Are Dusty Baker and Walt Jocketty on the same page?

Just a random thought after reading this snippet from John Heyman of Sports Illustrated:

Sources suggest there has been some difference of opinion over playing time between Reds GM Walt Jocketty and manager Dusty Baker, who has a year to go on his contract. The Reds are over .500 for the first time since early July, but it is curious how much playing time veterans Miguel Cairo and Freddie Lewis are getting in a lost season. Rival execs say they also would have traded Ramon Hernandez before the July 31 trade deadline and employed Devin Mesoraco as catcher. Hernandez was claimed on waivers by a competitor and pulled back by the Reds. He would have helped the Giants, among others.

Our take: With the non-trade of Hernandez, how can you blame anyone but the GM and the GM alone? It isn’t likely that Dusty Baker was in the room fielding the calls and said ‘keep Ramon’. That’s on the GM. And that shows that the GM is somewhat on Dusty’s page of keeping the veterans and playing veterans until the bitter end to try and accomplish something salvageable in terms of record this year. In that light, we have to disagree with Heyman a little bit.

Another scenario is ownership telling each them what to do in regards to the non-move of Ramon Hernandez. If the Reds want to draw well attendance-wise until the end of the year–or even respectably–they’ll need to win and win often down the stretch to even keep a fair amount of butts in the seats at Great American. Maybe ownership said to hang on to Ramon Hernandez for this reason. That’s the only thing that would even kind of make sense at this point.

From any other standpoint, the move (or lack thereof) makes no sense.

Required Listening: Vin Scully is Sublime

If you’re a Baseball Fan you must listen to this ten minute clip. This is Vin Scully calling the last three outs of Sandy Koufax’s perfect game September 9th 1965.

Listen to the detail Scully puts into the PBP as he paints the picture for us. He’s the best there ever was and the best there ever will be.

I thought this was timely since this past week it was announced that Vin Scully will be back for a 63rd consecutive season.

On my last weekend as a single man, the Reds sweep

The dog days are coming to an end, and summer is waning.

God forbid, this was my last weekend as a single man. This time next week, I’ll be getting married on the New Jersey shore and our wonderful baseball season will be into September.

Maybe this was the Reds little wedding present to me. Although–we all know it was not–I’ll tell myself that because that’s how my relationship with baseball and the Reds is. The Reds won Friday, Saturday, Sunday for me this weekend because I’m getting married next weekend and I had nothing to do this weekend but watch three baseball games.

I didn’t go out and party. I didn’t run a ton of wedding errands (that’s what wives to be are for). I sat around and watched Jay Bruce, Yonder Alonso, and Joey Votto homer the Reds to a sweep in 14 innings.

The Reds are doing seemingly what they do this time of year. Winning a lot while it’s too late to make a difference, thanks to the tear the Brewers have been on for two months.

I appreciate the effort that the Reds have been given, and I hope they go out on a blaze of glory this final month. And why not? I hope they win every damn game left on the schedule even though it pains me that this feels like 2006-2009 so familiarly. We did not know how good we had it in that last summer of 2010. That was baseball heaven.

I hope that the Reds continue to win every game they can right now and give the world a preview of the Hell that will be reckoned with in 2012. I truly believe the Reds will win the whole damn thing in terms of the NL next year. Next year will be the year.

For the right now, thanks for the wedding gift Cincinnati.

Jim Thome is coming back to Cleveland

We had a feeling. And why not? Cleveland is a town that appreciates nostalgia as much as anywhere in this country right now. Jim Thome is as big of a folk hero as the modern day has seen. The Indians brought back Kenny Lofton to finish his career in an Indians uniform and now Thome will follow suit. As a baseball fan–especially if you grew up in the 90’s–you have to like this move.

Remember when Jacobs Field had the big ‘Office Max’ yellow lettering sign on the right field wall when Thome was posting home run season totals of 49 and 52? You don’t see that type of power anymore and Thome provided it in Cleveland after Albert Belle and Manny Ramirez had long left for greener pastures, literally.

And Thome’s situation in leaving Cleveland was different. Albeit, it was his choice; but you get the feeling that he never wanted to leave in the first place. All the talk around that time was that he was coming back to Cleveland and that the organization was going to build a Jim Thome statue outside of the stadium like they did for Bob Feller. Then Philadelphia swept in like a thief in the night and Thome was gone. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense. Hell, even his bride was from Cleveland. Philadelphia was not a Thome town.

