Has anyone else caught a glimpse of Eric Wedge lately?

Last evening I thought to watch Baseball Tonight for one of the first times all summer. I turned my head just in time to catch Mariners skipper Eric Wedge getting tossed from yesterday’s loss to the Marlins.

And then I saw the bullshit that is moonlighting as Wedge’s facial hair.

Does anyone remember Shave Eric Wedge? Summer of 2005? We do. It was priceless. It’s long gone now. Only a lonely and long forgotten Facebook group remains from it’s legendary presence on the web that magical summer. But if those guys could somehow come back, never has a message needed conveyed so badly to a skipper.

Do something, Eric.

Some photos from a May evening at Progressive Field

The following photos were taken May 20th, when the Reds opened up Interleague Play with the Indians in Cleveland with a 5-4 loss to the Tribe.

Right at our arrival the Reds were taking some BP before the game.

Look at the size at that Cleveland Polish Sausage! My goodness! This is one of the best deals in baseball. It’s like $6.75, and if you get one of these before the game you will not be hungry again for the rest of the game.

The toothbrush stadium lights can mean only one thing: you’re in Cleveland at The Jake, baby.

Alex White, 2009 1st round pick (15th overall) by the Tribe making one of three starts that he made in 2011. He got hurt in this start and hasn’t been back since.

A pretty good look at the outfield at Progressive Field. Chris Heisey and Drew Stubbs are cast in this photo.

Bruce at bat against Alex White. He doubled off White and singled later in the game. He was the only Red with two hits on the evening.

This was a picture of the scoreboard and what was going on (shhhhhh) just moments before it was broken up by none other than……

Austin friggin’ Kearns. Hanging on, hanging around, average always below the Mendoza line but had enough left in him to get a huge hit against his former team and ruin Travis Wood’s no-hit bid.

The Reds find a way to Big Game James and the Rays

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com] [Rays Index]

Reds fans might just look back on Ryan Hanigan’s 3-run home run off James Shields in the fourth frame of yesterday’s game as being one of the biggest hits of the year for the Reds.

Yesterday’s win was a big, big win on the heels of a very tough heartbreaking loss. And taking two out of three on the road from a very good ballclub was no short order for the Reds. Coupled with the Brewers 5-2 loss in the Bronx, the win allowed the Reds to pull within 2 and 1/2 games of first place in the National League Central.

I knew this would be a tough win for the Reds. James Shields was on his game. He struck out 10 different Reds hitters, or not actually. Four of those times, Jay Bruce was the culprit. It was his first Golden Sombrero of memory, and he’ll be getting christened sometime soon by our friends over at The Golden Sombrero.

Freddy Lewis had a huge hit in this one, a line drive single to left field that scored Johnny Gomes and the run that would stand up to be the winning run.

Francisco Cordero entered the game in the bottom of the 9th and locked down things for his 16th save. Cordero has been remarkably solid this season–minus that night in Philadelphia that Ryan Howard hit a ball that still hasn’t landed and the Reds ended up losing in 19.

The Reds come home for a very big series at home against the Cleveland Indians with a chance to once again make some hay. It’s time to make a move in the standings and build some momentum before the All-Star break.

Evan Longoria walk off homers the Reds in the bottom of the 9th

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com] [Rays Index]

This game had a playoff style atmosphere from the beginning. In a night of huge pitching match-ups around Major League Baseball (Cliff Lee/Josh Beckett, Tommy Hanson/Michael Pineda, among others) this one probably did the finest job of living up to the billing.

Johnny Damon’s solo home run off Johnny Cueto was the only mark that the Rays could muster against the Reds ace for the first seven innings. The Reds battled against David Price who was more than on his ‘A’ game, and got a triple off the center field wall by Drew Stubbs and then tied the game a batter later on an Edgar Renteria RBI single.

Later in the inning, Renteria stole second base on an 0-2 pitch to Joey Votto. Votto then doubled a few deliveries later to put the Reds up 2-1 and knock Price from the game.

Johnny Damon hit a pitcher’s pitch from Bill Bray into the shallow left center area that fell just out of the reach of Chris Heisey’s glove to give the Rays a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the 8th inning.

The Rays then brought on their closer, Kyle Farnsworth in the top of the 9th inning. Farnsworth entered the game with a 1.99 ERA and 17 saves in 18 opportunities. That’s uncharacteristically good for Farnsworth, and as I told my friend that I was watching the game with ‘at some point the guy is going to play to the back of his baseball card, he’s due to blow a save’.

