Throwing it around

We’re once again in the final stretch of a baseball season. It’s a sad time of year. You can’t turn back the time and soon winter will be here. The leaves are changing and by next Tuesday there will be only 8 teams left in play. We throw it around for the first time in a while.

-A Pedro Guerrero cock story. [Deadspin]
-The winner of the AL Central (Tigers or Twins) faces a stacked deck. [Sports Illustrated]
-A damning loss last night for the Atlanta Braves. [Talking Chop]
-Chuck Knoblauch charged with assault. Damn. [Fanhouse]
-Some commentary on Nick Adenhart’s death. [Miller Park Drunk]
-Can the Orioles get to 100 losses? [The Loss Column]
-The Red Sox, part of the postseason again. [Y! Sports Big League Stew]

Eric Wedge is history in C-town

Eric Wedge has been at the helm for the Cleveland Indians for a long tenure. He got close to the World Series the year we began this blog in 2007, and then two tough years followed. We were shocked to learn that the Indians wouldn’t fire Wedge, but at the same time he had pretty good seasons in 2005 & 2007. Plus Indians ownership is dirt cheap.

Well, Wedge is going to be fired after this weekend. The end of an era. And all that good stuff. Hopefully, the Indians go out and get someone that can help restore them to glory. That’s your first thought if you have love for the Indians. Then you realize it’s going to take more then just a good baseball man to really turn this team around. It’s an organizational type thing. Then you just hope they’ll get someone who can agree to hit Grady Sizemore somewhere other then leadoff.

The Tribe is in a lot of trouble. Next year they’ll be fielding offers for anyone on the roster with any value. It’s really sad.

Eric Wedge couldn’t outrun the troubling times in Cleveland. Now he’s history. He wasn’t a bad guy. He just made really shitty baseball moves at times if you ever sat down and watched the Indians at length. He won’t get another managerial job. Cross your fingers for the Indians. God knows the Browns aren’t providing Cleveland fans any relief.

A Special late September night in the Queen City

This one was a lot of fun to pick up and watch from the 2nd inning on, after returning home from dinner on a cool fall night. Reds are playing at home, and when we get the television on they’re up 4-0. Homer Bailey is there front and center blowing hitters away on the 1st place St. Louis Cardinals team.

Take a look at the numbers of our new ace. Over Homer Bailey’s last 8 starts: he’s averaged 6.54 innings pitched, he’s 5-1 with a 1.89 ERA, 46 K’s/21 BB. He’s only given up 2 home runs which were allowed over 30 innings ago.

A tell-tale sign of his maturity and confidence growing in front of our very eyes was hearing him talk about the at-bat of the game when Albert Pujols came up to the plate with the bases loaded (I didn’t realize that Pujols has 5 grand slams this season alone). Reds were up 4-0, and you just had that feeling that Bailey would be burnt yet one more time by the game’s best hitter. And when he got Pujols to fly out to the warning track in deep center, allowing his only run of the night; you just got a good feeling in you. They talked to Bailey after the game and he talked about just taking a walk around the mound, refocusing on the glove and ‘throwing it as hard as you can’. Good to hear that kind of talk out of a guy we always have believed had it in him.

Oh yes, and then there’s Mr. Bruce. Special night for Jay Bruce as he set a career high for RBI’s in a game, as well as home runs in a single season by hitting his 21st and 22nd blasts of the year. Bruce wants to talk about adjustments, but here’s what we saw. We didn’t get to see the first home run but on the second; he didn’t get everything into that ball but it was still gone to the tune of 418 feet in right center field. It wasn’t all that great of a swing. When a ball leaves the yard like that on an awkward swing, you’ve either got natural ability out the ass or you’re doing something right at the plate within the awkward swing. In this case it’s a bit of both.

Just a special night to witness as the Reds have now won 24 of their last 35 ballgames. Oh yeah, and Joey Votto homered as well, his 24th of the season. Scott Rolen drove in Brandon Phillips with an RBI single for the other run in the 7-2 drubbing.
If the Reds can stay healthy, they might be dangerous in 2010. They entered the month of June six games over .500; and then the injuries began to hit. The trouble continued all the way until the third week of August, and since that point they’re 13 games over .500 baseball.

Have we seen Griffey touch em’ all for the last time?

