I missed yesterday’s Labor Day showdown between the Rockies and Reds. I was enjoying my last day on the Jersey Shore; playing some golf, visiting the boardwalk, spending time with the Fiance’s family.
I was basically trying to stay as far away from the frustrating Reds as humanly possible. But that’s the problem with doing this for a living and with living to do this. You can’t get away from the shit.
So after the game was over–and yes I did sneak and look at the 10-5 final score on my phone–I got a few text messages from fellow Reds fans who are my buddies.
“I am so frustrated with these fucking guys right now.” — Craig
That’s understandable bro. We let them off the hook in St. Louis. If we didn’t then this division race was over. If Matt Holliday doesn’t hit that home run on Sunday, it’s all over right then. You know it and I know it.
On to the next text.
“Did you see the Redlegs game? I saw they lost 10-5. I figure that numb nuts (he meant Harang) had a hand in that and gave up more then his share.” — Tyler
My buddy was right. He’s long referred to our former “ace” (I’ve always said the guy was a strong #4 on a good team, but that ship has sailed) as ‘Harang the Ass’ because he pitches like an ass. Pretty simple.
The last batch of texts were the daily winners. They came from my friend Bobby. Bobby’s been a fan since the Crosley days. He coaches college soccer. He only texts once every month or so about our Reds, so I was surprised to get one, wait; make that two from him. And they were golden.
“How about fuckin’ Harang man? Son of a bitch couldn’t make Earlham’s rotation.”
I responded back with something to the effect of that I’ve seen enough of Harang and hope that was the last I see of him. I didn’t expect Bobby to respond but to my surprise, he brought a smile to my face with the simplicity of his return text. I hope he was drinking.
“Guy’s a douche.”
With that, I had a feeling that Aaron Harang’s Reds career was probably over. And I never did get to see it.
Last night I went home and just tried to be with the moment. The Reds had came back from a 3-0 deficit to beat one of the best pitchers in the game. They came back and beat the 2-time reigning National League Champions. This was one of those moments that has some major staying power. It was a game that people will talk about for years. My friends and acquaintances who were present at the ball park are lucky people.
The summer is in that period non-baseball fans consider the ‘dog days’. We’re in the meat of the season. This wasn’t an April win. We’re now into July. We’re a month of baseball away from August–which is a crucial junction in the baseball season.
I just took yesterday and soaked it all in. Yesterday’s game was a game in which people from around the league–not just fans of the Reds–might have took notice and said to themself “there just might be something special going on in Cincinnati this year”.
It was the Reds 25th win in their last at-bat.
“We have a good time,” Bruce said. “We have a blast. We have a lot of guys here who now how to win and have won. It’s almost like when we do it – it’s always a delight and surprising – but it’s not like it’s a true shock because we’ve been there before and we’ve doing it since day one. We don’t feel like we’re ever out of it.”
I went home and watched 61* with a friend. I thought about our Reds. Our 2010 Reds. There’s a part in the movie where the Yankees skipper Ralph Houk talks about legends of the game actually being bigger then the game at some points. Can the Reds become one of those special stories? Will they have their place in history? Last night felt a little bit like those pennant races of my childhood. You know, 1990, 1995, 1999. Except back then we’d catch the score on the bottom line of channels like CNN and then head outside to play ball in the front yard until mom rang the dinner bell. And we didn’t have to work full-time. And we didn’t have bills to pay. The stresses of life weren’t so great.
But that’s the beautiful thing about a game like the Reds win yesterday. It takes you back to those carefree moments of your childhood. Those moments to when guys like Chris Sabo was a God. Or when Pokey Reese hit the 3-run home run in late-September 1999 off Ricky Bottalico to walk off against the Cardinals. I’m glad I got to experience yesterday as a Reds fan, as a baseball fan.
If the Reds don’t win another game this season, they’ve given us our fair share of high points. Yesterday’s afternoon affair was definitely the apex.
I didn’t write this, so I’m not going to pretend that I did. But it belongs on this blog. So here are 10 reasons to love this 2010 Reds team. I’ve got about a million more. I wish Dusty Baker had made his way into this list. Feel free to leave your own in the comments.
