Friday, March 21, 2014

Countdown to opening day and other stuff

by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

I, like most Cincinnati fans was holding my breath on Wednesday evening after hearing the news that closer Aroldis Chapman got hit in the face by a line drive off the bat of Kansas City’s Salvador Perez. Early reports are saying that Chapman suffered some facial fractures which is good news compared to what could have happened. Chapman is expected to be out from six to eight weeks, but that’s really unimportant.

I listened to a replay of the incident and Marty Brennaman seemed close to tears while describing what happened. The usually jovial Jeff Brantley was rendered speechless. In the forty five plus years I’ve followed Reds baseball I’ve never heard a stadium that quiet. I think it’s time that Major League Baseball lowers the amount of Spring Training games teams play and develop a better way to protect pitchers. To the person who tweeted this was karma for Chapman throwing at Cleveland’s Nick Swisher last season; please allow me to say that you are an absolute idiot.

A written shout out to Sister Therese Carew of St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Warfield KY, and devout Chicago Cubs fan who gave me a 2014 team schedule. With sincere apologies to Sister Carew, this year will not be “the year”.

Useless Trivia; according to the website there are only 68 people currently living who could possibly remember a Chicago Cubs world championship. All were at least three years old when the Cubbies won the title in 1908. At ten years old in 1908, Japan’s Misao Okawa just celebrated her 116th birthday on March 17.

Speaking of schedules, the month of April will be brutal for the Reds with nineteen of the twenty eight games against 2013 playoff teams. Six with the defending National League champs St. Louis Cardinals, seven against the Pittsburgh Pirates; along with three each versus the Tampa Bay Rays and the 2013 N.L. East champs Atlanta Braves. Skip down to the two at Fenway Park in the first week of May, then twenty one of the first thirty four games will be against last season’s playoff teams. Needless to say a great start will be very important this year.

The dreaded West Coast Road Trip will be split in two this year; the first trip beginning on Memorial Day with three at Los Angeles followed by four at Arizona. The second swing out west begins on June 26th with four at San Francisco then on to San Diego for three. The good news is that the West Coast trips will be over by the All Star Break.

Cincinnati will enjoy two ten game home stands this season; the first from June 3 to 12 will see our Reds play three with San Francisco and Philadelphia then four with Los Angeles. The second is prior to the All Star Break from July 4 to July 13 against teams from the N.L. Central; three with Milwaukee, four with Chicago, and then three with Pittsburgh.

2014 interleague opponents are Tampa Bay, Boston, Toronto, New York Yankees, Baltimore and Cleveland. The Cleveland series is similar to last year with four straight, two home and home series from August 4 to 7.

Last April I wrote an article describing an affliction which affects most baseball broadcasters known as Old Phart Syndrome a.k.a. O.P.S. (Most words that begin with “f” look more important when they start with a “ph”.) Some former major leaguers occasionally deal with O.P.S. Kenny Lofton is one such former player, who said that last year’s Cleveland Indians were not a playoff team since a playoff consisted of a series of games and not just one game. I assume Mr. Lofton does not watch the National Football League or the NCAA basketball tournament. To make a long story short, Nick Swisher confronted Lofton at the Indians Fan Fest to deliver some medicine to assist Lofton’s bout with O.P.S.

As I write this on Thursday afternoon the Ohio State Buckeyes are less than ten seconds from a thrilling victory in the second round of the NCAA tournament. I, like millions of others, are enjoying dreams of winning the billion dollars in the “Billion Dollar Bracket”. I just told my boss when my perfect bracket wins; I’ll be retiring from my job on April 8th walking away from “The Rock” with a cool billion in my pocket. Who needs Obamacare? With a billion bucks I’ll just buy a fully staffed hospital. Hey, I could be like that dude a few years ago when asked what he’s going to do with the money he won from the Georgia Lottery. “I’m gonna buy a double wide trailer and move to Alabama” he said.

What’s this? Dayton scores with 3 seconds left to take the lead, Aaron Craft heaves up a shot that misses, and Ohio State loses. My shot at a billion is gone….oh well, I’d rather lose it on the first game than the last. If my boss is reading this, I was just kidding about retiring.

My co-workers are currently telling me that the boss wants to have a word with me, have a blessed week, and, uh, is anyone hiring?

Dan Howard

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