Merry Christmas from Diamond Hoggers

Things have been slow around here since the day that the Reds got knocked from the playoffs (followed up the next night by the Nationals collapse), but business is going to pick up soon. With the NFL season winding down, it’s soon going to be time to start covering all-things baseball again. I’m still kind of ouchie about the way last season ended, but the show must go on.

Just wanted to do a short post this morning that says for you and yours to enjoy your holiday season.

Thank you for your continued support of Diamond Hoggers.

Rest in Peace Ryan Freel

Ryan Freel was always a favorite of mine. So much that one night, I felt compelled to add him as a Facebook friend. In fact, whatever occurred between today and yesterday was not something that I would think was planned all along by Freel. As of yesterday, Freel had added a submission to The Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Field fan page stating “Let me know if I can help in anyway……”

I lived in Cincinnati in 2004 and 2005. I spent countless summer nights by myself at the ballpark, where I saw Freel up close and nearly felt like I knew him. Those years would coincide with the finest seasons of Freel’s MLB career. Over three seasons, he was a fixture at the top of the Reds lineup that desperately needed a leadoff man and stole 103 bases from 2004 to 2006. He played every position on the diamond except for first base and shortstop. He was a hustling, down and dirty throwback of a renaissance man.

I got the feeling that Freel; in all his battling from the dusty fields of the minor leagues, was a guy who never forgot where he came from.

A short story I never about Freel that might illustrate that comes to mind. One night I was sitting in the first row of the seats on the Reds dugout. A guy next to me was someone from Freel’s past; a coach, a friend, someone who had known Ryan for some time and had traveled a long way to see him play in Cincinnati from what I gathered. Freel was finishing a few warm-up tosses when he noticed the guy and he nodded and came over and spoke to him. He told the guy to hold on a second, popped into the dugout and emerged from it with a couple game used bats for the guy and his kid.

He was likable and approachable to Reds fans. He played the game like a warrior, running through walls and generally having no reservations about his own health when it came to stealing a bag or making a play. One night at Great American Ball Park the giveaway was Ryan Freel dirty t-shirt jersey night. I still have that shirt somewhere in my dresser with the dirt stains down the front covering Freel’s number six to commemorate his head first slide.

My thoughts and my prayers go out to Ryan’s family and friends tonight. This is a terrible and senseless thing.

Bryce Harper is Gunning for your MLB The Show 13 Cover

Be sure to check out the online sportsbook.

Bryce Harper probably understands what it means to be on the cover of a video game more than guys did when I was a kid. No one talks about Wheaties box covers anymore, it’s all about Madden cover votes and such. More recently, MLB The Show has joined the ranks of high profile sports games to employ their stars in a cover vote contest.

“When you’re younger, you always dream of being in a video game, or being on the cover,” Harper said by telephone last week, during a photoshoot framing him for the prospective cover. “Winning a World Series would be the top-notch goal, but off the field, this is something very cool.”

SCEA Sports is the maker of The Show series, and has always put out a great line of video games. If Bryce Harper lands on the cover of the 2013 game; it’s going to move up even higher on my totem pole which I previously didn’t think was possible.

Watch them get really tricky like a fox and put Mike Trout in this cover vote.

The 1986 Mets and the 2013 Nationals

ESPN SweetSpot compares the 1986 Mets to the 2013 Nationals position by position, including bench. It’s a pretty cool little post.

Dave Schoenfield of SweetSpot has the two teams even, 6 to 6.

One other similarity between these: The Mets, like the Nationals, had a lot of young talent. Strawberry was 24, Dykstra 23, Backman 26, Mitchell 24, HoJo 25. On the pitching staff, Gooden, Darling, Fernandez, Aguilera and McDowell were all 25 or younger. Mets fans know all too well that this group of players would return to the playoffs only once more and never return to the World Series. The future of the Nationals looks bright, but success is never a sure thing.

You know what is a sure thing? The Nationals won’t be doing copious amounts of cocaine, tearing up commercial aircrafts (while showing their genitals to the stewardesses), and generally entering other towns with the soul goal being to drink as much beer as they can before leaving town.

It was just a different era back then, and one of the reasons that the 1986 Mets will remain one of my favorite teams of all-time no matter what 2013 holds for the Nationals; who are proud new owners of Dan Haren.

The Baseball Show: Throwing Another Log on the MLB Hot Stove

On this week’s edition of The Baseball Show, co-hosts Mike Rosenbaum and M.J. Lloyd along with myself discuss the following:

-Denard Span being traded to the Nationals for Alex Meyer
-Mike profiles Alex Meyer as a prospect
-B.J. Upton to Atlanta
-Possible destinations for Josh Hamilton, Michael Bourn, Zach Greinke and more players
-Reactions to the Evan Longoria contract extension
-Thoughts on the 2013 Hall of Fame nominees

This was a very quick edition of the podcast but a very fun show with lots of discussion. We hope you enjoy!