Friday, September 26, 2014

MLB Week 26 - Finally Over

by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

It seems that Opening Day was just two weeks ago and now here were are entering the last weekend of the season. Where did the summer go?

Congrats to the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Detroit Tigers and Pittsburgh Pirates for making the playoffs this past week.

I’m slowly becoming a Josh Harrison fan.

Moving into the last weekend of the 2014 season, the American League Central and final Wild Card spot is up for grabs. Detroit is in the driver’s seat for the division, with Kansas City and Oakland a virtual lock for the Wild Card.

Go Royals!!!

As I mentioned last week, and was confirmed with the Yankees loss on Wednesday evening, this will be the first year since the Wild Card era began in 1995 that the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox did not make the playoffs.

Useless Trivia; the defending World Champion Boston Red Sox are firmly entrenched in last place in the American League East and in danger of losing 90 games this season (they’re 69 – 89 at the time I write this). From 1903 to 1997 no defending World Champion finished in last place the following season. Since then the Florida Marlins in 1998, and this year’s Red Sox are the only teams to follow their championship season with a last place finish. 1991 was the only year the Reds had a losing record after a championship season (74 – 88).

Rumor has it someone is retiring from baseball this weekend….Oh yeah, now I remember, it’s Paul Konerko of the Chicago White Sox. Konerko played 26 games for Cincinnati in 1998.

A six time All Star with a career .279 average with 439 homers and 1412 RBI makes Konerko a Hall of Famer in my book.

I believe a lesser known New York Yankee shortstop is allegedly retiring this weekend too, out of fear of permanently losing my Yankee Hater membership card, I’ll let the rest of the media slurp all over Derek Jeter this weekend.

For what it’s worth Gatorade and Nike have some pretty nice commercials featuring “The Captain”.

The “What If” Department; what if the Reds had selected Derek Jeter instead of Chad Mottola in the first round of the 1992 Amateur Draft? Gene Bennett, a special assistant to Reds GM Bob Quinn, knew of the athletic ability Jeter possessed and spoke with the Jeter family often. Bennett’s plan was to convert the former Kalamazoo (MI) Central High School shortstop into an outfielder, grooming him until current shortstop and team captain Barry Larkin retired then moving Jeter to shortstop. Needless to say Bennett was quite upset when the Reds announced Chad Mottola as their selection, and thought someone in the Reds organization was playing a practical joke until it was announced that the Yankees were “on the clock”.

More Useless Trivia; according to former Baseball Hall of Fame historian and sportswriter Lee Allen, our beloved Cincinnati Reds once had an opportunity to sign a little known Baltimore Orioles pitcher named George Herman Ruth. That’s right, Babe Ruth himself was nearly a Red. The story goes like this; in 1914 the Reds dispatched a scout named Harry Stephens to the minor league Baltimore Orioles to select two players for the Reds. (The minor leagues were quite different a century ago than they are today.) Stephens passed on Ruth and selected shortstop Claud Derrick and outfielder George Twombly. To Stephens’ defense Derrick was a member of the 1910 and 1911 World Champion Philadelphia Athletics, so maybe that’s why he was picked. Twombly only played 150 games in five seasons for Cincinnati, Boston Braves and Washington Senators hitting a meager .211 with zero homers and 36 RBI.

As they always say; hindsight is 20/20.

There’s nothing as humiliating as watching another team celebrate a division championship at your team’s home field. That has happened only once in Great American Ball Park history, on September 28, 2007 when the Chicago Cubs, of all teams, defeated the Reds 6 – 0 to clinch the National League Central. Hopefully the Reds will play spoiler this weekend against the Pittsburgh Pirates, just like they did to the Milwaukee Brewers eliminating them during Thursday afternoon’s win.

For arguments’ sake the Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants won division series at Great American Ball Park in 2010 and 2012 respectively.

Just remember; when the season’s final pitch is thrown this Sunday, the countdown to Opening Day 2015 begins.

Have a blessed week, and, for the final time in 2014 GO REDS!!!!

Dan Howard

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