On the Reds 10-Game Winning Streak

When the Cincinnati Reds dropped the home stand opener 11-5 to the San Diego Padres last night in Cincinnati, it ended their 10-game winning streak that began with a 7-6 win over Arizona in Cincinnati on July 19th.

I think it was the longest winning streak for the Cincinnati Reds since this blog has been in creation. It took then from tied for first place in the standings to 3 games in the green on the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Reds did it all without the help of their main offensive force, Joey Votto. Even with last night’s loss the Reds are 20 games over .500, which also seems like another benchmark worth mention.

If this band of Reds go on to win the National League Central Division Championship for the second time in three seasons; or reach uncharted territory like the NLCS, this will be the stretch that everyone should remember. They did it with pitching, great defense, and timely hitting. It wasn’t about the three-run homer in the small park, as so many thought Reds baseball would be predicated upon. In fact, the Reds hit five solo shots in their final win on the streak in Colorado.

Other than Drew Stubbs, Ryan Ludwick was probably the hero of the entire streak. He’s seen his OPS hulk up to .849 at the end of last night’s play. That’s ahead of Jay Bruce (.828) and Brandon Phillips (.788) by a healthy margin.

I’m in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. My buddies are headed to the park tonight to watch Homer Bailey and the boys attempt to start a new streak. I have to admit, even with the beach out my window I am a little bit envious. The MLB.tv feeds here are very spotty at best. I’ve been forced to follow the Reds via 700 WLW. Last night the crowd sounded rowdy. With two full months of baseball left, the Reds have made a baseball town fall in love again. What a life we are living in such a place.

Thursday’s Betting on Baseball

This edition of Betting on Baseball sponsored by SBRForum.com. If you’re betting on the game of baseball without free MLB picks at SBRForum.com then you really are taking a huge gamble.

Tonight’s one of those nights that if you have to bet you better tread carefully, because there’s just a boring short slate of games available to choose from. Don’t paint yourself into a corner by laying your money on a shithead like Jason Vargas because Seattle is at home and favored. Those guys aren’t even hitting .200 in that park this year. Don’t do it.

Here are the picks for the day:

Washington +115

Pittsburgh -159

UNDER 9 in NY Mets/Arizona

It’s going to be a tough win for the Nationals in Milwaukee tonight. Yovani Gallardo has been really good and Edwin Jackson has been the opposite lately. That said, Washington is red-hot again and anytime you can grab the NL team with the best record as an underdog I suggest you do it. If Gallardo was a whacky lefty, I would not take this stance. But he’s not. I like Washington against power right-handed pitchers and I’ve come to know them well this season.

Pittsburgh is playing a trade depleted Houston squad tonight in the Lonestar state. You figure Houston might win 65 games this season if everything goes perfect. How do you think manager Brad Mills felt the last two nights fetching the ball from Francisco Cordero after he had blown two of them? Houston is demoralized right now. Pittsburgh will prey on the weak.

I think the MLB debut for Matt Harvey goes well, and Wade Miley continues to impress enough that these teams stay under, even in a hitters park. It’s not like Justin Upton is going to do anything.

Long Live Drew Stubbs

Anyone who has spent time following the Reds since 2010 knows the immense frustration and hopelessness that Drew Stubbs has provided us with. The roller coaster ride really settled this year and the thought was no longer about Stubbs not reaching the supposed superstardom some scouts saw possible when he was drafted in the 1st round out of Texas.

Reds fans simply wondered if this guy was going to be DFA’d, benched, or worse; continue to play regularly and end up hitting .210 for year.

I’m not sure if Drew Stubbs has collected two bigger hits than the two he’s had in the 9th inning the last two nights off his former teammate Francisco Cordero. Stubbs is a microcosm of what makes the 2012 Reds so great: they get it done ugly at times but they more often than not get it done.

Even if Stubbs never develops into the All-Star that so many of my friends who like the Reds thought he would be (my buddy who coaches regularly refers to Stubbs as a “high-ass”. It’s a coaching term.) he’s provided us with a few clutch moments in situations of high drama. That’s an ingredient that every championship caliber team needs.

My expectations with Stubbs became tampered long ago after I had seen him wave through three pitches quicker than I could fetch ice cubes for my drink. But I still think the guy can be a key cog in the wheel of the 2012 Reds, which is all we really need him for anyways.

