Tag Archives: Joey Votto

One of the most entertaining games I’ve ever attended

100_0208

[Box Score]

First off, in this game there were six home runs hit. Five of them were by the Nationals.

Now that’s exciting, because most games you attend don’t feature six home runs in today’s game. Great American ballpark played like Great American. Even my wife said the game was exciting and made it through three hours and thirty minutes of baseball with a fair amount of whooping and hollering.

For a recap on the rest of the day and more photos, click through the jump.
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The Watch Report: Cincinnati Reds Opening Day

iannetta
Who had Chris Iannetta in the Opening Day hero pool?

[Angels 3, Reds 1]

This was actually my first Opening Day that I haven’t been in the stands in Cincinnati since Joe Randa and Adam Dunn went back to back to walk off the Mets back in 2005. That’s a lot of Opening Days that I strung together. I doubt I ever make it back to that many consecutive Opening Days. I’m satisfied with the streak I put together. I’ve seen some unbelievable openers in the Queen City. From Randa’s walk-off, to Ramon Hernandez’s walk-off grand slam, to last year’s Cueto masterpiece with Bruce’s moonshot to seal it shut.

Here’s some notes from today’s ballgame, which was a long one.

  • The Reds really didn’t hit all spring long, and they didn’t hit today. Jay Bruce wore a golden sombrero in the middle of the order. Joey Votto went 0 for 4 but at least drew a few walks.
  • Shin-Soo Choo had two hits and Todd Frazier had one. And that’s all the Reds offense tallied. There weren’t even any hard hit balls.
  • Of the Angels fearsome three, Mike Trout was the only one with a hit. Trout went 1 for 6, Pujols and Hamilton went 0 for 4.
  • Chris Iannetta was the hero in this one, hitting a solo home run and doubling in the top of the 13th inning with two outs off J.J. Hoover.
  • The Angels pen just earned this game, though I would give it to the lack of Reds hitting. After Jered Weaver exited, six Angels relievers combined for seven scoreless innings. Ernesto Frieri was the final one and he earned the save.
  • I’m not too upset with this game. The Angels are a World Series contender, and the Reds are going to hit at some point. It hurts that they’ll miss Ryan Ludwick for the better part of a month with separated shoulder.
  • How could I forget Johnny Cueto. I feel like for the last year and a half, if you’ve seen Cueto throw once you’ve seen the same solid, dependable game. I love the effort this guy always brings to the mound with him.

Here’s some running total stats from today’s game, and from my most recent watched game:

Home Runs: 1 (Chris Iannetta 1)
Strikeouts: 30
Runs: 4
Hits: 9
Errors: 4
Stolen bases: none
Official time watching baseball: 4 hours, 45 minutes
Times taking the dog out to pee: 2
Chores my wife asked me to do during (unofficial): one half

EDIT: I watched about two innings out of the Rockies Brewers game today, I watched Chris Sale’s entire start on and off, and I watched about five innings out of the Phillies-Braves game today. I’m not going to count it, because my totals aren’t exact. And I’m honestly ready to abandon the 2000-Inning Quest after just a night and a day. It’s too damn tedious. But still I press onward to go where no idiot has ever gone before.

STATS during the 2000-Inning Quest:

Home Runs: 4
Bryce Harper home runs: 2
Strikeouts: 59
Runs: 16
Hits: 31
Errors: 5
Stolen bases: NONE
Official time watching baseball: 9 hours, 55 minutes
Times taking the dog out to pee: 6
Chores my wife asked me to do during (unofficial): .5
Innings left to go: 1,969

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

The Scope Heard ‘Round the World

All spring and summer long I never worried about the Reds. Even at low points, they had what many consider to be the best hitter in baseball and a great pitching staff. Nice complimentary pieces in their prime. It’s just time. The Reds would cruise to an NL Central Division championship in 2012 if for no other reason than because everything had fallen so nicely into place this season.

