Tag Archives: Brandon Phillips

Cincinnati Reds 2014 Team Preview

One of the fastest to ever play the game.

One of the fastest to ever play the game.

Since that 2012 season ended and the Reds lost to the Giants in game five of the NLDS in Cincinnati after being up two games to zero on the eventual World Champion Giants, I have really been in a deep and dark depression as a Reds fan.

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.

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The Baseball Show: Trademageddon

mlb-trade-analysis

A few evenings ago on The Baseball Show Podcast, M.J. Lloyd (Off Base Percentage) and myself discussed the full rundown of off-season activity. M.J. is also a great follow on twitter (@MnkysThrwngDrts).

Of the high points:

*Clint kicks off the show with a huge rumor involving Miguel Cabrera’s injury, Prince Fielder’s wife, Avasail Garcia, and why Prince might have been traded from Detroit.
*We recap many of the moves that happened on Trademageddon Tuesday.
*We talk Robinson Cano free agency.
*We discuss sabermetrics, and how many million dollars each win in WAR is worth.
*We weigh in on Brandon Phillips hot stove chatter.
*We make dick jokes.

If you have some time to kill on the weekend when you’re supposed to be doing chores, give us a listen. We’ll be sure to entertain if you love baseball.

A Typical Jay Bruce Hot Streak is Carrying the Reds

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They don’t get much bigger than the home run Jay Bruce hit in the bottom of the 9th inning off Jason Grilli to tie the game 1-1. Grilli was going for the Pirates franchise record for consecutive saves to begin a season. I’ve watched Grilli a lot this season. He’s been downright invincible. And suddenly with one swing of the bat, one of baseball’s nastiest relievers suddenly became human again.

And that’s when you know Jay Bruce is truly hot. When he’s on like he’s been on for about the last week especially – there isn’t really a book or scouting report available to be able to get him out. It seems like everything he hits is a rope, home runs come in bunches and it doesn’t really matter what kind of pitcher he’s facing. Lefty or righty, fastball guy or junk guy, when Bruce is hot he pretty much destroys everything. We’ve seen this from him about a half dozen times, maybe a few times more in his big league career. When he’s in one of these streaks and you watch him closely, you’re sure you’re watching a superstar emerge. He’s that incredible. No mortal man could do this over the course of a hot streak.

I always say that my favorite Jay Bruce home run is the next one he hits. But this shot off Grilli ranks right up there with some of the biggest he’s ever hit. It was truly huge and when he crossed home plate and headed into the dugout you could legitimately tell that it fired up a group of big leaguers who have seen it all in their day. They know how filthy Grilli is. They know it takes something superhuman to homer off the guy right now when he’s hunting for a consecutive saves record. It was truly huge, even in a big league world where superhuman effort is seen nightly by those that play the game.

You knew when the Reds were all fired up in the dugout in the bottom of the 9th that they were going to find a way to win the game. At least, if you watch the Reds every day like I do and you have a feel of the team’s pulse, it wasn’t going to be a game they dropped. Sure enough, it took 13 innings but the Reds were triumphant in winning 2-1 on a Brandon Phillips bases-loaded single up the middle.

They don’t win that game without Jay Bruce. They don’t even score. But Jay Bruce is hot right now, and he destroyed possibly the most dominant reliever in baseball with the game on the line.

Fast forward to this afternoon. It was a getaway day afternoon game that I knew the Reds would lose. Big, emotional win last night to at least salvage the split at home in the series. Sure, they’re going to lose this afternoon. And lose they did (5-3 Pirates). But Bruce did it again, homering to the lawn in center for his 15th long one on the season. It gave the Reds a 2-1 lead they would relinquish a few innings later.

The point is when Jay Bruce is hot, baseball’s fly out of the park like you took a time machine back to yesteryear to watch Babe Ruth. Enjoy the volcanic eruption while it’s going on because it’s clearly not human. For the short time being, Jay Bruce knows he’s taking you deep; and it’s one of the most exciting things I’ve seen in the history of following the game of baseball.

