Category Archives: liking teams that win

Gutsiest Performance in a lifetime makes Reds a 2010 winner

Last night I was flipping back and forth between the Monday Night Football opener between the Jets and Ravens and of course the Reds game. I didn’t want to miss Jay Bruce’s return. I’ve got to say, last night’s most compelling storyline to wasn’t the showdowns on Monday Night Football but rather Jay Bruce’s gritty performance.

Bruce reached the 20 home run plateau for the third straight season, becoming the 2nd Red in history (Frank Robinson is the other). When he hit his first one, we looked over to our fiance with surprised eyes of joy. It put the Reds on the board after Bronson Arroyo gave up a couple leaving the Reds trailing 2-0; and it was as if Bruce hadn’t missed a beat in two weeks off. Our girlfriend replied as he rounded the bases “I love Jay Bruce”.

We love him too.

The Reds would hit five home runs on the night. Joey Votto would follow with another opposite field shot, Orlando Cabrera and Drew Stubbs (Stubbs went back to back with Bruce to tie the game at 2) would also join in the fun.

This night was a special night not just because the return of the guy who could take the Reds to the next level in the postseason but because the Reds now cannot be a losing team at season’s end. The magic number shrunk to 13 with another Cardinals loss. And postseason baseball is in the air now.

We purchased our playoff tickets this morning through a friend who won the drawing, so we’ll be there if the Reds hold up their end.

If Jay Bruce never hits another home run in a Reds uniform, last night’s return from a long strange injury bout was another warm memory in his young Reds career and a long successful season for the Cincinnati Reds.

National media member admits that Colin Cowherd is a fuckshot. “As for the Reds? The worm has turned, my friends. The Reds are going to win this season, and they’re going to win next season, and they’re going to win for a lot of years. Doesn’t matter that ESPN Radio star Colin Cowherd called the team “frauds” a few weeks ago. Cowherd was wrong, dead wrong, but it’s hard to blame him that much. The Reds are almost never on national television. They don’t get much attention from anyone outside of the 513 area code. Well, not until recently.” [CBS Sportsline]

This is what it’s all about: Reds walk off Brewers in 10

Being a baseball fan, these are the nights you remember forever. No matter how long you have enjoyed the game of baseball, and no matter how many seasons in the sun that follow; you’ll always remember the 2010 Reds. I can only imagine what it would be like to have this be the team you began to follow when you first started to follow the game of baseball. This isn’t a perfect team, but it will be a memorable one; with several figures that will hold their respectful prominence place in this game forever. It’s a little bit like those 1990 Reds were for me (I was only eight). But it really is similar.

Last night, St. Louis had already lost their game 3-0 and I decided to go out for a late run around the neighborhood and listen to the extra innings affair.

As the sweat started to pour off me, Jay Bruce laced his game winning single to left field off Trevor Hoffman and Jim Kelch belted out that the Reds had done it again. Summer coming to the end and the text messages flowing into my iPhone from all of my redleg nation peers. As I told one of them, we’ve only just begun.

And as I told someone at the office this morning (a place that remarkably, is an easier place to get up and come to when your favorite team is playing like this); the Reds are winning games even when they’re making fundamental mistakes. Every move is working–like the move to pinch run Brandon Phillips for Ryan Hanigan last night and to leave Chris Heisey in on a double switch. Things aren’t back-firing and the momentum is snow balling. That’s when you know it could be your year.

The Reds just keep on rolling. They’ve got 18 wins this August, the most wins they’ve had in a month since August of 1999. These guys are talented. The National League is wide open. If they continue to handle their business they have a chance to cement their place in the annals of this great game. Every night is big and crucial, that can’t be overstated.

I didn’t know much about Lorenzo Cain before last night, except that he wore a pitcher’s number on his back. But this kid can flat out ball in center field. If I’m in the Brewers front office I probably stick him in the lead-off or two spot in my order and see what he can do; if he shows anything he’s my Opening Day center fielder next season.

Cain made one of the best catches I’ve seen all season by nearly going through the screen last night to rob Paul Janish of extra bases in the 6th inning.

At the end of the night, the Reds had pulled out another game and gained another game in the standings on the Cardinals. With the excitement that’s been built and is continuing to build with each passing day (magic number is down to 27), it gets no better than moments like right now in Cincinnati. This is what it’s all about.

The Top 10 Reasons to Love the 2010 Reds

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.

Another Day, Another Redleg Rally

The Reds are playing like a first-place team, like a team that expects to win. When I saw that Homer Bailey gave up two runs in the first inning including a bomb to Ryan Braun, I thought that he’d quickly fold like a lawn chair and it would be the beginning of a long (or short) day depending how you look at it–following up his first career shutout with more disappointment.

