Category Archives: Rivalries

Atlanta’s panties in a bind over Bryce Harper’s gamesmanship

The Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals locked up in a late night game that didn’t get underway until almost 11 PM on the east coast due to a lengthy rain delay. The Nationals won the game 4-1 in 11 innings, but as it often happens when two rivals get together, the final score was the secondary story.

I didn’t notice this while watching the game live, but saw a tweet from David O’Brien that alerted me about it. Bryce Harper appeared to scuff the Braves ‘A’ behind home plate before stepping into the batters box every time up.

Of course, this sent Braves fans into an uproar. Saying that Harper didn’t respect their logo (he doesn’t need to), and generally leading them to say that the kid lacks all kinds of respect and whatnot.

I think it’s great. For all the unbecoming things Harper has accomplished this season – hitting .250, getting hurt a lot, base-running blunders what seems like every other night – this is what’s great about the kid. He isn’t stupid and is simply stirring up the rivalry. Of course he probably has programmed himself to hate playing Atlanta, especially in Atlanta; a team that has been the Nationals very own House of Horrors.

At the end of the day, baseball is entertainment. Some argue that it’s not entertaining enough. They’re nuts, of course. But that’s what people say. When something like this goes down, it should make the public crave more of these two getting together. Like, what the Hell is going to happen tonight when they face off on Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN after they’ve had a night to sleep on Harper scuffing their prize logo?

Good for Harper.

Ernesto Frieri feels the A’s are Bullshit; just like we do

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Man the Oakland Athletics sure are annoying. They have a bunch of junk-heap guys who seemingly just fit into place and get the job done. Sure, it’s to the credit of a mastermind General Manager who is one of the greatest of all-time. But it doesn’t make them any more entertaining.

And it’s not just their roster that gives me that sense of dread, it’s their damn morgue of a park! There was a game cancelled there for sewage overflow this year!

Look, I thought the little run they made to the postseason in the early 2000’s was a great story and great for baseball. You know what isn’t great for baseball? The A’s getting in the playoffs now and keeping a team with star appeal like the Angels out.

Ernesto Frieri feels that the Angels are the better team, and he was feeling froggy about this so he jumped. Queue up the OC Register, please.

“We played really good baseball against a really good team,” Frieri said Sunday. “It’s good for our confidence, to let us know that we can beat anybody.”

Frieri was then asked if anybody included the Oakland Athletics, the team that easily swept the Angels just one week ago and the team the Angels host for three games beginning Monday. He didn’t hesitate.

“We’re going to beat them,” Frieri said. “Get ready to write that. I hate to say this, but they have a little bit extra luck. If you pay attention every play, it’s stupid how the game goes their way.”

I agree with Frieri that they probably will ‘beat them’. The Angels have played like six games against the A’s this season (losing five) so with 13 left to go; they probably won’t get skunked. But you get Frieri’s poorly made point; the A’s are a sack of shit and fuck their producing lineup with Brandon Moss, Coco Crisp and that dweeb Eric Sogard going out their every night and getting it done. Derrick Norris is going all Scott Hatteberg on us from the right side so he can suck one too.

I hate the A’s, their shitty stadium, and their boring ass games that put me to sleep. I hope this rivalry ends with Mike Scioscia taking a big stinky dump that overflows into the A’s home dugout in September and cancels another game.

Yasiel Puig homers off Madison Bumgarner; says ‘Sorry I’m not Sorry’

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There were some late-night Friday firewords out at Chavez Ravine last evening, and I was lucky enough to catch it live. Yasiel Puig continues to be one of the most electrifying watches in the sport. And Madison Bumgarner is a chippy crybaby.

Puig is one of those talents that still manages to do something each night, even if an elite talent is on the mound and on top of their game (San Francisco won the game 3-1). He’s on the cusp of entering that next dimension in the sport right now – if you watch him night over night he’s really been on fire lately and having great at bats. I am glad I caught this part of the game:

I like what our friendly neighborhood Puig did here; notice that Bumgarner was quite the sportsman when he quick-pitched Puig to take an easy strike on his opponent. All is fair and well. When Puig steps back in the box and gets all of a Bumgarner fastball up in the zone and then flips his bat and puts his head down (it’s just his thing, relax) Bumgarner suddenly takes exception to another aspect that is simply part of the game.

