy is going to be the star he was advertised as. At the very least, he’s got top of the rotation stuff and he’s young. That’s enough to get excited about in Cincinnati. So as you search for reasons to cheer for an outfield Gomes, Taveras, and Nix; when #34 is on the bump firing the Homer Bailey Express, you should be glued to the television. This guy is developing and piecing together really consistent performances for a lackluster club.

And one more thing. No doubt about who’s fuckin’ tonight! Way to go Homer.

Justin Upton is getting some serious respect. “Already one of the best players in the league at age 21. We’ve already talked about the pedigree of players who are this good at such a young age, and the career arc for this kind of player usually leads to multiple All-Star games and a good shot at Cooperstown. The bat is that special, and he’s a pretty decent right fielder to boot. As a pre-arb player, he won’t make any serious cash until the 2011 season, and he’s under club control through 2013. Enjoy him, Arizona.” [FanGraphs]

The Curse of Diamond Hoggers rides on

Alright. So we were out of the country for a few days. Out of touch with the world. We got a flurry of texts when we turned our cell phone back on regarding Jay Bruce’s broken wrist that will sideline him anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks.

When we heard this news we thought it was a bad joke being played by friends. Then when it was confirmed, our stomach literally turned.

We have never felt so down and out about something that happened in sports. We took it really hard and we feel awful for Jay. At the same time, everything happens for a reason. Who knows, this could be a breath of fresh air in a young career that will end up being the best thing that ever happened to Jay.

It still doesn’t make us feel any better. We’re utterly speechless. We feel like every time we really get behind a guy, something like this happens. We feel to blame to a degree. Even if it is silly.

Long and short of it, we’ve decided to take some time off from blogging. For a variety of reasons. This was the icing on the cake, even though we were leaning towards it. The Reds season is now over. It’s soon to be football season. We just need to take time away from writing about this sport because we are left feeling uninspired and upset about what has happened to our favorite player. It just doesn’t seem fair. But we keep telling ourselves that everything has a cause and reason behind it.

Get well soon, Jay. We’re extremely sorry this happened and you are in our thoughts. We believe in you and we know you’re going to make it back better then ever. This is only the beginning of things.

Thank you for your continued support of Diamond Hoggers baseball blog. We WILL be back. We don’t know when, but we will be back. For right now, that’s all we’ve got. This feels like a bad, sick, twisted dream. Unreal.

Time for an update: What we think

A lot of people have been logging on lately only to find a blog that isn’t updated with fresh takes. We have to apologize as we’ve been extremely busy away from the blog, and that will probably continue into next week. But we’ve got a few things we’d like to talk about.

-Having watched the E! True Hollywood Story about Baseball Wives last night, I have to say they really didn’t get across the message that you’d hope. They left us feeling like they’d left out a lot of the harsh truths of what it’s really like being a baseball wive. You know, we read the book Juicy by Jessica Canseco. Is every baseball wife’s life like that? Absolutely not. Is that a good look into how it is for some and potentially many of them? Absolutely.

It’s not always all roses like Jenny Finch and Casey Daigle. Daigle is hardly a ballplayer at all. He hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2006 and threw only 61 and 1/3 big league innings. We don’t care that he married a sweetheart in Jenny Finch. That wasn’t an objective look into a baseball marriage. It was, in a word; boring.

Not to be a shit spreader, but there are websites out there that will show you what is a possible truth about Scott Proctor. I got the feeling of being duped when I heard him talk about putting his family before baseball. I’ve heard many tales. I don’t know if they are true or not. But I know that where there is a lot of smoke there is usually fire. What we’ve heard in the past is that Proctor and Kyle Farnsworth were dirtballs in their Yankee days, wives or not.

Is it fine to have a picture perfect couple like Cole and Heidi Hamels on the show to talk about their fairy tale romance? Absolutely. But we expected to see some baseball wives and players sitting in the dark with their voice disguised, talking about what it’s really like to go on the road. There are plenty of players who don’t cheat. But there are plenty who absolutely do. Let the recent shocking incidents of Steve Mcnair remind us all that athletes are never who we think they are 100% of the time. Shame on E! television for giving us an only half truth. In our opinion, that show was a wasted hour of our life. There was no build up.

Oh yeah, and one more thing. In our 25+ years of following the game of baseball, Josh Hamilton’s story remains the most amazing we’ve ever followed. As we said to our friend we saw the show with last night, there’s no way that Hamilton cheats on wife Katie Hamilton. The real point though, is that it’s amazing that the Cincinnati Reds actually had this guy who will one day be talked about as a Ruthian legend, and basically gave him away. A terrible move by the Reds. In a decade, this guy’s legend will go well beyond the statistics he amasses on the back of his baseball card. He is an amazing human being and hearing his story once again last night about how Christ came into his life is living proof of the Lord itself. What else could save a man like that?