Again, Bailey showed the competitive edge that I believe could make him great. If he didn’t have his best stuff he did a great job of pretending to after the first inning, in which he surrendered no runs and one hit on two walks for the next six innings of play. He threw 110 pitches on the day and although the Reds would allow two more runs, the drama was saved for the bottom of the ninth inning.

The Reds waited until their final inning but not their final at-bat. Thank God for Trevor Hoffman huh? Paul Janish singled to lead off the last half of the 9th, and Scott Rolen pinch hit in the 9-spot in the batting order. Rolen homered, tying the game at 4. Chris Heisey doubled, and Brandon Phillips walked attempting to bunt Heisey over, a sign that Trevor Hoffman was really struggling.

Joey Votto (who also hit a 460-foot home run on top of the boat deck earlier to make the game 4-2) singled off the base of the wall in right field to win the game for the Reds, their fourth win in a row and keep them alone in first place.

These guys never quit. Things aren’t going to stay like this forever, they won’t win 9 out of 10 often; in fact this might be the first time since this blog has been in existence that it’s happened; but for now you just enjoy the ride and know you’ve got a shot every night with these guys throwing the ball the way they have been. And playing defense the way they have been. And having someone who gets big hits every night the way they have been.

And don’t look now but Jay Bruce is hitting .280 on the season (two more hits yesterday). On to Atlanta to face another team that has been pretty hot. The Reds will face Kenshin Kawakami and Tomy Hanson, a couple of righties.

We've been waiting on this: Reds take 1st place

We’ve waited a long time for this day, and following up one of the best weekends of baseball that Cincinnati has had in a long time, the Reds again delivered for a lot of people out there like us who realize that there’s no guaruntee that your team sits in first at any point.
A thrilling 4-3 victory on Saturday night in the Civil Rights game that ended with a play at the plate followed a hard luck nip and tuck loss that we were on hand for Friday night. Yesterday’s 7-2 victory with Bunny Arroyo going the distance (the 3rd Reds pitcher of the week to do so) served as the cherry on top.
There’s going to be those fans who don’t really know how to handle pulling for a first place team. We’re not used to our boys being the talk of the town. The Reds play their next 14 games against teams that are .500 or worse, so as long as they handle their business they’ve got the opportunity to enjoy a prolonged run with the title belt. That said, there will be doubters.
Mo Egger summed it up with a great post. There will be people who say they’re not for real. I’ll be the first to admit that this team (still with a run differential of -1 run on the season right now) isn’t perfect. I’d rather be lucky then truly good and I’d rather be scrappy then hyped any day. These guys win ugly. They’re grinders, and you have a feeling that the manager at the helm of this now ruddered ship has to like it. They’re first in defense in the National League. They haven’t committed an error in 11 games. Their starter’s ERA for the past week was almost below 2.00.
Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips, and Drew Stubbs haven’t really even begun to hit at this point. Stubbs had a few big hits over the weekend, but who on this team with the exception of Ryan Hanigan and Joey Votto at points has hit a white-hot temperature at the plate? You know, the type of white-hot that allows you to carry an offense for a week? They are a group of streaky hitters that will do that at some point, and when that happens if they get any pitching it could be scary as to the results.
I want to tell readers that I know the Reds are for real, but I can only confirm what I’ve seen and what I believe in my heart of hearts. All I know for sure is that these Reds are going to ‘be there’ all year long. They’re not a last place team and while they might not be a division winner in the NL Central they’ve shown the Cardinals that they’re not going to just roll over and the longer that the Reds remain in or around that top spot in the NL Central the more they’ll feel ownership of it. They’ll take pride in it. They’ll gain confidence. They’ll get a little moxy, as well as a little swagger.
I’ll say it again: this team is going to be in the thick of things in this subpar division all year long. Even if they do that, things most likely come down to how well they finish–as they don’t have the type of group as it stands that will be able to just run away with things. The longer they stay in it, the more likely that ownership goes out and does what truly needs to happen at some point; which is adding a player. Adding a veteran right-handed hitter who can knock in runs and protect the young guys in the lineup. It’s been a long time since the Reds were relevant enough to be adding personnel at the big league level. Of course, that’s not counting the move to add Scott Rolen to the mix last year, which has been great. Rolen is the team leader right now. He takes a lot of pressure off Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips, and Joey Votto. He’s the guy everyone is looking to for the big hit rather than a 23-year old youngster. To a lesser degree, Orlando Cabrera has been one of those guys. But at some point the longer we’re in contention the more the percentages increase that we add a really nice player for the middle of the lineup.
As always it’s a high character group. It always has been, but now that they’re actually winning a little that is going to be talked about in the media. Turds like Baseball Tonight are going to have to start giving the Reds a little serious run-time if we can just hang on a little longer. And who knows, with any luck the Reds can maybe get TWO All-Stars instead of the usual one.
But there’s one thing no one can take away from any of us. For at least one day in this life we live, for one day in the 2010 season we were kings. We’ll see where it gets us from here but you can’t overstate how good it feels. Right now I’m just soaking it in and enjoying it hoping to hang onto the ride for a little longer. Have a look:

First place. It’s a beautiful thing.

