Tag Archives: Dusty Baker

Goodbye Dusty Baker (My Thoughts on the Firing of the Reds Manager)

thelastdusty

Deep down inside, I knew it had to happen. I knew when the Reds went out lifelessly for the third time in four seasons, that Dusty Baker’s time had run out.

It broke late last night after I fell asleep. I received a flurry of texts from my ‘Reds inner-circle’ stating that Dusty was out. By the time I awoke the story was all over the place. A door had closed. An era had officially ended.

Many who know me and know how passionately I feel about the Reds felt I would be thrilled by this. The truth is there was no dancing on the gravestone – I was saddened by it.

I’ve had numerous short and meaningless conversations and exchanges with Dusty Baker through the years and he’s been nothing but pleasant and fan-friendly in every sense of the word. He is a likable man, a good man. I’ve had friends that partied with the guy. He’s just a real human being.

He was the first Reds manager I ever really cared about. Hell, I have been through so many wars with Baker on the seat of my pants in my living room that I felt like he was one of the family. He had his flaws: his poor lineup construction and belief that guys who walk a lot ‘clog the bases’. He made some mistakes. But you learned to love him for these mistakes like you love your whacky uncle who shows up for the holidays every year with his bullshit dish that no one eats. I accepted Baker and never rooted for his demise. I will miss Dusty.

But it was time. When the CEO of a company fails to advance that company after several years, things need looked at. I am disappointed to hear that Dusty felt the Reds overachieved in 2013. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

In my heart I was never really fully into 2013. I knew this team that never got hot had no chance at doing anything big time. In 2012, everything was different. I thought that would be the year we won it all. For me, 2012 will always be the one that got away. That was our big shot at the title. It will never be greater, trust me. In the end, I look back at the successful Dusty Baker era as a few years that wasted the primes of our stars. You can’t get back the years for Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips, Aroldis Chapman, Johnny Cueto and Joey Votto among others. They’re gone, they’re spoken for, and in a sense they’ll never achieve the greatness as a nucleus of centerpieces that they could have under a better leader.

That’s not to say Baker was a flop – he was a good manager here. He’s always going to be a good manager and a great baseball guy. He can take you to nearly the top of the mountain, but he will always slip and fall before reaching it’s pinnacle. It is the real life story of a sad hero that always ultimately fails despite numerous triumphs.

Baker will always remain synonymous with a resurgence era in Reds baseball. For that, I’m forever grateful. The things I won’t miss go without saying. The loyalty to ineffective veterans in spots they aren’t designed to be successful, the inability to shake things up, his lineup construction, and his hands-off approach that failed to promote urgency amongst other things were his damning qualities.

I didn’t realize until this week that the man was 0-9 in elimination games in his career. That is downright scary.

I wish Dusty Baker well. I am thankful for the time he devoted to making the Reds a winner to the best of his ability. I will never slander the guy. He just wasn’t the guy for the job and it was time that he and the organization go their separate ways. Perhaps the saddest thing about the whole situation is that a good man and a great baseball man aligned with a talented roster of superstars and above average players will never be viewed as winners by outsiders.

Where we venture from here, I do not know. But I can guess that the Reds next manager will be someone with youth on their side and a strong voice that promotes urgency day in and day out. The country club has closed. It’s just a matter of whether it’s too late for this generation of Reds.

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

Slaying the Giant Once and For All

Cincinnati: All the scores I’ll never settle, all the debts I can’t repay, all my ghosts await me here.

This post was supposed to be about my team and maybe your team and how they were choking it all away. It was supposed to be about how tomorrow I would go into work depressed and worried. And then slumber home to my couch to see the Reds squander away things in historic fashion.

Instead, I’m getting up tomorrow and using the power of my mind to focus on positive thought. The sun will rise tomorrow, and I believe it will shine just a little bit brighter upon the Reds. And I hope this post, more than any I’ve written before brings positive karma from all things and to all things surrounding the Cincinnati Reds.

