All posts in OMGrant

OMGRant about Cueto, ESPN

Not the first time I’ve been annoyed by something on SportsCenter but Neil Everett has said twice during Reds-Pirates highlights that the Pittsburgh fans got into Johnny Cueto’s head by chanting “CUE-TO.” (Bob Holtzman also suggested it, but not as definitively.) How does he know that though? Did Cueto acknowledge it afterward? Is he saying that because Cueto dropped the ball once when he was standing on the mound? Oh, he gave up seven hits and walked one so the fans must’ve gotten into his head? What if he just had a bad start? Could that possibly be the case? That he just made a few bad pitches but wasn’t really affected by the chant? SMH

OMGreds: Woo-ing in

With the anti-Woo uptick on Twitter in full-force, it seems most Reds blogs have given their two cents about “The Woo” that has infected late-inning games at GABP since last fall. We gave it some love after it started last year, but wanted to update our stance on it. This time, we went around the room and asked the entire OMGreds wolfpack. The only criteria for this critique was to use a single(ish) word to describe your feelings about the Woo. You can interperate from there.

Dan: Whatever

Dave: Enough

Paul: Mute-button

Rob: Bush

Ronson: RicFlair-ian

Carry on. Go Reds.

Just want to make sure …

… that we’re not the only ones thinking there’s a good chance that next Monday (Jan. 9) it will be announced that former Reds great Barry Larkin will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, as he deserves.

Over the weekend, MLB Network’s “Hot Stove” panel talked about some of the possible inductees and why they will or won’t be part of the upcoming class and didn’t even mention Larkin. I assume that’s because they’re presuming he’ll get in based on his percentage from last year and they just wanted to discuss some guys who are iffy or might sneak in this year.

Also, I visited the Hall of Fame’s official site – baseballhall.org – and there’s a huge ad on the site for Sports Travel and Tours, which offers packages for the induction weekend July 20-22. Curious about what they were offering, I clicked on the ad, which took me to sportstravelandtours.com. Right at the top, it has “Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, NY, Friday, July 20, 2012 to Sunday, July 22, 2012,” followed by this:

2012 Possible Inductees include: Ron Santo, Javy Lopez, Tim Salmon, Ruben Sierra, Bernie Williams

Javy Lopez, Tim Salmon and Ruben Sierra?? Really? C’mon. As John Erardi points out, Larkin will be the only name submitted on a lot of ballots this year. Santo was already voted in posthumously last month by the Veterans Committee, but how are you not going to include Larkin in that short list of possible inductees? Fail.

Time to give Vada Pinson the love he deserves

1960 Topps Vada Pinson baseball card

1960 Topps Vada Pinson baseball card

Let me first say that I think it’s great and all that White Sox fans are trying hard to get Minnie Minoso some Baseball Hall of Fame consideration.

But it also makes me sad that Reds fans don’t push harder for Vada Pinson to be considered.

Pinson’s numbers blow Minoso’s out of the water.

It should keep Reds fans up at night that Pinson is not in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Really even more so than the fact that Concepcion isn’t in. It’s absurd.

Reds Live: Johnny Bench Night

As a huge Johnny Bench fan (at 13, I was lucky enough to be on hand in Cooperstown for his National Baseball Hall of Fame induction weekend) unable to attend Johnny Bench Night on Saturday, the silver lining was sitting down Sunday night and watching the hour-long Reds Live from Johnny Bench Night that I had DVR’ed. Let me start by saying I was very impressed with what Fox Sports Ohio did with this hour. I’d imagine their goal was to allow people who couldn’t make it to feel like they didn’t miss it after all. And that’s exactly what they achieved. It was a great hour of TV for a Reds fan.

In case you missed it because you were at the ballpark and/or didn’t get to DVR it, here were some highlights:

Most awkward moment: Johnny is making his speech on the field before the game. The guy doesn’t appear to have any notes, but when you’ve got the public speaking ability that Johnny Bench has, you don’t need notes. A couple of minutes into the speech, he says, “The one thing I asked when this statue was going to be constructed was that it also had to include a caveat that following me would be – not in this order – Pete, Joe and Tony.”