There’s a lot of speculation out there about Ken Griffey Jr. being in his last days. I must admit, as I saw him round the bases last night on his 628th homer of his career, wearing that same white Seattle uniform that I watched him round the bases in the old Kingdome so many times; I got a little excited and had some thoughts that “this could be it” for just a brief second.

I said to my girlfriend “Oh my gosh, Ken Griffey Jr. homered tonight” as if she cared. All she knew was that Baseball Tonight was on, and I haven’t made her have to struggle through that show in a long, long time this year.

And if you really want my opinion on it; yeah, I think this is it for Junior. I think he will retire a few weeks after the season ends after his final tour of duty in Seattle failed to yield him a season of 20 homers. And I think there’s a reason of irony I caught one last glimpse of the guy who helped me fall in love with baseball as an 11-year old kid who didn’t have a whole lot of other things to be happy about back then.

[Seattle Times]
[Box Score]

Oh yeah, he's gonna get it

No secret that we’ll always have a soft spot here for Diamond Hoggers Hall of Famer Adam Dunn. We appreciated what Dunn brought to the game long before almost anyone else did. We preached the same things that are now being brought to light by the Washington Post’s Thomas Boswell. And we’d have done it for a fraction of his salary (and credibility):

“Dunn was the most misunderstood player I have heard about in recent memory,” Rizzo said. “The way he was misconstrued [in Cincinnati] was almost unbelievable. He plays banged up. He’d go out there 162 games if you’d let him. [Except Pujols] he’s the most consistent player in the game the last six years.

For the rest of this homestand, fans may watch Dunn try for an exotic, but meaningful record: 40 homers in six straight seasons. He needs two more. Only Babe Ruth ever had seven straight. More interesting, Ruth is the only player with more than eight seasons of 40 homers (11). If Dunn gets No. 6, he may someday stand second only to Ruth. That would get noticed.

Dunn has five games left to hit two homers and get his 40 homers. And guess what all you fuckos who snarled at us when we said Dunn was a future Hall of Famer? Babe Ruth territory is pretty good, we’d say.

We’re not going to be shocked one bit when Dunner goes into Sunday with 39 home runs and goes out with the rest of the country focused on the NFL and the impending MLB playoffs and he slugs out his 4oth blast of the year. He does it every season. It’s like clockwork and it’s been amazing to watch. Our money is on him reaching the milestone yet again in dramatic fashion.

Adam, we miss you dude. God knows Johnny Gomes got everyone’s dick hard in Cincinnati hitting his 20+ homers for our loser Reds this season and you’d have happily done twice that at a bargain rate.

Who's going to be our 2009 playoff horse?

It’s been a long time since we’ve had this little of a rooting interest in the playoff field of 8 within MLB. Like we wished for in the 2004 postseason, we want to see a matchup of the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Yankees. Two proud franchises with a ton of history and maybe the two best fan bases in all of baseball. But would we ever really get behind either of these teams? Probably not. That sounds about as much fun as battling cancer.

Plus the Dodgers have history. The Red Sox; they also have history. Yeah, fuck them both.

Then you’ve got the upstarts. The Detroit Tigers and the Colorado Rockies. Great stories. Jim Tracy comes in and plays the 2009 version of 2007 Clint Hurdle in Clint Hurdle’s old office. Then you’ve got Jim Leyland, who we love very much here at Diamond Hoggers. It’d be nice to see Detroit win a title for that depressed area of the country, plus we’re sure the national media would take off with a story about how Detroit fans have paid their dues by watching the 0-16 Lions last year. Got news for you all. People from Detroit suck. Colorado Rockies fans don’t give a shit enough to show up for postseason games even in that paradise ballpark.

Then you’ve got the Anaheim Angels. Of course, a great story in what they’ve overcame losing a fallen teammate (Nick Adenhart) in a tragedy within the first month of the season. But how boring are the Angels? I mean really. They didn’t interest me with their rally monkey shit in 2002. They’ve certainly worn me out with the shit now. I honestly can’t sit through 9 innings of fucking Angels baseball and their stupid ass renovated rock fountains.