What works out to be a legacy game for Dusty Baker in a Reds uniform also will work it’s way into the connected career vines of the names that dot this roster. Legacies will gain some of their definition tomorrow. That’s a certainty. And that’s why I have to say I was there at game five in 2012. That’s why I have to see it with my own eyes. It might be to say goodbye and it might be to celebrate it. But I have to finish what I started back on what ended up the most magical Opening Day in Cincinnati that I’ve ever been a part of. I have to see this thing through. It’s the only way.

Too many times in my life I’ve just talked myself out of going for it. I’m going for it tomorrow. Even if it’s by myself. I’ll be in the stands. And I’ll be rooting with everything I have inside me for Dusty and the boys. Because I do love them. Because they are family.

Tomorrow morning I’ll set foot down in the Queen City, and I’ll try to summon the ghosts of many nights and many friends gone by. And I’ll try and reflect on all the intrinsic value that is in that town for me surrounding that team dating back to when I was just a kid listening to 700 while I fell asleep at night. I’ve been waiting for tomorrow since I was just a little kid with so many big dreams.

Cain. Latos. For all the marbles. One last time. Someone draws their last breath. On an October 11th day in 2012 at 1300 hours, someone’s fate gets decided forever. I want to say I was part of it, regardless of how the end of the chapter will read.

The Bull We Didn’t Want to Draw

Let it be said, let it be written. The Reds path with destiny will go through San Francisco.

Before the season began, I had a premonition that the Reds would make the NLCS. Early in the season, I had the Reds losing to an NL West team (Giants or Dodgers, and I eventually decided on the Giants) in the NLCS. Today I sat in my office and I thought long and hard about how my premonition was almost correct but won’t quite be able to jive.

As much as I didn’t want to see the Reds head out west to play a couple against the likes of Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner, there’s no other way. And in a weird and twisted way, this was part of the destiny all along.

This is; in my opinion; Dusty Baker’s final ride. This is Dusty Baker riding the bad bull that broke his face Tuff Hedeman-style one last time. Dusty gets a final crack at the team he gained so much fame with. A team that he was a game away from winning a World Series with. Maybe my intuitions I felt so strongly about weren’t that far from being correct, they were just a bit tweaked.

If the Reds are going to win a World Series, they’re going to have to face and conquer their fears. They’ll need to be better than the best the big leagues have to offer, and for a couple week period. I’ve been thinking about that for the last several weeks.

Whether it’s going to be the Cardinals, or a West Coast trip; there is no backing your way into a World Series. There are no easy match-ups right now (though I think the Reds would have taken Atlanta out behind the woodshed). The only way out, is going directly through it all.

We’ll have more on this series in a full preview edition before Saturday night’s game. For now, just enjoy the oldie.

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.

Josh Willingham’s Sobering Sunday Swing

So much can change with one moment. An entire season’s emotion can be directed in just one week. With Josh Willingham’s soul-crushing bomb off Aroldis Chapman yesterday (a 4-3 loss), the Reds dropped five of six contests this past week. I think for the first time I’ve started to question my beliefs in the 2012 Reds, if only just a little bit.

Baseball really has a way of sobering you. This was supposed to be a series that really got the Reds back on track. I saw the club exploding for offense at home against the patchwork Twins pitching staff. A sweep could easily have been hoped for but at worst I saw the Reds taking two of three and heading into another home series against the Brewers beginning today.

The Baseball Gods had other ideas.

What seems to be both funny and ironic about Willingham destroying a Chapman pitch into the seats is there’s probably no other guy around baseball that should be wearing a Reds uniform than Willingham. The Reds bypassed him in the off-season, allowing him to sign with a non-contender in Minnesota. He and Jay Bruce share the same agent, Sosnick & Cobbe. Tell me right now that Josh Willingham couldn’t have fit in beautifully in this current Reds lineup playing the outfield.

Instead, he stepped to the plate on Sunday to play the part of Darth Vader in baseball cleats. No one should have been shocked. And perhaps my cocky and invincible feelings about this Reds team were based too much off high-running emotions when things were going well.

A Major League baseball season is so much like life. While there are both high and low moments it’s important to never feel too comfortable. You never want to feel like too much is guaranteed or certain until you’re sure you’ve reached the end. Right now, I’ll admit that I don’t know what is going to happen with these Reds and while all along I’ve promised anyone who will listen that the Reds are going to the postseason, the truth is right now I really don’t know.