Hanley Ramirez’s Dodger Debut

Last night was Hanley Ramirez’s first big league game in a uniform other than the Marlins. The Dodgers lost 3-2 in extra innings in his debut. I spent the evening playing cards with my good friend (and Dodgers fan) Dave Franco from Next Level Ballplayer. He had great cards.

Ultimately, I think this proves to be a huge move for the Dodgers who appear serious once again about spending the big dollars to win. He hasn’t been great this season, but he’s still Hanley Ramirez. If he decides he wants to do this, he’s a really dangerous bat to add to the heart of the order. I look for the Dodgers to make one more move to acquire an arm and be one of the teams who sneak into the playoffs on a dangerous run.

And people will probably look back on this Ramirez trade and say the Dodgers came out on top. I think people around baseball were surprised at how little it took to acquire the former batting champion.

Keep This Winning Streak Goin’ Honeys, and I’ll Take off my Brassiere for Ya

I’ll tell ya one thing honeys, there’s nothing like a winning team in the Queen City summer to make an old woman feel young again.

Last night made it five in a row for you sweeties, and I need ta celebrate. Why don’tcha run to the store for me darlings and pick up a bottle of peach schnapps for me now baby? I’ll need ya ta also pick me up a few other simple items honey. Bring ol’ Marge some ‘Ginnies and get Schottzie some more Top Choice would ya honey?

You kids have done a lot of damage without that big Italian prince first-basemen of yours baby. Reminds me of the time that I went to the riverboat with Larry Flynt and I ran out of packs of Liggetts Eve. What a long eight hours that was, sweetie. But we got through it, yes we did now honeys. The lesson in life is all about hard times we endure. That’s what life’s all about honeys.

It reminds me of a poem I would like to dedicate to this year’s Redlegs, because once you are one of the Reds baseball family it becomes part of you; it makes you complete. It’s like that same pair of underwear I wore all through the ’90 playoffs sweetie.

[hacks, coughs, attempts to clear throat, fails]

You’ve come a long way, baby
To get where you’ve got to today
You’ve got your own cigarette now, baby
You’ve come a long, long way

I hope that ya liked it honey. Now lean down here and rub Ol’ Schottzie girl right by where she delivers her babies, sweetie. She really likes it there. That’s right, rub it for the winning streak honey.

I’m proud of all you boys. Even that obnoxious little bastard Phillips. I don’t know whose the better darkie between him and that manager sweetie. I just love em’ both, you know. You boys treated those Brewers like we used to treat the old antique pinball machine in my fifth husband’s basement. Do you know that honeys? Rag dolls sweetie. Go into my medicine cabinet and fetch me the raw ether sweetie, I need to take my morning heart pill. Don’t mix it up with the rubbing alcohol baby, that shit gives me horrible indigestion.

You boys carry on the winning tradition for ol’ Marge and Schottzie baby. Just keep piling up those winning streaks like empty bottles of lighter fluid at ol’ Marge’s house baby. Dont’cha worry about those Pirates, that city is full of degenerate Mosshead murderers baby. It’s nothing like the great city of Cincinnati. They’re just trivial mooncrickets, baby. They make Eric Davis look white.

And when you clinch this thing in a short while sweeties, we’ll have a party that rivals Hugh Hefner’s blowouts. Ol’ Marge will be on that dance floor with all of you. Last one out gets to help me with my disposable douche at the end of the night sweeties. Keep it going for the one who owns all of you, darlings.

Must Read Material: How Andrew McCutchen became a Star

Great read over at Deadspin this afternoon, which properly places Andrew McCutchen as the NL’s best asset at the moment.

That’s what McCutchen means to Pittsburgh. He’s a living rebuke to all the incompetence of the past two decades—talent identified, talent developed, talent retained. His handling has been a smart exercise in Bonds-proofing, from the moment he was drafted, through the gaming of his arbitration clock, to the signing of his extension. The Pirates’ timing was impeccable. His pace through Sunday—.372 average, 38 home runs, 114 RBIs—has been accomplished over a full season by just six other players in history, according to ESPN. Imagine what might have happened had the Pirates and McCutchen not reached an agreement on a long-term deal during the offseason. Hammond, for one, suggested the Bucs might have been in a difficult spot if McCutchen were to continue hitting at anything close to his current pace.