If you need some GIFs of the event, head over here.

My best advice to Bumgarner would be if you don’t like that someone acknowledges that it feels good to hit one 430 feet off you, get him out next time around.

The Fire of Homer Bailey

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Last night Homer Bailey took the ball and 7 and 1/3 scoreless against the might and feared St. Louis Cardinals lineup. The Reds won the game 1-0 in a series that they have to find a way to win – a series that is arguably the most important the Reds have played all season. That’s two starts in a row that Bailey has taken the ball against St. Louis and shut them out, 14.1 innings in all. He struck out 15 and walked three in those two starts, displaying something no one talks about enough when talking about Bailey; a 5 to 1 K to BB ratio. Bailey can be inconsistent, but when he’s on he’s the best pitcher the Reds can put out there.

Bailey has taken the ball twice recently in “winning time” starts against the Cardinals; games the Reds really had to have, and delivered sparkling performances. His record now sits at 10-10, but this is going to end up the season that stands out at Bailey’s best on the back of his baseball card.

The stuff that Bailey displayed last night is why I roll him out there in a one-game playoff against the same Cardinals or the Pittsburgh Pirates. Any pitcher has the chance they could get lit. But if Bailey’s on, he’s the best option the Reds have. He seems to thrive the most in a big spotlight – think about the two no-hitters, think about the NLDS game three last year against the Giants at home (as much as it hurts), and think about the last two starts against the Cardinals.

Some may argue that Mat Latos is the Reds’ ace. It’s a close call and a good argument can be made for either guy. But in one game that I have to have if I’m the Reds – backs to the wall – I’m handing the ball to the country boy from Texas and seeing if David Dewitt Bailey brings it home.

Bryce Harper Destroys Julio Teheran (Again) – and Gets Plunked for It (Benches Clear)

HarperHR17

This was one of Harper’s more impressive home runs of the season, his 17th of the year. This one will be much more memorable then the first one he hit off Teheran this year for a couple of reasons.

And that, led to this:

I’m all for playing the game the right way, but no one did anything to Justin Upton or his teammates after he slow-walked his home run the previous night.

Have to commend Harper for not charging the mound here – his worthless team needs him right now. And I cannot believe the Nationals didn’t have the stones to retaliate. That’s honestly as big of a sign that exists that the game has passed old Davey Johnson by.

And then there’s this:

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Nothing like a few Official team twitter accounts throwing barbs at eachother; most likely a couple of college interns who will be relieved of their duties soon. Would love to ask the Braves teen that is running the control deck on twitter what Harper is supposed to do differently there?

Reds Respond with a Huge Saturday Night Win over Cardinals

Jay Bruce

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com]

I missed a lot of this game for date night, but I returned home for the climactic ending. And thus brings another point, FOX has gone and pulled a fast one that we actually like. I believe FOX did Saturday Night Baseball (aka Baseball Night in America) telecasts last year, but now they’re a regularly scheduled item.

While I miss the afternoon Saturday telecasts, I believe this is good for the game. And FOX is dressing things up by designing this fancy little logo which can be nothing more than a spin off of what the NFL has done with it’s big Sunday Football Night in America telecasts.

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The Reds got into a 1-0 hole early. And then the texts started to flow in. Several friends while I was at dinner with ‘BRUUUUUUUUUCE’ texts. And by now I know what that means. Jay Bruce had hit his 10th home run of the season to tie the game at 1-1.

It was arguably the best team win of the year. Mat Latos did his thing in a game the Reds had to have and improved to 6-0. Shin Soo Choo, Derrick Robinson, Joey Votto, Bruce, and Devin Mesoraco all had two hits each. Bruce added what may or may not have been a home run saving catch. You be the judge:

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The game came to a close on a controversial call, with Aroldis Chapman getting the save after Joey Votto appeared to pull his foot on a Todd Frazier throw. We’ll take it!