Then you’ve got the Phillies. Jesus, the worst of all evils. We’ve had our fill of obnoxious fucking Phillie fans all year long after their world title win in 2008. Charlie Manuel had no business winning it then, and he’ll shit the futon in 2009. They won’t be back so we need not worry. The Phillies don’t really have a likable roster. And no, Chase Utley isn’t likable because he’s good. Brett Myers is a wife beater and Ryan Howard is aging fast. The way they’ve bumble fucked the whole closer thing even though they’re headed to the postseason is really irritating. Stick with Lidge. He didn’t blow a save in 2008, afterall. And fuck the Marlins and Mets in the pants for not being able to dethrone these guys.

So you see, in every situation while there’s a reason to root for someone as a baseball fan; there’s an equal and opposite reason why we just can’t. And that’s why it stinks when your team hasn’t had a winning record in almost a decade. You’re searching for reasons to watch the MLB Playoffs and your only reason is so you can add some thoughts on your baseball blog. Really you hate everyone involved and you don’t enjoy that October drama quite as much as everyone else who gets to celebrate following a winning team.

Fuck it. We’re going with Leyland. We wanna see him ride off into the sunset with a warm glass of milk and a few Marlboro Reds.

New York Mets considering a uniform change? “What would make Mets’ fans angrier — another year like this dismal, injury-riddled one or the franchise drastically changing their uniforms? While winning may make anything go down easier, when a team representative was asked about rumors that the team will drop its pinstriped uniform that it has used since 1962 and will adopt a crème-colored home uniform, there was only a vague confirmation that there could be changes.” [North]

Bobby Valentine returning to ESPN

We’ve always had a soft spot for Bobby Valentine. That swagger, that smile, that charm, that tan. It was a huge thrill to meet the guy. He’s got that infectious personality that you just can’t stay away from. And now, Valentine is returning to ESPN:

Valentine, who previously worked for ESPN in 2003, will take on expanded duties in 2010. He will appear on “Baseball Tonight” and 1050 ESPN Radio in New York, and contribute to, the local ESPN sports site that launches next year.

“Bobby’s global knowledge of the game and dynamic personality make him a great addition to our baseball franchise,” said Norby Williamson, executive vice president, production. “We’re thrilled to welcome him back to ESPN.”
Expect a spike in Baseball Tonight’s program ratings in 2010 from at least one household. No one knows as much about baseball, women, life, the works as Bobby Valentine does. Nobody.
Me & Bobby V. [Diamond Hoggers]

Angels clinch AL West last evening. Big 11-0 victory over the Texas Rangers clinches things for the Angels of Anaheim. There’s some shots circulating of them getting drunk and pouring booze all over a Nick Adenhart jersey. We pose the often asked question, too soon? Nevertheless, the Angels fought hard all year and it was one of the better stories of the season that they hung on for their fallen teammate. [Deadspin]

Jay Bruce mini-resurgence

When Jay Bruce returned from the DL, we stated that we thought it would be possible for him to go on a little run similar to when he entered the big leagues. We just had a feeling he’d play his best baseball since he’d went on that 3 week tear to enter Major League Baseball. In a way, we were right:

In his last 33 plate appearances, Jay Bruce: .357/.455/.643 – 1.098 OPS. He’s drawing walks and is hitting the ball to the opposite field.

Small sample size, but encouraging.

The sun sets again for Reds fans

There’s just six meaningless baseball games left in our once full season. Where in the Hell did this season go? It seemed like it was just yesterday that we were walking around the Queen city on Opening Day in freezing temperatures, watching our buddy take shots off a bartender after the game.

And now we’re down to this. Two more Homer Bailey starts, including one tonight against the Cardinals. Maybe Jay Bruce gets three or four more games in right field. Then we’ve got a whole offseason to speculate what the heck the Reds will do. And that spans out an entire frosty winter and a long, cold spring.
Don’t do this to us baseball season. This was the year that the Reds were supposed to resemble the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays. Next year we won’t be fooled like that. And this season has been a disappointment for us no doubt that caused us to slack in the blogging department at times. When your favorite sports team struggles, it can cause you to lose enthusiasm for a sport. We’re victims of that like anyone else.
But we’re really going to miss our Reds. And we’re going to miss waking up every day and looking forward to the first pitch of a 7:00 PM game. There are things that a baseball fan just can’t forget about all offseason. Those are the things we’ll be thinking about until next April.

Olney: Reds furthest away from contention in NL

We’re sure you heard what Buster Olney said this past week in an ESPN chat. If not, here’s a refresher.