Dusty Baker is making managerial moves like he would like to be terminated. I walked into my house Friday night just in time to see Scott Rolen held at third base rather than scoring. I quickly received a barrage of text messages from friends watching the game berating Dusty’s lack of forethought to pinch run for the aging Rolen. That move cost us that game.

Don’t be surprised if the Reds get back on track tonight with a big win. It’s the way things go. But if they don’t, more doubt starts to creep in. If the Reds don’t deliver this season, they’ll waste the finest season of Joey Votto’s career just as they wasted an incredibly clutch two-run home run that should have went down as the game winner yesterday.

We can’t make time speed up so we can know how each chapter end. We just have to patiently see how it all plays out, with the characters taking on a different role in the novel each week and each night. As we ride along with them, it’s important to never allow ourselves to get too high. We can’t control anything, despite what outcomes we wish for.

Dusty Baker and Derek Lowe’s Rift

Only those in baseball’s most sacred fraternity will know what the heck was really going on here, but if you arrived late to the party and you’re wondering what all the hoopla was about between the Reds manager and the Cleveland Indians aging-starting pitcher; head over to Off-Base Percentage and get a recap.

Tell us, Dusty.

“He had some words for me. I really didn’t want to make a public thing or a public spectacle. He’s the one who brought it up. He had some choice words for me. I really don’t care if he respects me. It doesn’t matter.”

“I’m not denying nothing. I didn’t order anyone to hit him. I told (Mat Latos) to buzz him and make him uncomfortable. That’s what happened. Nobody hit him. Then he hit our guy.”

“Man, I don’t care,” Baker said. A lot of people don’t respect me. He don’t respect himself. The word was whatever he did and said probably there was a good chance he was drinking at the ballpark and he don’t remember what he said or what he did. OK.”

“When he said I shook my finger at him to say I didn’t have nothing to do with it. It wasn’t to say I didn’t have anything to do with it. It was to say: Don’t mess with me or my team. That’s what that means. He better learn sign language. OK.”

I love me some Dusty Baker. Last week when we were at the park and a dozen beers deep he was nice enough to toss our buddy a foul ball. We probably didn’t deserve that. He’s always more than cordial to fans, and as evidenced above he has a long-term memory that especially serves him well for sticking up for his players. I really like that.

I decided long ago that I was going to fasten my cart to Dusty the horse, and if the ship was sinking I was going down with it like a captain. He makes me mad almost nightly. His lineups are putrid most of the time. Someone thought so little of Dusty’s philosophy on hitting that they created this. Yet, I am powerless against my own love for this man. What the Hell is wrong with me?

Derek Lowe, you keep your dirty hands off our Dusty or we’ll take your rumple-mints schnapps away from you, you hear!

Game 20, 2012: Reds Spirited comeback Falls Short

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com] [Redleg Nation] [Better Off Red] [Crawfish Boxes] [Houston Chronicle] [Hal McCoy]

This was one of those rare games of which I did not see a single pitch. We had an NFL Draft party at our house, and when I got the alert on my iPhone that the Reds were down 6-0, I didn’t even bother flipping the game over to check the score.

This team is just flat-out not getting it done right now. There’s no mixing words and no other way to describe it. Mike Leake came out and got hammered around the yard again.

The Reds fought back with a spirited abandon. And I got several text messages about Scott Rolen hitting four balls directly on the screws and going 0 for 4. The comeback died in the 9th, but I think the four unanswered (along with what sounds like it could have been a lot more) bode well for us heading into the weekend.

Wandy Rodriguez continued what has been a career of success against the Reds. Six innings, two earned runs, six strikeouts. He’s got two wins and a 1.72 ERA now. And the Reds are just a game ahead of the putrid Astros.

I’m not fully blaming Dusty Baker–even though he says and does stupid things–but the Reds have got to show some response here soon and play hard for the guy. This is more of what we saw last year. And what is Baker doing hitting Jay Bruce 7th in this lineup? I don’t care if it’s a left-handed pitcher. It’s stupidity. Bruce has OPS’d almost at as high of a clip against southpaws. This is a manager not reviewing his data closely enough.

