Thursday, June 13, 2013

Weekly batch of Reds news and notes

by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

Welcome to the readers of The Mountain Citizen, a weekly paper located in Inez, Ky. They are scheduled to print my posts beginning in late June. I want to thank The Mountain Citizen Editor Gary Ball and their Sports Editor Ron Hickman for this opportunity.

I guess the St. Louis Cardinals really are that good.

I can’t understand how the Reds can let St. Louis just come into Great American Ballpark and literally bully them into submission. I haven’t been this frustrated with the Reds since last year’s playoff meltdown. Friday’s 9 to 2 loss was hard to swallow, especially with the pitchers giving up 16 hits. Sunday’s bullpen meltdown allowing the Cards to score seven runs in the 10th inning was an embarrassment. What were the Reds trying to do on Sunday night? First, Joey Votto ran the bases like there were land mines laid in the base paths, getting thrown out with ease at third base to end the third inning. Second, shouldn’t someone have told Bronson Arroyo there were two outs in the inning when he popped out on a bunt attempt in the fourth? Third, of the final nine outs the Cardinals recorded in the game, six came via the strikeout. Talk about going down without a fight.

The solution is simple, no matter how many times Cincinnati’s players, staff and management will emphatically deny it, the Cardinals are deep into Reds heads. From watching the previous nine games played against St. Louis, the Reds have barely won three. Yeah, I know the Reds won the first meeting on April 8th at Busch Stadium 13 to 4, AFTER scoring nine runs in the ninth for the win. The other two wins were 2 to 1 at Busch, and 4 to 2 this past Saturday at GABP. With 10 games remaining to play this year with St. Louis, the Reds had better get rid of that “deer in the headlight” look and stand up to the bullies of the N.L. Central.

Oh yeah we’re beating up on Chicago, a bottom feeder team we should whack with ease. Next up Milwaukee, beginning on Friday, June 14, which is another series we should win. After that the competition gets tough, the Pirates, D-Backs, Athletics, Rangers, and Giants, there are no “cupcakes” here. Let’s not forget the four at Turner Field versus Atlanta the weekend before the All Star break. Understand one thing; no teams with losing records make the playoffs, so if our beloved Reds can’t beat the “big boys” this season is lost.

From 7pm Central time on Wednesday evening to 6:30pm Central Thursday afternoon, Chicago sports fans were treated to two marathon games. The Chicago Blackhawks thrilling triple overtime win against the Boston Bruins in game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, then the Cubs 14 inning win against Cincinnati on Thursday.

Useless Trivia; since the Reds/Cardinals fight on August 9, 2010, the Reds have won 20 of the 45 games played versus St. Louis. Ironically the Reds, with nine wins compared to six losses, won the season series back in 2011, the year the Cardinals won the World Series.

For entertainment purposes, the Fed’s were considering having the Guantanamo Bay prisoners watch the 20 inning New York Mets, Miami Marlins game back on June 8. An inmate’s lawyer objected on the grounds that that was a violation of human rights and that no individual should be subjected to that type of inhumane torture.

Speaking of Lord Stanley’s Cup, N.B.C.’s Mike Emrick is an outstanding hockey play by play commentator.

Are the N.B.A. Finals over yet?

I guess the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks gave new meaning to the term “slugfest”.

As far a “basebrawls” go the Dodgers/D-Backs fight was pretty good.

Was Mark McGwire really that angry with Matt Williams or was that simply ’Roid Rage?

It’s rare that I agree with the talking heads at ESPN, but I think Arizona pitcher Ian Kennedy ought to be suspended at least 25 games for igniting the brawl Tuesday night. Hitting someone in the face with a fastball is just plain wrong, let alone dangerous. A lengthy suspension should be in order for L.A.’s Zack Greinke too for his headhunting attempts.

Maybe Yasiel Puig should be the N.L. Rookie of the Year this season.

Baseball goes “Down Under”. The L.A. Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks will open the 2014 season March 22 & 23 at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney Australia. It will mark the first time Major League Baseball teams will play in Australia.

Did you see the great catch that L.A. Angles outfielder Peter Bourjos made on Baltimore’s J.J. Hardy home run attempt? Take it from a former outfielder; I would rather take away a home run than to hit one. Of course I speak as one who never hit a home run at any level, Little League, Pony League, High School, Babe Ruth, softball, whiffle ball, etc., etc.

Had it not been for the Angels Mike Trout and Peter Bourjos, the Orioles J.J. Hardy would have two more career home runs.

On Thursday, ESPN’s Mike and Mike in the Morning radio show had a baseball themed trivia question. Who are the three active MLB players that have collected at least 221 hits in a season? Ichiro Suzuki did it 5 times with the Seattle Mariners, Michael Young had 221 hits with the Texas Rangers in 2005, and Juan Pierre collected 221 hits with the Florida Marlins in 2004.

More useless trivia; the last Cincinnati Reds player to collect 200 hits in a season was Pete Rose back in 1977. At 36 years, the Reds by far have gone the longest without a player to collect at least 200 hits.

Saturday June 15 marks the 75th anniversary of arguably the greatest feat ever accomplished on a baseball field. I’m referring to the second of Johnny Vander Meer’s consecutive no hitters, a 6 – 0 win against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the first ever night game at Ebbets Field. Four days earlier Vander Meer pitched a no hitter versus the Boston Bees (later Braves). With all of the great pitchers during the past 75 years, Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan, Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver, Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Justin Verlander and the like it is very doubtful that back to back no hitters will ever be repeated.

Even More Useless Trivia; Cincinnati’s Ewell Blackwell came close to repeating Johnny Vander Meer’s feat of consecutive no hitters. On June 18, 1947, Blackwell hurled a 6 – 0 no hitter against the Boston Braves, four days later Blackwell took a no hitter two outs in the ninth inning versus, ironically enough, the Brooklyn Dodgers until Eddie Stanky collected a hit to end Blackwell’s run at history. The Reds won that game 4 – 0.

Happy Father’s Day! Have a blessed week. GO REDS!

- Dan Howard

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