A PERFECT Summer Night at Great American Ball Park

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[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com]

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 also loved Starling Marte’s unreal catch to rob Brandon Phillips of extra bases – at least – you could say I ‘appreciated’ it.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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 can get used to Los Rojos

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The Reds are finally giving me reason to get excited.

Here’s the play from Friday night’s 4-3 win over the Brewers that you probably heard everyone talking about. You won’t see a better double play turn in the next decade. You just won’t.

Phillips added a homer in the bottom of the inning that would stand up to be the difference in the win.

Then there was Saturday, lovely Saturday. The Reds tortured poor Hiram Burgos to the tune of 10 earned runs in three innings pitched. Jay Bruce led the charge with this home run (and two doubles):

He’s got the total up to three now, which is a couple more than Matt Kemp. The Reds won a wild one 13-7 yesterday.

The Reds enter Sunday gunning for the sweep on Mother’s Day.

Cincinnati Reds 2013 Team Preview

Jay+Bruce

If you want me to be 100% honest, I thought it was the Reds year last year. I truly thought after they won the first two games of the NLDS in San Francisco that this team was headed to the World Series. The Reds were going to do one better than my prediction I made before the season of just reaching the NLCS; they were actually going to win the NL pennant and give themselves a shot at the first Cincinnati World Title since 1990 when I was eight years old.

The Reds completely broke my heart when they collapsed. Truth be told, I’m still not recovered from it. While I’m excited for  baseball season, I don’t necessarily think that this team in this window will ever be any better positioned to win it all. You can tell me that I’m wrong, and you can tell me that they’re better for the experience they gained and all that. My opinion is the Reds missed a golden opportunity to win it all last year and will never have a better opportunity.

The American League as a whole was suspect last season and I knew at the time that the hot team from the National League would probably win it. At first glance that team looked to be the Reds. Then Johnny Cueto got hurt. Then the Reds couldn’t make a few plays when Homer Bailey threw the gem that should have ended the series. Then the Reds had to throw Leake and throw away game four. Then in game five, Buster Posey drove a stake in my heart that will never be removed.

With that, I decided that I’ll never again believe it’s going to happen until the moment actually arrives. I am forever skeptical; forever jaded. There is no such thing as ‘we’re going to win the whole damn thing’ before we do it as I declared last year on Opening Day. Not this year. You have to prove it to me now.

Major Off-Season Moves:

  • Signed Jack Hannahan
  • Traded for Shin-Soo Choo
  • Re-signed Ryan Ludwick
  • Re-signed Jonathan Broxton
  • Re-signed Manager Dusty Baker

I know this team so well it’s scary sometimes. When I wake up in the morning during the season and the Reds have a game on their schedule, I know if they’re going to win or lose 95% of the time before the game is even played. I still watch and see the results play out. But at the end of things when the final out is recorded, I usually had a pulse of how things were going to go. My wife sometimes asks me why I don’t just smell the roses when following this team. Why don’t I just enjoy things a little bit more? I wish it were that easy. When this much passion gets involved; when you want something so badly, you can’t help but expect the zenith.

I want that damn trophy at the end of the year. There’s no reason that this group in this era shouldn’t win a title. They’re as good as anyone in the league right now. Everyone has their breaks, their weak spots, their bad luck; it’s time to go out and get it done. Anything less is considered an absolute failure. And if and when that happens I can’t help but be completely exasperated, usually after an emotional explosion.

Here’s a look at yours and my 2013 Cincinnati Reds after the jump. Continue reading

Cincinnati Reds win their first postseason game in 17 years

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com] [ESPN SweetSpot] [HardballTalk] [Lance Mcalister] [The Splash] [Giants Extra]

Someone pinch me, I’m dreaming.

Did my team really just beat Matt Cain on the road out west after losing Johnny Cueto (the ace of the staff) after he recorded just one out? I have to be dreaming. This has happened to me a million times. I wake up, and it all goes away. After all, it has been 6,210 days since the Reds franchise won a postseason game (1995 against the Dodgers for those wondering).

Brandon Phillips was balling out of his mind last night. He got scoring started with a two-run home run to left field. He made a few barehand plays. He made an unreal back up play over at first base on a bunt single that kept the runner on first. He singled home an insurance run. Thank you for playing this way DatDude.