I felt that way into Monday morning when the news broke that Joey Votto was going to have ‘minor’ knee surgery. Then as my mind started to wander about the statement, I realized there is no such thing as a ‘minor’ knee surgery unless it’s a winter month. When you’re the best hitter in baseball and your organization is in the middle of the most important season they’ve been involved in in some 20 years, there’s nothing minor about it.

The Reds are saying it will be three weeks. I would bet you that on the inside where we aren’t allowed, among those that are closest to Votto like his teammates and some within the organization; the truth lies somewhere closer to 4 to 6 weeks. And at this point who really knows when we can expect back a full-strength Joey Votto?

All bets off. All plans on hold. All the wonderful things we promised you all along suddenly go away. The last half of your Cincinnati Reds summer will be a frustrating dog fight that features a lot of one-up, one-down on a night to night basis.

If the Reds are going to win the division, they’ll need to do it with a September push now. By my calculations they’ll get as many as three or four games behind and need to do it via the comeback in the final two weeks. No clinch before Bengals season. I said all along that I actually do buy the Pirates. They’re pesky enough to make this thing interesting until the end. Andrew McCutchen is that good. And losing out on a division title to the Pittsburgh Pirates is the type of thing my sports teams do.

I stayed away from the topic for a few days because it upset my stomach. I really don’t want to talk about it much, and I feel like the one thing that could have jinxed this team happened. I feel irresponsible for running my mouth about running away with the division now. If there was ever a time for Jay Bruce to go all May 2011 on us and save an entire fan base, that time is right now. Jay, please.

Reds fans, prepare yourselves. You’re in for the ride of your life one way or another.

It’s Midsummer Classic Time

In my entire life, even as a kid; I’ve never looked forward to an MLB All-Star Game like the 2012 version that takes place tonight.

It’s a ‘who’s-who’, a ‘gang’s all here’ shot of some of my favorite figures of the past and present in the game of baseball. One of my childhood favorites Chipper Jones to Adam Dunn, into Josh Hamilton and Jay Bruce. Joey Votto, Aroldis Chapman, Mike Trout and the cherry on top was Bryce Harper. There’s never been so many of my favorite players involved in this game before. The closest I can remember was around the time in my life that I was still cutting the league batting leaders out of the Sunday paper and pinning them to a wall in my room. My mother hated that. It was tacky.

Baseball has a way of quietly bridging time and eras perhaps more than any other sport. Maybe tonight when there’s some down time in the dugout, Larry Wayne Jones will find some time to talk to Bryce (Aron) Max Harper. They could talk about Chipper’s first All-Star Game in 1996. He was the game’s young buck then, as opposed to being the game’s artifact that he is now. With all the big names that were involved in that game (and its virtually every slugger you can remember from the era) the game’s artifact that night might have been Ozzie Smith. He was 41 years old and playing in his final season. Ozzie played back in the late 70’s.

Baseball is amazing in that; I imagine if these guys sat around as a group and shot the shit long enough they would know someone who knew someone who played against Babe Ruth.

Take Adam Dunn for instance. Dating back to my high school years when I was still worried about proms and such (scary to think about that a ballplayer could bridge the gap from that era to fatherhood) I thought Dunn would pile up the All-Star selections. That’s what I read in a few different magazines when scouts talked about Dunn. He made his first All Star Game in 2002 in Milwaukee because he hit .300 on the nose the first half of that season. I don’t know how he did it, but I remember back then that Adam Dunn was a complete hitter. People thought he would hit .300 for the next decade and end up a Hall of Fame player. Dunn flew out to the track that night, barely missing a home run that would have saved Bud Selig from a lifetime gaffe. Dunn couldn’t leave the hero that night, but no matter. He would have a run of All Star appearances and MVP trophies awaiting him.