Which gets big applause from the fired-up crowd.

And immediately the camera zooms in on Davey Concepcion.

Bum-bum-buh-dum, horrrrrn.

Of course Concepcion smiled and applauded as the incredibly gracious and modest individual he is. And the show’s director/producer/camera folks probably had no idea exactly what Johnny was going to say there (I’m pretty sure only Johnny knows what Johnny is about to say.) But for the love of, um, Pete … zoom in on Bob Castellini right at that moment. Show the crowd. Show that group of people who donated to the Bench statue fund. Heck, show Doug Flynn. ANYONE but the guy who could stake a claim to having been the fifth Beatle for years. It was just a hair painful, knowing that Concepcion should absolutely be a National Hall of Famer and will undoubtedly be deserving of a statue as well. (And we’re going to need a George Foster statue eventually as well. C’mon, people, how many guys can lead the league in RBIs in three consecutive seasons.)

Awkward honorable mention: Hal McCoy, on the set of Reds Live with Jim Day and Brian Giesenschlag, offers the following anecdote when asked if Johnny has mellowed:

“Very much so. He came in the clubhouse yesterday and he saw me across the room and he yelled, “Hall of Famer!” … came over, shook my hand, gave me a hug and I turned to somebody when he left and said, ‘He just said more words to me right there than he said in an entire season sometimes.’”

Awkward honorable mention No. 2: Jim Day asks Hal McCoy about how Bench and Pete Rose have mended fences and McCoy explains how great it is that their relationship has improved so much. Which begs the question: Why wasn’t Pete on hand for any of Saturday’s festivities? Anyone know his alibi?

That’s a fact, Jack: Johnny is referred to repeatedly (most often, I believe, by emcee Joe Zerhusen during the on-field ceremony) as the greatest catcher of all-time. I may have missed it but I don’t think Bench was referred to even once during the show as one of the greatest catchers of all time. I just find that interesting … how certain everyone is and how no one wants to acknowledge that Johnny may be among a very elite group of three or four catchers who could stake a claim to being the greatest ever.

Did I blink and miss it? At the start of the show, they promised a “live visit” with statue designer Tom Tsuchiya. (Not to be confused, by the way, with MLB umpire Tim Tschida.) They teased it again later. Totally missed it. Did my DVR just not pick it up? Was it after 7 p.m. that it aired?

Unintentional comedy: Jim Day starts the show talking about the buzz in the air for Johnny Bench Night and the big crowd on hand, and there are like 50 people in the hundreds of seats behind him. (I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that JD did a great job co-hosting this show.)

Goosebumps: Joe Nuxhall calling Bench’s home run on Johnny Bench Night in 1983. They showed it twice – once during the show coming out of a commercial break and again on the video board during the pre-game ceremony on the field. Goosebumps, both times.

Really??: When they introduced everyone who was sitting on the field for the pre-game ceremony, what was with the one guy who starting booing his ace off when they introduced Mayor Mark Mallory? It would have been one thing if everyone had started booing (clearly there is not enough animosity for a guy who will forever be remembered for this) but, to me, it sounded like one guy just started booing very loudly by himself. I’m gonna call that a #fail. #failboo

Best intentional comedy: Johnny is known for his sense of humor. The guy can be downright goofy. And he reached into his bag of tricks on several occasions during the pre-game ceremonies. The funniest? He set it up this way:

“Very seldom does anyone ever embarrass the Big Red Machine, but sometimes it happens.”

Cue this video of Joe Morgan doing the Chicken Dance on the video board.

It’s like I kind of saw it coming but the way Johnny set it up was pretty laugh-out-loud outstanding. And he followed up with, “All of that just to sell a car.” Zing!

Just Johnny being Johnny: You’d have to have seen it to know how strange and borderline awkward it was but Johnny took the time at the end of his speech during the on-field ceremony to recognize what an outstanding season the Brewers have had, wishing them well, he jokingly said, in the event that the Reds don’t catch them this season. Ouch. Kind of a sore subject, Johnny. Maybe he knew what a pounding the Brewers were going to administer on Saturday and figured the current Reds deserved that. Which, right now, you’d have to agree they do deserve.

