The Night Homer Bailey Ruled The Earth

[Box Score]

[] [All 27 outs –]

When a pitcher goes 27 up, 27 down without allowing a hit; you never forget the feat that he accomplished. You remember the moment forever when you witness it.

To put in perspective the immortals that Homer Bailey joined last night, it was just the second no-hitter thrown by a Reds pitcher in my lifetime. I was just five years old in 1988 when Tom Browning threw a perfect game. I remember talking about it with my father, but just barely. If I live a full life, I might see one more Cincinnati Reds no-hitter.

If I could have chosen one guy in the big leagues that I would have liked to see throw a no-no, it would have been Homer Bailey. He’s been my favorite Reds pitcher for a long time now. I wrote back in April on my frustrations surrounding Bailey. He’s got that tragic hero trait. He’ll go out and have unbelievable stuff for six innings and then the wheels fall off. Or the bullpen inevitably blows his win (how many times has it happened this year alone?). Whacky things happen to bad-luck Bailey. But he’s been remarkably solid this season. He’s tied with Johnny Cueto to lead the team in quality starts. And he’s the only guy on that Reds roster that can speak on what it’s like to throw one of those games that Nolan Ryan knew about so well.

This was another moment in a season comprised of so much magic. If you are sitting here thinking that times are going to be like this for the next several seasons for Cincinnati; and granted they should be, please don’t be naive. It’s likely that we’ve reached the apex for this current group. Seasons like this and moments like this come along only a few times across a lifetime.

To that I say at least we were around to see it all unfold. I’ve been around the game for a long time, and I’ve seen a lot of nine inning frames expire. It takes a big moment for me to stand inches from the television (my only company being my dog) and to be yelling and pacing with every pitch. I wanted that so badly for Homer Bailey last night that when the pop up was hit to Brandon Phillips for out number 27, I yelled at the top of my lungs ‘YES! GET IT! YES!’.

Congratulations Homer Bailey. You’ve proven to the world that all that promise and all that patience was for good reason.

Your Saturday Open Baseball Thread

It’s the final Saturday of the MLB regular season. This is very sad.

Coming off the first Cincinnati Reds no-hitter since I was five years old last night, we’ve got a full slate of baseball if you can resist the urge to watch Big-Ten play opening up or the SEC of the collegiate football ranks.

The week ahead will have much drama, and we’re going to try to capture as much of it as we can here. For so many fans of the baseball fraternity, this is the last time your team will play on a Saturday this year. Depending on how the postseason schedule falls, it could be for others as well.

Enjoy today as much as you can. One more Saturday in the sun. Sort of.

Book Review: The Last Natural – Bryce Harper’s Big Gamble in Sin City by Rob Miech

I was searching for a summer baseball book when the perfect storm came together.

Bryce Harper got called up to the big leagues and a few weeks later I discovered one of the best all-around reads in existence for the hardcore baseball fan. I had the chance to talk to the author of The Last Natural, Rob Miech; on The Baseball Show podcast prior to picking up my copy. It gave me an excellent glimpse that if you wanted to get an up close look at who Bryce Harper really is, this was a must-read.

And that’s what I enjoyed most about the book. But there’s so much more involved.

Miech mixes wonderful anecdotes about Bryce Harper’s last amateur season which was played at College of Southern Nevada. From the opening pages of the book, you’ll be able to smell the pine tar. That’s no joke, because Harper sought out a college conference in which he could hit with a wood bat in order to best showcase his talent for pro scouts.

The ‘gamble’ is not just a play on words either. There was a lot at stake for this book to become the magical story that it did. If Harper doesn’t go on to do what he did in his one college season, there’s no real basis for a book for Miech in the first place. A flop by Harper in the Scenic West Athletic Conference and he might not become the number one overall pick. Spoiler alert: Harper delivers, and in a big way.

I played college baseball, and as you get to know the characters surrounding Harper in the book–a group of Major League prospects–it takes me back to the days I spent in the dugout with my own teammates. The inside jokes that become a second language, the tight losses that define a season, the road trips, and the culmination of it all in one or two huge moments.

Back to the part of the book that kept me turning pages, getting to know the biggest generational talent of our lifetime. In reading this book you’ll find out exactly where Bryce Harper came from and what his family is like. You’ll learn what causes Harper to have such strong convictions and what kind of talent he aspires to be. There simply isn’t a text in existence that will allow you to feel like you get to know Bryce Harper better than this book does.

