Category Archives: Cincinnati Reds

We still love you, Jay

We are hoping (and praying) that this is not the case, but it is a very real possibility that Jay Bruce is somehow inconceivably entering his final two weeks as a Cincinnati Red. It is sad, and it makes us a little sick to our stomach. This was the player we had hoped that our kids would grow up watching in Cincinnati.

There are whispers that the Reds ownership wants to clean house, and perhaps Bruce is atop that list.

From disappointing, to dispiriting to disastrous. Again: Losing a lot now is a good thing. The more the Reds lose, the less likely those in charge are to dismiss this season as an injury-bombed aberration. Insiders have suggested to me this will not be the case, that the Big Man is sufficiently hissed to do some serious housecleaning. That is good. Boldness is required, if only to change the blood. We know what the current blood can do, at its peak. It’s past that now. Time for a Keith Richards-esque transfusion. (Excellent, OG-based reference, right?)

Gulp.

While we’ve had to check out of doing the Reds every night for our own health (this is just really depressing and hard to watch) we wanted to note that Jay Bruce won the Reds a game last week with his glove, preserving a 1-0 Cueto shutout over those rotten-assed Cardinals in a game St. Louis desperately needed.

If indeed this is it – Bruce’s last ride into town – we will have a lot more to say about it at a later time. Let’s put it this way: no matter what we’re doing that final Sunday of the regular season, September 28th; we’re going to make sure we soak in Bruce’s last three or four plate appearances.

A Bucket List Item Sits in the distance

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Here’s an image you’re likely to see repeated many times over between now and next July when the Cincinnati Reds host the 2015 All Star Game in the Queen City.

I’ve waited my entire life for this game to come to Cincinnati. I’m not exactly sure how I’ll pay for everything, but I have to be there in some form for all the festivities, game included.

As for reviewing the logo, they could have done a bit more with it; but it’s clean and I like it.

Now all I need is Jay Bruce to have an All-Star season and rebound from his 2014 campaign and be there to come full circle in his career. That Home Run Derby in that bandbox has his name written all over it.

Jay Bruce’s nightmare season continues

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Jay Bruce was moved to the bereavement list today for reasons still unknown. As a person who loves Jay Bruce, this is incredibly sad and concerning within a season that has been particularly difficult to sit back and watch him struggle through.

Bruce is down to .215 now, with 10 home runs and 42 RBI. This was supposed to be Bruce’s greatest season ever. It’s going to end up his worst. At least in 2009 when he hit a career-low .223, you knew he was on the way up. You knew his day of redemption would come. If you knew the game at all – you knew that it was all still out ahead of him.

This has a different feel to it. This time, we’re not so sure what it is, or how the story ends. Some knowledgeable fans are actually questioning if Jay Bruce ever finds it again. While we wouldn’t bet against him – we want to point out something that has it’s place in this.

Back at the beginning of this month (a month that has been Bruce’s worst of the season in terms of OPS), Jay Bruce sat down with Eno Sarris at FanGraphs to discuss hitting and his approach. It was a phenomenal piece, and many fans remarked that with a work ethic and approach like that; it was a matter of time until Jay Bruce found his way.

We didn’t say it at the time, but that actually wasn’t our thought. Not as well as we know this player. Our actual thought was ‘Wow, Jay Bruce is doing an awful lot of thinking right now. That can’t be a good thing in a game you want to keep as simple as possible’. Bruce has always been a player who slumps and surges to the extremes. This is because even with all his immense physical talents, Bruce has never truly mastered the mental aspect of the game. That’s why to us, it wasn’t a good sign to learn the guy is so deep in his own mind he might as well be Syd Barrett.

It’s the same game it’s always been. Bruce is a better hitter – we think – when he keeps his approach as simple as possible. See the ball, hit the ball. Don’t think too much in the box. Certainly do not attempt to work on or try new things during the game you’re playing in. We aren’t a big league hitting instructor, but whatever the Reds right fielder has tried this season has been a miserable failure. It’s time to ‘dumb’ it down a bit and do what he did when he came out of the minor leagues. He was a better hitter then.

In the meantime, Jay Bruce the person is in our prayers. He’s a good guy, and the bereavement list typically never means anything but heartache. It’s easy to forget while watching these guys each night that: they are human. They have emotion too. They feel things.

If this is indeed the beginning of the end of Bruce in Cincinnati, it’s been a pretty remarkable run at times. We aren’t ready for that yet, so let’s hope a day of redemption awaits Bruce Almighty somewhere just over the pass.