The win left the Reds three games behind the Cardinals entering the big Sunday Night Baseball showdown on ESPN.

Another Reds vs. Cardinals Battle This Weekend

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Over the course of my lifetime, especially in recent times; the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds have had some series battles that were absolutely incredible. This is one of the most underrated rivalries in the entire sport – and when these two shades of red converge – you see some of the finest quality of play that can be produced.

There have been so many classic battles between these two teams that you begin to let the history all bleed into one. You don’t remember a lot of series game by game, but you remember the big moments. The Reds have won a few rounds in this 12-round fight, but they’re yet to really land the knockout punch on the Cardinals, even in their age of resurgence since 2010.

The Reds enter the weekend a full three games behind the Cardinals. They’re battered and bruised, and they need to take two of three games from the division leading Redbirds, there’s no more simpler math. Anything less, and the Reds are going to start the slide in this race.

This will be another chapter in the never ending story; a battle that is sure to still be raging as a 100-year plus war when my son is my age. And this weekend will have it’s tense moments. It’s the only guarantee. There’s nothing like a Reds/Cardinals weekend series. It even culminates with a Sunday Night Baseball match-up, which you have to love if you’re a Queen City resident.

So light the grill, drink a few extra Budweiser’s, and get in the fast lane grandma. The bingo game is about to start. And if the Reds lose God help them because the Covington, Kentucky natives will be out in full force with their pitch forks on their porch, twelve beers deep and calling the 700 WLW phone lines after the loss.

We’ve got to make our move right now. It’s getting late awfully early.

Reds Weekend Sweep the Cardinals in Cincinnati

[Box Score]

[Hal McCoy] [Cincinnati.com]

What a weekend.

On the weekend that my best friend tied the knot (the Reds lost to the Cardinals on my big day), the Reds swept the Cardinals and reclaimed sole possession of first place in the NL Central standings. They played on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball last night. It’s the first time it’s been in Cincinnati in a very long time. Last night was about as large as a July ballgame gets. The Reds showed the nation that pitching, defense, and timely hitting are the best ways to build something special.

I think Friday and Saturday night’s games were additional evidence in this. I didn’t realize that the Reds basically have the finest defense in baseball. The starting pitching and bullpen have been phenomenal. It’s the hitting that has ran pretty hot-cold. And if you’re going to have one ingredient that is going to waiver with your ball club, I think you should want it to be the hitting. Everyone slumps. If you can keep pitching and defense from going into slumps you can manufacture enough runs to win. Especially in Great American Ball Park.

The Reds hitting will come around. I remember so many weekends where it wasn’t even fathomable to sweep the high and mighty St. Louis Cardinals. To even go into Sunday with a chance of a sweep was like playing in the Super Bowl. Last night, I expected the win. I knew Homer Bailey would pitch his ass off.

The Reds are going to win the division this year. They’re going to go to the NLCS. Believe it. Know it. Times might get ugly, but more often than not they’ll find a way (it doesn’t get much uglier than Scott Rolen winning one for you with an opposite field single).

This is the team that you waited since 1990 and 1995 for Cincinnati. Try to soak it in.

Leitch: If Hamels Wants Old School, Watch Bryce Harper

Once again Will Leitch shows why he’s one of my favorite writers, especially when pertaining to baseball.

And this time, it’s not just because he’s sticking up for Bryce Harper. Or because he obviously likes Harper for the same reasons I do. But it’s because he does those things more eloquently and subtle than I’ve done in the past on this very blog. And this is all just in time for tonight’s Nationals v. Phillies showdown on ESPN Wednesday Night Baseball.

He takes Hamels to task, kind of like we did.

“That’s something I grew up watching,” Hamels said, “I’m just trying to continue the old baseball because I think some people are kind of getting away from it. I remember when I was a rookie the strike zone was really, really small and you didn’t say anything because that’s the way baseball is. But I think unfortunately the league’s protecting certain players and making it not that old school, prestigious way of baseball. It’s just, ‘Welcome to the big leagues.’ ”

This doesn’t make a lot of sense. How does the strike zone when Cole Hamels was a rookie have anything to do with Bryce Harper? How is the league “protecting” Bryce Harper? (He’d been in the league a week.) And what is Cole Hamels talking about with this “something I grew up watching”? Cole Hamels is 28 years old; he grew up watching Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco and all those players everyone has spent the last decade screaming on television about being the opposite of “old school.” Did he have a dream that he grew up watching different players?

