He’s probably depressed and laid up in an Arizona hospital room right now with a bunch of doctors that don’t speak Spanish, dying for a drag off a cigarette and some mango juice.
But seriously – this really sucks. Not only was I bummed about the news all day due to my allegiance to the Cincinnati Reds, but my fantasy team just lost two months worth of saves and ratios from it’s most dominant player.
Godspeed, Aroldis. We all know J.J. Blooper and the rest of the pen are going to have a hard time filling those huge Cuban shoes of yours until you return. It’s a testament to a guy’s talent when you will literally miss just watching him. Chapman is one of those rare talents.
A Salavador Perez line drive struck Aroldis Chapman in the head tonight in the 6th inning of the Spring Training game between the Reds and the Royals. We listened to the postgame wrap-up show on 700 WLW and Marty Brennaman said that the line drive ‘struck Chapman squarely in the forehead’.
Chapman was carted off the field and the game was called. Thoughts and Prayers go out to the Reds closer. We have a feeling he will be alright.
Some people might get really down on me for saying that – they’ll point to when the Reds were running out Jose Acevedo or Jimmy Haynes or Brandon Claussen as starting pitchers and were a losing team and tell me how good we have it now. How we’ve ‘made the playoffs’ three out of the last four years.
But there’s something that kills you about watching a team evolve from the abyss into what you know is a core’s window – and make no mistake – the last two seasons were the peak of this current group’s window. It didn’t ever hurt like that (like this) back when we were so horrible. It has taken me the entire offseason just to get some feeling back in me after the way we went out. To be fully honest, I’m still not over that 2012 afternoon that Buster Posey hit the grandslam off Mat Latos. I’ve never felt anything like that in a lifetime of watching sports. I don’t know if I’ll ever really get over it. It was like dealing with a death.
It’s made it increasingly tough to write about the Reds. Their passive offseason this year really did nothing to dispel that. If anything, it just made me a little bit apathetic towards their upcoming season. You look at their lineup, and there’s still some thunder. There are things you can find a positive in. If their pitching staff doesn’t have any injury, it features some phenomenal arms.
But this is largely the same group that couldn’t get it done the last few seasons. Something is missing. If I could tell you what that something was I would be doing a lot more than just writing about the Reds; it’s like the million-dollar question. I think the Reds needed Aroldis Chapman to develop into a top of the rotation starter that they could roll out in a must win game in the playoffs. A Randy Johnson type figure who the opposition knows is simply going to always beat them. Someone to get Mike Leake out of there. A lot of guys could close for this team. Few guys in the league strike fear into a lineup like Chapman could as a starter. But that’s never going to happen now.
Maybe that something is a real heart and soul leader. Someone who keeps Brandon Phillips in line. As much as I like Phililps, I’m starting to wonder if he’s not a little bit of a cancer in the locker room. I wouldn’t have cared if the Reds decided to part with him – but almost sheepishly they made the choice to bring him back. And along with that, they brought back the entire group that has failed to win the big one year after year. That’s concerning. You keep banging your head against the same wall long enough, all you’re going to get is a headache. The only thing different is the manager, and Bryan Price isn’t even a new voice. It’s not a shake-up. Everyone else got better, and at best the Reds stayed the same.
If you missed it, you might never learn the following:
Aroldis Chapman smokes Marlboro Reds, regularly.
He owns a swimming pool that he cannot enjoy, because he does not know how to swim.
He routinely spends the entire day in his room, often waking around dinner time.
Chapman longs for life back in Cuba, specifically the ‘craziness’ of his home country.
Chapman seems bored with life despite being independently wealthy.
A professional might even say that Aroldis Chapman is depressed.
I don’t want to make too much of this – ESPN would not generate many page clicks or buzz by writing a fluff piece of the Reds closer about him visiting the sick in a hospital (though the article gives mention in passing to this towards the end).
As someone who has closely followed Chapman since the beginning of his incredible career, we get the feeling that this might not end well. It might end with a high speed chase. It might end with Chapman suddenly not wanting to play anymore. It could end with him waking up one day, and it’s all gone – just like Mark Wohlers. It could end with Chapman fading into Miami Marlboro-smoking obscurity. But you get the feeling that this wild ride could someday soon come to it’s sudden and abrupt end.
That’s because talents like Chapman often fade and flicker just as quickly as they burst onto the scene. We’re simply trying to enjoy this while it’s here, because it might not be long for the baseball world.
The Cincinnati Reds broke some spirits last night in Pittsburgh. Even against all odds, I never felt like the Reds were going to lose. It’s a gut feeling and an instinct you get from watching this team and this game for a long time. They entered the ninth trailing by three, yet I never felt they were beaten.