We later learned that the players union heavily pressured Thome and his agent to take the deal Philadelphia put on the table. He left, he got his 500th and 600th home runs elsewhere and once again Cleveland was the town that was left standing at the altar with no one to marry.

One thing no one mentions–after stops in Philadelphia, Chicago, and Minnesota–and playoff appearances in all those cities, the only big league uniform in which Jim Thome ever hit a postseason home run in was an Indians uniform.

Cleveland is a town that despite how things seem to end and no matter how much they hate you at the time, they’ll forgive. Especially if you’re a sports figure. And that rule doesn’t apply to Lebron James but it certainly applies to Jim Thome.

The Indians are 6 and 1/2 games out in the AL Central right now and for all technical purposes we think they’re out of it. But they’ve given their fans a reason to keep on watching. And maybe they’ll catch lightning in a bottle like they did a couple of times with Kenny Lofton.

If Thome can leave the yard just once at Progressive Field, the stadium will erupt and even with all of the long nights gone by and none in celebration of a championship; for just a moment the people of that city will remember he greatness that existed and the magic of Thome in an Indians uniform for so many years.

And someday just maybe, they’ll build a statue outside the stadium one day with big folk hero Jim Thome’s name on it.

Sean Burroughs, back from the dead, homers DBacks to big win

Sean Burroughs is one of the best stories of the 2011 baseball season. Last night, he hit a dramatic home run to lead the DBacks over the Nationals 2-0. It was his first home run in the big leagues since 2005. Every time the guy does anything during a Dbacks game, our traffic report is like something out of dreams. It blows up. We’re not the only ones who remember him in that summer of 1993 when he took Long Beach to back to back Little League World Series wins, apparently.

Check out the bomb Sean Burroughs’ first home run since 2005 [MLB.com]

Reds bring the Heat in Miami

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com] [The Real Mccoy]

Last night’s win said an awful lot about the character of the Reds. But before I talk about the game, I just want to talk about my state of mind as a fan right now.

It’s been really hard to maintain this blog this season. For anyone that has ever written about sports on the internet, you realize that if there is emotion involved–it’s not an easy thing all of the time. The Reds performance this year has really complicated me writing about baseball on this blog. So if anyone wonders about the future of Diamond Hoggers and the amount of writing that will be done on here; the show will go on as always and the tempo will pick up.

The Reds can’t stink forever, and I’ve been preparing to get married in September. Losing 15 pounds and planning a wedding has been some work albeit minimal. But baseball is what I love and on any random summer night it’s easy to remember why I love it.

Last night was one of those games. Hell, I even fired up the post game show on 700 WLW last night (too much Jimmy Buffett talk, not enough baseball but oh well) and watched Little Big League on Netflix as I was falling asleep. After games like last night, I’ll let it be baseball season until December!

A lot of Reds fans who my relationship has been in a stalemate with suddenly crept out of the woodwork last night as the Reds battled back on the road from a 5-2 deficit. Everything seemed to happen by design. Yonder Alonso hits a bomb to get things going a little bit, and then Jay Bruce (hitting 3rd in the lineup) hits a bomb to right field to cut the deficit to 5-4.

Nick Masset came in and promptly shit his pants as he’s so often done this season and gave up a sac fly to Emillio Bonifacio in the bottom of the 8th to seemingly end the game.

Dusty Baker makes a Dusty Baker move in the 9th inning. He allows Paul Janish to lead off, and even listening to the radio I’m wondering what the Hell a .217ish hitter is doing leading off when we need one base runner. The Reds would bail their manager out from there; as Joey Votto pinch hit and had a Joey Votto at-bat where he fouled off a few tough pitches and got the full count walk, his 93rd of the season. Brandon Phillips did the same, had a tough at bat and ended up fouling off a few pitches until he got something he could handle and singled to center.

From there you’ll see the highlights below that took the Reds home winners down in the Miami humidity.

I think the reason people are so happy is they feel in a lot of cases that the Reds have given up just because this season is over and so many of us have given up our hopes and expectations we had. While this time last summer was a magical time in our lives, we’re left adjusting at the present time and wondering how to feel. Last night the Reds reminded us that meaningless baseball on a summer night can still be great because it is baseball.

And soon enough the boys of summer will be giving way to another sport. So we best enjoy it for all we can for another few weeks here before we say goodbye for another long winter.

This has been a really weird season. I’m not sure what it is. But it’s not unlike any other baseball season I’ve lived through despite having it’s share of ‘blah’ moments. There are points when the season seems a few days long and then when you think back to the beginning parts you can’t believe that this is the same season at all.