O’Neill on ‘Tim McCarver Show’ painful

Flipping around at 1 a.m. on a Monday and Star 64 is showing not a re-run of “Entourage” or “The Old Adventures of New Christine” but “The Tim McCarver Show.” Slight *groan* – and only slight because time heals wounds to some extent and it has been 21 years since our buddy Tim was rooting for the A’s while doing color commentary during the 1990 World Series – but I leave it on for a minute to see who the guest is. Sure enough, it’s former Red Paul O’Neill. Nice! Right? No. Please save yourself the aggravation and avoid watching this one if it’s ever on again or if you’re crazy enough that you DVR’ed it knowing O’Neill was going to be on.

Paul was fine, actually, with the exception of explaining during the show that getting traded by the Reds was “the best thing that ever happened” to him. (Wha?? I know what you mean, Paul, but it still sounds bad.) We’re big Paul O’Neill fans, and this show won’t change that. It was McCarver, really. And the questions and the way the interview went. You would think that since the guy came up with and played almost half of his career in Cincinnati, the Reds would get mentioned more than a handful of times during the 30-minute show. Five minutes into the interview, first commercial break, and you wouldn’t know Paul ever played for anyone other than the Yankees. The first Reds mention? McCarver says something along the lines of (paraphrasing) “You’ve been on the winning side of three perfect games. Of course everyone remembers David Cone, and the David Wells perfect game, but very few people know that you were actually on the Reds …” and O’Neill interrupts him at that point and says, “Tom Browning, yes.” *SMH* Like it’s the answer to a trivia question no one at the bar would’ve gotten right.

Interview continues: Yankees, Yankees, Yankees, Yankees, Jorge Posada, Yankee Stadium, Don Mattingly, Don Zimmer, Joe Torre, how brutal it was to be a Reds minor-leaguer (thanks), Yankees, Yankees, Yankees.

OK, I understand Yankees fans loved him. (So did many Reds fans.) I get that he was on championship teams as a Yankee. (He won one as a Red, too.) He hit for average as a Yankee, won a batting title in ’94 and drove in more runs, fine. (He also hit a career-high 28 home runs as a Red in ’91.) Hopefully you get my point. You definitely would if we sat down and watched it together (which I would not want to do to be quite honest … not that I don’t like watching TV with you … these 30 minutes were just that painful.) Just wanted to let you know in case you’re flipping around at 1 a.m. on a Monday a couple of months from now and they show it again.

Stars added

Cool (albeit brief) MLB.com video here of the addition of stars to the jerseys of Votto, Phillips and Bruce.

By the way, we’ve about heard enough of the Bruce bashing. We get it, it stinks that Andrew McCutchen didn’t make the All-Star team. He’s good and a big reason why the Buccos are (temporarily) ahead of the Reds in the standings. But it’s not Bruce’s fault that McCutchen isn’t one of the five Final Vote candidates. Bruce went off in May – .342/12/33 – and the players noticed. But do we really have to make a point of including him among the “5 least deserving All-Stars,” Ken Rosenthal? (Not hyperlinking to you, baby, sorry.) Quit busting on our main man Bruce! No more Bruce abuse!

Have a pleasant 4th.

Creeper on crack?

After Jim Day interviewed Votto during the postgame, and Votto indicated that it was news to him that the Reds are 3 1/2 games back in the NL Central because he doesn’t keep up with the standings, the following dialogue took place between Thom and Chris Welsh.

Thom: Chris, were you a little surprised by that answer – “that’s news to me we’re 3 1/2 games out of first place?”