We’re headed to the ballpark today, and I am very confident we’ll see a win and the Reds will close out this series with two in a row over Houston. I’ve never been more sure in fact. Johnny Cueto is on the bump, and the Astros oppose with a guy I think the Reds will absolutely eat alive.

Highlights:

Wandy Rodriguez continues his mastery of the Reds

Todd Frazier RBI triple

Jay Bruce homers (5) to center field in the 9th inning

Devin Mesoraco goes back-to-back

The Baseball Show: Chipper Jones is Retiring

Last night on The Baseball Show, Mike Rosenbaum (The Golden Sombrero, Bleacher Report), M.J. Lloyd (Halo Hangout, Off Base Percentage) and I discuss the following show topics:

-Mike’s move to Bleacher Report as a featured writer
-Prospects and players that have been impressive around Spring Training thus far
-Chipper Jones’ retirement announcement
-Would you rather have a player hang around as long as possible, or retire on their own terms?
-Dusty Baker on the hot seat, our reaction
-The Arte Moreno GQ interview
-As always, much more and a preview of next week’s over/under & predictions show

Bobby Valentine is the new Red Sox Manager

So today I’m getting texts and people want to know my thoughts on Bobby Valentine being named manager of one of baseball’s Cadillac teams.

The truth is, I don’t really have many thoughts on it. I kind of wished that Bobby V. would have gotten the Cincinnati Reds managerial job over Dusty Baker–but then again I find myself talking to my inner voice saying that baseball managers really don’t matter.

I think guys like Baker and Valentine are proof of that. You could stick a lot of figures surrounding the game of baseball in that Boston clubhouse and they might be able to right the ship. Whether Boston wins the series next season or finishes in fourth, I don’t think that Valentine will have a whole lot to do with it. A baseball manager’s best work is done when he quietly reminds you of the things you already know. Do I think Valentine has mastered that art? For as long as he’s been around the game it’s likely.

Just give me a guy who doesn’t rock the boat. A guy with just the right emotional balance to weather everything for 162 games. Sometimes that means just not doing anything to screw it up.

At the same time, every once in a while that’s not enough. Baker is a prime example of that with his lineup cards. A lot of people think Valentine is a proverbial dope. I guess I’m not one of those people entirely–but I think he’s an acquired taste. He’s just a guy who says stupid things sometimes. We’ve all been guilty of that at times in our workplace.

There’s a couple of good tales below on young Valentine no matter what side of the fence you sit on. In regards to my deepest thoughts on the hiring; I really don’t care. I think the guy will have about as much success as anyone that would have stepped into the position. Tim Kurkjian says it’s a home run hire. It’s Boston. The playoff field has been expanded. They’re going to spend money, and they’re likely going to win.

Meeting Bobby Valentine on New Year’s Eve | Return visit to Bobby Valentine’s

Some teams say they want to win; some go out and actually do it

Something I’ve admired about the Cardinals and Tony LaRussa is their absolute cut-throat buring desire to win ballgames. Yeah, everyone wants to win, but they really want to win. They don’t give up in games, their front office doesn’t give up, and in fact nobody in the organzation gives up.

It was just 2-3 weeks back when Dusty Baker said the goal was to beat St. Louis for second place. Well, the Cardinals battled their way back. I didn’t think they had a chance. But obviously they didn’t see that and feel that way. And now look at them–one game behind Atlanta for a playoff spot. This whole time, Dusty’s boys have been even flatter than they were the rest of the season and have lost ground on their coveted second place trophy in the NL Central.

The Reds pretty well just gave up. From the front office on down. Baker alluded they bought their way back in but I think that’s lazy thinking. It’s a culture thing. And the Reds don’t have it right now.

Are Dusty Baker and Walt Jocketty on the same page?

Just a random thought after reading this snippet from John Heyman of Sports Illustrated:

Sources suggest there has been some difference of opinion over playing time between Reds GM Walt Jocketty and manager Dusty Baker, who has a year to go on his contract. The Reds are over .500 for the first time since early July, but it is curious how much playing time veterans Miguel Cairo and Freddie Lewis are getting in a lost season. Rival execs say they also would have traded Ramon Hernandez before the July 31 trade deadline and employed Devin Mesoraco as catcher. Hernandez was claimed on waivers by a competitor and pulled back by the Reds. He would have helped the Giants, among others.

