Friday, October 18, 2013

Cleaning out the junk closet


by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

You can sure accumulate a lot of stuff during the six months of a baseball season. From autographs, to photos, to ticket stubs and other mementos of the Reds recently completed season. It may take all winter to sort out this stuff. We sure had high hopes of this season only to see our dreams come crashing down on that brisk October evening in Pittsburgh, but hey, that’s baseball.

There were a few things I wrote about during the season and for the next few paragraphs I wanted to follow up on these items, some not baseball related.

In January, I wrote about our Reds Australian namesake, the Queensland Reds of the Super Rugby League, and how they won the championship in 2011. This year the “Down Under” Reds had a record of 10 wins, 4 losses and 2 ties. Queensland placed fifth in the league and made the postseason as a Wild Card team only to lose in the first round of the playoffs to the Canterbury (New Zealand) Crusaders.

In my first ever article, Reds Wishes 2013 published before Christmas, I wrote that I hoped Jay Bruce would have a .285 average, hit 40 homers and drive in 120 runs. He finished 2013 with a .262 average, 30 home runs and a career best 109 RBI’s. Bruce got off to a slow start with 2 homers and 17 RBI in his first 145 at bats, but he warmed up nicely after May 8, with a .266 average, 28 dingers, and 92 RBI.

Also in my first article, I predicted Homer Bailey would strike out 200 in 2013, Bailey fanned 199. I wanted to see Drew Stubbs strike out 200 times in 2013; he whiffed 141 times in 146 games for Cleveland, the first time in his illustrious career that Stubbs DID NOT average one strikeout per game.

In late March, my article Hot Starts and Cool Predictions was basically a waste. I did successfully predict two division champs, the Detroit Tigers and the L.A. Dodgers, the rest was not so good, including picking the Reds to defeat the Angels 4 games to 1 for the World Championship, WHAT WAS I THINKING!!!

In that article I also mentioned that if the Reds got off to a slow start would Dusty Baker be on a short leash, I guess winning 90 of the first 162 games in 2013 was slow enough to get Baker fired. Don’t look for his replacement to be named until after the World Series, but then again, what do I know.

A couple of times I wrote about one of my favorite non-baseball sports, Australian Rules Football which parallels our baseball season. The Hawthorn Hawks won the AFL Grand Final championship on September 28.

Now to the regular stuff…

Have the boys from the A&E Network show Duck Dynasty taken over the Boston Red Sox? Reminds me of the Oakland A’s moustache gang of the early 1970’s.

Did you even think for once that the Pittsburgh Pirates would eliminate the St. Louis Cardinals?

A Connecticut College study showed that Oreo cookies are as addictive as cocaine, especially in lab rats. According to their research, Oreos activated more neurons in the rat brain’s “pleasure center” than drugs like cocaine. I will say this; taking several “hits” of Oreo cookies will not make you try to catch a moving train by standing in front of it. Overdosing on Oreo’s likely will not kill you, although ingesting too many of them will give you a killer stomach ache.

Down three games to one I guess the Los Angeles Dodgers think they have the St. Louis Cardinals right where they want them. After St. Louis’ game 5 loss, the talking heads on all forms of media were trumpeting that twice the Cardinals have choked away 3 – 1 leads, in 1996 and last season. In fact, through Wednesday, the Cards are winless in seven games after having a 3 – 1 NLCS lead. What the media fails to tell, in the immortal words of the late Paul Harvey, the rest of the story; in both series games 6 and 7 were on the road, at Atlanta and San Francisco respectively. Games 6 and 7 (if necessary) will be at Busch Stadium.

Useless Trivia; for the first thirteen seasons of the division era the St. Louis Cardinals never made the playoffs, ironic for the team that won the last two National League pennants prior to 1969. From 1982 to 2013, the Cardinals have made thirteen postseason appearances, second only to, you guessed it, the New York Yankees with sixteen.

The pitching has been outstanding during this postseason with four 1 – 0 games, two near no-hitters, starting pitchers consistently getting out of jams, and relievers closing the deal. The 2013 playoffs may be the best pitched since 1966.

More Useless Trivia; in the 1966 World Series, the Baltimore Orioles not only swept the Los Angeles Dodgers, Oriole pitching only allowed two runs, in game 1, and held the Dodgers scoreless for 33 consecutive innings, from the third inning of the first game through the final inning of game four. Baltimore’s 0.50 ERA is the second lowest in World Series history behind the 1905 New York Giants 0.00 ERA against the Philadelphia Athletics. In that series the Athletics scored three unearned runs.

Best wishes to Texas Rangers Chief Executive Officer Nolan Ryan who will retire on October 31. Mr. Ryan you should be commended on the outstanding job you’ve done with that organization. You will be missed.

NBA legend Michael Jordan turned down an offer from Memphis Grizzlies owner Robert Pera for a one million dollar game of one-on-one, saying he had nothing to prove by playing the game. Jordan makes a good point. Hey, Mr. Para, how about challenging another fifty year old – me. I don’t have the million dollars to match yours, but I really won’t need it, if you know what I mean.

Did you see the U.S. Men’s National Soccer team pull off an amazing win against Panama on Tuesday night? The Americans scored two goals in extra time to turn a 2 -1 deficit into a 3 – 2 win. The victory allowed our fiercest rival, Mexico, to earn a playoff berth with New Zealand for a spot in the 2014 World Cup. To show their appreciation for Team USA essentially saving Mexico from World Cup elimination, the Mexican government has announced that they are going to double the number of border guards, to two.

Have a blessed week; I’m off to eat some Oreo’s.

Dan Howard

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