Chris: Not at all. You know what, I think if you took a poll of all the players that are in that clubhouse, about half of them probably don’t even know what they’re hitting. … They’re in there (the clubhouse) reading the sports page, playing games …

OK, stop right there, Chris. We’ve indicated previously that we are big-time Chris Welsh fans and that your analysis as a color commentator during Reds games is very insightful. And anyone – anyone – who talks for three hours straight is going to say a few things during that time that make them sound like they’re on crack. (Just ask Bobby Valentine.) But if, in fact, Reds players are reading the sports page in the clubhouse (which, by the way, our friends at The Enquirer will be delighted to hear), does that mean they go out of their way to skip anything baseball-related that appears in the sports page? They have no clue where their team is in the NL Central standings and what they’re hitting? Not buying it. I’m not calling Votto’s bluff, exactly, because I think it’s possible he didn’t realize they picked up a full game with Monday’s win. (Heck, if you saw the post-game interview with Dusty, he didn’t even know the Reds face Kershaw tomorrow.) But I’m pretty sure Votto and his teammates know that the Brewers and the Cardinals are ahead of them and have a rough idea of how many games ahead they are. I’m pretty sure Bruce knew he was having a huge May before he won NL Player of the Month honors. I’m pretty sure Gomes knows he’s hitting .208. I’m pretty sure Stubbs knows he’s leading the league in strikeouts. Or maybe those guys are part of the half of the clubhouse that pays attention a little and does pick up a stat sheet every now and then.

Not buying it, Welshie, but we still love you, amigo.

As an aside, how cool was it that a Reds fan appeared to catch Votto’s home-run ball on the fly. Good stuff!

UPDATE: Here are Joey’s post-game comments…

<a href="http://msn.foxsports.com/video?vid=e3195675-ce46-4257-984e-e333da52a515" target="_new" title="">Reds down Dodgers</a>

Reds Winter Caravan: Athens

OMGReds wanted to get to a couple of Reds Winter Caravan stops this year, and heading to Athens – home of Ohio University, where former Red Frankie Baumholtz, 9-year MLB veteran Steve Swisher and Hall of Fame third baseman and Reds Killer Michael Jack Schmidt (.608 slugging percentage against the Reds was his best against any opponent … he had 55 homers in 630 at-bats vs. Cincinnati) once starred – was a no-brainer.

Check out our photos from Thursday night at the Market on State (formerly University Mall).

There was a Q&A with fans; biggest news to emerge from that is that Dusty sees Jay Bruce in the mix for leadoff hitter consideration. Wha? I was a little surprised that didn’t get more of a reaction from the crowd.

Shortly after the Q&A started, Chris Welsh seized the mic and told attendees to start forming the line for autographs. He discouraged fans – in the interest of moving things along – from posing for pictures while going through the line. This reds.com article said that “at most visits, the groups will take time to participate in question-and-answer sessions, pose for pictures and sign autographs.” (I had wanted to get a picture with Dusty for my wife’s grandmother who is a big Dusty fan, but Welsh was sitting next to Dusty and I was afraid he’d muster up the strength in his recently surgically repaired shoulder to reach over and slap me if I did, so I just stuck to autographs.) But I figure Athens was one of the visits with no photo opportunities, so that was definitely no biggie.

What did bother me – through no fault whatsoever of the Reds – was people around me in line a) asking where Homer Bailey was (the website CLEARLY stated all along that Bailey was only doing Saturday and Sunday on the Northern Tour) and b) going all Jay Cutler on the Cowboy and complaining that he wasn’t there. It was announced just before the others arrived that Brantley was under the weather and wouldn’t be able to attend. And I heard people bitching about not being able to get their Brantley stuff signed. THE POOR GUY (it turns out) HAD STREP THROAT! Have you ever had strep throat? The remedy is plenty of fluids and rest – not signing autographs and interacting with fans. And it’s highly contagious, so people should be glad he didn’t try to tough it out. Geez. Give the Cowboy a break, people.

Good time. Was I jealous when I saw that Joe Morgan was at the Air Force museum today? You betcherass. But then again, the fans who were in Dayton couldn’t go down the street after their Reds Caravan stop and have a beer at the Maplewood Inn like I could.

Hope contract extensions, Renteria and Fred Lewis provided sufficient offseason excitement for you

First and foremost, congrats to Joey Votto. He deserves what he’s getting. I personally don’t have any interest in speculating as to whether he’s going to leave after three years. Just looking forward to watching him hopefully beat out Pujols for the MVP – or, better yet, beat out Jay Bruce for the MVP – for years to come.