Jay Bruce led off the inning and worked the count full, and then connected on a mammoth blast to dead center field that tied the game at 3.

The excitement wouldn’t last long. Evan Longoria hit an inside fastball from Logan Ondrusek into the seats in left field in the bottom of the 9th inning to give the Rays the victory.

At some point, the Reds are going to have to stop doing this. They’re now 11-17 in one run ballgames. The summer is flying by, and these were victories that the Reds were collecting at this time last year. They now sit narrowly at one game over the .500 mark at the exact halfway point; and they trail the Milwaukee Brewers by 3.5 games in the NL Central. They’re now officially in 4th place with the Pirates taking over third.

Some might say that it’s only 3.5 games, and yes a big week from the Reds could have them knocking on the door of first place. But a poor week or even a poor two-week stretch could definitely put them out of things for good at this point. Every night is pivotal and the floundering Reds have everyone waiting on them to get hot and it just isn’t happening.

Video Select: Randy Johnson warms up in the Old Kingdome

It doesn’t get much more classic than this. Some guy got some really great footage on his home camcorder of Randy Johnson getting hot before a start in the Seattle Kingdome.

And of course I found this by YouTube searching for ‘Seattle Kingdome’. Please do not ask me why I did this.

A little deeper digging and you see this guy has some really cool footage of Ken Griffey Jr. hitting bombs in his prime.

Definitely a nice walk down memory lane of a neat stadium of our childhood and the characters that made it so famous.

Adam Dunn is in serious trouble

But Dunn isn’t crushing baseballs now. He’s not even hitting them. His batting average is .173 — the lowest full-season batting average in the last 75 years is Rob Deer’s .179 in 1991.* Dunn pops up to the infield more often than he homers. And with that third outcome missing, watching him is torturous. It isn’t just that the thrill of the home runs is gone.The strikeouts, which used to seem dramatic and mere side effects for the 40 home runs he hit every year, now seem pointless and inevitable. The walks seems kind of pathetic. Everything about an Adam Dunn at-bat these days feels like trauma. That horrifying scene in Swingers where Favreau keeps calling back the girl he met in the bar? Yeah, every Adam Dunn at-bat feels like that. [Joe Posnanski]

The Frustration of being a Jay Bruce fan

How does a guy hit 12 home runs in a month, then go 22 games without hitting a single shot into the seats? Over the last 22 games, Jay Bruce has hit at a .225 clip and driven in just four runs with no long balls. Thus is the life of being a Jay Bruce fan.

This is essentially what Jay Bruce did last year–only flip flopped. Good month, followed by month of zero counting stats. Sure he had the big finish with the memorable home run; but he essentially did nothing in the entire month of July.

At the end of May, Bruce was a sure-fire National League All Star. Not only has he played his way completely out of contention for making an appearance in Arizona in a few weeks, but he’s trending towards having another lukewarm season altogether.

And this is our frustration with Jay Bruce. He explodes for a few weeks of the season; gathers most of his counting stats for that given year and then disappears for weeks at a time and you wonder if he’s ever going to hit again. And at the same time, the problem with Bruce has to lay between the ears. You get the feeling watching him that Bruce starts to over-think his swing much like we do on the golf course. Pretty soon, things get too mechanical and there’s big problems.

We’ve been in this spot before, albeit a year ago and a month later on in the season. Bruce has got to get it going a little bit again. Let’s face it, the game of baseball and being a Reds fan is a lot more enjoyable thing when this guy is hitting.

East Coast Cruising

I’m on the way to New Jersey for the weekend with Mrs. Diamond Hoggers (it’s time to pick up the ol’ marriage license) and now that the site has been moved to WordPress I can do all kinds of cool things like scribe right from my phone.

In fact, I’m all set for this trip. I’m writing this post with the Reds pregame on 700WLW on the radio. In a little bit, I’ll take in the Reds game and at around 10:00 I’ll switch it over to the Braves game which takes place out in San Diego.

I might have 9 hours of time on the open road and baseball covering at least 6 or 7 of those hours.
I’m feeling extremely thankful and lucky for that.

Couple of things about the now:

-Aroldis Chapman is back tonight. I’m thrilled about it. He’s ready. Plus my fantasy team needs his Holds and K/9 desperately.