Fast forward to now. Tonight’s game is just the second of The Big Donkey’s career. We’re both on the wrong side of our prime now, Adam. But I’m still thrilled to see that he made it back. Maybe Jay Bruce ends up being that Reds outfielder who piles up the All Star selections. If you had told me when Joey Votto broke into the big leagues that he would end up the perennial MVP and guy who lead the league in votes and not Dunner, I would have laughed. Dunn, Bruce, and Votto all appeared in the same lineup in a different space and time. Oh and they shared time being a teammate of Ken Griffey Jr., tell me those guys don’t already have some great stories to tell.

It really all goes back to the youth infusion involved in this game. That’s what excites me. I love greatness, particularly at a young age. For Trout and Harper to each be part of this storied ballgame, it’s just really special. While interleague play has taken away from some of the mystique, you can’t tell me that the possibility of Harper going toe to toe with Chris Sale or Felix Hernandez for one AB doesn’t sound exciting. How about Mike Trout against Aroldis Chapman?

People who want to pretend this is a meaningless exhibition game need to know that it’s the finest All-Star game of any of the professional leagues. It’s a time honored tradition. One that takes you back to those summers in your yard with the neighborhood crew when you spent an entire day playing backyard ball and arguing about how Junior or Jay Buhner would fare against Hideo Nomo or Greg Maddux. The characters of the story are different now and we can’t have those old memorable times back.

The bottom line is we’re likely to learn which side of the league the World Series Winner comes from (21 of the last 28 World Champions have had home-field advantage in October) and we’re likely to see something memorable.

Plus you may want to someday tell your unborn son that you were watching the night that Chipper and Harper sat in the same dugout together. He won’t believe 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.

Weekend Recap

I didn’t spend a ton of time this weekend watching baseball. I played 36 holes of golf. I watched several ESPN 30 for 30’s–since my wife was nice enough to let me spend our Best Buy gift card on a set of them. Here’s some stuff I took from the weekend before Memorial Day, when the cement is officially declared ‘hardened’ and we know what we have seen in the instances of teams, players, and organizations is for the most part; what is for the given current season.

  • Pretty good weekend for Bryce Harper. Harper had a huge triple yesterday that opened up scoring and got the Nats going in route to their 9-3 win over the Orioles. He added two hits on Friday evening with an 0 for 5 sandwiched in there. I’m going to head to Washington to visit my old frat brother/roomate on August 18th to see them play the Mets. I just hope Harper is still up with the big club at that time. And I hope Strasburg is pitching that weekend.
  • Aroldis Chapman headlines as the Reds new closer. He closed out the ballgame in dramatic fashion (does it get any more pressure-packed that the concrete jungle that is Yankee Stadium?) yesterday to give the Reds the series win in the Bronx. It wasn’t a good weekend for Jay Bruce or the rest of the offense. A big three-run home run on Saturday afternoon by Joey Votto allowed Homer Bailey to pick up the victory while we were busy grilling out. All of this came on the heels of a disappointing Friday night shutout by Andy Pettite that sent the Reds back to .500 at 19-19.
  • Lance Berkman might have a torn ACL. With the Reds a half-game back in the NL Central, the Cardinals are reeling after being swept in L.A.
  • Baseball Show Podcast coming this week. The guest of the show will be Hardball Talk Editor Craig Calcaterra. Big thrill for me, I’ve been a fan of his posts since the Shysterball days.
  • Phillies/Nats series tonight, part Philly. Definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Alright, everybody have a good Monday. There’s a few more hours and then this day is behind us with a great night of baseball on tap.

When a Moment Can Change a Season

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com]

I knew trailing 6-5 in the 9th, that if the Reds could get Joey Votto to the plate that they would win the ballgame.

All that needed to happen was Chris Heisey reaching base. By the way I had seen Votto going earlier in the day, it didn’t matter how hard Henry Rodriguez was throwing. His fastball was simply too straight to sneak past Votto three times with the bases loaded and the game on the line. And it was a big ballgame. The Reds again salvage a miracle contest on getaway day to improve their record to 10-1 in such contests.

For as many friends that want to text message me and tell me that “the Reds had no business winning this game,” I say in rebuttal that the Reds show what is at their core in these types of contests. Teams continue to let them off the hook in the final frame, and the Reds continue to scrap out tough wins that good teams find a way to win.