The Reds in 2013 have had a shortage of these type of wins. These are the types of wins that were the Hallmark of many Reds teams in the past, with a large number of them coming at Great American Ballpark.
With two down in the ninth and Mark Melancon on the bump trying to close out the Reds and catapult the Pittsburgh Pirates a couple games ahead of the Reds in the Wildcard race, things were looking grim for the Reds. Then they began to scratch, claw, and fight for their lives. No at bat was more signifying of their willingness to battle then Devin Mesoraco’s plate appearance of his life. He fouled off one Melancon cutter and curveball after another and finally got something he could handle. The ground ball went off the glove of the diving Pedro Alvarez and past the shortstop, allowing two runs to score (Billy Hamilton scampered in to tie the game after stealing second base). Under the gun, the Reds found a way to overcome all odds.
An inning later, Joey Votto homered just into the pocket of the left field stands. The Reds weren’t going to let this one get away. Aroldis Chapman blew a few hitters away in the bottom of the tenth inning, and the Reds had their biggest regular season win in several years – at least that I can remember. All possibilities are still on the table now for the Reds. They can still win the division. They can still host the one-game Wildcard playoff. They aren’t getting caught by the Nationals. In a way, the Reds saved their season.
Billy Hamilton’s debut was over quickly – to no surprise.
The Reds won tonight’s game 6-2 in Cincinnati, taking three out of four from the rival Redbird from St. Louis. I’ll be honest, I didn’t think they had it in them. And if you’re honest, you probably didn’t either.
On the heels of one of the worst losses of the entire season, a 5-4 loss in 16 innings; I was thinking they would come out and lose flat. The Cardinals had the split in hand. But Shin-soo Choo went yard, Jay Bruce hit number 27, and Todd Frazier went deep twice. The Reds answered the bell in surprising fashion – and once again, for at least one night – all was right with the world again in Redsland.
This series will also forever be known as the series the Reds rolled out Billy Hamilton for his big league debut. #RunBillyRun was trending on twitter. Hamilton proved to be the ultimate weapon on the basepaths, swiping two on Yadier Molina in back to back nights in a big spot where only a stolen base would get the job done.
And tonight as the game winded down and Aroldis Chapman entered the game like an executioner sent to put the dreaded Cardinals to death, I found myself text messaging my circle of friends who all swore off the Reds after last night’s loss.
“Maybe we’ll win the division after all.”
In a season where I can’t seem to lift myself from the fog of last season’s NLDS collapse to the Giants, the Reds deserve credit. They certainly haven’t been stuck in the moment – if they were they wouldn’t be on their way to another 90 win season. It is through overcoming adversity that we derive the greatest triumphs. Maybe if this crazy bunch with their crazy skipper at the helm end up surprising everyone and writing a happy ending. I hope they have the last laugh.
But one thing is for sure, they proved to everyone that they’re not scared of the Cardinals. Even if they’re not the better team on paper.
I want this post to come with a disclaimer attached with it: I love Aroldis Chapman. I love him being on the Reds roster. I think he’s a dominating, imposing presence that is a once in a lifetime physical talent. He’s probably the hardest throwing pitcher in modern baseball history. AND he’s a lefty.
With all that said, I’ve got this feeling inside me that he’s going to be the one to stabs the knife in the Reds proverbial jugular in a big spot to end the season. I don’t know when it will be – I am not that good. I don’t get these feelings often, but when I do I usually end up being correct. Perhaps it’s in a one-game playoff. Perhaps it’s in a game they have to win to avoid the one game playoff. Maybe it’s in the NLDS. It’s coming.
I’ve watched baseball long enough to know that all closers blow saves. I’ll take Chapman over all but about four or five guys in the game. But he’s got this quality about him; this mysterious Cuban quality. That same kind of quality that Jose Mesa had when he was just due in the book of fate to come out empty-minded and blow game seven of the World Series for the Indians. There are some nights when Chapman is that same Hell-bent guy. When that Chapman shows up, the Reds are going to lose because he’s going to make sure of it. There’s no reversing it once it’s in effect.
I’ve seen him do it several times this season. The first time was May 19th in Philadelphia. Better known as Pastry-Gate. The second time was June 22nd on a Saturday night in Arizona. Jay Bruce hit two dramatic home runs and it should have went down as the Reds biggest win of the season. Chapman didn’t even record an out. The same guy was out July 29th in San Diego – didn’t even record an out.
And there he was last night in Milwaukee. The Reds are on their best roll of the season and traded leads with the Brewers all night. It should have went down as a win. Chapman didn’t record an out and blew the game.