-Reds in Baltimore tonight. It’s the first time in 41 years. I would give about anything to be there. Have fun Alessandra.

I’ll be checking in and doing some posts and catching up on the blog in between some holes of golf this weekend. Hope everyone has a great start to their weekend.

Jim Riggleman goes out in a blaze of glory

Jim Riggleman goes out and has a few belts with some young dames on his way out of town. “I was solving the world’s problems last night at Caddies…I had to let those ladies get a look at me…There are some beautiful young ladies in that place!” [Nats Enquirer]

This of course following the untimely resignation of Jim Riggleman yesterday. Riggs seems like a guy who we would really enjoy hanging out with. He’s a take zero shit type of guy.

The Atlanta Braves are going to be alright

The Atlanta Braves sit at 43-33, 10 games over the .500 mark and four games behind the Philadelphia Phillies for the coveted first place spot in the NL East.

The Braves enter their three game weekend series in San Diego on the mend. And when these guys get fully healthy they’ve got the opportunity to be a downright scary squad.

They’ve weathered some tough storms in the early part of this season, and have still managed to play 10 games above .500 baseball. They’ve gotten barely anything out of Jason Heyward–who someday should evolve into the biggest prize in all of the game. It might not be this year, but it’s fair to expect that Heyward will perform better for the remainder of the year than he has so far. Another player who falls in that category is Dan Uggla, who has been way worse than his career norms.

If they can just remain reasonably healthy and continue to tread water at the current pace for a few more weeks, they’re going to get back Martin Prado and Tommy Hanson back by the middle of July. That’s when this team will open it’s sales and be running wide awake, we presume. By then, they could be the best all around team in baseball.

This squad is likable for many reasons.

One of those reasons? They’re our MLB: The Show ’11 team of choice (with the addition of Michael Bourn). Johnny Venters, Chipper Jones, Craig Kimbrel, Uggla, Heyward, Prado, Jordan Schaefer, Nate Mclouth, Brian McCann, the list goes on and on. It’s a nice nucleus they’ve compiled to run down those Phillies.

The Braves are going to be right the thick of things until the end of things. Count on it.

Reds split doubleheader with Yankees

[Box Score – Game 1] [Box Score – Game 2]

The doubleheader with the New York Yankees wasn’t quite everything I wanted it to be and then some. The Brewers and Cardinals lost, so with a pair of wins the Reds had the rare chance to pick up 1.5 games on both of those teams. It didn’t happen.

Joey Votto and Jay Bruce picked up 2 hits combined in a full day of action. The Reds are playing such a frustrating brand of baseball right now.

To be honest, this group is stale on me. This group isn’t doing much for me. They need some overhauling. Walt needs to go out and add some power bats with some pop. I’m in favor of bringing up Zach Cozart from Louisville today to play some shortstop. But the Reds have got to trim the fat. They just have to.

Bruce and Votto have got to start compiling some numbers. This season is salting away. The Reds are one up and one down’ing me to death. Something has to give, I can’t be in limbo all summer. I’m not enjoying the ride as much as I did last year. I don’t need a pennant race for this to be enjoyable, I’ve decided.

Major props to Chris Heisey in the nightcap of the doubleheader, a game in which he hit three home runs to left field from the leadoff spot. I like Heisey a lot. I think he’s just about good enough to play every day. This game reminded me a lot of Jay Bruce’s 3 home run masterpiece last year against the Cubs.

Aside from Heisey’s big day, I love the way Johnny Cueto is throwing the baseball. I think the Reds are close to having a stopper, a bonafide #1. At least, as close as they’ve been in a long time to having a true shutdown guy. Cueto has been the brightest spot on this Reds squad this year. The one guy who you would have a hard time saying anything negative about. His ERA is down to 1.63 now. You just have to hope that he continues to stay consistent. Obviously, he’ll have an outing or two where he’s not as sharp. But if he can stay consistent he can really be the catalyst that leads this whole staff and pitches the Reds right into position to take a playoff spot.

A Very Bronx Doubleheader

Due to yesterday’s rained out game in Cincinnati, the Reds and Yankees will play 18 innings of baseball today. And does it get any better than a baseball day/night doubleheader?

Does anything make a true baseball fan want to play hooky more?

Today is a big chance for the Reds to make a move. Any time you get the rare opportunity to collect two wins in one calendar day, it’s a chance to really get momentum rolling and if the team you’re chasing in the division loses, you pick up 1.5 games. There’s no better feeling.