A Special late September night in the Queen City

This one was a lot of fun to pick up and watch from the 2nd inning on, after returning home from dinner on a cool fall night. Reds are playing at home, and when we get the television on they’re up 4-0. Homer Bailey is there front and center blowing hitters away on the 1st place St. Louis Cardinals team.

Take a look at the numbers of our new ace. Over Homer Bailey’s last 8 starts: he’s averaged 6.54 innings pitched, he’s 5-1 with a 1.89 ERA, 46 K’s/21 BB. He’s only given up 2 home runs which were allowed over 30 innings ago.

A tell-tale sign of his maturity and confidence growing in front of our very eyes was hearing him talk about the at-bat of the game when Albert Pujols came up to the plate with the bases loaded (I didn’t realize that Pujols has 5 grand slams this season alone). Reds were up 4-0, and you just had that feeling that Bailey would be burnt yet one more time by the game’s best hitter. And when he got Pujols to fly out to the warning track in deep center, allowing his only run of the night; you just got a good feeling in you. They talked to Bailey after the game and he talked about just taking a walk around the mound, refocusing on the glove and ‘throwing it as hard as you can’. Good to hear that kind of talk out of a guy we always have believed had it in him.

Oh yes, and then there’s Mr. Bruce. Special night for Jay Bruce as he set a career high for RBI’s in a game, as well as home runs in a single season by hitting his 21st and 22nd blasts of the year. Bruce wants to talk about adjustments, but here’s what we saw. We didn’t get to see the first home run but on the second; he didn’t get everything into that ball but it was still gone to the tune of 418 feet in right center field. It wasn’t all that great of a swing. When a ball leaves the yard like that on an awkward swing, you’ve either got natural ability out the ass or you’re doing something right at the plate within the awkward swing. In this case it’s a bit of both.

Just a special night to witness as the Reds have now won 24 of their last 35 ballgames. Oh yeah, and Joey Votto homered as well, his 24th of the season. Scott Rolen drove in Brandon Phillips with an RBI single for the other run in the 7-2 drubbing.
If the Reds can stay healthy, they might be dangerous in 2010. They entered the month of June six games over .500; and then the injuries began to hit. The trouble continued all the way until the third week of August, and since that point they’re 13 games over .500 baseball.

Cincinnati Reds take over share of 1st place

Last night’s 10-3 victory along with the Cardinals dropping their second straight game in Pittsburgh allowed the Reds to move into a three way tie for 1st place in the NL Central. Now sure it’s not a huge deal, but lets put this in perspective. The Reds were in first place last season for 1 day, on April 3. That was it. This team has the look of a group who might be able to hang onto it a little bit longer.

Folks are taking notice of these Reds, little by little. I’ll say it again: it’s going to be a fun summer in Cincinnati.

MLB's Best Story: The Flavor of the Month Rays

Tampa Bay has swept the mighty world champion Red Sox. They’re the talk of Major League Baseball, and as we saw Evan Longoria rip that big go ahead double last night into the gap at that carpet house known as Tropicana Field, we knew that they’d be the toast of baseball by this morning. And they were.

We don’t necessarily think the Rays are better than the Red Sox, we’re not that naive. But we do think that they’re peaking. This is as hot as the Rays will be maybe ever. Okay, maybe not ever, but they’re 52-32 and 3 1/2 games up on the rest of the division. This is just like when those 1994 Expos (who would have lost to the ’94 Indians in the World Series anyway) ran away with things with a bunch of kids that played care-free and exciting baseball. This is that kind of team.

Lets just hope these Rays win before their window closes. It will come without warning. Enjoy your place on the top of baseball’s throne, Tampa fans.

[Box Score]

The Toast of the Town

DiamondBacks and Justin Upton get nice write ups from both Yahoo Sports and’s Jerry Crasnick (whom I thoroughly enjoy), making the front page of both.

Hope they’re not putting too much pressure on Upton. This excerpt from the Yahoo article:
Not 24 hours earlier, I’d stood at Hudson’s locker and asked him what Upton
would become, asked him what we were looking at here.

He’d thought about it for a full 20 seconds.


His answer had sent me looking for other opinions.

A National League scout: “Manny.”