There are times in his final amateur season that the tension could be cut with a knife. It’s almost not comprehensible to a normal person that an 18-year old kid could have this much on his shoulders and still succeed. Harper not only succeeds with his own personal accolades by posting a Ruthian slash line, but through many quotes from his Southern Nevada teammates you learn exactly what kind of teammate Harper is. Willing to run through a wall for a win, the author shows us the price Harper is willing to pay to get a Junior College World Series ring.

The Last Natural steps to the plate in the bottom of the ninth and empties the bases for it’s readers. Miech is an author who understands the game’s roots, and seems to grasp that his subject does as well. Harper is a student and historian of the game of baseball, hoping to shape his game after some of the greats that our fathers grew up watching.

If you are a die-hard baseball enthusiast who wishes for nothing more than spending a lazy day in the bleachers, this is the perfect page turner to gnaw on some sunflower seeds and enjoy.

Bryce Harper loves to rake against Philadelphia

Another evening, another Bryce Harper first inning home run, another Nationals win over the Phillies. Last night’s victim was Tyler Cloyd. It was Harper’s 21st home run of his rookie year.

If this season went on a little longer, Harper would put up some eye-popping numbers. The bomb was his 94th run scored on the season. Remember, the guy didn’t come up until a month into the season.

And to the genius who traded me Bryce Harper in my keeper fantasy league because ‘Harper won’t be fantasy baseball relevant for several years’, I’m laughing at you.

How’s this for fantasy relevance?

Bryce Harper gets home run number 20

Last night (an 8-4 win for the Nationals) Bryce Harper joined Tony Conigliaro as the only 19 year old players who have hit 20 or more home runs.

We know Harper didn’t hit many cheapies, averaging nearly 415 feet per blast. He seemed to murder the Mets this season–and really get up for the Phillies–he added a triple, stolen base and had 3 RBI on the night.

In a way, Bryce Harper was everything he’s been advertised as. He’s had the season that a rookie who is going to be a legend has. He’s nearly OPS’d .800, and his WAR is up to 4.1 for the year.

He’s an outstanding young player. Here’s a look at the 20th home run of his career off Kyle Kendrick:

The 2012 Cincinnati Reds: Champions of the Central Again

The 2012 Cincinnati Reds have partially fulfilled a destiny.

In yesterday’s 6-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, Mat Latos threw eight dominant shutout innings. Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips homered. Bruce’s 34th home run of the season was a matter of tradition; he’s homered each time the Reds have clinched a division title.

I sat in the farthest reaches of the upper deck at Great American that October night back in 2010 when the Reds were eliminated from the playoffs, and I told my wife that this group of Reds would be back. I had a strong feeling that the Reds were going to miss the playoffs entirely in 2011 and serve as a monumental disappointment around baseball. Check. I also told her that 2012 was the year. I told her that night that I had a vision of them storming back to make a run for the World Series in 2012.

Here we are.

In all of my life, no matter how long I live; I’ll never forget the 2012 Cincinnati Reds. This is both the most talented, and the most memorable group of Reds that have taken the field since I was nine years old.

I’ve never felt more proud to call a team ‘mine’.

A baseball season is such a weird thing. Compiled of so many highs and lows that serve as mere radar blip snapshots, it’s kind of hard to really know where a team sends until the cement has hardened and the final game has been played. But from the opening gun this year I knew that this team was good. Really good. I never panicked. Not one time did I ever doubt that this would be the outcome. I knew back in May that this team was going to outgun a loaded Cardinals lineup and find a way to win the division by double digits. I knew that a much higher prize should be the idea and that the division title should be table stakes for a roster that’s so talented. Sure, some of it was that vision that came to be back in 2010 (and even before the 2010 season I felt 2012 was the year this team was truly built for). But this team responded to so many things with so many different heroes each night, they never allowed you to doubt them for long.

Hold this moment in your heart if you’re a die hard baseball fan that loves the Reds. I feel that this is what sports are all about. Winning titles are the pantheon of why the games are played. But I’ve said before that Midas’ gold for the sports fan is in the climb. The struggle. The battle. The uncertainty. It’s in the grind that it takes to reach a title. That’s what defines greatness in players, teams and sports.