What I wish I could speculate about is what the Reds could possibly get in return for Yonder Alonso. Let’s face it, the guy has serious talent, but it’s reportedly not as an outfielder. His days with the Reds are numbered. Or at least they should be if the Reds are serious about winning relatively soon.

So what could a player like Alonso bring, starting with who can make this team significantly better who isn’t too expensive.

I tried to find three experienced MLB players who earned less than $2 million last season, could be involved in a trade for Alonso and could fill a need for the Reds. Who aren’t arbitration eligible. Couldn’t find any. (I excluded starting pitching because I don’t see that as a need right now with their depth, despite the fact that you can never have enough, right?) Define “a need,” first of all. I think the Reds, frankly, would tell you that their only pressing needs at this point are dealing with the three unsigned arbitration-eligible players (Cueto, Volquez and Bray). The only question marks they had (SS and LF) are in better shape – possibly – with the additions of Renteria and Lewis and maybe Hermida. The Reds just aren’t going to trade for Justin Upton or Nelson Cruz or even Angel Pagan. I just don’t think it’s going to happen. They’ll keep Alonso as an insurance policy and pinch-hitter for at least another year, then maybe deal him for someone coming off a big year. Or maybe at the All-Star break, best case scenario.

And actually – if they’re going to keep Alonso – I would rather see the Reds have him playing every day in Louisville and putting up big numbers so that hopefully other teams express interest.

I would be stunned if the major excitement of the offseason isn’t already behind us: extensions for Bruce and Votto and bringing in a couple of guys who are going to hit .260 with 10 home runs between them.

One take about the shortstop NON-controversy

Plenty of Edgar Renteria discussion on Twitter today, and the story has gone from Renteria reportedly telling ESPNdeportes.com that he’ll be the Reds’ new full-time shortstop to Dusty telling John Fay there’s no controversy here and both guys will play.

From Fay’s blog post:

While Renteria reportedly told ESPNdeportes.com that he’s the Reds ‘full-time’ shortstop, Baker wasn’t willing to commit to that. Asked if he considered Renteria or Paul Janish the starter, Baker said:

“I don’t know. We don’t have a quarterback controversy at short. Everybody plays on my team. They’re both going to play. Janish is younger. Edgar is more experienced. Janish deserves a chance to be my shortstop.”

“You’ve got to have two shortstops,” he said. “Both are capable.”

I like that Dusty said what he said, out of respect for Janish. It’s easy enough for Dusty to say this because, quite frankly, one guy could stink it up during the spring and the other guy could hit .500 and the decision is made for him. It’s almost a “We’ll cross that bridge …” answer on Dusty’s part that doesn’t alienate anyone (except maybe Renteria, just a little, for jumping to the conclusion that he’ll be the starter). And the fact of the matter is Dusty really doesn’t need to commit to one guy or the other right now. And he IS right: Both guys WILL play if they’re healthy. He doesn’t say how much both guys will play, and he doesn’t need to.

I’d guess the Reds probably wish Renteria wouldn’t have said anything about being the full-time shortstop. It makes you wonder whether they told him he’ll be the starter but asked him not to say anything. It’s more likely that they told him he’ll have a shot at starting or the job is his to lose, which, like I said, is pretty much the case.

No Hall for Barry or Cobra

Dave Parker and Barry Larkin
It seems like anymore the BBWAA Hall of Fame results are decided well in advance of today. Writers resolve to vote for guys for whom others make a big push – and it’s often the guys who came close but missed the year before, which is what happened with Goose Gossage in 2008 and Jim Rice in 2009. This year, Bert Blyleven, in particular, wasn’t going to be denied. He came so close last year (5 votes shy) he’s running out of time and the consensus is how can you keep him out with that many strikeouts. And Roberto Alomar was right there last year as well, just 8 votes shy. And his numbers clearly merit Hall of Fame enshrinement in his second year on the ballot.

Everything I read beforehand said to expect a modest bump for Barry Larkin – who got 51.6 percent of the vote last year, his first on the ballot – but that he’ll likely have to wait another year. And sure enough, Barry finished third with 62.1 percent. So while I was very disappointed, I wasn’t the least bit surprised. Hopefully next year.