It’s the puzzling life of being a baseball fan. We all go through it and there is no exact psychology that fits a textbook of how to do it correctly. You just exist, you take it in, you watch. You try to draw conclusions or deductions or similarities to past seasons. If we’re honest with ourselves, baseball is so unique that while many players and teams are patterned after their past, in some ways every day is statistically unique and unpredictable. And that is what keeps us hooked.

You never know when the Cincinnati Reds–who you had thought had ‘quit’–score four in the 9th to win the damn thing. God I love this game.

Top Plays:

Yonder Alonso’s 2nd home run of his career

Jay Bruce hits a Ricky Nolasco hanging breaking ball into the seats

Dave Sappelt’s double to the wall ties the game in the 9th

Alonso puts the Reds ahead with a 2-run double

Potpourri

-Due to another damn hurricane, the Reds and Marlins will play a doubleheader today.

-Ricky Nolasco passed Dontrelle Willis as the all-time strikeout leader in Marlins history last night.

-It was about a year ago that I wrote this about Jay Bruce. I don’t know if it’s ever been more true.

-It was about a year ago on a Sunday, the Reds were playing the Marlins. And they took over first place for good. We were there.

Old man Jim Thome hits his 600th blast

I got a text today asking me if I thought that Jim Thome was a Hall of Famer.

Are you kidding me? Of course he is. First ballot. He was a Hall of Famer 100 home runs ago. He’s dropped 600 bombs over the course of 20 years. His first homer came over 20 years ago, off Steve Farr at old Yankee Stadium.

His career has stretched across time. Across the  first baseball work stoppage in 1994. Across the ’95 Indians. Across rebuilds, managers, and GM’s. Most importantly, he’s kept on homering throughout the steroid era and from one clean era of baseball (Early 90’s) into the next (the present).

The guy is an anomaly. I remember seeing him hit a couple of bombs in the summer of 2001 back at Jacobs Field. That was his team. He left Cleveland–and we’ve since learned that it was to appease the player’s union–he never wanted to leave. He meant it, unlike LeBron James. He wanted to be in Cleveland for life. They were going to build a statue of the guy. Hell, they still might.

Last night he found a way to give he Indians a gift from afar, going deep twice in a crucial game against the team who holds the lead in the AL Central, the Detroit Tigers. The Twins won the game 9-6.

I don’t know if this is the last year that Jim Thome is a big leaguer. I would say it’s likely. But if it isn’t, how about one more ride in Cleveland to call it a career? I know that the town would welcome him back, and he could add to his budding legend with a few more blasts into the picnic area in center at Progressive Field.

Jim Thome has had a wonderful career. Last night was one of the last chapters, I’m just glad that I got to see this bunyan-esque figure play live a few times and say that I was a Jim Thome fan.

Another Summer Weekend in the books

The Reds won 2 of 3 this weekend with the Friday dramatics, the Saturday Slugfest, and then a customary and predictable Sunday letdown yesterday. They’re 11 games out. This is just not getting any better.

Jay Bruce is doing what Jay Bruce does. This is the second all-world hot streak he has had this season. He homered all weekend long, and it didn’t matter whether it was lefty, righty, guys who have gotten him out in the past (Tim Stauffer) or not. He hit home runs 24, 25, and 26 over the weekend. You cannot get him out right now.

Other than that it as a pretty ho-hum weekend. Attended a wedding. Played some moderate (but very good for us) golf. Watched a little NFL football. Three weeks until our own wedding, so there’s things to be done on that front that keep blogging time at a low.

Oh, and did anyone see the Rockies coach get drilled last night while Bobby Valentin talked away on Sunday Night Baseball?

Summer isn’t over yet

[Box Score]

What can you say about Jay Bruce’s line shot into the right field seats at GABP last night other than he found a way to pull the sun back up in the sky and give us a few more days of summer before we officially pack it in and declare it football season.

When Bruce hit the home run they showed some shots of the San Diego dugout. When I saw many of the faces of the players as well as the manager Bud Black, I knew the game was over. The Reds weren’t going to blow this one. The Padres had absorbed a blow that the Reds have absorbed so many times this year. A game had been stolen from them right out of the win column and had it put into the loss column. They were emotionally drained from that Jay Bruce home run.

The Reds won the game 5-3, and Bruce drove in four runs for the second time in a week. Obviously, still 10 games out makes it highly unlikely that this season is going to be anything beyond sitting at home in October. But like we told our fiance last evening, until they’re mathematically eliminated–and until they lose again (they’ve won three games in a row)–we’re going to choose to believe that they’re going to run the table and get back in this thing. Even if that means we’re going to be severely let down.

