Monday, April 3, 2017

A Harsh Winter

by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

As I begin my first article of 2017, I must open with an apology to you, the loyal readers of this blog. My Redlegs Review colleague, and best friend, Dr. Jack Ward, and I gave a brief explanation in our last podcast, published after the World Series, in case you didn’t hear it, I’ll explain.

On Friday, October 14th, 2016 while preparing to do our weekly podcast which was going to be a recap of the Divisional Series and our predictions for the upcoming League Championship Series, I phoned Jack, who said we needed to postpone the broadcast because his wife, Cindy, was experiencing some health issues and had to go to the hospital. Due to the complexity of her health issues, Cindy, an organ donor recipient, and diabetic, needed to be admitted to the University of Kentucky hospital, where the doctors are familiar with her illness.

The bad news came the next day. Cancer. Cindy was promoted from this life to eternal glory on Tuesday, October 18.

Four days later, on Saturday, October 22, another dear friend of mine, John Cassell, went to run an errand for his wife. Upon his return, he found his wife, Virginia, dead of a heart attack. She was 47.

Both deaths had a profound effect on me. As I noted before, Jack is my best friend, John is like a brother to me. Baseball was by far the furthest thing from my mind.

I spent the next month’s doing what I’ve should have done for the previous 29 years of marriage, I got closer to my wife, children and grandchild.

In the months that have passed, both are coping. John, a recent Kentucky State retiree, is working at a local bank. Jack, who retired from the Postal Service in 2015, has returned to doing sports play by play for a radio station, along with his church pastoral duties, and working on a music career. He wrote and performed a touching tribute to his wife on his Facebook page. One of his songs will be used for our podcast theme music.

Speaking of Facebook, the new season of our Redlegs Review podcast will be available on Facebook and You Tube beginning next week.

Now to baseball;

O.K., Cubbies, you’ve got your World Championship, please GO AWAY!

For argument’s sake, the seventh game will likely go down as the greatest final game ever. It’s second in my book, behind Game 7 of the 1975 World Series.

Game 7 in 1991 was a classic too, a 1 – 0 tenth inning win for the Minnesota Twins over the Atlanta Braves.

Can you imagine what a party that will be when they unfurl the Championship banner at Wrigley on Monday, April 10th.

I guess Cub fans do have some morals, at least they didn’t try to burn Chicago to the ground, like the Tigers’ fans did in Detroit back in 1968 and 1984.

Kinda makes the couch burning tradition at West Virginia University seem juvenile.

With the Cubs series win, the Cleveland Indians now own the longest championship drought in baseball, 68 years.

The Chicago/St. Louis/Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League own America’s longest championship drought, last winning in 1947. That’s 69 years.

Our beloved Reds title drought stands at 26, and counting.

The Reds “Quest for 70 Wins” begins Monday, April 3rd.

I guess the Reds aren’t retiring Brandon Phillips number any time soon, since Scooter Ginnett was wearing it during Wednesday’s spring training finale.

For what it’s worth, I like the acquisition of Ginnett. Along with reliever Drew Storen.

Looks like 70 wins this year may be attainable, barely.

Now for some fearless, and likely wrong, predictions;

N.L. East – Washington Nationals

N.L. Central – Chicago Cubs

N.L. West – Los Angeles Dodgers

N.L. Wild Card – New York Mets & St. Louis Cardinals

A.L. East – Baltimore Orioles

A.L. Central – Cleveland Indians

A.L. West – Houston Astros

A.L. Wild Card – Texas Rangers & Toronto Blue Jays

We’ll leave it there. I’ll do postseason predictions after the regular season.

Now some unfinished business;

40 Years 5 Months ago - October 12, 1976, Reds trail the Philadelphia Phillies 6 – 4 going into the bottom of the ninth. George Foster and Johnny Bench start the frame with back to back homers, Reds later load the bases and Ken Griffey Sr. bounces a single past the drawn in infield scoring Dave Concepcion sending Cincinnati to its second straight World Series and fourth National League Championship since 1970.

40 Years 5 Months ago – October 21, 1976, World Series MVP Johnny Bench pounds two homers against the New York Yankees giving the Reds back to back World Championships, the first National League team to accomplish the feat since the New York Giants in 1921 & 1922. Cincinnati also becomes the only team in baseball history to sweep two rounds of playoff games.

At Reds Fest, a fan approached manager Bryan Price and asked him what he was doing to the Reds pitching staff. Taken aback from the question, Price stumbled for an answer, when the fan replied, “You’re killing me Price!”

The fan was eight-year-old Hunter McCoy from Beauty KY.

Out of the mouth of babes….

Have a blessed week. GO REDS!!!

Dan Howard

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