10. They’re red-a$$es. A quick look down the roster shows Rolen, Cabrera, Votto, Bruce, Nix, and Gomes all play the game hard and rarely have clean uniforms at the end of games. Might be more than that– I don’t know about Stubbs or Heisey. Might be the most red a$$es on one team since the St. Louis Gas House Gang.
9. The Reds own the ugliest pitching staff in baseball. Bronson Arroyo has a mullet and that weird pencil thin soul patch thing going on. Mike Leake looks like his younger brother. Johnny Cueto and Francisco Cordero are sporting those Amish chin beards so popular with… Amish men who can’t grow real beards. Sam LeCure looks like the love child of Moms Mabley and Foster Brooks. I’m pretty sure Danny Ray Herrera starred in Stand and Deliver. Logan Ondrusek looks like one half of a professional wrestling tag team and Nick Masset is his partner. And the ace of the All-Ugly Staff is Mr. Harangatang himself. Brutal.
8. Brandon Phillips is a joy to watch play in the field. He’s displayed the best range of his career and his arm is strong. Unquestionably the Gold Glove 2B in the National League. Besides, admit it– you like the little no-look shovel to short to start the 4-6-3, don’t you?
7. Bronson Arroyo’s leg kick looks oddly balletic. Every time my wife– a former dancer– sees him, she says something about how graceful he looks.
6. They don’t quit. Sure, you know all about the last at-bat wins. There’s more than that, though. It’s getting down early, but fighting back to take the lead like they did tonight. It’s getting swept in Seattle, then reeling off five (and counting?) wins in a row, sweeping Oakland and taking the first two against Clevelad. It’s getting beaten on a 9th inning dinger off Nix’s head, then coming back and dominating for a couple week stretch.
5. Logan Ondrusek and Danny Ray Herrera sit next to each other in the bullpen. If DRH sat on his lap, Ondrusek would look like a ventriloquist. THAT would be really cool to see.
4. Chris Heisey came from Messiah Bible College. Mike Leake played for the Arizona State Sun Devils. Both sides covered.
3. Arthur Rhodes has pants older than Mike Leake.
2. They’re avowed baseball rats. Joey Votto studies hitting. Jay Bruce takes extra BP. Scott Rolen takes extra BP– while games are going on. They show up early and stay late. They take infield with a purpose. Orlando Cabrera once got into a shouting match with a teammate over him standing too long while admiring his home run shot and disrespecting the game. What’s not to like there?
1. Easy answer– they’re in first place.
I have to say, I like the last reason the most. With the baseball rats being another HUGE reason.
This was our 6th straight Opening Day in Cincinnati. On this beautiful 78 degree day, the greatest hitter of our lifetime would do what he does in other big league cities; destroy the other team’s Opening Day.
Albert Pujols was the story. He collected four hits, hitting every part of the ball park in seemingly every fashion. He homered long to left center in the first inning to kill the crowd after Aaron Harang struck out the first two hitters of the game. He homered to the opposite field in right center later in the game on a much different type of home run, a line drive that just kept going like a missile.
The things you have to take from this game (since it was a loss), are the small things that you come to the ballpark to see. Joey Votto got three hits and hit an opposite field home run that was extremely impressive. Votto got a couple of hits off Chris Carpenter and was clearly keyed up to be facing one of the best pitchers in the game. He looked focused and had good at-bats.
Logan Ondrusek made his Major League debut, throwing a scoreless 1-2-3 inning and touching the mid-90s on the gun. I am impressed by this kid and want to see more.
Above is the beautiful United States flag during the opening ceremony and national anthem. Like I said earlier, it was truly as beautiful of a day as you can ask for in the Midwest in early April.
Chris Carpenter again showed why he’s one of the best in the game. While he clearly didn’t have his best stuff, he had more then enough to get the Opening Day win. He is an absolute bulldog on the mound and won’t back down to any hitter in any count. He will challenge you and he also consistently was hitting the mid-90’s on the gun. Even if you’re a Reds fan, as a baseball fan this is what you should want to see on Opening Day; the best that another team has to offer and one of the finest arms from around baseball.
If only the Reds had a true ace to throw on Opening Day. It was Aaron Harang’s fourth straight start in an opener and he clearly will not make any more I wouldn’t think. Harang battled for sure but was laboring through hitter after hitter. He’s not an ace.
