Friday, June 20, 2014

MLB Week 12 - A Sleeping Offense Awakens?

by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

Four weeks ago in my article “Too Many Questions, Not Enough Answers” I wrote about my frustrations with the anemic Reds offense. I pointed fingers, and placed blame on the players, coaches and management of whom I felt were responsible with the lack of desire I saw in this year’s team. I knew this team was capable of more, and was embarrassed at the effortless baseball being played on a day to day basis. I felt the money the Reds are paying these players wasn’t being reflected on the field, and as a lifetime Cincinnati Reds fan I deserved more than what I was seeing every day. Then I asked myself an important question….

“Who am I?”

After last Wednesday’s shutout win versus the Dodgers, Joey Votto said that the Reds offense was close to turning around; the cynic in me said “Yeah, but September will be too late”. As I wrote four weeks ago and it certainly applies today “Egg on my face”.

“Crow is easy to cook, tough to chew, and hard to swallow”. It’s easy for me to sit on my “ivory tower” and point fingers, however, with the offensive explosion of the past week; my “ivory tower” is now slightly smaller than a matchbox.

An old proverb says “Patience is a Virtue”. Unfortunately patience is not a virtue of mine. The Bible says those that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength; I’ve been known to yell “hurry up” at a microwave oven.

Since and including the June 11th game…..

Billy Hamilton is looking like the front runner for Rookie of the Year, 14 hits in 32 at bats, (.438 average) three homers and eight runs batted in.

Todd Frazier is hitting .314 with two home runs and nine runs batted in.

Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips are batting .333 (both 11 for 33). Unfortunately for Votto, Pittsburgh’s position player Travis Snider struck him out in the ninth inning Tuesday night.

In case you’re keeping score, the first four hitters in the Reds lineup has hit 47 for 133 (.353) in the last eight games.

Zack Cozart is hitting .333 (10 for 30)

Ryan Ludwick went 8 for 16 (.500)

Now, the down side…

Sure Jay Bruce has hit a couple of key home runs, but for the past week he’s only 7 for 33.

Chris Heisey is zero for nine since June 11.

As Reds skipper Bryan Price said on MLB Network Radio earlier this week, hitting is contagious; apparently, Bruce, Heisey, and Brayan Pena must be on antibiotics.

Congratulations to Alfredo Simon who recorded career strikeout number 300 in his tenth win of 2014 on Tuesday night.

Detroit manager Brad Ausmus got into some serious hot water the other day when asked how he handles the swoon his Tigers are currently experiencing, losing twenty of the last thirty games. Ausmus said he goes home and beats his wife. Asumus became another victim of Old Phart Syndrome. When will people learn to engage their brain before opening their mouth?

A few words on the passing of San Diego Padres legend and Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn. Mr. Gwynn was arguably one of the best hitters I’ve ever seen. A real student of baseball, Mr. Gwynn was the first player to utilize videotape to make himself a better hitter, something that is common among current Major Leaguers today.

For arguments sake, in my humble opinion, the greatest hitter of all time is Hank Aaron. Take away his 755 career home runs; he STILL has over 3,000 hits. Pete Rose would be second on my list with Tony Gwynn third.

Is MLB Network’s Greg Amsinger a prophet? During the lengthy fourth inning of Clayton Kershaw’s no hitter against the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday night, Amsinger stated that this would be a great time for Kershaw to pitch his first no hitter. Two hours later, it happened. Coincidence?

Useless Trivia; Our Reds are not impressed with Clayton Kershaw’s greatness. Kershaw is 2 – 2 against Cincinnati with an E.R.A. of 2.92. Kershaw also has five career no decisions against the Reds.

More Useless Trivia; Every time country singer and Ashland Kentucky native Billy Ray Cyrus sings the National Anthem and is later invited to home plate by the umpires for pre-game instructions, a no hitter is thrown. Cyrus sang the National Anthem at Dodger Stadium Wednesday night, and was asked to attend the umpire’s meeting at home plate during the exchange of lineup cards by another Ashland KY native, home plate umpire Greg Gibson.

Whenever I play baseball with my kids I have what they consider an annoying statement. Anytime a ball drops near them, with little or no effort on their part to catch it, I jokingly yell “Your life is meaningless, catching the ball is everything!” That statement was never more evident than Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis effort in the ninth inning of Kershaw’s gem. Ellis tried to go through a concrete wall in foul territory to make a play, flipping into the stands. Pitchers, teammates, and baseball fans, like me, appreciate that kind of hustle.

Gee, I wonder why no one asks me to coach their Little League team.

Have a blessed week. GO REDS!!!

Dan Howard

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports

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