Jay Bruce continued his postseason hitting success.

Matt Cain was cruising through the first four hitters in the Reds lineup when Bruce doubled down the right field line for the Reds first hit. There would be no perfect game in this one against the Reds.

And then there was Bruce’s home run into a spot of AT&T Park where home runs aren’t typically hit:

Not sure I’ve ever gone more nuts when a couple of home runs left the yard than when I did for Phillips and Bruce going deep.

There were just so many efforts that contributed to this game. There was no one story. It was a gritty team effort comprised of Bruce, Phillips, Mat Latos, Sam LeCure (getting five outs as a pinch-hit reliever), and the Reds bullpen working out of tight spots late in the game that had me holding my breath.

The first domino has fallen, and the Reds need just ten more wins to claim a World Series title and six more to reach the fall classic. Last night was another memorable, improbable, and high-character moment from a team that has already provided a full season’s worth of them.

The 2012 Cincinnati Reds: Champions of the Central Again

The 2012 Cincinnati Reds have partially fulfilled a destiny.

In yesterday’s 6-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, Mat Latos threw eight dominant shutout innings. Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips homered. Bruce’s 34th home run of the season was a matter of tradition; he’s homered each time the Reds have clinched a division title.

I sat in the farthest reaches of the upper deck at Great American that October night back in 2010 when the Reds were eliminated from the playoffs, and I told my wife that this group of Reds would be back. I had a strong feeling that the Reds were going to miss the playoffs entirely in 2011 and serve as a monumental disappointment around baseball. Check. I also told her that 2012 was the year. I told her that night that I had a vision of them storming back to make a run for the World Series in 2012.

Here we are.

In all of my life, no matter how long I live; I’ll never forget the 2012 Cincinnati Reds. This is both the most talented, and the most memorable group of Reds that have taken the field since I was nine years old.

I’ve never felt more proud to call a team ‘mine’.

A baseball season is such a weird thing. Compiled of so many highs and lows that serve as mere radar blip snapshots, it’s kind of hard to really know where a team sends until the cement has hardened and the final game has been played. But from the opening gun this year I knew that this team was good. Really good. I never panicked. Not one time did I ever doubt that this would be the outcome. I knew back in May that this team was going to outgun a loaded Cardinals lineup and find a way to win the division by double digits. I knew that a much higher prize should be the idea and that the division title should be table stakes for a roster that’s so talented. Sure, some of it was that vision that came to be back in 2010 (and even before the 2010 season I felt 2012 was the year this team was truly built for). But this team responded to so many things with so many different heroes each night, they never allowed you to doubt them for long.

Hold this moment in your heart if you’re a die hard baseball fan that loves the Reds. I feel that this is what sports are all about. Winning titles are the pantheon of why the games are played. But I’ve said before that Midas’ gold for the sports fan is in the climb. The struggle. The battle. The uncertainty. It’s in the grind that it takes to reach a title. That’s what defines greatness in players, teams and sports.

Reds fans have endured, and now it’s time to indulge. Take a few days, enjoy the fall air and know that a new season is about to begin. The final chapter for this group has not been written and I believe that a great destiny awaits them. Dusty phoned in his post-clinch lineup card.

Sit back, catch your breath, and get ready for a memorable and drama-filled ride that you’re never going to forget. Let’s go after that number one seed.

And thank you, 2012 Reds. I’ll never forget you.

Our Pal Franco interviews DatDudeBP

Our pal Franco from Next Level Ballplayer does exceptional work.

He’s also got connections spread all throughout the Major Leagues. His latest project is an interview with one of our personal favorites, Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips. Be sure to check it out.

Reds’ Brandon Phillips Talks ‘Golden Soldiers’, Finding ‘The Crunk Zone’, Personal Baseball Goals and More [Next Level Ballplayer]

 

On the Reds 10-Game Winning Streak

When the Cincinnati Reds dropped the home stand opener 11-5 to the San Diego Padres last night in Cincinnati, it ended their 10-game winning streak that began with a 7-6 win over Arizona in Cincinnati on July 19th.