Our take: With the non-trade of Hernandez, how can you blame anyone but the GM and the GM alone? It isn’t likely that Dusty Baker was in the room fielding the calls and said ‘keep Ramon’. That’s on the GM. And that shows that the GM is somewhat on Dusty’s page of keeping the veterans and playing veterans until the bitter end to try and accomplish something salvageable in terms of record this year. In that light, we have to disagree with Heyman a little bit.

Another scenario is ownership telling each them what to do in regards to the non-move of Ramon Hernandez. If the Reds want to draw well attendance-wise until the end of the year–or even respectably–they’ll need to win and win often down the stretch to even keep a fair amount of butts in the seats at Great American. Maybe ownership said to hang on to Ramon Hernandez for this reason. That’s the only thing that would even kind of make sense at this point.

From any other standpoint, the move (or lack thereof) makes no sense.

Reds bring the Heat in Miami

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com] [The Real Mccoy]

Last night’s win said an awful lot about the character of the Reds. But before I talk about the game, I just want to talk about my state of mind as a fan right now.

It’s been really hard to maintain this blog this season. For anyone that has ever written about sports on the internet, you realize that if there is emotion involved–it’s not an easy thing all of the time. The Reds performance this year has really complicated me writing about baseball on this blog. So if anyone wonders about the future of Diamond Hoggers and the amount of writing that will be done on here; the show will go on as always and the tempo will pick up.

The Reds can’t stink forever, and I’ve been preparing to get married in September. Losing 15 pounds and planning a wedding has been some work albeit minimal. But baseball is what I love and on any random summer night it’s easy to remember why I love it.

Last night was one of those games. Hell, I even fired up the post game show on 700 WLW last night (too much Jimmy Buffett talk, not enough baseball but oh well) and watched Little Big League on Netflix as I was falling asleep. After games like last night, I’ll let it be baseball season until December!

A lot of Reds fans who my relationship has been in a stalemate with suddenly crept out of the woodwork last night as the Reds battled back on the road from a 5-2 deficit. Everything seemed to happen by design. Yonder Alonso hits a bomb to get things going a little bit, and then Jay Bruce (hitting 3rd in the lineup) hits a bomb to right field to cut the deficit to 5-4.

Nick Masset came in and promptly shit his pants as he’s so often done this season and gave up a sac fly to Emillio Bonifacio in the bottom of the 8th to seemingly end the game.

Dusty Baker makes a Dusty Baker move in the 9th inning. He allows Paul Janish to lead off, and even listening to the radio I’m wondering what the Hell a .217ish hitter is doing leading off when we need one base runner. The Reds would bail their manager out from there; as Joey Votto pinch hit and had a Joey Votto at-bat where he fouled off a few tough pitches and got the full count walk, his 93rd of the season. Brandon Phillips did the same, had a tough at bat and ended up fouling off a few pitches until he got something he could handle and singled to center.

From there you’ll see the highlights below that took the Reds home winners down in the Miami humidity.

I think the reason people are so happy is they feel in a lot of cases that the Reds have given up just because this season is over and so many of us have given up our hopes and expectations we had. While this time last summer was a magical time in our lives, we’re left adjusting at the present time and wondering how to feel. Last night the Reds reminded us that meaningless baseball on a summer night can still be great because it is baseball.

And soon enough the boys of summer will be giving way to another sport. So we best enjoy it for all we can for another few weeks here before we say goodbye for another long winter.

This has been a really weird season. I’m not sure what it is. But it’s not unlike any other baseball season I’ve lived through despite having it’s share of ‘blah’ moments. There are points when the season seems a few days long and then when you think back to the beginning parts you can’t believe that this is the same season at all.