-Now about the Reds. We’ve been watching them long enough to have a pretty good idea what we have in them this season. This isn’t a team of world beaters. Before the season we predicted they’d go 80-82 and be competitive all season long. Through half of a season, that’s exactly what they’re doing.

It’s pretty easy to see that watching this team with high expectations will drive you crazy. That’s why we’ve pretty much stopped letting them be the life and death of our every day. We had to step away. We had to. If not, they’d drive us nuts. Bad day. Good day. Followed by horrible day. Followed by big win. Followed by pummeling loss. It’s going to be that way all season, you see. It just is. They’re going to win one tight, then lose a heartbreaker the next day. They’re going to win a big game that they somehow pull out, only to get beat 22-1 the next day. There’s nothing that says this team is owed a 7-game winning streak to springboard them in the standings. Sometimes what you see is reality. The Reds just aren’t anything special. They need some help. I’m not sure they’re going to get the type of help they need. They’re probably a year away. And that’s fine. So long as you aren’t a person who lives for baseball season like us, because this is the type of team that can cause your blood pressure to rise.

-Homer Bailey has arrived. The guy was consistently throwing 95 and 96 MPH on the gun last night, and dropping in full count curve balls to strike out a fooled Ryan Howard looking. It makes you wonder why the Reds fooled with Bailey’s delivery ever. It’s clear that whoever was directing him in this organization was holding him back. He’s a stud. And when I say that, I am saying as an objective blogger that he’s got as good of stuff as anyone on the staff. I think the only thing missing was Bailey believing in himself and getting the go ahead to pitch how he feels best suited.

The Reds haven’t had a guy who racked up 10 K’s a game at-will in a long time. Think about it. They’ve had plenty of guys hyped to be the next strikeout king in baseball, but no one has actually went out and done it. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that as Homer Bailey matures a bit, he could be that guy. He looks that good right now. We are very happy for Bailey and will be watching him closely. There’s no way you take him out of the rotation at this point. He needs to be groomed to possibly be the #2 guy by as soon as next season. We like his upside more then that of Johnny Cueto and Edison Volquez. But that’s just us.

-Jay Bruce. What a tangled web we weave. We’ve been relatively quiet about it, but if you read this blog at any length, of course you know that what he’s going through is really bothering us. And it’s bothering us because we’ve been in a slump where for no apparent reason, things just seem to not work out at a given time. That’s baseball.

We aren’t sure, but there’s probably a thousand people telling Bruce this advice or that advice. If we could talk to Jay and give him advice for 5 minutes we’d tell him this: In life, we’re all called to do something. It’s not decided by anything other then fate. You have to have that belief as you are out in the world making your start somewhere. For Jay, we know that it was his destiny to be a great player in the game of baseball. It just was. No one can change that. He has to have the belief in himself and his own fate that he is in his calling right now. He’s a great kid and that’s why this particular situation is really bothering us. He is a player who deserves success. And when that day comes (not if) we’re going to be proud to say we stuck with him and believed in him all the way. We’re going to celebrate. We are in your corner, dude.

Of course, if we could give him one piece of baseball advice; it’d be exactly what we did when we got in a slump. Keep things as simple as possible. It’s easier said then done, but tighten up the stance, and be quieter in the batter’s box. Search for the focus and go back to the basics. When you keep things simple, it’s easier to focus. When a thousand thoughts aren’t swimming in your mind, the hits will start to fall. They just will. Remember it’s destiny. Bad luck can only keep a great player down for so long. After that point, you have to ask yourself are you buying into the pressure and the fans too much. It’s you against the world out there when you are in the batters box. But there’s millions of people across the country who believe in you and know you have it in you. The bad luck will come to pass and the slump will be over if you just continue to work hard and have that faith.

I always promised to never involve God in a baseball game or anything surrounding it. But in this I broke that promise. I have begun to pray for Jay (and the Reds sometimes, only when absolutely necessary). I’m not praying that he comes out of his slump. I’m praying that he’ll have that faith in himself and that inner strength to get through what we’re sure will be the most challenging part of his long career. Not even sure if Jay is a believer, and that isn’t really important. He’s got people who care about him that are sending good karma his way; and things are going to turn around very soon.

And another thing. If you’re one of those people talking about sending him down to Louisville, you’re flat dead wrong. The kid hit almost .370 last season in AAA. He has nothing more to learn or prove at that level of baseball. This team isn’t a World Series contender are they? No, they aren’t. So you let this kid work out his kinks at this level so when we are contenders, he’s ready. That’s the smart money, and I’m proud of the Reds for their patience at least to this point. They’re actually making the right move for once. Plus he’s one of the finest right fielders in the game already.