I think it was the longest winning streak for the Cincinnati Reds since this blog has been in creation. It took then from tied for first place in the standings to 3 games in the green on the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Reds did it all without the help of their main offensive force, Joey Votto. Even with last night’s loss the Reds are 20 games over .500, which also seems like another benchmark worth mention.

If this band of Reds go on to win the National League Central Division Championship for the second time in three seasons; or reach uncharted territory like the NLCS, this will be the stretch that everyone should remember. They did it with pitching, great defense, and timely hitting. It wasn’t about the three-run homer in the small park, as so many thought Reds baseball would be predicated upon. In fact, the Reds hit five solo shots in their final win on the streak in Colorado.

Other than Drew Stubbs, Ryan Ludwick was probably the hero of the entire streak. He’s seen his OPS hulk up to .849 at the end of last night’s play. That’s ahead of Jay Bruce (.828) and Brandon Phillips (.788) by a healthy margin.

I’m in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. My buddies are headed to the park tonight to watch Homer Bailey and the boys attempt to start a new streak. I have to admit, even with the beach out my window I am a little bit envious. The MLB.tv feeds here are very spotty at best. I’ve been forced to follow the Reds via 700 WLW. Last night the crowd sounded rowdy. With two full months of baseball left, the Reds have made a baseball town fall in love again. What a life we are living in such a place.

Chapmania has reached a Fever Pitch in Cincinnati

I turned on 700 WLW last night and heard the roar of what sounded like a postseason crowd. It was the 9th inning, and Aroldis Chapman had just finished mowing down Jason Heyward on a 100 MPH fastball. The Braves didn’t have a chance in the final frame. Everyone should have headed back to the hotels about a half hour earlier than when things officially got broken up. Baseball could start saving teams the trouble and the time of having to face the best power lefty I’ve seen in my lifetime.

The Reds won the game 4-3. Matt Latos was pretty solid. Brandon Phillips homered a couple of times. Baseball Tonight said that now that the Reds had things ‘straightened out’ they were going to win the NL Central by double-digits this season.

I don’t know about that, but I hope everyone out there is truly enjoying what Aroldis Chapman has done to date. All day I’ve wondered whether or not I should post the actual numbers, but I’m a superstitious guy. I want Chapman to keep rolling. So do you. Let’s not jinx anything and just leave it at this: the guy hasn’t allowed a damn run yet.

Joey Votto has just been Votto-like solid. Jay Bruce is again struggling. We’re all waiting on Brandon Phillips to get hot. But Chapman has truly arrived. As you look around baseball, no one has was a weapon this dominant. And he’s a Cincinnati Red for the foreseeable future, to have and to hold. To do whatever we want with.

Sit back and watch him mow down big leaguers like they’re helpless next time he climbs the hill. In all my years of baseball, I’ve never seen anything quite like this. It could be a summer of records for Chapman, and I think everyone will remember spring 2012 as when this dominant figure in the game arrived for good and set down his luggage.

Game 29, 2012: Brewers rock Bailey & Reds 8-3

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com] [Redleg Nation] [Brewers Mission 162]

Things started going badly in this one–again because of Homer Bailey’s inconsistencies.

He came out with 96 MPH stuff, some of the best velocity I’ve seen him have a in a long time and after retiring what seemed like the first two hitters of the game with ease, he came unraveled a little bit. He loaded the bases and Lucroy singled home a couple of runners and the route was on. It summed up Homer Bailey’s entire Cincinnati career. Come out with electric stuff, but for some reason you lack the ability to just get guys out and everything was labored.

After the Brewers loaded up the sacks again later in the game and Aramis Ramirez cleared then to make it 6-0, I decided it was time to head to the gym and prepare mentally for the loss. While I was on the elliptical for an hour I listened to Marty and when the Reds are losing Marty really loses focus. Bruce homered again to stretch his streak to 11 games. Brandon Phillips collected a few hits. But basically the Reds were blown out and failed to keep climbing above the .500 mark.

Making today’s afternoon delight of Johnny Cueto vs. Zach Greinke a huge contest.