For a guy with his stuff, this happens entirely too often which makes one wonder if the focus is there night to night. If you’ve read in-dept about the Cuban lefty, it would be hard to believe if he’s always thinking about hitter’s tendencies and the most efficient way to record three outs through the middle of an order.
For a team in the Reds position – a team jockeying for position and trying to stay hot – there’s nothing more deflating and demoralizing then one member of the roster taking a one directly from the win column and inserting it to the loss column. The closer is one of the only guys with the ability to do that. Chapman has gotten his entire baseball family ambushed a number of times this season, and my baseball senses it’s going to cost them in a big spot at some point.
The Reds went into the Lions Den and came away with a victory, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-2 in Los Angeles. The win snapped the Dodgers six-game winning streak.
A true barometer of how good any Reds team is (especially at this point in the season) is how they fare on a west coast trip to San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. That is a long trip across the country for the midwest Reds and in the past a pedestrian Reds team would commonly go 2-8 or 3-7 and then head home with their seasons really on the rails.
This year has been different so far. The Reds are now 4-1 on the current trip. Mat Latos picked up his 10th win of the season going 7 and 2/3 innings, striking out four and walking one. Aroldis Chapman got the save in the ninth, his 24th of the season.
The Reds broke the game open with Jay Bruce’s 21st home run of the season, a two-run shot to left center that sucked all the wind out of the crowd when it hit the bat. That’s how Bruce’s home runs have been this year on the road. I didn’t know it was gone off the bat because Dodger Stadium is so cavernous; but I heard what the crowd did and I knew how it looked sitting there live. It’s an impressive home run so make sure you watch it by clicking the hyperlink above. Bruce caught a hanging breaking ball from Zack Greinke – a guy he’s really struggled against in his career – and rode it out to one of the deepest parts of the park. It’s great to see Bruce continue to hit for power to this left center power alley.
Cho0, Votto, and Frazier had two hits each. Devin Mesoraco added a hit and he’s up to .261 on the season. It could be a great weekend for the Reds out in Los Angeles.
Yeah, that’s kind of what this is reminiscent of. I should be watching 61* or Baseball by Ken Burns to celebrate this one. This should have been a celebration of the Reds biggest win of the season. This should have been the crowning post of the best week of baseball of Jay Bruce’s life.
Instead it’s going to be a little bit about Aroldis Chapman, and how he entered that bottom of the 9th in Arizona with hollow, empty eyes and no soul and plucked one from the win column and inserted it directly in the loss column for a Reds team that is fighting for a shot at the game’s Pantheon this season. And I’m listening to the drunks of Dayton and Kentucky call into 700 WLW declaring war on the bullpen and they’re 12 Budweisers deep on their porch and talking about bathing in Dusty Baker’s blood.
But lets talk about Jay Bruce’s game a little bit. I can’t believe what kind of run this guy is on. It’s truly something you don’t see in a lifetime watching baseball (Bruce’s last seven hits have all been home runs).
The first came off of Patrick Corbin, who is about as nasty right now as any lefty in the National league. It was the longest home run of Jay Bruce’s career, 473 feet. It was a Nintendo game shot. Let’s put it here for all to see.
Listen to the way the Arizona crowd bellows (don’t confuse it with a roar) when the shot caroms off the scoreboard in dead center.
That was the only scoring in the game for a while, and then Gerardo Parra snuck one out off Mike Leake to put the DBacks up 2-1 until the bottom of the 9th. I knew what was going to happen.
Let them get excited, they've got to face Bruce in the 9th. This isn't over yet
The second was what I feel like was a turning point in Bruce’s whole career. He knows when he hits this home run off Heath Bell in the top of the 9th that he’s better than the game right now. What he’s doing he probably fully doesn’t understand. It’s a kind of locked in that most guys don’t ever achieve even once in a career. As I’ve said many times before, there’s no book to get him out right now, and everything he hits is going to be out of the park.
He gets all of this one, and destroys Heath Bell in the process. It was as exciting of a Saturday night baseball moment as you can ask for. It got ‘Jay Bruce’ trending worldwide on twitter. Here’s the 460 foot shot:
But as the Reds did the last time Bruce came close to this hot, they squandered it. It was that magical May of 2011. He hit 12 home runs and was MLB Player of the Month that May. The Reds went 14-14 that month.
It was a moment I’ll never forget last night in Bruce’s career. But it should have been even sweeter. This is a run you don’t ever forget. Eight home runs in nine games, and he’s hit 10 since June 3rd. Jay Bruce was born to rake, we just never knew it was going to be to this extent.