And he makes the best and most truthful point following that.

But the craziest thing about Hamels’ notion was that “old school” was somehow prestigious. Baseball—always, now, then and forever—is the furthest thing from prestigious. Baseball has been a sport for scoundrels and rapscallions; this is why it’s fun.

Yes. Harper is a rapscallion. He is a scoundrel. A scoundrel, dirt-eating, hustling gift given to us by the baseball gods to enjoy for two decades. He’s… more old school than Hamels. Right Leitch?

The funny part about this is that I can’t think of a more old school player—in the way I think Hamels was trying to define it—than Bryce Harper. I interviewed Harper earlier this year, and all he could talk about was how much he admired—and patterned every aspect of his game around—guys like Pete Rose and Ty Cobb. Harper is one of those guys who plays every game like it’s his last, who dives and spits and knocks over catchers and loves baseball in a profound, aggressive way.

I hope Harper gets a few old knocks off Hamels this evening. And if there was any doubt that he would be in the lineup, you don’t even have to wonder. He plays for a manager cut from his own old-school mold.

Bryce Harper aces the Roy Halladay test

Alright, so we realize it’s been an all-out Harper fest in these parts lately. He’s collected multiple hits in 4 out of 5 ballgames and last night he went up against Roy Halladay (a man some 15 years his senior) for the first time.

Flash back to this spring training quote:

The other day, Eckstein and Harper had a conversation about how different major league pitchers would attack him. One National League East starter came up, and Harper described precisely how he thought the pitcher would approach. Eckstein nodded and said, “I think you’re right.”

“There are so many things that go through my head when I’m watching something,” Harper explained Friday. “I’m a little different. I sit there and think. I’ll watch it as a fan, but I’m a player, also. If everybody is looking cutter first pitch, and he’s throwing a get-me-over curveball 90 percent of the time, then you got to sit on that get-me-over curveball and crush it.”

In last night’s 5-2 win in Philly, a get-me-over curveball was exactly what he got. Harper owned it and crushed it, resulting in Harper’s third career triple.

Again, we know the coverage of this kid has been excessive. But as long as he continues to do amazing things, we have to document them. This is the Mickey Mantle of our kid’s lifetime, after all!

Bryce Harper: ‘Philly has a great fan base’.

Philadelphia is going to have a long span of time to wage this war with Bryce Harper.

For the time being, Harper tallied the first few wins in the battle and is being carefully coy about Philadelphia as a whole. Harper said the following after last night’s 2-1 victory in the Streets of Philadelphia (cue Bruce Springsteen):

“Yeah, I’m not even thinking about that,” he said. “This is a new series, a new day and I have a lot of respect for everybody in that other dugout. They have an All-Star team . . . guys who are All-Stars and who have been in this league for a long time. To come into this place and face Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels and all these guys . . . it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

[snip]

“Definitely, coming in here and playing the Phillies who have been a great team and coming into a place that has a lot of history and a great organization,” Harper said. “You’re playing in a place where Mike Schmidt and guys like that played. It’s going to be a lot of fun in here. They have a great fan base and we’re going to come in here and try to prove some people wrong.

This same ‘great’ fan base who may or may not be known to throw batteries?

I watched this game last night in it’s entirety. The jeers got louder every time Harper came to the plate. And after he reached base a few times the camera panned in closely to him. You could see that clearly this is a guy who loves being hated, a culmination of every villain you’ve never wanted to see rolling through your big league city. That’s why when someone tweeted this, it got the old RT from me:

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/c_street23/status/204734290066546689″]

I think Harper would say that has a nice ring to it.

Never Say Die

Brandon Phillips’ walk-off bomb off Fernando Salas with two out in the bottom of the 9th last night reminds us all that we need to have faith until all 27 outs have been collected. I have to admit, I packed it in. I thought the Reds were finished and was about to tweet things like ‘guys should start getting their own #’s because wins and losses do not matter anymore for this group’.