Highlights:

Jay Bruce goes opposite field for his 10th home run of the year

Brandon Phillips, great grab over the shoulder

Full highlights

Potpourri:

-The Reds 8-3 loss in Milwaukee will mean little on May 8th of 2012 in baseball history. This will forever be the night that Josh Hamilton hit four home runs in Baltimore. It’s a more exclusive list than perfect games. And we are the franchise who traded that guy.

Although I briefly remember Mike Cameron and Carlos Delgado doing it; I remember Shawn Green and Mark Whiten’s historic nights well.

-Jay Bruce hit streak update: 11 games, 17 of 41 (.415), 7 HR, 14 RBI, 1.499 OPS during this streak.

Game 28, 2012: Reds put it all together in 6-1 win over Brewers

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com] [Mark Sheldon] [Redleg Nation]

This was one of the most complete efforts on the year so far for the Reds. It probably starts with Bunny Arroyo’s fine outing on the mound. He somehow struck out nine Brewers, allowed only the mammoth home run to Ryan Braun and walked just one. He’s now 2-1 on the season with a 2.75 ERA. The Reds starters are getting it done, between Bunny’s fine effort and what Mat Latos did on Sunday in Pittsburgh.

The Reds pounded out another ten hits last night, with a lot of the damage coming in that big 4th inning. This is either the first time they’ve been a couple games over .500 this season, or it sure feels like it. It’s really no time to relax even though they’ve taken four of five and 11 of 16 games. This is the time to keep the foot on the gas and make a run.

How about Bruce’s monster home run last night? That was the longest home run I’ve ever seen him hit. He ran it with humility and didn’t show up Marco Estrada, but that thing traveled to Kenosha, WI. Couple of hits for Brandon Phillips, couple of hits for Ryan Hanigan, Zach Cozart homered; everyone really contributed.

Homer Bailey and Yovani Gallardo I’m a little worried about tonight.

Highlights:

Bruce hits a MONSTER 442-foot home run (9)

Bunny Arroyo was magnificent

Welcome back, Miguel Cairo

Zach Cozart solo bomb (3) ties the game

Joey Votto RBI Double gives the Reds the lead

Ryan Braun goes yard off Bronson Arroyo early, his 9th

Potpourri:

-Jay Bruce’s home run is worth checking out Hit Tracker for the first time this year if you haven’t.

-Behind Atlanta’s Michael Bourn, Bruce has the second longest active hitting streak in baseball now at 10 games. He’s gone 15 of 37, for a .405 average. He’s slugging 1.027 during the life of the streak. He’s got six homers, 12 RBI, and ten runs during it. Bruce had two 12-game hitting streaks as a rookie.

-Check out my buddy Dave here with Sal Fasano, on “What it takes to be a great catcher”. I remember when Jeff Pearlman told me that Fasano was one of the best pro-athletes he had ever met in terms of humility and just being a great human being. Great work on this Dave.

-Ended up owing my wife a trip to UDF for ice-cream when the Reds had that big inning. Where’s the Peach!?!?

Game 25, 2012: Sister Christian Oh the Time Has Come

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com]

The Reds got a little bit of everything you want to see in a 6-1 Friday night win at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

Jay Bruce, Drew Stubbs, and Zach Cozart all homered. The rest of the guys added five additional extra-base hits. Johnny Cueto went the distance to improve to 4-0 on the season, striking out four and walking no one.

The Cardinals lost to the Astros last night 5-4 in Houston. Now the Reds have a chance to get a couple games above the .500 mark and begin a winning-streak on Cinco De Mayo Saturday. What more could you ask for? They must win at all costs today whether that win come ugly or pretty like last evening. The Reds just have to keep rolling.

Highlights:

Bruce homers to right field (8)

Cozart & Stubbs go back-to-back

Brandon Phillips RBI single

Cueto’s sparkling outing

Ryan Hanigan RBI double

Potpourri:

It’s Cinco De Mayo. It’s a great holiday. In honor of the day that Adam Dunn always seemed to hit bombs on, we present to you the only batter walk-up song that Dunn used during his time in Cincinnati: a little Night Ranger. And maybe, just maybe; Dunn will go deep today in Detroit.