Thursday, August 21, 2014

MLB Week 21 – The Nightmare on Joe Nuxhall Way

by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

Five weeks ago, on Thursday July 17, my family was finishing up an incredible vacation through Tennessee and Alabama. Our Reds were heading to New York City to begin the second half of what had been an incredible 2014 season with a three game series at Yankee Stadium. Sporting a 51 – 44 record and only 1.5 games out of first, I brashly reported that if Cincinnati could get “over the hump” and make it to first place, they would remain there to the end of the season.

What was I thinking?

Now that our hardball heroes have lost 22 of 32 and facing a full 10 (ten) game deficit from first place, that “hump” resembles Mount Everest. In fact the Reds are closer to last place than first.

On a positive note, the Reds are ONLY 6.5 games back of the second Wild Card spot.

For all intent and purposes, the Reds season ended last Sunday when the bullpen blew a four run lead in the ninth inning at Colorado.

With all the injuries that have plagued the Reds this season, I think if Cincinnati could win 20 of the final 35 games to finish at 81 – 81, it would be a successful season.

I’ll be surprised if reliever J.J. Hoover is with Cincinnati next season.

The same could be said for Brandon Phillips, Zack Cozart, Ryan Ludwick, Chris Heisey, along with G.M. Walt Jocketty. Rumor has it that Jocketty is contemplating a reunion with Tony LaRussa in Arizona.

Useless Trivia; the ten game losing streak J.J. Hoover is on is the longest in Reds history by a relief pitcher. Hoover’s ten losses also ties a Cincinnati record for most losses by a reliever in a single season. Harry Gumpert went 10 – 10 as a relief pitcher for the Reds in 1947, and legendary reliever Tom Hume was 9 – 10 in 1980.

With 35 games left in 2014 there’s a real good chance that “Ol’ Hang ‘Em Hoover” (as I call him) will break the tie with Gumpert and Hume.

Speaking of futility; the Reds are 18 – 31 in one run games, the worst in Major League Baseball. In a hypothetical case, if the Reds won 25 of the 49 one run games they’ve played, their current record would be 68 – 59, and Cincinnati would be leading the second Wild Card spot, one game behind St. Louis for the first Wild Card spot and just 2.5 games behind Milwaukee for the division lead.

The Reds are 3 – 9 this season versus St. Louis, 58 – 57 against everyone else.

I’m slowly becoming a Kris Negron fan.

I think it’s safe to say that Negron will be going to Spring Training as a member of the Reds 25 man roster.

With the injuries Cincinnati has suffered with their pitching staff, maybe the Reds ought to sign star Little League World Series pitcher Mo’ne Davis.

Sure Ms. Davis had a tough outing against Las Vegas on Wednesday night, but who on the Reds staff haven’t had a rough outing this year? She could take J.J. Hoover’s spot in the bullpen.

Who would have thought next week’s three game series at home against Chicago would be considered a showdown? Depending on how our Reds play this weekend versus Atlanta, next week series with the “Cubbies” could become the “Battle for Fourth Place”.

I’m glad the San Francisco Giants won that appeal of Tuesday night’s game at Wrigley Field. I think the effort that the Cubs ground crew made during the rain delay was an embarrassment to all ground keepers in baseball.

Congratulations to Brandon Phillips who collected his 1500th career hit Wednesday night. Half way to 3K “DatDudeBP”.

For what it’s worth, I know absolutely nothing about Commissioner – Elect Rob Manfred. I was hoping Bob Costas or former Secretary of State Condolezza Rice would get the job.

I withdrew my name for Baseball Commissioner a couple of hours from the owners vote. Some owners thought my love of the Reds would cause me to be a little biased. I argued that the owners elected one of their own, Brewers boss Bud Selig, and how many World Championships did he help Milwaukee win during his tenure? That would be none.

If you believe that last paragraph, I have some oceanfront property to sell in Arkansas.

I saw where the garment manufacturer Under Armour is offering Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant $285 million dollars to wear their shoes. Memo to Under Armour; for about half of what you’re offering K.D., I’d be proud to wear every article of clothing you make. Even the underwear! I think my pot belly would look great in your compression shirts, might even be slimming at that.

I think fellow blog writer Jesse Welte aptly described my feelings on Cincinnati’s 2014 season when he tweeted after Wednesday’s loss, “This is painful. 2014 has been painful, literally and figuratively, for the #Reds.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

I’d like to wish my granddaughter, Arionna Nicole Howard, a very happy first birthday! “Ne-ne and Pa-pa” loves you very much!

Have a blessed week. Opening Day 2015 is just seven months away.

Dan Howard

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