Another NL talent evaluator: “A right-handed-hitting Ken Griffey

That’s almost 1,600 home runs. Thirty-three All-Star games. Three
Hall-of-Fame speeches.

Upton has cooled off recently, but the DiamondBacks continue to be the most steady and consistent team in baseball. I’d do just about anything to see Peavy-Webb tomorrow at PETCO. That will make for a terrific ballgame.

Now, I was originally planning on doing a liveblog of the FOX Saturday game of the week between the Padres and DiamondBacks from PETCO Park, but the Indians and Yankees are on instead. That said, I’ll update the game by the inning as I can.

Baseball's best team returns to play friday

After taking 2 of 3 in San Francisco the Arizona DiamondBacks had an off day today. We have to admit, we missed this team being in action. They’ve now officially got the best record in baseball; and it’s not just the record or stats that have us excited for this team to get back in action. We missed the DiamondBacks playing last night. Well they’ll be back tonight, and defending their home turf against the Mad Dog Greg Maddux. This should be a nice time to catch the Padres, as they come off a 22-inning marathon last night/this morning.

Alright, we admit that we’re being a bit of bandwagoners. But why is it a crime to like baseball being played the right way? There’s something very fascinating about this team from near the West Coast that we have zero percent chance of seeing play live again this season. We also like the 10:00 PM starts in the western time zone because what else is there to do that time of night except follow baseball?
More than anything, these fellas play hard and have a roster that is exciting. They mix home runs and power throughout the lineup with speed, flashy leather defensive plays and great power pitching. It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed watching a team because they were a fundamentally working machine (I’m thinking back to the 1997 Orioles on this one). We’ll be keeping a close eye on Arizona all weekend.

ALCS On Tap: Cleveland Indians vs. Boston Red Sox

Tonight’s game 1 dream pitching matchup: Josh Beckett v. C.C. Sabathia
As I thought about this matchup on my drive to work this morning, a good thought came to me. I was thinking about the fact that the Indians are underdogs, and the fact that not a lot of people are giving them a chance at winning this series over the loaded Red Sox, who are supposed to be the best team in baseball. At the same time, the Indians have been pretty good–and not many people really want to count them out either.
This reminds me so much of the 1997 American League Championship Series, where an Indians team that got hot came in and beat a Baltimore Orioles team with 98 wins and homefield advantage, in 6 games. The Indians did it that year with a big blow from Tony Fernandez in game 6. I remember where I was at when he hit that homerun, as well as Marquis Grissom’s clutch blast off Armando Benitez in extra innings, in which my mother had to wake me up in my sleep to tell me that the Indians had won. That was the turning point of the series indeed.
There is just something special about this Indians team that tells me you can’t count them out; and don’t you dare say you see the Red Sox winning the series. Even if you feel that way, you need to wait and hold your opinions, because this team just might end up making you eat your words.
At the same token, I’ve just got this weird feeling that the Indians will do something similar this year as they did in 1997–possibly something like getting past the Red Sox in 6 games–only to go to the World Series and lose to the Colorado Rockies for their 1st World Championship. It would seem both inevitable and poetic that this team lose it in a game 7 that goes 11 innings, blowing a lead late with their closer in the game and allowing for Colorado to celebrate on their own field due to an Edgar Renteria-like seeing eye single up the middle. At least Charles Nagy is no longer an Indian.
This series means so much for this young group of core players on Cleveland. It means so much to this championship-starved city. As I sit and watch tonight, and take in every gut-wrenching delivery from Josh Beckett, I will be rooting as hard as I’ve done before for this group. Many would like to sit back and say “If not this year, we’ll have a long string of chances to win with this group.” As a baseball fan I know that is not ever the case. There is an imaginary window that resides for every ballclub with talent to make the postseason. How long that window remains open to get a World Series championship through it is never certain. Make no mistake about it; there is no guaruntee that the Indians even take this team back to the postseason. The urgency needs to be felt and the time to strike is right now. This team has the opportunity of a lifetime ahead of them and I truly believe the winner of this ALCS is your 2007 World Champion.
I’m going to go ahead and and make my pick of this series, and yes I’m betting on the team from Cleveland. Yes I’m going with my heart which is something you should never do in sports. I might be going against some amounts of logic, but I’m taking the Cleveland Indians to upset the Boston Red Sox in this series in 7 games. That would mean the Indians win the final game, on the road in Fenway Park. As unlikely as it sounds, this team has something about them that won’t let them go away. They have staying power. Tonight as I watch from a bar seat at Easton mall in Columbus sipping away at my Jack and diet’s to calm the nerves, I’ll be pulling with all that I have on every pitch.
As a baseball fan, for a baseball fan…. it just doesn’t get any better than this.