Now, I had no idea that Votto would hit a dramatic walk-off grand slam into the center field green off Rodriguez, but when he did it I knew in my heart that this was still Joey Votto’s team; and we are still watching one of the game’s finest hitters at work.

They were calling him ‘The Natural’ after the ballgame. And the Reds had the type of victory that salvages not only a series from a sweep but perhaps an entire season.

This wasn’t Joey Votto’s first county fair. In fact, he’s hit another big game-winning blast on another Mother’s Day. And that homer was also a defining moment in a special season of Reds baseball. Flash back to 2010, a day that many of you have probably forgotten. The Reds beat the Cubs that day a few years ago and then rolled to the division title.

Will 2012 have the a similar fate? I was just about to stop believing in my lofty prediction of a Reds NLCS appearance. And then Joey Votto put the Reds on his shoulders and told me not so fast.

It’s going to be a hot summer in Cincinnati, and things are just getting started.

Highlights:

Bryce Harper loses Bruce’s RBI double in the lights

JOEY VOTTO WALK-OFF GRAND SLAM

Votto hit two other home runs in this game. Here they are.

Heisey home-plate assist

Potpourri:

  • I thought that this post by Joe Posnanski on the struggles of Albert Pujols really captured my feelings on him. I don’t feel Pujols is ‘close’. I don’t feel that he’s going to come out of this anytime soon. In fact, I think he’ll do what Adam Dunn did last season. When I saw Pujols’ messy swings last night on Sunday Night Baseball, I felt the same as Posnanski. Albert is a mess right now, and it’s a long way out of this woods.
  • Thank you, Giancarlo Stanton.

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 24, 2012: Cubs fail to play for 27 outs

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com] [Mark Sheldon]

Frustrate you as they may, and they were frustrating for eight long innings with Ryan Dempster on the hill; there’s one thing you can say about the Reds. This group will force you to play for 27 outs, and if you don’t they’ll send you home losers.

The Reds entered the ninth inning trailing by a score of 3-0. They had just three hits on the day until that point. And then Carlos Marmol gave them the air supply they desperately needed.

He walked Willie Harris to lead off the ninth, which was a bad idea since Harris hasn’t collected a base-hit all season thus far. Joey Votto followed with a walk of his own. Brandon Phillips hit a ground ball to Ian Stewart, and the usually sound defense of the Cubs imploded. Stewart booted the ball and Harris scored. Jay Bruce followed with a sharp single. Ryan Ludwick walked to make it 3-2. Devin Mesoraco hit into a double play but the game was tied at 3-3.

The Reds found a way to win it in the 10th on a sacrifice fly by Scott Rolen that scored Zach Cozart. What should have been a 4-4 homestand became a 5-3 homestand. The Reds were back to .500 and the Cardinals which gave them renewed life.

The Reds knack for the comeback just might be their best quality. They had absolutely nothing yesterday and they still found a way to beat the opposition.

Highlights:

Homer Bailey’s 4th quality start in five outings

Starlin Castro’s first dinger of the year

Zach Cozart’s great diving stop

Rolen’s sac-fly to win it

Potpourri:

  • This was the first time in MLB history that two starting pitchers shared a birthday on the day of the game started. Bailey is now 26, while Dempter is 35.
  • I’m now getting old enough that I can remember games a full decade ago. Ten years ago to the day the Reds lost a game 6-1 in San Francisco. Their lineup went Larkin, Juan Encarnacion, Sean Casey, Dunn, Aaron Boone, Todd Walker, Austin Kearns, Corky Miller, and Jose Rijo started on the mound.
  • A decade ago to the day, Adam Dunn had 25 career home runs. Dunn now has 372 as of last evening, including this monster home run last night off Cleveland’s Dan Wheeler.

Game 17, 2012: This is the Mat Latos We Were Searching For

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com] [Bay City Ball] [Mercury News] [The Splash]

Now this is the Mat Latos we traded for.