The Night the Reds offense Put me to sleep at the Ballpark

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[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com]

I went down to Cincinnati last night with my buddy Joe to see Bryce Harper take some cuts. I was one of the 38,812 last night in a stadium that seemed packed to the rafters. A stadium that was so very quiet all night long because the Reds collected just four hits and as they so often do when the stadium is a sell-out; they just let down.

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Jayson Werth didn’t get any knocks last night, here he is after reaching base on a walk.

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One of the cool parts of the game was a Bald Eagle flying in from center field after the National Anthem. I think his name was Sam the Eagle.

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Alfredo Simon just didn’t have it last evening. He went 4 and 1/3, gave up nine hits and three earned runs. Denard Span owned the Reds last night, tuning them up for four hits on his own.

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Man, Jay Bruce is really struggling. He didn’t really sting anything all night long, and he’s down now to .219 on the season. I don’t know what is wrong with him. I hate to say it, but perhaps he just needs a change of scenery. There’s no reason for a player of his caliber to be having a season like this. Star players simply do not struggle in this matter. It’s painful to sit back and watch him endure.

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The biggest thing that Bryce Harper did last night was robbing Billy Hamilton of extra bases with a web gem, top-ten catch. It appeared that he re-injured himself at first. Always the fear with Harper. We’ve got video of the catch below:

Harper went 1 for 4 with a hit off Alfredo Simon, a walk, and a run. I didn’t realize during the game that he actually tweaked his stance again.

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Here is the Budweiser Party Deck out in Right Field. It was a happening spot last night on a beautiful Friday evening just off the river. One of the only spots that Reds fans could generate any excitement. One of my friends who texted me while I was at the game remarked that ‘beer sales were probably up last night’. He had to have been correct. I had six on my own in about forty minutes. That combined with the Reds offense made me feel really tired.

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Baseball Gods: help Jay Bruce turn this thing around.

Andrew McCutchen is Unbelievable in all ways that one can not be believed

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[Box Score]

[Pittsburgh Post Gazette]

The guy simply does not get enough run in these parts. His remarkable career is passing us by entirely too quickly, in part because the Pirates are blacked out in Columbus, Ohio by Major League Baseball. We only get to catch a handful of McCutchen games per year; and every time we do he does something that is absolutely one of a kind. Let’s preface the post by saying the Pirates weren’t blacked out tonight.

Mike Trout is the best player in the American League. If you hit the ‘freeze frame’ on the National League, right now it’s McCutchen.

As he so often does – he put his team on his back tonight in a game that they had to have. He homered last night also in a game the Pirates let slip away. With the Pirates trailing 5-4 tonight in the top of the 9th inning on the road, he led off the inning with a monstrous home run off Jonathan Broxton to tie it up.

Two innings later in the top of the 11th, the backbreaker. The kill shot. The death knell, and the dagger.

If you’ve watched as much baseball as we have; and lets be modest, if you’ve seen a lot of baseball you knew it was the type of home run that the opposing team just isn’t going to come back from. McCutchen ripped Cincinnati’s heart out and served it to them in their home stadium Saturday night.

McCutchen is the National League MVP again if things continue. He deserves the majority of the vote; even if the Pirates come up short. He’s also got 15 steals in 15 attempts, something no one is talking about enough. McCutchen is close to the perfect player right now; and you’re missing out if you’re not paying attention to the NL’s version of Trout.

Two Must-Note items from last night’s Reds game

Last night, the Reds pulled off another improbably win to move to 1.5 games out of first place in the NL Central. The Reds won an ugly game 6-5, which featured a big blown lead by the Pirates.

We’re a fan of all-world talent here, and the following two videos are exhibits of such.

Billy Hamilton was in the matrix. Look at this little jumping bean refuse to be denied his arbitrary right to first base! Hamilton had three hits in the game and is now up to .285 on the year.

Next up is Aroldis Chapman, who locked down his 20th save of the season. But that isn’t what all the hoopla was about. This was Chapman’s 40th straight appearance with at least one strikeout, a Major League record.

That was the 97th save of Chapman’s big league career. Here’s to about 403 more of these before he is finished.

Let’s tip our caps to Alfredo “Big Pasta” Simon

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Alfredo Simon is 12-3, after getting the win last night in a 4-1 game against the Cubs in Cincinnati.