It’s the puzzling life of being a baseball fan. We all go through it and there is no exact psychology that fits a textbook of how to do it correctly. You just exist, you take it in, you watch. You try to draw conclusions or deductions or similarities to past seasons. If we’re honest with ourselves, baseball is so unique that while many players and teams are patterned after their past, in some ways every day is statistically unique and unpredictable. And that is what keeps us hooked.

You never know when the Cincinnati Reds–who you had thought had ‘quit’–score four in the 9th to win the damn thing. God I love this game.

Top Plays:

Yonder Alonso’s 2nd home run of his career

Jay Bruce hits a Ricky Nolasco hanging breaking ball into the seats

Dave Sappelt’s double to the wall ties the game in the 9th

Alonso puts the Reds ahead with a 2-run double

Potpourri

-Due to another damn hurricane, the Reds and Marlins will play a doubleheader today.

-Ricky Nolasco passed Dontrelle Willis as the all-time strikeout leader in Marlins history last night.

-It was about a year ago that I wrote this about Jay Bruce. I don’t know if it’s ever been more true.

-It was about a year ago on a Sunday, the Reds were playing the Marlins. And they took over first place for good. We were there.

Reds vs. Indians in the Diamond Seats

[Box Score]

There’s the infamous window in the Diamond Club at Great American Ballpark, and Dusty Baker going out to visit yet another game in his long career in the game of baseball.

This game was an awful game, thanks to Bronson Arroyo and his Bugs Bunny 69 MPH pitch. So I’m just going to speak on the experience, and not a lot about the game which was over when Arroyo gave up several bombs and put the Reds in a 4-0 hole.

It’s Fourth of July time at the Ballpark, and a perfect opportunity for the Reds to serve up these beauties. I am on a wedding diet so I didn’t partake, but I probably should have.

If you ever wanted to see the bar inside the Diamond Club at Great American Ballpark, here it is. Now, I’ll tell you right now that if you attend a game in the Diamond Club, you might as well just plan on drinking beers all night. They do not serve shots of liquor, and while they do serve mixed drinks; something is up with the booze at the ballpark.

I won’t go into too many details, but I drank Johnny Walker Red Label all night with soda, one per inning approximately. I also had two or three before the game and two after the game during the fireworks display. I left the park about as sober as could be.

I don’t know if they’re watering them down–but if my BA content is any barometer–something is rotten in Denmark with the booze at the Diamond Club.

Here’s Carlos Carrasco being pre-game interviewed. He has been on a real roll for the Cleveland Indians lately.

And here’s the star of the night Justin Masterson. This guy seems like a really great kid, and he has ace stuff. Flat out, the guy can be as good of a pitcher as the Indians have had. There’s a lot to be excited about with him.

We joked with Masterson several times during the game, and he was genuinely very nice to us and some of the family members we were at the game with and our friends. We told him his stuff is straight filthy in MLB The Show ’11 and his face lit up like a kid. Love Masterson, wish he was a Cincinnati Red.

I spy Kirk Herbstreit. Actually, maybe the Johnny Walker did get to me a little bit because he was in line with his four kids and wife right in front of me in the Diamond Club and I didn’t recognize that it was him. Terrell Pryor was not a guest of honor in the Herbstreit party either. His wife is not that hot at all.

Carlos Santana is a stud. Probably my favorite Indians player. He always rolls with a huge hog in, and he always hits bombs when I’m at the park. True to form, he lined one into the Reds bullpen off Bunny Arroyo.

Brandon Phillips collected the 1,000th hit of his career last night, hitting two home runs and finishing off a 3 for 4 ballgame. You have to love this guy. He was out for blood against the team that traded him away and on a night where the Reds got a few paltry singles you really appreciate that Phillips had half of their hits last night.

Another game in which I’m present at the park and Jay Bruce has another 0 for 3 night. Nice view of the Moondeck here out in right field, look how full it is. It must really be something to play in front of that many people on some nights. One guy on display like the bear or elephant at the zoo, at this moment that guy was Jay Bruce.

Here’s a Cuban Missile Crisis: Austin Kearns vs. Aroldis Chapman. The epitome of over-matched.

Here’s Lon Chisenhall up close. He seems like a little bit of a dickhead to be honest. He had a big extra base hit last night though. Maybe it was the Johnny Walker Red.