Friday, September 12, 2014

MLB Week 24 - A Time to Remember

by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

As Major League Baseball pauses to remember the most horrific terrorist attack on American soil, I thought I’d like to interject my own views about this unspeakable tragedy;

Prior to 2001, September 11th was remembered as the date, in 1985, Cincinnati’s Pete Rose passed Ty Cobb as baseball’s all-time hit leader. The line drive base hit off San Diego Padres Eric Show was typical of Rose’s outstanding career. Who can forget the numerous standing ovations Rose received, finally letting his emotions come to the surface when Pete Jr. hugged his dad while Pete Sr. was standing on first base?

Then came that fateful Tuesday morning sixteen years later.

I woke up late that morning, around 10am, which was typical for me during a day off work. Four days earlier my oldest daughter, Taira, suffered a serious broken ankle as a result of a scooter accident and had spent the weekend in the hospital, coming home Monday the 10th around 9pm. Several trips to the hospital, 130 miles round trip, plus the stress of my daughter’s condition, took its toll on me so I took a few days off work.

The first thing I did that morning was call the office for a briefing. The lady working in my place said, “Have you checked the news?” I replied, “No.” She continued, “You better, because we’re under attack!” To my disbelief, I tuned into Fox News and there it was, the World Trade Center with smoke billowing from a hole in its side. Choking back tears, I asked my wife to come see this. We both sat in stunned silence. Eighteen months earlier, during a business trip to New York City, as we flew out of LaGuardia, the last sight of the city from our airplane was both World Trade towers.

My sadness turned to anger as I watched the second tower fall.

The term “hero” is often bantered about to describe feats of athletic courage, as a supreme underdog defying the odds to defeat a better opponent. Heroic was definitely used to define the Reds 1990 World Series win over the Oakland Athletics.

True heroism is when, carrying several pounds of equipment, fire fighters’ rush into a burning building in the hope to save lives. True heroism is when a law enforcement official stops an impaired driver to keep them from injuring others. True heroism is what keeps our country free through the sacrifices of the young men and women serving in the Armed Forces. True heroism took a man, beaten beyond recognition, forced to carry a heavy cross, to the top of a hill in Israel to give His life in exchange for our sins.

Kind of makes that walk off home run insignificant, doesn’t it?

On September 10, 2001, the Reds lost the first of a four game series at Wrigley Field, 8 – 2 behind the pitching of Chicago’s Jon Lieber, who was 4 – 0 with a 0.93 E.R.A. to that point of the season vs Cincinnati.

When baseball returned a week later, I remember a frail Jack Buck, the legendary St. Louis Cardinals announcer and Joe’s dad, delivering a powerful poem prior to the Cardinals’ game with Milwaukee. I watched the Chicago White Sox pregame with arguably the greatest version of “God Bless America” I’d ever heard. I was so impressed I called the White Sox front office to see if a recorded version was available, unfortunately, it was not. They also told me who the singer was, but thirteen years later, I cannot remember her name. Our own Marty Brennaman read an inspirational patriotic poem, his voice cracking during the last stanzas. I still get chills when I see replays of the Mets Mike Piazza’s game winning home run some ten days after the attacks. Baseball can be therapeutic.

Now on to this past week’s games.

With apologies to Aroldis Chapman, the injury to Miami Marlins Giancarlo Stanton was the most gruesome I’ve seen since Jason Kendall snapped his ankle running to first base several years ago.

What’s up with all the hit batters on Thursday night? Not only Stanton, the Yankees Chase Headley was hit in the face, Derek Jeter took one off the elbow, then there was Texas Rangers Nick Martinez drilling the Angels Mike Stanton not once but twice.

Yeah, I knew the Reds would win three of four against St. Louis this week. I am also selling some swampland in Death Valley California.

Rumor has it that 88 year old Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon check himself out of a nursing home in time to face the Reds last Friday.

Unless Johnny Cueto pitches three perfect games in his final starts, there’s absolutely no way he’s taking the National League Cy Young Award from the Dodgers Clayton Kershaw.

The 2015 schedule has been released and frankly, I hate it. With the April 5th starting date (April 6 for our Reds) and the season ending on October 4th the World Series will last well into November, which would be fine if Tampa Bay played Miami or San Diego, but what if the 2015 World Series is between the Minnesota Twins and the Chicago Cubs? Last time I checked, Wrigley and Target Field are not retractable roof facilities. I know baseball wants to avoid early spring cold weather and snow so common to the northern cities, but making up those games during the season are easier than possibly delaying the ultimate in sports championships, the World Series, until Thanksgiving due to weather.

For What it’s Worth Department; that’s a pretty good Skechers commercial featuring Pete Rose.

After last Saturday’s football games, I think the Big Ten is little more than a mid-major conference. My Buckeyes falling to Virginia Tech, Michigan State losing to Oregon, Blue getting smoked by the Irish, and Nebraska getting a last minute touchdown to squeak past FCS Towson State. Not looking good for the Big Ten.

Have a blessed week. GO REDS!!!

Dan Howard

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