If it weren’t for Simon, the Reds wouldn’t be 2.5 games out of first place in the National League Central right now.

As we said, he’s 12-3, with a 2.70 ERA and 75 strikeouts to 28 BB. His STEAMER says he’ll finish the year at a paltry 16-9; which at this point would be a monumental disappointment. We’ll take the OVER or the ‘better’ on those figures. For you saber-statheads, his xFIP is 3.93 for the rest of the year, meaning the pitcher who once may have bayoneted the shit out of a man in his native country (ALLEGEDLY); is expected to be pretty average the rest of the way. That means little; because these same stats told us he would never be more than average to begin with.

His last outing was the most Big Pasta outing ever. He went 6.2 innings, allowed four hits, one earned run, and struck out eight. That’s pretty much Simon in a nutshell when he takes the mound this season. He’s a quality-start machine, seemingly never gets hit hard, uses his fielders, strikes out a few more than you thought he would, goes deep into the ballgame, gets his win and heads home.

He was incredibly effective in his long-relief role in years past, displaying a greater value if you watched him. He would come into a game and strike out five of six batters often times and not be touched in a game that was a runaway. You had to figure Bryan Price saw something in him that could be harnessed and shaped into more, but no one saw this coming.

At one moment in time, in a baseball season that could have easily been deemed meaningless for the Reds; an unlikely hero has emerged. Every fifth day when Alfredo Simon bounces the rosin bag on his palm and takes the pearl, I look forward to it. We want to give him his due – he’s been that exceptional that he deserves a post all to himself.

Jay Bruce is entering one of his customary hot streaks

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It’s happening. At least, it may be happening. It’s hard to know for certain, but it sure feels like Mt. Bruce is starting to erupt. And when it happens, there’s nothing that can stop it. You best just get your camera and get the fuck out of the way, because there is no pitcher (any handed) that is safe when the Bruce volcano starts to bubble and burst like so.

When he was in the middle of one of these rages last season, we did a post about the finest hot streaks of his career. By our count, he only really erupted for one stretch last year, and if indeed that is what is going on right now it would be the first time this year that he has done so.

The hallmark signs are all there. It started with the game-winning home run on Sunday. Then he dropped the bat head on one last night for another no-doubter. This afternoon, while you were working (you should have been working you sand-baggin’ son of a bitch), he hit another moonshot that was the difference in the game. Three days, three moonshot home runs off left-handed pitching. Including one in his first career game as a first baseman!

The Reds really need this. They’ve gained 2.5 games on the division leading Milwaukee Brewers in a couple of days, and have the chance to do more damage tonight. With Joey Votto hitting the disabled list, the Reds just need to step up and carry them for a little while.

While I think the Reds have a formidable lineup overall and a good pitching staff, Bruce is the one guy in the lineup who can step in and carry them on his back for a few weeks. He’s one of the few guys in baseball capable of doing that. He’s a truly mystifying player – but if he’s in one of those Jay Bruce grooves – Reds fans are in for the best stretch of their summer. Do not doubt the man when he gets hot.

He *could* change the shape of the NL Central division, single handed. Opposing teams know it, opposing pitchers know it, and they all know they’re in deep shit if he keeps deciding to erupt. There simply without a remedy or solution for him. We’ve also covered that before.

Baseball is fun, unpredictable, and random

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Out of absolutely NOWHERE: Jay Bruce is the Reds new first baseman.

I think I know Reds baseball and specifically Jay Bruce about as well as anyone out there. If they played the game for one hundred years I never could have predicted this. This is awesome!

We already have a lunch bet with our boy Nick that Jay Bruce gets through tonight without an error. If he moves to another position at any point during the game the bet is off. If he does not commit an error, free Piada!

Sometimes you’re just proud of a player

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[Box Score]

It’s a funny thing. Jay Bruce is still our favorite player. Other guys might be more exciting, other guys are a more captivating watch, other guys are just plain better; and he’s not the superstar we were certain at points he would be. He’s a good player. But we’ve said it before, Jay Bruce is just our sentimental favorite. There’s no one that can take that place and hold it in baseball, no matter how low his batting average gets. No matter how inconsistent he remains. No matter when the end comes of him wearing a Reds uniform.