If the Reds get this Latos to show up more often than not this season, it’s pretty self-explanatory what’s going to happen. The Reds can be a monster.

I didn’t think the Reds had a chance in Hell last night when I saw Matt Cain was pitching.

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/DiamondHoggers/status/194804991859499009″]

But I was wrong. I felt like the Reds had three key at-bats in the bottom of the first-inning that were game altering. Zach Cozart opened the game up with a 10-pitch showdown against Cain, and although he flew out to short; the Reds had opened up Cain for head shots with a few nice early body blows from their lead-off hitter. I’ll say it again, these are the type of at-bats that win you ballgames at the onset.

Drew Stubbs doubled, and after Joey Votto struck out Brandon Phillips had another battling type at-bat that resulted in a two-run home run. The Reds were off to the races and a bonus came later in the inning because Jay Bruce and Scott Rolen got Matt Cain to throw even more pitches.

It’s impossible to get these professional at-bats game in and game out. But picked a good pitcher to do this against. You don’t need these kind of at-bats to beat the Barry Zito’s of the world or the Randy Wells’. Matt Cain doesn’t make that first inning mistake to Phillips that landed in the Cincinnati bullpen unless you grind on him like the Reds did. Notice that he settled in and was basically unscathed for the rest of his outing.

The Reds great perseverance in their at-bats also still called for a couple of big pitches by Mat Latos. With the bases juiced, he lured the red-hot Nate Schierholtz to ground out with the bases loaded. That opened the door for the Reds to shoot up the San Francisco Giants like the Alamo.

Great start to a homestand.

Highlights:

Bark in the Park last night in Cincinnati – (Sorry we didn’t make it this time, Bentley)

Phillips two-run home run

Bruce bases-loaded double

Retaliation for Votto being plunked?

Latos’ strong outing

Our First Wrigley Field Trip

I finally made it to Wrigley Field. It took me nearly 30 years in my life to make the trek some 6 hours and 15 seconds north, but I made it. It didn’t matter that I saw my Reds lose 6-1 in front of a crowd of 38,405.

It was the number one thing on my bucket list. As I looked up into the sky this past Saturday afternoon, I could have died right there a happy man. Here is the story of my day in Wrigleyville. And to think I was in Chicago the day Phil Humber threw his perfect game.

This was moments after my first view of the Wrigley Field marquee. I know I was acting like a child because our friends that live in Wrigleyville were laughing at me. I snapped a bunch of pictures and basically acted like most first timers probably do. Actually, maybe more excessive than that. But there’s no words to describe what I felt when I first saw it.

All I know is I’ve wanted to be at this spot for as long as I can remember. I first remembered seeing it in the intro to “Perfect Strangers”.

We decided to post up at the Cubby Bear. We had about an hour and half to kill, and there’s nothing better than drinking a few cold 312’s across from Wrigley Field with it in plain view out the window. As for the Cubby Bear, there were a fair amount of Reds fans on hand doing the same thing. Also, the best chilli I’ve ever had in my life; including Skyline. Sorry Cincinnati. It’s true.

Another full on view of the marquee just before we were ready to head inside.

This is a giant macaroni noodle. It’s significance is unknown by me at the present time, but I’m guessing Wrigley owns Kraft or something like that? Or there’s some type of long-standing partnership existing. It’s just cool and others were taking pictures of it so I made like the tourist I was and decided to get it before I dug into the meat and potatoes of the stadium.

Check out these old timers playing brass instruments outside the stadium before you enter the park! Now this is a ballpark!

When I went inside, I told my wife the first thing we were doing is heading to the Bartman seat. If Wrigley Field was bucket list item numero uno, this was easily 1a. More on this to come in the following post, but I can cross off Steve Bartman’s seat off my list as well.