Was Barry deserving of getting in on his first or second ballot? Absolutely. No question. But Larkin’s not the only one who got robbed. I don’t see any reason why Jeff Bagwell shouldn’t have gotten in as a first-timer. Is it really fair to assume a guy was juicing when there’s no proof, no failed drug test, no one who has ever said he saw him use steroids? C’mon. And you can’t argue with those numbers. Tyler Kepner wrote a great column, by the way, about how Bagwell’s rejection presumes guilt over innocence, and how sad that is.

Also on the ballot were former Reds Dave Parker, Bret Boone, Lenny Harris and Benito Santiago. We’ve previously made it clear that Parker deserves to be in the Hall, and in case you missed it, John Erardi wrote a strong piece just recently to that effect. Worth a read if you haven’t already. We say give Cobra his due. (He only got 15.3 percent.) Finished in the top 5 in MVP voting in five different seasons (and got robbed in 1985). One of the most feared hitters of both the late ’70s and mid ’80s. No reason he shouldn’t be in.

Blyleven and Alomar will join general manager Pat Gillick – elected by a post-expansion Veterans Committee last month – for the induction ceremonies in Cooperstown on July 24.

Meanwhile, consolation for Larkin fans? There’s a tricky, 15-question Larkin quiz that just got posted earlier this week on Cincinnati.Com. Enjoy.

Time to Ranger-hate?

I always considered the Texas Rangers my favorite American League team; I lived in Dallas for 3 years when I was a kid and they don’t really have much history with the Reds nor have they ever really posed a threat to the Reds. One of those teams we don’t pay much attention to because they play in the other league. But are you like me and starting to get a little annoyed with “The Ryan Express” and his team after they got an ALMVP (.359/32/100) effort out of our buddy Josh Hamilton (No. 2 on last month’s ones that got away list), lured away Arthur Rhodes last week and then reportedly edged us out for the services of free-agent pitcher Brandon Webb, despite the fact that there was much buzz over the weekend about the Reds being a mystery NL Central suitor, the fact that Webb is from Kentucky and went to UK and his friendship with Reds pitching coach Bryan Price, who was Webb’s pitching coach in Arizona for five years.

What’s next? Are they going to try to steal away Homer Bailey, Sam LeCure, Jay Bruce, Drew Stubbs or any other players of ours who have Texas ties?

What about Webb? How bad did you want him? Guess the Reds have some money to spend but maybe not THAT much.

Suggested Onion headline

How about something like, “MLB awards Phillies a second win for Halladay’s no-no.” Kinda feels like some people – from SI’s Jon Heyman to casual Reds fans on Facebook saying they’ve lost faith – have completely given up on the Reds after ONE GAME.

Impressive feat, no doubt. Also not the end of the world as far as the Reds are concerned. Did anyone think the Reds would win both of the first two games in Philly? Very few, I would imagine. Did Reds fans hope the team could earn a split of the first two games so that they could come to Cincinnati with a chance to win the series here? Sure. Which they still have a chance to do, against a guy (“Little Roy”) who was once dominant against the Reds but hasn’t beaten us since ’08. And is the series even over if the Phils take Game 2? Not as far as I can tell. I’m pretty sure it’s best 3 out of 5.

Anyway, the only other problem I had with Heyman’s column was his suggestion that Cabrera was the only one to complain about Hirschbeck’s strike zone. He may have been the only one to complain verbally AFTER the game. I think it was pretty clear that Rolen had a problem with strike three in the 5th (as I mentioned last night) … he might not have whined about it afterward because he’s a professional and he’s ready to give Halladay his due and move on like the rest of us.

Everyone’s entitled to have a bad day or a bad night, right? It looks especially bad when the opposing pitcher is having a great night. The Reds will get ‘em going in Game 2, and hopefully it’s enough to tie the series at 1. Or maybe they’ll shoot for winning the final three games of the series, even if they do have to face Halladay again. I bet they won’t forfeit the game if they do; sure they got no-hit, but they also pounded him once during the regular season (he gave up a season-high 13 hits in Cincinnati on June 30). Anything can happen.