And of course, Jay Bruce. We love him, it’s no secret. He didn’t have a great day and some people were critical of him, as he struck out twice in big situations. He also did a few good things that the common fan wouldn’t notice. Jay had a really nice knock to center field off Carpenter, and beyond that he saw more pitches then any other hitter in the Reds lineup. If he can continue to make himself a tough out and work the count; he’ll not only earn a few more walks but he’ll have success in the near future. Hopefully this is the start of something great for Jay. We knew he was doomed in the at-bat against Dennys Reyes the former Reds lefty. I hate feeling like Jay is an automatic out against left-handers; I want to see him improve in this area of his game and have a fear that he won’t.
This was center field during batting practice when Albert Pujols was in the cage. Those white dots you see are shots he was spraying out to the center field area during his round. I knew then that it could be one of those days for Albert, and sure enough it was more then a gut feeling.
A lot of people say “well, there are 161 games to go” after a Reds loss on Opening Day. I’m so used to hearing that. I’m tired of hearing it. It feels second rate. The Reds have played in front of a sell-out crowd 46 times now since their stadium opened and they’re 20-26 in those games. These are games that you must send your packed house crowd out of the stadium excited and with the feeling that they can’t wait to come back and see the team play again. If you lose like the Reds so often do in front of a crucial crowd, you have a missed opportunity.
Someday, maybe it will be different. On this 2010 Opening Day, something was missing because the only thing I came to the park to see; us starting 1-0, was out of reach.
Reds fans have defended long and hard that Aaron Harang is not only an ace, but one of the finest pitchers the Reds have had in the modern day era of baseball. He is forever immune from criticism and if indeed he does pitch poorly; it must be due to an outside factor of some type.
We have no problem being objective and telling the truth. Despite the fact that we like Harang, we don’t think he’s been throwing poorly because he’s hurt or because of the relief outing in the 18-inning San Diego fiasco. We just don’t think he’s an ace.
Harang is more suitable as a high end #2 starting pitcher in a rotation. We had all better hope that Edison Volquez is truly an ace because if he’s not, we still don’t have a true stopper or ace. Harang is now 2-9 on the season with a 4.31 ERA. Yesterday in the South Florida sun he gave up 11 hits and 7 earned runs in 5 and 1/3 innings. This included two rocket home runs to who else, Hanley Ramirez.
The Reds managed only 3 hits yesterday (none belonged to Jay Bruce and one actually came via a Corey Patterson home run). Ken Griffey Jr. is still stuck on 599 home runs. If he doesn’t homer tonight in Florida, Griffey will return home for the Reds longest homestand of the season so he can hit the 600th homer in front of the Cincinnati fans that could honestly care less about this milestone right now.
We’ll probably be at one game per series on the upcoming homestand, and while we’d like to see 600 for sentimental reasons, we’d like to see Griffey dressed in a different uniform much more for the health of the current ballclub.
It couldn’t continue forever. Last night the Reds’ 9-game home winning streak was snapped, ending the longest of its type since Great American was opened in 2003. This was largely because Aaron Harang gave up 10 hits and 6 earned runs in 4 innings. He falls to 2-7 on the season. Let me add that this is a guy who many Reds fans will argue is the supposed ‘Ace’ of the staff.
To extend the point on Harang; I don’t think he’s an ace. I never have. Before I’m going to start calling him our stopper he is going to have to start stopping our losing streaks instead of stopping win streaks. I certainly hope that Edison Volquez is a true #1 that he appears as, because Harang to me is nothing more than a high end #2 in this league. Thus ends that.
Jay Bruce was slotted in his future perch, the 3-hole. He was hit by a pitch, he grounded out, and he lined out off Pirates closer Matt Capps. He will not get a hit in every game that he plays in in his career, it’s official. Still a new gloss on this team with him in the lineup.
Jerry Hairston (hitting .345) collected 2 hits an Brandon Phillips homered. The Reds didn’t have much offense to speak of, while the Pirates got home runs from Jason Bay and Xavier Nady. Does anyone realize what kind of season Nady is having? Didn’t this guy have lupis or some shit, left for dead at one point in his career?
Now we welcome the Braves, who I have always thought is a real shitty bunch. I’m tired of hearing about Chipper Jones’ .400 average and Bobby Cox. Hopefully we sweep them out of town, but even if we don’t at least we’re not gonna have to run into Brian Jordan.