“There’s a good chance that there’s no way Pittsburgh could have signed him,” Hammond said. “He would have gone into another stratosphere with this kind of performance. But there’s no need to speculate on that because that’s not even going to be an option.”

How Andrew McCutchen Became A Star And Redeemed Two Decades Of Pittsburgh Jagoffery. [Deadspin]

Ichiro to the Bronx

Only in American baseball can a guy walk across the other side of the field and into the dugout that belonged to opponents moments earlier and call it home.

It was a strange scene that the baseball world didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for. I never pictured Ichiro Suzuki in anything other than a Mariners uniform. And if it was going to happen it would be okay; we would all have a long off-season to place in him in a Giants uniform or whatever team he ends up with as a free agent.

Except it happened quickly. We got the text that Ichiro had been dealt to the Yankees for just the price of two nameless minor league pitchers. After twelve years and 2,533 hits as a Mariner the ’51’ was gone and he was wearing a strange number and hitting towards the bottom of the Seattle New York lineup. And I really did mis-type that last sentence, my brain wasn’t adjusted.

He got a standing ovation. He singled, of course; stole second and the Yankees rolled on to a ho-hum victory.

The baseball world is a crazy place of existence. Ichiro in the Pacific Northwest was about as perfect a marriage as there could have been. This transaction is evidence that nothing is sacred in the baseball world, and the Yankees can still have whatever they want for the price of just a few nameless minor leaguers despite having a ‘depleted’ farm system for the past decade. Will someone just tell them ‘no’ sometime?

The Mets Should Probably Go Ahead and Install Bryce Harper his own personal Apple

Bryce Harper was the whole damn show last night at Citi Field for the first nine innings and change, until his teammates got in on the act.

Here we see the victim, Chris Young; giving up a mammoth blast into the bullpen in right field. The exit wound was never identified by the coroner. The home run was Harper’s 9th on the season and first on New York soil.

He would later walk, steal a bag and pick up the game-winning RBI on a rocket single. But we’re only here to talk about home runs.

Greatest Red of my lifetime goes into Cooperstown

Barry Larkin went into the Baseball Hall of Fame yesterday.

I wrote a post dedicated to my Larkin love back in January when the news broke that he would be getting the call. I had to reserve this space in some way for the official event. No Cincinnati Red has been better longer than Larkin was. He was my first favorite Reds player, and no one can ever take that away from him.

When Cincinnati (and the ballpark gem that resided within it) was still this magical, mystical place that my family only traveled to on special occasions; Larkin was the king of that Camelot.

Stretched across an era that included a crazy female chain-smoking owner, mass exodus of players skipping town for the highest dollar, and steroids; Larkin doing his thing in a Reds cap on that old turf remained a constant. The guy was just something different. If you saw him play live you knew you were witnessing Hall of Fame caliber play.

Your Saturday Baseball Open Thread

There’s a great full day of baseball on the best day of week today.

The Nationals and Braves play a huge doubleheader today following up that 11-10, 11-inning donnybrook that saw the Nats squander a 9-0 lead with Stephen Strasburg on the mound.

It’s a Saturday in the middle of the summer, and there’s nothing better than tuning into a ballgame while we still can. Enjoy the best day of the week all!

Stan the Man Couldn’t Sniff the Homer Bailey Express Because He Wasn’t Man Enough

Remember what I told y’all?

The only thing Bernie Brewer had to drink last night was my hot piss!

[Loads rifle, fires it in the air; twice]

Where’s that little bald-headed fuckjaw Jocketty? I reckon his desires to set me down in that bullpen have disappeared just like his view of his little pecker has over the years. Looking to acquire a pitcher? Take the day off, baldy. Just tell that worry-wart Price that I’m ready to go another nine innings tonight, and I’ll go another full nine tomorrow if he brings the right ingredients for moonshine.

[Gigs frog, hard]

Braun, Ramirez, Hart, Weeks, the little china-man lead off hitter. Not a one of um’ had balls enough to fornicate with Homer’s rocket fastball last night. When Chapman came in for the 9th inning, it musta’ seemed like a fuckin’ picnic.

The fans in this town got their britches all in a wrinkle about winning a pennant. The only flag we need to worry about bringing home this year is Clint Hurdle’s wife’s panties. And that’ll be no problem because the Homer Bailey Express was built for a long season of fucking.