A day later

Great American Ball Park

Division Champs... ahhhhh

OMGReds threw the champagne-soaked jersey in the wash, took an ibuprofen, drank a Gatorade and headed back down to the ballpark to be part of the raucous crowd of 14,760 (not even close) to watch Willie Bloomquist and the 2010 National League Central champs battle the Astros. Observations:

• Five of the eight starting position players spent at least part of the season in Louisville. Valaika, Alonso and Francisco – the 2, 3 and 4 hitters – had more than 300 at-bats in Louisville this season. The Reds beat Nelson Figueroa a couple of weeks ago in Houston, but that was with Phillips, Votto, Rolen, Bruce, et al. And even though the ‘Stros entered the game having lost 6 of 7, they’re (now) a respectable 39-30 since the break. In other words, it’s tough to run out the lineup the Reds had tonight – even if you get your stars in toward the end of the game – and expect to win a big game. (More on the significance of the game later in the post.)

• That being said, we’ve still got big-time love for Heisey. Fantastic shoestring grab on the first out of the game. The 900 people who were in their seats in time to watch it cheered enthusiastically.

• Corky Miller had the bat fly out of his hands during his second-inning at-bat; it went all the way to the backstop and he walked all the way back to retrieve it himself. If you saw it, it was pretty unusual. I can’t remember the last time I saw a big-leaguer travel so far to retrieve his own equipment. Not that there was any problem, it’s cool that Corky is humble like that. You just never see that anymore.

• Yonder actually worked a count to 3-1. For a second I thought he might get his first base on balls as a Red, but then he grounded out. Seems to me like he hasn’t taken many pitches since he got called up.

• That was a SICK play by Valaika in the 6th. I didn’t get to see Web Gems tonight, but it better have been in there.

Sign the banner! Do it!

• Is there anything worse than a lame heckler at a ballgame? A guy with absolutely no decent material was trying to heckle Carlos Lee for most of the evening, trying to get under his skin with “Hey, Carlos, you suck!” and “Hey, Carlos, why didn’t you catch that?!” for balls hit into the stands. Everyone has had to sit by this guy before at a ballgame – isn’t it awful? Just so uncomfortable because he’s not even funny? It was brutal. “Hey, Carlos, I’ve got you on my fantasy team for next year, so you better tear it up!” Huh? Started singing the Gatorade “Be Like Mike” jingle with “Be Like Carlos” instead. You get the point. I almost moved from my great seat (which was not far from Carlos). Fail on the lame heckler’s part, too. Carlos went 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI. Oh, and his average is down this year (he had a very slow start) but he’s a career .287 hitter with 330 home runs. You might have an easier time heckling someone who DOES suck, guy. And getting some funny material so that at least the people who aren’t that annoyed that you’re loud, annoying, obnoxious and mean-spirited will chuckle. Turd.

• I hate to pick on our first-round pick of the 2008 draft again, but WTF was that fancy, behind-the-back flip attempt to Cueto covering first?? I didn’t get to see the replay, but it looked Bush League live. And I know the Astros scored their second run after some indecision on the grounder to Valaika on the next play, but to me Alonso’s failed attempt to make the highlight reel was far more egregious.

• Totally dug the organist playing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” on the calliope during the stretch. He also rocked “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper” between the 8th and 9th innings, which was not lost on us. Nor the dudes on the JumboTron offering more cowbell.

• Wilton Lopez sprints from the bullpen like Todd Coffey/Heath Bell/Papelbon. Who else does it? Me likey.

• Tuesday’s hero, Jay Bruce, didn’t look too sharp in his only at-bat, but he went A LONG WAY to catch that ball Anderson Hernandez hit in the 8th.

• Respectfully agree to disagree with Doc Rodgers’ Extra Innings’ assessment that Wednesday’s game was “a loss but really it was a major victory for the Reds.” I’d say an actual loss was a bigger deal than what I consider the “silver linings” (Cueto looking sharp and Nix returning from injury to go 2-for-3 with a walk) when home-field was still very much a reality. The Reds entered Wednesday trailing the Giants by 1 game and the Braves by 1/2 game in the race for the coveted second seed – hardly insurmountable with a handful of games left. I think losing Wednesday – which DOES significantly hurt the Reds’ shot at the No. 2 seed given that the Braves won again and the Giants (and Padres, for that matter) won too – is a bigger deal than Doc suggested. Otherwise Dusty wouldn’t have gotten all of the big guns up off the bench late in the game to try to win it.