Go hard these last 40 some odd games and tear the meat off the bone. You will have all off-season to rest up. And granted that it’s going to take a miracle to become relevant again; we think that simply becoming relevant would have made this a successful season at this point. I think the Reds understand that. They’re playing like it of late. It’s almost as if they got punched hard, got knocked down in the fight but they’re up again and staggering their way through the late rounds and landing a few of their own. They’re getting their legs back underneath them.

Diamond Hoggers 80’s song of the game:

Something Special is going on in Arizona

Every year a team makes an unlikely run to the playoffs out of nowhere. And every year that run is fueled by said team winning a game that they had no business winning with a roundabout bunch of characters. Odds and ends, compiled from around the world of baseball. In any other year this team is probably good for about 85 losses. This year, they’re a magical combustion that is going to challenge for the playoffs.

The 2011 Arizona DiamondBacks have taken the spot as this year’s Cinderella–and last night was the miracle game they should not have won after you fell asleep.

Paul Goldschmidt hit a 2-2, 2-out, bottom of the 9th inning pitch deep into the seats in left field. It was an absolute bomb and as dramatic as any home run hit this season so far. It was followed up with a three-run bomb in the bottom of the 10th inning by Chris Young that won it for the unlikely heroes out in Arizona.

See MLB.com’s video of the drama here.

I’m telling you, these guys are like the ’95 Mariners without a Randy Johnson (or a Jay Buhner, but that was a different era anyways).

Listen up, Walt

You might think you’re a genius and I’m certain there are a plethora of fans out there who would love to crown you as such for your days in St. Louis and for your legendary McGwire trades and all of that happy horse poo.

But I have some cold hard facts for you. You’ve done squat in the past year as the GM of the Cincinnati Reds. You’ve done absolutely nothing in terms of throwing the nucleus we have a life jacket so they can go out and compete like they were supposed to. You signed one poor extension after another to veterans who are nothing more than has-beens and never will’s and then at the trade deadline you took your ball and went home while every other team in the division did something to give themselves a shot in the arm.

Fact is, the organization needs a couple more serious bats in the middle of the lineup, one in LF and one at 3b (and I hold out some hope that Rolen might still be one of these for one more year). This doesn’t mean a guy like Johnny Gomes. A real, legitimate threat who can hit in the middle of the order and support guys like Stubbs and Bruce whom you’ve been putting too much pressure on all year long.

We’ve got an array of 6 and 7 hitters masquerading as a lineup. We also need to recognize the redundancy of Stubbs, Heisey, and Sappelt. You have to figure that only one can play everyday; and that has to be in CF; and move at least one of the other two.

There is no reason our purse strings are any tighter than the Brewers. Over the last two years, they’ve added Wolf, Marcum, and Greinke while we’ve added nothing to the rotation from outside the organization and you gave a very bad extension to Arroyo. Underperformance from Arroyo, Volquez, Bailey, and Wood is the primary reason this team is where it is. Underperformance from the front office and especially the GM would be another way of putting it.

It’s now or never this offseason, Walt. And you’re clouding what was your good legacy.

One of the Best

My writing has been sporadic lately. I’m getting married in less than a month and I’ve been turned off on the sport by inconsistent play from my favorite team in all of sports, the Cincinnati Reds. I felt that I had to do a post this morning after stumbling across this post by Dave Cameron at FanGraphs.

Around the time I started writing on the internet, I discovered the USS Mariner. I loved reading it because it was so well written, never mind the fact it was based on a baseball team in the pacific northwest.

Not long after that, I discovered FanGraphs. I fell in love at first post and never turned back. Both sites have a high amount of contribution from a writer named Dave Cameron (Mariner is his site), whom I consider to be one of the most knowledgable baseball writers that has ever done it.

If Dave Cameron says a guy has a future or that a prospect is the real deal, I always hold out hope. He simply knows his factual statistics and is clearly of bleacher bum mentality just like I am.

When I found out Dave was battling Leukemia (and the good news update) my heart sunk for this man who I did not know. When you write about baseball on the net and especially if you’ve done it for a while, it becomes a relatively small fraternity. I just wanted to do a quick post detailing that Dave Cameron is one of the best I’ve enjoyed reading (along with the Leitch’s, the Neyer’s, John Sickels, and Buster Olney to name a few others). I want to send an exorbitant amount of thoughts and prayers to this man in his battle.

And I’m looking forward to reading the USS Mariner in some 20 years or so when they finally have the lineup to get to a World Series.