On the flip side, if the Reds continue to play like they have played of late and continue to not hit; and Dusty sends out the scrub lineup in either one of these two games the Reds will be lucky to get a split today and might just get swept and sent out of town. And we’ll be in an extremely foul mood.

One way or another, it’s an eventful and humid summer day in Cincinnati baseball. Let’s be positive. Today *could* be that turning point we’re all waiting for.

The Night Ivan Nova & the Yankees had their way with the Reds in the Queen City

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com] [New York Times] [NY Daily News]

My workout is finished for the night, so now I have the opportunity to tell you about my miserable experience last night watching the Reds.

The great part of it is I was able to have a nice night with my fiance (a Yankees fan) and our two good friends Caity and Jimmy (both Yankees fans). The weather held up. I was in the bleachers up in left field for just the second time at Great American Ball Park.

But the way the Reds played yesterday–it just makes me sick and it’s really hard to write about them or enjoy the baseball season when they’re putting up performances like that. No matter how hard I try to be patient, when they’re getting into early holes and not scoring runs or hitting many balls hard; I just want to turn away from them and focus my energies on other things.

The rain-out tonight was a good thing.

The Reds were down 4-0 before I was even in my seat, thanks to my fiance making me hunt down some LaRosa’s pizza for her. This put me in an especially foul mood and I was cursing Travis Wood under my breath. Wood settled in and had a really nice outing–if you decide not to count the 1st inning at all. It was bad enough to get the Reds beat. Especially this Reds team that has had as feeble of an offense as I can remember in any stretch in the recent past.

I’ve seen Alex Rodriguez play live just once before. He did what a Hall of Fame type talent does; showed up into the strange town that he’s not used to playing in and collected a couple of knocks, scored a run and drove in a run. He’s got a biting shoulder. But he’s still hitting .292 on the season.

It is what it is. He’s committed some pretty brutal things that he can never take back. He’s baseball’s Tiger Woods. But I’m happy that I’ve gotten to see A-Rod play a couple of times in my life live and in the flesh, just as a baseball fan.

Here’s Jay Bruce before the game with Reds GM Walt Jocketty, accepting his NL Player of the Month Award for the month of May. You know, it’s great and Bruce’s month of May was something out of a storybook. But is it a stretch to say that his month of June has been something out of a toilet bowl?

It’s frustrating to watch the inconsistency, still. He needed one decent but not superb month this month to cement himself as a National League All-Star. He’s been really poor in the middle of the Reds lineup. Not even average, which is tolerable and which you can with with; but bad. One home run on the first day of the month, and four RBI.

And yes, he went 0 for 4 politely last night against the Yankees. Someone sent him a telegram that we were coming to the park. And he rarely does anything when we’re present. Last night was no different. We should probably just stay away.

Curtis Granderson didn’t hit any bombs last night in going 0 for 3 but it was worth taking a picture of him during this dream season he’s having when he’s sitting on 21 home runs.

Game was on ESPN last night–at least in some areas.

Here’s Joey Votto against Ivan Nova. I predicted and felt in my heart that the Reds would score 8 to 10 runs last night off Nova. I really felt he was due to get lit up.

Instead, he was dominant. And I mean really, really good. He went 8 innings, allowed four hits, one earned run and struck out seven. If you were waiting for him to walk someone you would still be waiting. I just sat around all game waiting for him to work himself into trouble and he didn’t do it. It’s worth noting that the Reds have walked only twice on this homestand so far. Their lack of patience is really hurting them as they continue to slump.

I hope tomorrow when they take the field twice in a HUGE double-header against the Bombers that they exercise patience all day long win or lose and attack those hittable mistakes. Work counts deep.

Mariano Rivera, the legend warming up.

The Reds got a little rally going, Boone Logan nailed Joey Votto with a pitch; and the Yankees brought Mariano in and I told my friends the fun was over. And it wasn’t long after that we were headed for our parking garage and back to Columbus for the late night drive.

Bruce had a really nice at-bat against Mariano Rivera but bounced out to first base for the fourth time in the game.

In the end, a decent night at the park. I’m glad to have gotten to see the Yankees play for the second time in Cincinnati and for the time spent with my friends and my girl on a Monday night. But the Reds are killing me right now night by night with their mediocrity.