We couldn’t wait to get to the park to see him play today, just like that first magical night when he made his MLB debut. And then the next night when we went back. We talked with our wife about how Bruce has actually been with the Reds now for parts of SEVEN seasons! It seems like yesterday that we were watching Bruce in big league game numbers one and two. Today, was Bruce’s 899th big league game. It was the first game we’ve gone to with our pregnant wife. It seemed like when we started watching Jay Bruce we were still immature children. Life – and baseball – can blend time and be weird like that. Nonetheless I was excited to see Jay Bruce play today, just for some reason I had a feeling about something.

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We got out of our car and parked in a choice spot. The sun seemed to be shining on the Redlegs from the time we got out of the car, as it was a beautiful day for baseball. Was it foreshadowing that the sun would shine upon the Reds on this day?

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I told my wife that Yovani Gallardo was Jay Bruce’s ‘type’. That he could get one today off him. If you can fight through what my iPhone did to the Reds jumbotron here, you can see he had great career numbers against Gallardo. He would groundout for an RBI in his first at-bat, fly out against the wall in left-center in his second AB, and hit a rocket line out to center in his third. His fourth at-bat wouldn’t come against Gallardo, but rather Will Smith. And Jay Bruce won the Reds the game.

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Here’s a picture of the Reds Smokehouse out in the right field corner. The food options are a little pricey, but they feature really cool special menu items that change with each opposing team that comes to town. For the Brewers, they were serving beer-soaked bratwurst.

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I just realized the All-Star Selection show was tonight when I saw this advertisement for the All Star Game at the stadium. Todd Frazier and Devin Mesoraco are All Stars for the first time.

I would like you to remember back to the Reds season preview post we did for a moment. Here’s what we said:

Ryan Ludwick returns from injury. He’s really aging, so I don’t expect much. I think the Reds will get less than people want to see out of Ludwick and Cozart and they’ll be pleasantly surprised with how much Mesoraco and Todd Frazier hit. Frazier is one of my breakout player candidates in all of baseball. He has an ugly swing but I think he’s simply too talented to flop completely and that park will aid his numbers in a great way.

Bada-bing bada boom.

 

 

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We’re on our way to the game and I’m listening to Sirius MLB Network radio and Jim Bowden tells us that the Reds owner is in the clubhouse and something big is going down. Joey Votto was actually headed to the disabled list, again. So this is the only Votto sighting we had today.

Mat Latos went eight strong innings and carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning. Todd Frazier had two hits and Devin Mesoraco had three. But the take-home from today was Jay Bruce.

On a day when baseball selected it’s All-Stars, Bruce wasn’t on the list. He has had better seasons, and he will certainly have better seasons. His stats are pretty and his teammates have dropped like flies all season around him, he’s even had knee surgery. But he’s continued to grind – because that’s the type of player he is. Even within the game today, he had to grind. He drilled a couple of balls right at people and just when it seemed he couldn’t buy a hit and the average is plummeting, he steps up in the bottom of the 8th inning and hits a towering home run off a lefty that made George Grande sing, voice cracking like a schoolgirl.

I’ll always love Jay Bruce. I have no way of knowing how many pages to the scrapbook I’ll be able to add to before the game has decided time has run out for us, but today was yet another. Our time has not come yet. I’m still really thankful Jay Bruce is playing in my big league city and hitting in the middle of the lineup. Sometimes, it’s easiest to love those who have their glaring imperfections because they’re like the rest of us. It’s easy to love Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera right now. These guy are the perfect ballplayers. We’ll still take Jay Bruce with his warts and these big moments that mean all that much more.

Marty Brennaman gets Morbid on-air

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This is a few days old, and we originally heard of it on Hardball Talk. We weren’t listening to the 700 WLW telecast the night that it was said, and we’re still not sure if that’s something we’re disappointed about or relieved for.

The Reds have been playing A LOT better for the last ten or so days. That’s had the voice of the Reds in a rather pleasant mood (this will not last). While we’re holding our breath collectively about the play of the Reds holding up over any amount of time, take a listen to this:

WOW!

Nothing like when the usually relaxing act of listening to the ol’ ballgame on AM radio gets you thinking about your own mortality thanks to the aging and usually-crotchety play by play man eh?

Keith Law thinks Todd Frazier has a shit swing

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And he’s probably right; Frazier’s swing will never be described as graceful or pretty by anyone. He doesn’t pass the eyeball test. But you know what? Frazier’s success is a testament to his athleticism. He somehow makes it work. He hits 420 foot homers pretty routinely with a long, roly-poly cut that generates a lot of power. For now, Frazier gets the last word:

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We love Keith Law. We also love Todd Frazier. This is like when your mom and dad fight and you really don’t want to choose a side.