Last night was a fun game that I attended with some guys from work, and it featured a little bit of something for everyone. The highlight of the night was this majestic opposite-field blast from Jay Bruce, his 13th home run on the season:
And that wasn’t the only long ball we saw. Zach Cozart and Todd Frazier had upper deck jobs (I missed Frazier’s because I was grabbing a beer for my buddy) and Joey Votto snuck one out the other way.
I’ve never really taken a shot of the Great American Insurance building behind the park. Here it is in all of it’s glory.
Bruce warming up before the start of an inning. And I think the kid on the right field line who warms him up every inning *might* be the nephew of Walt Jocketty or Bob Castellini. Something is up with this kid. He throws worse than a woman. He is scared to death of the ball. Anything thrown his way where Bruce puts anything on the ball and the kid looks like he wants to run out of the way and allow a fan to take the brunt of it. He short-hopped Bruce multiple times. He is a special brand of hideous.
You are a big league team; and that’s the best you can do with a ball boy? Something is rotten in Denmark with this.
Here’s Andrew McCutchen. Love watching the guy play. He did his thing with a couple of line drives for base hits, and took his usual bean ball to the middle of the back later in the game.
“Strikeouts for LaRosa’s” is new at the ball park this year. It’s a deal where you get a free small LaRosa’s pizza when Reds pitchers strike out 11 hitters or more in a game. The Reds didn’t give anyone strikeout pizza last night but that’s okay because I’m on a diet and LaRosa’s is kind of overrated. It’s like the Cincinnati equivalent of Donato’s.
We had fourth-row seats out in right field behind our version of The Mick. It was a great night for a ballgame. I’ve sat in a lot worse then mid-80 degree heat and all night the weather stayed clear.
And any perfect night at the park is capped off with Aroldis Chapman coming into the game throwing 99 MPH heat, and ended with him striking out a hitter with a 101 MPH fastball. He also threw inside on Neil Walker before striking him out in absolutely demeaning fashion.
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.
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:
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.
It was one of my favorite Cincinnati games of the entire year last night. The Reds kept things quiet for the Colorado offense, and got a big game out of Jay Bruce on a night when not a lot of other guys hit.
Bruce was in the clean-up spot in Brandon Phillips’ absence to face Tyler Chatwood. Bruce put on a clinic last night with three hits. His first one was a line drive single to right field. His second was a beautiful opposite field single on an 0-2 count with the shift on. And his third, well that was the best of all.
And you have to give Bronson Arroyo a little credit for his eight shutout innings. I didn’t think he could do that to a lineup like Colorado’s in a ballpark like Great American. He’s more solid than anyone; myself included, gives him credit for.
I was so content with the way the Reds played last night – a quick, clean ballgame – that I listened to the 700 WLW postgame while walking my dog around the neighborhood late night.
As it so often is, Aroldis Chapman striking out the side in the ninth inning was the perfect cherry on top of a crisp, clean ballgame.
Look at this absolute moonshot from Jay Bruce, his 9th home run of the year. Ths kind of put the game away.
It’s just now summer, and the Reds are starting to treat their fans to nice things.
Bruce extended his hitting streak to 11 games with his two hits last night. Over his last 15 games (beginning May 1st), here are his numbers:
.338, 5 HR, 19 RBI, .352 On base %, .721 slugging, nine doubles and a triple for good measure.
The guy loves to hit in May.
The Reds also welcomed back Johnny Cueto from injury. The control wasn’t really there – he walked an unusual four hitters – but I saw him hit as high as 97 MPH on the radar gun. He gave the Reds five solid innings with his only mistake being the three run homer he allowed to Marlon Byrd.
Chapman came on in the ninth, destroyed two hitters; and avenged his blown save that was caused by danish pastries. With one more win the Reds will move to 10 games over .500, something any franchise in the game would sign up for right now. They really are playing solid ball night after night despite having some injuries to key members of their squad.
I was just thinking yesterday in the beginning stages of the game about how there are so many baseball games in the average person’s lifetime that the events start to bleed into one another. Small details are forgotten. Each game across time represents a grain of sand on a beach which is your baseball lifetime.
Seriously though; I was ready to announce the Reds as the best team in baseball after 44 games until Chapman blew this one.
I returned home from giving my in-laws a tour around Columbus, Ohio to see Jay Bruce getting full extension on a ball. Here’s video on him flying out one to centerfield. This was a bomb, his fifth of the season.
From there the Reds would tack on another run in the sixth inning on a Todd Frazier double. I was starting to doze off and already had this one counted in the win column. And then it all fell apart just a short time later.
But Erik Kratz (as a pinch hitter) and Freddie Freaking Galvis? Really? These are the two guys who become the first tandem to homer off Aroldis Chapman in the same game? What world is this?