Saturday, October 18, 2014

MLB Postseason - Giant Royalty




by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

It may sound a bit cheesy, but I’m a little disappointed that San Francisco’s play-by-play radio announcer Jon Miller (who should still be on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball) didn’t yell “The Giants win the Pennant” several times after Travis Ishikawa’s dramatic pennant winning home run like Russ Hodges did back in 1951 when Bobby Thompson hit the “shot heard ‘round the world” back in 1951.

Useless trivia; Russ Hodges jubilant description of Bobby Thompson’s blast is by far the most recognizable and arguably the greatest play by play call in sports history. Did you know that there were four different broadcast of that immortal game? Hodges was working for New York based WMCA-AM radio, the Giants flagship station. Ernie Harwell historically covered the game for NBC television, which was the first ever nationwide televised baseball game. Former Cincinnati Reds broadcaster Red Barber was working for the Brooklyn Dodgers, while little known radio network, Liberty Broadcasting System, broadcast the game nationally with Gordon McLendon behind the microphone. Prior to this digital age of recording, the only surviving copy of Russ Hodges legendary description belonged to the Miley Collection of Evansville Indiana.

Friday, October 10, 2014

MLB Postseason - Waxing Nostalgic


by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

Some certainties from last week’s Divisional Series;

1) The Kansas City Royals are for real.

2) The Baltimore Orioles may be the best team in baseball.

3) Clayton Kershaw is human after all.

4) Bruce Bochy may be the best postseason manager in baseball history.

5) I’m not a Rocket Surgeon.

Please add Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams to the long list of skippers out-managed by San Francisco’s Bruce Bochy.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Post-Season Thoughts and Musings About 2014 Campaign


Well, the dust has settled on what turned out to be a tumultuous season for our beloved Reds. And the clearing of dust and a little time gone by has allowed us all to look back and reflect on what exactly went wrong, or better yet, what can be done to ensure the same results don't happen in 2015.

Here are some jumbled thoughts I have of the recent campaign:

+ There was a strong contingent of Reds fans who couldn't wait to see Dusty Baker removed from his managing duties at the end of the 2013 season. Those fans received their wish when Bob Castellini officially gave Baker the boot in favor of pitching coach Bryan Price. To no surprise, those same fans are already calling for Price's head after guiding the club to a 76-86 campaign in his first year at the helm. Would the Reds have been better off with Baker as their skipper? We will never know. But I think Price deserves a pass for what transpired in 2014. Not only was it his first year as a major league manager, but he was forced to make due without his best hitter (Joey Votto) for much of the season, as well as juggle a lineup constantly battling injuries. All told, Devin Mesoraco, Brandon Phillips, Mat Latos, and Homer Bailey, arguably four of the team's best players, also spent considerable time on the disabled list, while Jay Bruce and Ryan Ludwick has seasons to forget.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Playoff Prognostications & Other Stuff


by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

Some notes from a woefully homesick traveler.

I’ve been in Lexington, Kentucky all week for training on my new position with the United States Postal Service. This is the first time I’ve been in Horse Country since 1998 and, wow, has this village grown!

For What it’s Worth Department; the Doubletree Suites on Richmond Road is sweet! The warm chocolate chip cookie you get at check-in is good too!

By the way, does everybody in Lexington drive a Smart Car? I’ve never seen so many of those “cars” at one time.

Despite Cincinnati’s disappointing 2014 baseball season, it was great to see Johnny Cueto become the first Reds pitcher since Danny Jackson in 1988 to win 20 games.

Much like 1988, Cueto will lose the Cy Young Award to a Los Angeles Dodger.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

What does the future hold for Reds after forgettable season?


Well, we can finally close the book on the 2014 regular season for the Cincinnati Reds. It goes without saying, but this campaign has to go down as one of the most disappointing in recent memory.

Hopes were high entering spring training as the club returned many of the same roster pieces that led to playoff berths in the two seasons prior. The main change consisted of a shakeup in the coaching staff. This was led of course by Bryan Price transitioning from pitching coach to skipper.

Unfortunately, Price was dealt a numerous amount of curveballs (no pun intended) in his first season at the helm. And they came in the form of injuries, sub-par play, and just plain bad luck (most one-run losses in MLB with 38). It all added up to a fourth place finish and the least amount of wins in a season since 2008.