-That’s all we’ve got for today. Let us know your thoughts.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned–Philadelphia is too colored of a city to beat us boys

I’ll tell ya sweeties, you need this game tonight. This sure is an important game tonight; Schottzie. This one would get our boys over .500 for the year.

But I’m not worried honeys. No I’m not worried. You know why? Because there’s a ton of coloreds in Philadelphia honey. Well, what? I am not saying there isn’t a few smart coloreds mixed in. But you know sweetie; that well, most coloreds aren’t very smart.

I always liked going through Philadelphia on a road trip. I had a hotel bellhop one trip there named Emanuel. He was a colored. Six feet five inches. I tell ya, he had a head full of rocks. But I guaruntee he carried a king snake in his pants sweetie. Guaruntee.

Oh and that guy pitching for the Phillies tonight. He’s been around forever sweeties. When he started pitching I was still shaving my bikini line honey.

So win one for Schottzie and me tonight sweeties. And if that dumb zephyr Encarnacion doesn’t start earning his keep, he’ll be cleaning out my ashtrays. Know what I mean sweetie?

DH Off-Topic: RIP Air Mcnair

I saw it run across the bottom line of ESPN’s news crawler yesterday afternoon and sitting in the hotel lobby I raised up from my chair. It was an absolutely flooring reality for me: Steve Mcnair is dead.

It’s pretty obvious that he had a girlfriend on the side of his marriage, Sahel Kazemi. And we don’t want to speculate too much but she sounds (and looks like) a crazy bitch.

This is a baseball blog. But it’s a sports blog too. This is something so harsh, you don’t even really know how to react to it. I remember as a kid back in 1995 when Mcnair was selected by the Houston Oilers 3rd overall out of Alcorn State thinking ‘this is a dude I could really pull for’. He was tough. He made his teammates rise above adversity. He didn’t let down in the pros.

That drive at the end of the Super Bowl against the Rams was something out of a Hollywood script. It takes a lot for a player to really wow me, but he did it over and over again in that final minute and 48 ticks of that game. He was a guy who would be on the injury list every week, only to show up on Sunday and get a victory.

Aside from what he did as an athlete, it’s the case of a good man who strayed from the path we all thought he was on. Another harsh lesson that in life, humans are capable of anything; both good and bad.

It’s hard to see someone you grew up watching have their life end this way. It’s pathetic. Diamond Hoggers sends thoughts and a boat load of prayers to the Mcnair family at this time. And to Air Mcnair himself, we have a feeling Johnny Unitas just took a few pointers about being a gamer from you up in Heaven.

Adam Dunn homers for the 300th time

We have been waiting on this moment for a long time. And it’s got to get some mention. Adam Dunn slugged his 300th home run of his career yesterday on the 4th of July.

We have always seen Dunn as a guy who is going to end up with 500 and 600 home runs, and with him being only 29 years of age; it is looking more and more like a probably possibility. In this day in age, hitting 300 clean home runs says a hell of a lot about a power hitter.

But it’s bittersweet. We saw a high percentage of Adam Dunn’s homers when he was making his stake in this league as a young player. We thought he’d chase down these types of milestones with the Cincinnati Reds. Things didn’t work out that way. It’s hard to see him do this in another city, but that is the way sports go. We still keep an eye on him in the box scores and admire his Ruthian blasts from afar on the nightly highlight shows.

So Adam, congratulations. We miss you buddy. Here’s to 300 more–we know you have it in you.

The 4th of July; a glorious festivus

If I’m lucky (this could be said for any of us) I’ll live to see 65 or 75 Fourth of July holidays. You know, give or take. I’ve used up a third of them and now I’m in the second third. I think a lot about life as it passes us by and what it all means. I think the 4th of July is one of the happiest times for our country, is it not?

A couple of years we did a joke post about the 4th of July of a lifetime. That was good for a few laughs but thinking back to my childhood, I had such great 4th of July holidays.

So many things come to mind. Playing baseball in the front yard all day with the neighborhood kids, only stopping when my dad told me the home made vanilla ice cream was done. When I got a little older, I ran the grill with my mom. And then a little older, me and some buddies were still playing ball in the front yard in High School and we decided we wanted to add Budweiser into the equation; because that was American to us. And so we went to the gas station and had someone who was of legal age buy us those Budweiser tall boys. And we went back in the yard and played ball until the boomers went off.

And I got a little older. The big party at my house with all my best friends from college. Passing out on my sisters trampoline around a bonfire. Every memory on the 4th ended with beautiful fireworks. It also culminated beautifully with the sport of baseball, as there is great MLB action on all day on this day to honor our country.

