Thursday, April 3, 2014

MLB week one: Hope springs eternal

by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

As morning dawned this past Monday, the hopes of millions of baseball fans around the nation were renewed with the forthcoming start of a new season. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks got a head start by playing two games a week earlier in Australia; but in the north western hemisphere of this “Third Rock from the Sun”, March 31 would begin a six month marathon of ups and downs on our roller coaster ride we call baseball. As of 1pm this past Monday afternoon, the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros had the same chance of winning their divisions as any other team in baseball, and then came the first pitch….

The only adjective I could use to adequately describe the Reds pitching in the first two games of the season is outstanding. Johnny Cueto and Tony Cingrani were in mid-season form.

As an Assistant Pastor of a church, I will not say what I thought of the Reds offense in the first two games.

Did y’all really think the Reds team E.R.A. would stay at 0.50 for the rest of the season?

Who would have thought that three games into the 2014 season the team leader in stolen bases would be Todd Frazier? Frazier also leads the team in home runs, two, and RBI, four, all coming in Thursday’s 7 – 6 loss against St. Louis.

The “Deer in the Headlights” award goes to Reds leadoff hitter Billy Hamilton. Zero for the Cardinals series, his six K’s in three games puts him on pace to strikeout 324 times this season, almost as many times as another former Reds outfielder….Drew Stubbs. Admit it; you thought I was going to say Adam Dunn, didn’t you?

To Hamilton’s defense, he needs to calm down and let the game come to him. Hitting leadoff for a potential playoff contending team is a huge responsibility, especially for a twenty three year old kid with just a month of experience. I look for Chris Heisey to take over if Hamilton’s slump continues.

The Optimist – “Leave Hamilton alone, the hits will come, and he’ll be leading the team in steals by Memorial Day.”

The Pessimist – “Yeah, but you can’t steal first base.”

Don’t laugh Brandon Phillips; you’ve not exactly torn the cover off the ball this season either. Top two hitters in the Reds lineup are a combined 2 for 23, a .087 average, three walks and twelve, count ‘em, twelve strikeouts.

The 1 – 0 loss on Opening Day was the first time Cincinnati was shut out in the season’s first game since April 13, 1953, a 2 – 0 loss to the Milwaukee Braves. The 1 – 0 Opening Day game was the second in Reds history. Cincinnati defeated the Chicago Cubs 1 - 0 on April 14, 1910

Useless Trivia; Chris Heisey’s walk off single to send Cincinnati to a 1 – 0 victory on Wednesday night ended a seventeen inning scoreless streak. According to Elias Sports Bureau it was the longest scoreless streak to begin the season in franchise history. The 1909 and 1934 Reds began their seasons with a thirteen inning scoreless streak.

The highest scoring Reds Opening Day was way back in 1877 when Louisville thumped Cincinnati 24 – 6. The Reds Opening Day team record for runs scored is eleven, completed four times, 1976, 1978, 1987, and 1997. Cincinnati’s all time Opening Day record is 62 wins, 67 losses, and one tie April 3, 2000 vs. Milwaukee. (Game called in sixth with the score tied at 3.)

The next three games will be at Citi Field, Flushing Meadow N.Y. against the Mets. I remember Joe Nuxhall’s dislike of Shea Stadium; stating how he’d love it if the Reds played all three games with the Mets in one day. Unfortunately “Nuxy” died before Citi Field opened in April 2009, I’ve often wondered if he’d like that ball park.

You can tell that baseball’s just started because the Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros are tied for first place in the A.L. West.

Have a blessed week. GO REDS!!!

Dan Howard

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