Just before I started this chat, I got off the phone with an evaluator who thinks that right now, among NL teams, the Reds might be the farthest away from contending. I’m not sure that I disagree. It’s amazing that next year, these four players are lined up to account for about 60 percent of their payroll (if they keep it in place)….Scott Rolen, Francisco Cordero, Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang. There is not a lot of future there, and Volquez is probably not going to pitch again until late next season or 2011.

The Reds have been the best team in baseball since late August. Inspiring wins in Houston (which has been a house of horrors in the past) on Friday and Saturday night followed suit with everything we’ve seen over the past month. They’ve scored 50-something runs on a current 6 game winning streak.

So what does it all mean? Basically the Reds are playing great meaningless baseball. When it doesn’t matter, they turn it on. They seem to do it every year. And next year at this time of year when they’re playing their way out of the cellar we’ll do another post like this.

I do believe that was a Fantasy Baseball championship you cost me, Mr. Chamberlain

So the entire season I’m dominating my Yahoo Head-to-Head Fantasy Baseball league. I enter this end of the season horseshit tournament as the overwhelming #1 seed. All season long, my team dominated every single category except for the occasional slip up in which I’d only win 7 to 3 or 8-2 instead of 9-1 or 10-0 for the week.

I’m cruising right along and yesterday I need good starts from Adam Wainwright, Randy Wolf, and…….. Joba Chamberlain. Aparently, I should have left Joba out of things. I would have advanced to the championship round that I earned all season long. Instead, I’m left playing for 3rd place in my Yahoo Sports fantasy league.

Joba goes out yesterday and shits the futon. Wainwright and Wolf do their jobs. My team steals 2 bases on Sunday to tie that category, so all I need to do is catch my opponent in one pitching category. Due to Joba, it didn’t happen.

My team, which included Pablo Sandoval, Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, Derek Jeter, Brandon Phillips (on the bench), Aaron Hill, Justin Upton, Hanley Ramirez, and every other fucking stud that plays the game; is now sitting at home. A great draft, great pickups, great lineup moves are all for naught because I lost 5-4 this past round. Now two boring teams are left playing for the gold.

People, listen to me. This is why you should never agree to do a Head to Head fantasy league, under any condition. You will waste your time. I’ll have you know that the true baseball knowledge shows in a rotisserie league that the categories are cumulative in all season long. That way you won’t get robbed by a fat toad like Joba Chamberlain in what was basically a tune-up start for him on the road in Seattle. I’m proud to say I’m going to win my 10-team Roto ESPN fantasy league. That will soften the blow a little bit. As for you Joba, thanks again.

#1 Offseason Priority: Fire Brook Jacoby

Quick Sunday morning rant here, and then I’m gonna go watch some NFL football until I turn out my bedroom light tonight. Sunday is an excellent day to forget the sport of baseball even exists. And one quick note, has there ever been a September where things felt more like scrimmages each night? I mean these games more then ever before feel like Spring Training games to me in Cincinnati. Even when we win, I have that feeling like; “oh well the other team wasn’t really trying”. The rosters feel like they’ve been expanded to 60 players, not 40.

And my rant is about the Reds hitting coach, Brook Jacoby. If this guy isn’t fired I need to find a new team next year. He’s taken our stable of young hitters and instead of progressing and moving them along like he should at the MLB level, he’s made them all worse! We get a top flight prospect at Louisville and he comes to the Major Leagues and every single one of them has problems with pitch recognition, taking the ball the other way, and generally develops into a .212-.250 hitter with holes in their swing. In comparison, the Dodgers have Don Mattingly as their hitting coach. Don Mattingly > Brook Jacoby.

Now why could this be? Well, I’m going to blame the coach on this one, not the players. Jacoby was a .270 career big league hitter in 11 seasons. I owned a few of his baseball cards when he was a Cleveland Indian. He was honestly nothing special. I have as much business teaching hitting philosophy to big league hitters as this guy. If he’s not sacking groceries come January or February I’m going to be going fucking bat shit on this blog about it. I’m sick and tired of getting guys to the show only to have them flame out because our hitting coach can’t get them over the hump after they leave Louisville. I’m tired of seeing prolonged slumps because the way our organization teaches hitting at this level has a lack of a good mental approach when someone steps to the plate.

So I’m starting the campaign and I’m going to market it hard! FIRE BROOK JACOBY!!!!!!