I remember a charity when I was a kid that every home run hit on the 4th there was some huge amount of money donated. This was for the minor and major leagues. I just thought it was a really cool concept even as a kid. I really wanted my favorite players to homer on this day.

Like the kids in the move Sandlot. There’s something mystifying about this day for a baseball fan.

This year, there isn’t going to be any fireworks. I’m in Ft. Wayne, Indiana for a wedding. I’ll probably never be here again. It’s a very quaint town. So today, instead of seeing new fireworks and making new typical 4th of July memories, I think back to all the great ones I’ve had before and hopefully will have in the future. And at 1:00, even though we’ve been kicked out of our hotel room, I’m going to find somewhere to watch my team play on some television somewhere. It’s what the fourth means to me. It’s American. It feels good.

I want to wish everyone who crosses paths with this site a safe and happy 4th of July. It’s one of the best holidays there is.

The stuff of which turning points are made of

Yesterday’s game wasn’t televised, but I wanted to make sure I caught the highlights on television. I had to see for my own eyes the throw that Jay Bruce made to save a game. The throw that possibly saved a season.

Arizona is not a team you want to drop two games out of three to; especially with St. Louis rolling into town tonight. This is a make or break homestand for the Reds.

And when the Reds needed him most, Jay Bruce delivered. His 10th assist of the season was a perfect strike to home plate in crunch time. When Ramon Hernandez caught the ball, there was a slight collision. It was like throwback, old-style baseball. And Alex Romero was out.

The Reds headed to the bottom of the 10th and loaded the bases. Bruce’s bunt single caught the Dbacks off guard. Joey Votto is having one of those special years. He’s hitting everything. His fourth hit of the afternoon was his first walk-off hit of his career. The Reds stole the game and then a good old fashioned celebration ensued.

As Chis Dickerson crossed home plate, you could see this was a huge win for the Reds. It was one of those team victories where they got a sprinkle of contribution from everyone. And I’ll go on record right now and say that it just could be a springboard into something very big. Watch the Reds record from June 2nd onwards. I would bet you if they’ve got a hot run in them, it’s going to come very soon from here.

MLB 4 ALS Campaign is a good one

This saturday is the 70th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s courageous and legendary speech at Yankee Stadium in his farewell. To honor him, Major League Baseball and it’s players will honor Gehrig and the disease that claimed his life with a patch pictured above.

This is a very good charity and cause. The idea to raise awareness on this terrible disease is very hopeful. To read more about it, check out; where there will be a charity auction held to support the cause of fighting ALS.
*Also, check out ‘Letters from Lou’. Really good reads that ESPN has put together of the Iron Horse’s correspondence with close friend and doctor up until his last days. That is one brave man. A man’s man.

Just remember there’s always someone having a worse day then you

It’s just one of those days. We feel like shit and our team fields a blah lineup with Jay Bruce on the bench and it’s just a blah day altogether.

So enter this video. It’s the perfect day for it. And we’ve known about it for a while. Here we have an innocent looking Polish woman doing God knows what, is she posing for a picture with a bear? Hello…. it’s a FUCKING BEAR. They aren’t like house pets. You don’t willingly pose for pictures with circus bears.

And the best is the animal trainer. Look at him smiling for the pictures with Asya. And then the bear attacks. He cannot be contained. Notice the man who tries to subdue him. The meaningless swats with that little whip contraption. You have to love how the animal trainer then wrestles Asya with everything he has. And the trainer is underneath Asya!

Then the man in the bow tie says “Asya you —-!”

What do you think he was calling Asya? You wouldn’t call a bear a ‘bitch’ in frustration would you? Only if you were having a terrible day, I suppose.

Johnny Cueto is the Question & the Answer

Johnny Cueto threw six shutout innings last night, striking out 8 Arizona hitters in improving his record to 8-4. Cueto has been so good in the first half that he is almost a lock to be the Reds lone All-Star, that is if Coco Cordero (who locked down save 19) doesn’t get a selection.
Bottom line: Cueto has Cy Young stuff on most nights. Last year he had it on some days. But he’s putting it all together this year. And teams aren’t able to hit him much. He’s got a 2.69 ERA which puts him in Tim Lincecum and Chris Carpenter territory.

The Reds mustered only 9 hits on the night, and the only scoring blow was a Joey Votto bloop job that scored the suddenly torrid Chris Dickerson. Dickerson’s average is up to .283 on the year; and he and Votto were the only Reds to collect multiple hits in the game.
Jerry Hairston made the play of the game at shortstop, diving in the hole and flipping to Brandon Phillips at second base to take away a hit and end an inning. And for what seems like the 100th time on the year, the Reds are back to .500 at 38-38, good enough for three games back in the NL Central.