I went to see Yasiel Puig play today

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[Box Score]

[Game Highlights]

Another item can be crossed off the baseball bucket list; I spent an afternoon in the same ballpark as Yasiel Puig.

That said, I didn’t get to my seat until the fifth inning, meaning I saw exactly four and a half innings of baseball. Let me go on a small mini-rant now if I may to relieve some frustration.

It was a Reds ‘business day special’. I’ve went to two or three of these in my life, but it was always when I was working downtown and didn’t need to find a place to park.

My friend and I learned today that you don’t go to a Reds business day special unless you work downtown. We arrived around 12:15, twenty solid minutes before the scheduled first pitch. Every garage was ‘PERMIT ONLY’ and the one parking garage that a cop told us we would be able to park in behind the US Bank Arena was full. We drove around in one-way street traffic for a solid hour it seemed. Finally we found a lot about two miles away. We parked, and we walked what seemed like forever.

Alfredo Simon and Zach Greinke cruised through the first four innings. By the time we parked, took a leak, fought through the lines and grabbed a hot dog and some peanuts; the game was into the fifth inning and I had missed two Puig AB’s and two Bruce AB’s. Not good.

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I missed Puig hitting a single in the first inning – his only hit on this day – but I did not miss his caught stealing to end an inning. Here he is heading out to right field after getting caught stealing. Dee Gordon and Adrian Gonzalez can be seen in the shot.

The Dodgers on this day as a whole (for the half game I saw) looked like a team ready to get back to Los Angeles. They just looked tired and went through the motions. How else to explain Alfredo ‘Big Pasta’ Simon throwing eight strong innings of one-run baseball? The Dodgers had no fight in them. And by the way, Alfredo Simon has tied Adam Wainwright at least for the time being for the National League lead with nine wins on the mound.

Baseball is completely unpredictable.

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And it is that unpredictability that keeps me rabidly interested. I feel like going to a baseball game live is like buying a ticket and playing the lotto. As you are on your way to the game, you have no damn idea what you’re about to see as a whole or in terms of what each player is going to do. I thought about this on my way to the game – was today going to be the day I hit the Yasiel Puig lotto and possibly see a two homer game?

My ticket was a dud. He was 1 for 4 with a couple of ground outs and of course the aforementioned caught stealing.

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I didn’t hit the lotto on Jay Bruce either. It seems his number is coming up further and farther in between these days. I remarked during the game that Bruce seems disappointingly like a player who is simply content with being ‘good’. He appears to realize that it’s no longer possible that he will be a ‘great’ player.

I realize he’s had to play through some problems with his knee. Not much has changed since his return. He’s hitting .212 on the year now – there isn’t much you can say about a guy hitting .212 – other than I think he was a better hitter all around when he came out of the minor leagues. He’s just a pull-happy guy with some power now who is never going to hit for much average, strikes out too much, plays a solid right-field, and will not get noticed outside the Reds fanbase. I had higher hopes for Jay Bruce to be honest.

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I did get to see Aroldis Chapman lock down another save, his tenth of the season. One thing that will never get old to me is seeing this guy pump 99, 99, 101, 101, 102 in the ninth inning. Blowing 3-1 fastballs past Matt Kemp when Kemp has to know it’s coming and he still can’t touch it.

Chapman struck out the side in the ninth inning to reward the Reds with their victory. He struck out the second hitter of the inning with a 92 MPH slider down. Just filthy. This guy is a God-given talent and a gift to be able to watch. He’s why you buy the ticket.

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The Todd Frazier lottery numbers came up today, as he hit his 14th home run of the season. Of course, I didn’t see it; we were behind the left field bleachers on Mehring Way when the fireworks were going off listening to it on 700 WLW.

The Reds shouldn’t have business day games if there isn’t a better solution for parking, plain and simple. If you plan to attend one of these games, be ready to have it really dampen your entire experience. I didn’t get to walk around the park, I didn’t get to try any of the new concession stands, I just sat in my seat for what seemed like ten minutes because we arrived so late because it was a true downtown-disaster. I doubt there are these problems around Wrigley.

I’m over it, and happy I got to spend an afternoon watching a few innings of baseball. And I got to see Puig play a few innings. And the Reds split a tough series, even if I know it will end up meaningless.

And next time I buy a ticket, I just might win some kind of baseball lotto!