Friday, May 9, 2014

MLB Week 6 - It's All Downhill from Here

by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

Whew! I’m sure glad that’s over. In the 45 seasons I’ve followed Reds baseball, I do not recall a brutal stretch of 33 games where Cincinnati played the defending National League Champs six times, the defending World Champions twice, the reigning National League East Champ three times, three games against an American League playoff team from last season, and seven games versus last year’s National League Wild Card winner. I’m totally impressed with the Reds 15 – 18 record thus far. Sure the Reds lost games they should have won, like the past two games in Boston. It seems the pitching and hitting hasn’t been in sync the opening weeks of the 2014 season but don’t get discouraged, believe me, baseball is a marathon, not a sprint.

What’s up with the schedule makers? Every year after Boston wins the World Series, they play Cincinnati. Look it up! Cincinnati has played a series with the Red Sox in 2005, 2008, and this year.

Useless Trivia; the last time Cincinnati won a game in Boston was on October 22, 1975, Game 7 of the World Series. Ironically the score of that game was 4 to 3, the same score in both games at Fenway this year.

Cincinnati’s all-time regular season record versus Boston is 1 – 7; their only victory was a 3 – 1 win on June 13, 2008 at Great American Ball Park. In their eight regular season games against Boston the Reds have never scored more than four runs in a game.

More Useless Trivia; a few weeks ago I wrote that our Cincinnati Reds and the Boston Red Sox are, for lack of a better word, half-brothers. It all goes back to when Reds founder Harry Wright left the Queen City for Beantown in the early 1870’s and started a baseball team there. This is the Reds 145th year of existence which is the longest of any franchise known as the “Reds”. Second on the list is Australia’s Queensland Reds of the Super Rugby League which has been around since 1882. Finally, the English Premiere League’s Liverpool Reds, has been playing soccer since June 3, 1892. (Note; the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, states the Cincinnati Reds began in 1881)

For What it’s Worth Department; if I was a General Manager of an expansion franchise, I’d gladly build my team around Dustin Pedroia. I really admire his hustle and his passion for the game.

Not intending to outguess manager Bryan Price, but I don’t understand why Billy Hamilton pinch hit for Neftali Soto in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s game instead of pinch running for Zack Cozart. Yes, I know Hamilton is suffering from a knuckle injury sustained last week against Milwaukee and probably couldn’t play shortstop (his natural position) in the last of the inning. Then again, you could move Skip Schumaker to short put Hamilton in the outfield and pray a ball doesn’t get hit to him.

Hindsight is always 20/20 but with Hamilton running, chances are pretty good he steals second, Soto advances him to third with a bunt, and Tucker Barnhart brings him home with that towering fly ball to right. Reds win 4 – 3 after the bullpen holds the lead. I know, I know if it were only that easy.

Admit it, how many of you thought Barnhart hit his second homer of 2014 in his ninth inning at bat?

Speaking of the ninth inning of Tuesday’s game, I was initially upset with Zack Cozart for not attempting to score on Chris Heisey’s bunt until I saw the replays. Thom Brennaman and Chris Welsh did a complementary job in describing the play, but I felt some credit deserved to go to crafty Red Sox veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski who stayed at home while Sox closer Koji Uehara fielded the ball. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a bunt similar to that and the catcher scrambles out to try to field the ball only to have the runner on third base speed past him to score.

Memo to Bryan Price (and to possibly get back into his good graces); Heisey’s bunt was a gutsy call.

Jay Bruce’s knee injury makes him the 11th Cincinnati player to appear on the Disabled List. The Reds began the 2014 season with eight players on the D.L. the most in the majors.

With his leg injury, Devin Mesoraco should be thankful he’s not a horse.

Since Aroldis Chapman has struggled in his two Triple-A rehab appearances at Louisville, is now the right time to bring him up to the big club? His stats; two games, one inning pitched, eight runs all earned, seven hits, two walks, and two strikeouts. His E.R.A. is a whopping 72.00 with a W.H.I.P. of 10.00.

I’m sure seats behind the dugout at Tropicana Field aren’t cheap, so if you’re going to pay a high price to go to a game, pay attention to the game please. Did you see the replay of Baltimore’s Steve Pearce who nearly injured two fans with a line drive? It seems the duo was enjoying a pleasant conversation when a scorching line drive ricochets off the shoulder of one and bounced off the other. A few more inches to the right and one of the fans may have needed the same surgery Aroldis Chapman had.

However, it is refreshing to see two people actually talk to each other without a cell phone jammed against their head.

Old Geezer Moment; that incident reminded me of a time when the company I worked for, P.O.P. Radio in Buffalo N.Y., treated us to a Minor League game between the host Buffalo Bison and the visiting Louisville Redbirds. I saw former major leaguer Pedro Guerrero smack a home run halfway to Toronto, which was exciting. A co-worker commented that we might get a foul ball where we were sitting, down the third base line. Looking at the roof just a couple of feet over our heads, I realized that any foul ball in our direction would not be a majestic lazy fly ball but a screaming line drive, I said, “If one comes our way, you catch it, I’m diving under the seats.” Fortunately, no foul ball came our way.

With three wins last week out of four games against the Brewers, I guess our Reds weren’t too impressed with Milwaukee having the best record in baseball.

Isn’t it getting about time for the N.F.L. Draft? I can’t find out a thing about it. (Sarcasm intended.)

Have a blessed week. GO REDS!!!

Dan Howard

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