Reds fans have endured, and now it’s time to indulge. Take a few days, enjoy the fall air and know that a new season is about to begin. The final chapter for this group has not been written and I believe that a great destiny awaits them. Dusty phoned in his post-clinch lineup card.

Sit back, catch your breath, and get ready for a memorable and drama-filled ride that you’re never going to forget. Let’s go after that number one seed.

And thank you, 2012 Reds. I’ll never forget you.

Going to the Postseason

The Reds clinched a playoff berth today by sweeping the Cubs at Wrigley Field today. They were the first MLB team to clinch, and the victory (accomplished by a mostly scab lineup and with Dusty Baker out of comission) was their 91st of the year.

Sometime in the next day or so, the Reds will clinch the NL Central division. And I’ll follow up with a longer post. Today should have been a small celebration on the inside for the Reds and their fans. But we all know that this isn’t what we were playing for this season. There’s high drama that’s still coming.

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ESPN The Magazine Examines How Mike Trout Will Age

A phenomenal read about Mike Trout (the Justin Upton piece is great too) brought to us by ESPN the Magazine today, and a nice reference to a decent movie that my wife made me attend.

Everybody’s writing about him and trying to find that good new angle,” said one of the beat writers in the Angels’ press box in early July. “Kid’s 20. What sort of interesting story could he have at 20?” But there it is, on the field, every day — the most interesting story in baseball. And so one year into his career, baseball reckons with how good Mike Trout really is, how good he will be and what could stop him. And that’s when our resolve breaks down and we give. Mickey Mantle? Okay. We hate ourselves. But it’s not the worst place to start.

The Phenom [ESPN the Magazine]

Bryce Harper likes Oppo Bombs in Atlanta

Think back to Memorial Day weekend when Bryce Harper said hello to the world by homering to the opposite field in Atlanta off Johnny Venters.

Fast forward to last night, where an un-hittable, lights out version of Kris Medlen was on the bump for the Braves. Medlen had a career high 13 strikeouts and was throwing a shutout. Then Bryce Harper took him deep the opposite way.

Great piece of hitting by Harper, who matches his ripe young age with 19 homers. I would say it’s even odds that he makes it to 20.

Do YOU Have Information Regarding the Great American Ballpark ‘Cat Calls’?

Last night, at some point; during the Reds 14-inning win at Great American something magical happened.

A fan (likely from the foothills of greater Kentucky) began to “WHOO, A-WHOO!”. It sounded like a higher pitched version of Ric Flair’s famous holler. This continued into tonight’s ballgame, and the crowd seemed to gain steam in the later innings.

Were you there? Do you know who started it? If so, we want to talk to you.

Shoot us an e-mail, or leave comments within this post.

Our Pal Franco interviews DatDudeBP

Our pal Franco from Next Level Ballplayer does exceptional work.

He’s also got connections spread all throughout the Major Leagues. His latest project is an interview with one of our personal favorites, Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips. Be sure to check it out.

Reds’ Brandon Phillips Talks ‘Golden Soldiers’, Finding ‘The Crunk Zone’, Personal Baseball Goals and More [Next Level Ballplayer]


Mark Buerhle is Bryce Harper’s latest Upper Deck Kill

The Bryce Harper rookie wrecking derby rolls on.

Today he absolute shits on lefty Mark Buerhle, launching a parabola into the upper tank at Nationals Stadium. The Nationals stole an 8-7, 10-inning win from the Marlins.

Harper is raking like he wants that Rookie of the Year trophy above his fireplace.

I’m sorry that Harper is filling is up this page so much. Actually I’m not. When he homers, we pin it here. This is because he’s the greatest 19-year old home run hitter of our lifetime.

Your Saturday Baseball Open Thread

Summer’s gone. School is back in session. There’s a chill in the air and many have turned their attention to the gridiron of NCAA or the NFL.

But not here.

There’s a lot to still be spoken for around the game of baseball. Don’t tell anyone, but we’re pulling for the Pirates to get their shit together. Last night we found out that Aroldis Chapman is human after all, and it would be nice to see the Buccos sneak into the playoffs.

There’s only a few regular season Saturday’s left. If you’re one of those guys who has quit adjusting their fantasy lineup and you’re worried about which RB2 to start, we have a problem with that. Don’t be that guy.