Phillips hit a two run homer just moments after Albert Pujols got his own, and the Reds had last serve and took the game 6-5.

In my opinion, that was the biggest swing all season for the Reds. Phillips said it was the biggest home run of his career. And they begin the second half of the season just as they began the first, with a huge and unlikely walk-off homer to beat a division opponent.

It’s all what you do from here, no doubt. But Brandon Phillips–the heart and soul of the Cincinnati Reds–lifted this roster from the depths of huge trouble and bring them into Saturday with a chance to keep on rolling and be spoken for in this thing. The Central is now tied with the Cardinals and Pirates, yes the Pirates; at the top of the division. This is going to be a four way dance for a while and the Reds are going to have to be very steady about .500 and play to their Pythagorean to stay in this thing and leap frog teams.

They’re in for the fight of their lives. And after just the first round Brandon Phillips delivered a really big first punch.

And now a little 80’s.

The Reds are back. It’s the 2nd half.

It’s the start of the second half, and the Reds kick the party off at home tonight with what some say is the biggest rivalry in the game right now.

There’s no more circling this date or that date. After tonight, teams will be out of halves and that means they will start running short on hope if things don’t turn around soon. Granted 75% of the National league is 4 games up or 4 games under–but over the next week to three we’re about to see the men separate from the boys.

Do you believe? Are you ready for a wild ride? Here’s a little something to get you fired up courtesy of DatDudeBP:

So like they used to say, let’s put the women and children to bed and go looking for F%$&*& dinner!

A coward gets scared and quits. A hero gets scared, but still goes on.

[Box Score]

[Mo Egger] [Cincinnati.com] [C70 at the Bat]

Do we need heroes in sports? Craig Calcaterra asked it yesterday; piggy-backing off of a post by the wild man himself Buzz Bissinger.

Coincidentally, I ran across the quote that serves as the title of this post and had an epiphany of sorts.

At the same time I found the quote, the Reds were throwing up 5 runs on the Cardinals before the home team could ever record an out in the top of the 1st inning of last night’s game. This came off the heels of two of the flattest performances I can ever remember watching out of a Cincinnati team.

It didn’t end until late into the night, four hours and change after the first pitch had been thrown. It certainly didn’t end how we wanted it to–having to use every pitcher in the bullpen and needing Aroldis Chapman to lock down the save in the bottom of the 13th. But the Reds won. They didn’t quit, they didn’t roll over and they didn’t get swept. And they continue on as the same as they’ve done all season long. Doing just enough to keep us all interested. I’m not sure what “Razor” Ramon Hernandez’s double means to this season or if it’s a turning point. But it was a big hit in a big game that allows the Reds to keep on playing, three games out. Back to .500 we go.

I’ll admit–had the collapse not happened or had they went into St. Louis and taken the series–this post would have been all filled with all the jingoistic praise surrounding the post that Calcaterra wrote. That the Reds are our current day Mickey Mantle’s and they’re making stories that we’re watching every night that we just someday might tell our kids about like our parents talk about The Mick.

I thought last night’s performance was pretty heroic. As mad as I was two nights ago, and on my 4th of July holiday, I came away feeling pretty impressed before the collapse that led to an 8-8 tie between these two rivals.

The Reds served up a turd burger to two things:

1) C.B. Bucknor

You lousy, yellow, good for nothing arrogant asshole of an umpire. I’m not one to complain about umpires. On most nights I don’t even pay attention to who is doing the duty. But this guy is awful in every shape and form.

Bucknor; an asshole, has no semblance of what it’s like to call a good ballgame. He is there to show up ballplayers and make a name for himself which is the opposite of what most decent umpires do intentionally or unintentionally.

Give yourself a hand you jackass.

2) Pujols’ return



Luckily, Pujols garnered only a single in six trips to the plate on this evening and the Reds were able to sneak out of town before he began destroying buildings, pillaging food supplies and generally taking shits on small towns like he usually does against Cincinnati. See above video for footage of Pujols vs. Cincinnati (career).