[Skins muskrat with pocket knife]

Go dig up that pussy Musial, tell um’ I think he’s yella. I wanna challenge him to a draw, best man wins. When he turns around, only gun I’m going to be holdin’ is that big ace meat rocket that dangles between this legs. Cooperstown ain’t never seen anything like this.

[Takes off pair of long underwear, Puts on pair of ass-less chaps]

And I’m gonna give Stan ‘The Man’ a message to deliver to his Cardinal buddies from the Prince of 98 Miles per hour….. you tell um that Homer Bailey is ready for them, and he’s comin’ out fuckin’ down the stretch! That’s right, Holliday, Beltran, Furcal, and all the other St. Louis speds they got over there. Get ready for an orgy of splitters boys, it’s Homers turn with the ladies at this square-dance.

[Looks in mirror, combs hair back with a cougar bone handle comb]

Yeeeeeeeehawwwwww! If you think that fastball moistened some panties last night, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

I’m putting the Central Division on notice! I love baseball in a pennant chase because that’s when the whores come out! YEEEEEEEEHAWWWWW!

 

Why People Love Harper

Sad day for the nation in the wake of the Aurora, Colorado shooting. No weekend preview this week. But something uplifting.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo via Deadspin.

You love Bryce Harper with your heart. Your heart sees through prescription glasses. Blemishes don’t exist. Harper’s arrogance is endearing, his long swing fixable, his over-aggression something out of which he’ll grow. He hustles like Larry Flynt, hits balls a mile, parlays his different sort of athleticism—a longer, lither kind—into playing outfield like a natural despite having spent all of a season and a half there. He’ll hit for average. He’ll play Gold Glove defense. The heart wants.

Onto the weekend, everybody.

Out of the Park Baseball: A Review of an Out of this World Baseball Simulation

At Diamond Hoggers, we hope to attract only the most hardcore baseball fans as readers. Let’s face it, if you don’t have bleacher bum in your blood, if you don’t love the smell of pine tar or wouldn’t go see two last place teams play in the dog days of August while sitting in the nosebleeds of the park; you probably don’t stick around here long. My one-liners aren’t that good.

This post will be fore the die-hard fans. If you think you’re that, read onward.
Continue reading

The Scope Heard ‘Round the World

All spring and summer long I never worried about the Reds. Even at low points, they had what many consider to be the best hitter in baseball and a great pitching staff. Nice complimentary pieces in their prime. It’s just time. The Reds would cruise to an NL Central Division championship in 2012 if for no other reason than because everything had fallen so nicely into place this season.

I felt that way into Monday morning when the news broke that Joey Votto was going to have ‘minor’ knee surgery. Then as my mind started to wander about the statement, I realized there is no such thing as a ‘minor’ knee surgery unless it’s a winter month. When you’re the best hitter in baseball and your organization is in the middle of the most important season they’ve been involved in in some 20 years, there’s nothing minor about it.

The Reds are saying it will be three weeks. I would bet you that on the inside where we aren’t allowed, among those that are closest to Votto like his teammates and some within the organization; the truth lies somewhere closer to 4 to 6 weeks. And at this point who really knows when we can expect back a full-strength Joey Votto?

All bets off. All plans on hold. All the wonderful things we promised you all along suddenly go away. The last half of your Cincinnati Reds summer will be a frustrating dog fight that features a lot of one-up, one-down on a night to night basis.

If the Reds are going to win the division, they’ll need to do it with a September push now. By my calculations they’ll get as many as three or four games behind and need to do it via the comeback in the final two weeks. No clinch before Bengals season. I said all along that I actually do buy the Pirates. They’re pesky enough to make this thing interesting until the end. Andrew McCutchen is that good. And losing out on a division title to the Pittsburgh Pirates is the type of thing my sports teams do.

I stayed away from the topic for a few days because it upset my stomach. I really don’t want to talk about it much, and I feel like the one thing that could have jinxed this team happened. I feel irresponsible for running my mouth about running away with the division now. If there was ever a time for Jay Bruce to go all May 2011 on us and save an entire fan base, that time is right now. Jay, please.

Reds fans, prepare yourselves. You’re in for the ride of your life one way or another.