This is about the moment I kept saying to my wife “can you even believe we’re really here?” I guess it’s one of those moments every die-hard baseball fan who reads this blog can relate to. Wrigley Field is unlike any other ballpark on this earth. This little Midwestern gem sits in the middle of a neighborhood. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live in Chicago and be able to walk over to the game some weekend afternoon. There’s probably a good reason I wasn’t born into that position, because I would find myself doing it far too often.

I continually found myself taking in each moment slowly, trying to savor it all. Suddenly I realized yet another different quality than I had at any other park I’ve been to. There was a song playing, but it was all by the organ. It was beautiful. And I knew the song but I just couldn’t think of it. As I looked around at everything I’ve waited three decades to see, I had to guess the song. It was Whitney Houston’s “Dance with Somebody”. I don’t think I ever enjoyed the regular rendition that much.

There she is folks, the beauty in all of her glory. Look how green the ivy is.

Pretty good view of the left field Wrigley rooftop with ‘Hey Hey’ on the left field foul pole. Someday I’ll be back to sit in those bleachers where Sammy used to hit em’.

Just another shot from around Bartman central that I had to have.

Here’s something else that makes it an old-time ballpark. I imagine I looked pretty weird snapping a picture while taking a leak, but oh well. I had to do this to give you an idea of the full experience. The next thing I knew I was thinking about the guy who did the Pete Rose headfirst slide in one of these a few years back. At least I’m not him.

Just another pregame shot of beautiful Wrigley. It was a cool day but the sun was shining.

Check out the old style rafters above, as well as the pillar built into the seats. It’s different from the stadiums that go up today, but that’s what gives all the character. I’m told there’s something else different about this stadium than other parks. The visitors clubhouse isn’t down below the dugout like most parks but above where you see right here. I never knew that until a fan who had done a Wrigley tour shared that with me as I was taking this picture.

Here’s the right field Wrigley rooftops. Free advertisement here, someday I’ll be checking out Wrigleyrooftops.com and setting up a game from there. I hear it’s $120 for all you can eat and drink. It might have came in handy for us on this day.

One of my favorite shots of the entire day.

There’s the legendary manually operated scoreboard in deep center field. And it keeps accurate time!

Waiting for the game to start, little did I know that the Reds weren’t going to be hunting for a sweep come Sunday at this point.

I ended up sneaking down a little closer (and in the sunlight) for the first inning to get some good pictures. It was amazing how friendly all of the fans in the stands were to us. I attribute this to the Cubs just not being competitive for so long. The people don’t feel threatened. They’re just die-hard baseball fans. Knowledgeable. There to take in the atmosphere just like me.

And here’s Downthelinerooftop.com, in case you want to sit in the rooftops in foul territory.

To think we live such a life in such a place. That’s Joey Votto running and warming up on the field by the way.

Paul Maholm seems to have the Reds number. And when I showed up at the park wearing my Jay Bruce jersey, I was upset to find that Dusty held Bruce out of the lineup because he was 2 for 15 lifetime against Maholm. What he needed to be told was that I came all the way from Ohio to see a Bruce Bomb at Wrigley Field, and Jay’s two hits off Maholm lifetime were both dingers.

Votto getting ready for his first inning at-bat. It was a long day for Joey. It seems like he homers every time my wife and I are at the park together. It wasn’t meant to be on this day. Votto went 0 for 3 with a walk and a couple of strikeouts.

Future Reds Hall of Famer at the plate.

And again. My wife and I don’t do shots anymore. We stopped doing that a long time ago. But I told her I bet her that Joey Votto would go deep today. She said not going to happen. I told her if it happens, we’re doing shots after the game, my choice. Joey saved her from a hangover.

Mike Leake, little do you know you’re about to get pounded all afternoon, Wrigley Field style. I don’t like Leake’s stuff one bit. After 10 hits and five earned runs over 5 and 1/3, Leake would hit the showers. He just wasn’t fooling anyone.

Here’s the main attraction for the Cubbies, Starlin Castro. He had a couple of knocks and added a triple.

I think Starlin Castro is going to have an Alex Rodriguez type of career in Cubbie land.