To be fair, this club sustained an unbelievable amount of injuries to to its core group of players. First, Joey Votto was a virtual non-factor by missing exactly 100 games. Brandon Phillips missed roughly a month and continues to decline in productivity at the dish. Jay Bruce missed a little time but still managed to appear in 137 games. However, he recorded the worst season of his career, failing to crack the 20-homer mark and boasting an on-base percentage well below .300. Ryan Ludwick failed to live up to expectations, too, smashing just nine home runs and hitting just .244 in over 400 plate appearances. He and the rest of the offense served as a constant reminder of how badly the Reds needed to add a run-producing bat in the offseason (or at trade deadline). Oh, well. Live and learn, right?

Friday, September 26, 2014

MLB Week 26 - Finally Over


by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

It seems that Opening Day was just two weeks ago and now here were are entering the last weekend of the season. Where did the summer go?

Congrats to the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Detroit Tigers and Pittsburgh Pirates for making the playoffs this past week.

I’m slowly becoming a Josh Harrison fan.

Moving into the last weekend of the 2014 season, the American League Central and final Wild Card spot is up for grabs. Detroit is in the driver’s seat for the division, with Kansas City and Oakland a virtual lock for the Wild Card.

Go Royals!!!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Reds strike minor league affiliation deal with Daytona, ends partnership with Bakersfield


After failing to renew their contract with the Bakersfield Blaze, the Cincinnati Reds are set to have a new Advanced-A affiliate come 2015 beyond. And the affiliate will hail from The Sunshine State.

The following is a press release sent out by the Reds detailing the new deal:

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - Daytona Baseball announced, Thursday, that Big Game Florida and the Cincinnati Reds have partnered on a four-year deal to make Radiology Associates Field at Jackie Robinson Ballpark the home of the Reds class A-Advanced club through at least 2018. Affiliated baseball is guaranteed in Daytona Beach through at least 2022. Big Game Florida Owner Andy Rayburn is thrilled about the opportunity to partner with the Reds.

"The Cincinnati Reds are a first-class organization and we look forward to a long relationship," Rayburn said. "Daytona is a terrific baseball town with the greatest fans in the minors. Now, we have the excitement of a brand new relationship with a legendary and first-class partner in the Cincinnati Reds."

Saturday, September 20, 2014

MLB Week 25 – That Losing Feeling


by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

At 20 – 38 since the All Star Break, as I’ve mentioned before, these articles are getting tougher to write each week. I guess it’s from all the high expectations we had at the beginning of the season, I mean, I survived the 101 loss season of 1982.

Congratulations to the Washington Nationals, the Baltimore Orioles and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California, USA, Western Hemisphere of the Third Rock from the Sun, for winning their divisions this week.

Maybe next year, Reds, if we get some offense.

Aside from J.J. Hoover, the Reds pitching has been pretty good this season.

Johnny Cueto needs to win his next two starts to become the first Cincinnati pitcher since Danny Jackson in 1988 to win 20 games in a season.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Billy Hamilton set to run away with National League Rookie of the Year Award


Nobody is going to outrun Billy Hamilton on the basepaths. And it would seem as though nobody is going to catch him in the National League Rookie of the Year race either.

Entering Monday, the switch-hitting outfielder sat in the proverbial driver's seat to become the first Cincinnati Reds player to win the honor since Scott Williamson accomplished the feat in 1999.

Although he ranks seventh in batting average (.259), the 24-year-old leads all league rookies in stolen bases (56), doubles (25), runs scored (72), hits (140) and RBI (48). Defensively, one could argue that Hamilton has blossomed into one of the finest center fielders in all of major league baseball. His range is unprecedented and he's also shown the ability to keep runners honest with a modest arm as well.

With two weeks to go, Hamilton is the clear frontrunner to win top newcomer in the Senior Circuit. This much is definitely true. What is also true, however, is that this year's competition for the award isn't quite strong.

Friday, September 12, 2014

MLB Week 24 - A Time to Remember


by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

As Major League Baseball pauses to remember the most horrific terrorist attack on American soil, I thought I’d like to interject my own views about this unspeakable tragedy;

Prior to 2001, September 11th was remembered as the date, in 1985, Cincinnati’s Pete Rose passed Ty Cobb as baseball’s all-time hit leader. The line drive base hit off San Diego Padres Eric Show was typical of Rose’s outstanding career. Who can forget the numerous standing ovations Rose received, finally letting his emotions come to the surface when Pete Jr. hugged his dad while Pete Sr. was standing on first base?

Then came that fateful Tuesday morning sixteen years later.

I woke up late that morning, around 10am, which was typical for me during a day off work. Four days earlier my oldest daughter, Taira, suffered a serious broken ankle as a result of a scooter accident and had spent the weekend in the hospital, coming home Monday the 10th around 9pm. Several trips to the hospital, 130 miles round trip, plus the stress of my daughter’s condition, took its toll on me so I took a few days off work.