Dan Patrick sung the seventh inning stretch. One of my favorite pictures of the entire day.

Carlos Marmol is one of my fantasy baseball closers. I like his tools and his skills a lot. He has great stuff. The one thing I disregarded is that Marmol isn’t going to save a lot of games this year. The Cubs aren’t going to win a lot of games, and even in this appearance it was a non-save opportunity. He’s still one of my favorite pitchers in baseball and I got to see him in the 9th on the mound at Wrigley. Unfortunately my team was butter to his hot knife.

Get ready, Reds. Carlos Marmol is gonna send them home happy with their fourth win of the young season.

And Marmol was dealing. If you got up to go to the bathroom like my wife did, you would have missed Marmol’s 13 pitches altogether. Guy was pitching like he was double-parked. And he quickly dispersed of three Reds hitters in order to seal the win down, dismissing thousands of Cubs fans to their afternoon date with a local watering hole of their choice.

Here’s one last look at Wrigley Field from behind home plate before I exited the turnstiles. What a day. What an experience. I don’t know how long it will be until I return, but I will be back.

We finished up the afternoon over at Murphy’s Bleachers bar. Which should be a whole new post all in itself. There I met a couple of salesmen Reds fans from Iowa, a bridal party–and the brother was on hand said he was really good friends with Patrick Kane. I met about 100 other strangers who seemed like my best friend for 10 or so minutes. I sang “Go Cubs Go” while wearing a Reds jersey. A few beers make you do funny things. My wife asked me when we’re moving to Wrigleyville.

One of the greatest baseball and life experiences I had ever been a part of was in the books.

Game 13, 2012: Reds Stave off Sweep in St. Louis

[Box Score]

Cincinnati.com | Better off Red | Mark Sheldon | C70 at the bat

Analysis:

I texted a couple of my buddies who share my love/hate with the Reds with me yesterday while perusing the box score. The Reds had closed out a key 6-3 win in their house of horrors against a hot St. Louis Cardinals team. They had lived to fight another day. The season wasn’t over, yet. Bronson Arroyo came up big as he has in the past on a day where you had to have a win, only allowing a three-run bomb to Matt Holliday.

The usual crew of Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto, Drew Stubbs, and Jay Bruce had a say in the win.

“You know what kind of teams play to avoid sweeps? Bad ones,” my friend responded to my text. I guess he isn’t optimistic like I am. But I quickly texted him back–I have a feeling that the Reds will go into Sunday with a chance to sweep the Cubbies this weekend–and if they do all will be right with the world again.

You can’t sweep a team until you win one. The Reds can’t go on a winning streak until they win this afternoon at Wrigley behind Homer Bailey. It’s got to happen first.

Video:

Brandon Phillips solo home run puts the Reds on the board

Joey Votto RBI single

Drew Stubbs solo home run

Steve Berthiaume: “Cincinnati Reds tried for Albert Pujols.”

I’m going to have to credit a Cardinals blog with the assist on this one.

Last week on the Jonah Keri podcast, ESPN’s Steve Berthiaume (whom we love) was the guest. He spoke about the Cincinnati Reds coming thisclose to acquiring former Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols:

“I think, think they (the Reds) were a lot closer to getting Albert Pujols than anybody knows or anybody talked about. I think the Votto money was targeted for Pujols in the off-season and when that didn’t pan out that they said, OK, let’s keep our guy, let’s give it to Joey Votto. I think those two were more connected than anyone realizes.”

Alright, before you start with the ‘I don’t buy it’ business, remember that Berthiaume is way more connected than you or even I. I do buy it.

Look at the money the Reds gave Votto. I think there were rumblings in the Reds front office about going after Pujols. And I think that Walt Jocketty used Pujols as a way of convincing Bob Castellini that the Reds could write a contract like this up to begin with.

When the Reds missed the mark of how much Pujols wanted, those numbers still worked for the guy already under contract and all the Reds needed to do was change the name written on the deal. A right handed hitter like Pujols helps the Reds more than Votto does.