Nice try, guy

Anyone else notice that a Braves fan (or at least a dude wearing a Heyward shersy) had Votto’s huge 8th inning homer to tie the game bounce off his hands?

Also:

• Apparently with the lack of run support the Reds have given Mike Leake (particularly earlier in the season) we’re not only going to keep him from winning the National League Rookie of the Year award but we’re also going to help Jason Heyward win it. In three games against the Reds, that’s the second time he’s beaten us (you may recall he beat us with a walk-off double May 19 in Atlanta.)

• Was I the only one pulling hair out knowing ahead of time exactly what Jay Bruce was going to do against the lefty reliever in the 8th. Gotta pinch-hit for him there.

• Uh-oh. Is that a closer in a non-save opp? I DO not like the looks of this.

• Anyone else almost shart a little when Brooks Conrad – who memorably victimized Coco Cordero earlier this season – almost did it again? Great catch by Heisey. I know this seems really knee-jerkish and I fully realize that Heisey has had his share of struggles against lefties too but I can’t help but think I’d like to see Heisey in the starting lineup a little more often and Bruce in there a little less often … he just needs more rest than he’s getting.

OMGrant

In the past 28 hours, we’ve gone from the high of learning that we successfully (and deservedly) voted Joey Votto into the All-Star Game and watched Votto thank us by belting a first-inning home run – his 22nd of the season and third this week – to the lows of giving up walk-off home runs on back-to-back nights in Philly. A pair of crushing losses, and tonight’s was an absolute kick in the nuts. To watch Mike Leake – who was absolutely cruising all night until the 9th – give up a three-run homer to Greg Dobbs … then watch our closer (who we already knew can’t usually get three outs without walking someone, but tonight couldn’t even get TWO outs without walking someone) walk a guy who’s hitting .256 with one homer before allowing a homer by a 34-year-old journeyman who has bounced back and forth between Triple-A and the Majors since 2001 … and then Rhodes, when we were already down on the ground and spitting up blood, surrenders the double to Ibanez and the dong by Howard, which anyone could see coming from a mile away.

Oh yeah, AND we’re not getting Cliff Lee.

Painful. Extremely painful. I honestly don’t know if I would’ve left Leake in there after he had allowed hits by three of the first four batters he faced in the ninth. They obviously wanted him to get the complete game, his pitch count was low (I think it was only 85 when he entered the inning) and it didn’t appear as if the win was in danger. Wouldn’t surprise me if there was some second-guessing, but there certainly wouldn’t be if we just had a closer who could come in and get two friggin’ outs.

I know what you’re thinking … the guy has 24 saves – tops in the National League – and Dave’s just bitter because he’s got him on his fantasy squad and he’s in a tight head-to-head showdown this week. You’re right. But I’d be plenty bitter just as a Reds fan at this point, even if I weren’t a Cordero fantasy owner. He also leads the Majors with 30 save opps. Cordero has now allowed 22 walks in 40 2/3 innings. That’s pretty unacceptable. Of all of the closers in MLB this season with 15 or more saves, Carlos Marmol is the only one with more than 20 walks (and he’s struck out 77!, so it’s a little easier to stomach). Compare Coco’s 22 walks to 7 by Broxton, 7 by Matt Capps, 9 by Leo Nunez, 5 by Ryan Franklin. (There are a bunch in single digits in the AL too.) And all of those guys are within a handful of innings pitched of Coco.

I know your closer isn’t going to go 1-2-3 every time you run him out there, but how about every once in a while! Since June 21, Cordero has notched seven saves – not bad. But he’s allowed 18 of the past 42 batters he’s faced to reach base. And this isn’t the first stretch where he’s been bad. You’re just playing with fire every time you run him out there, and a guy who’s making more than $12 million should probably be lights-out a little bit more often. Five home runs is kind of a lot before the break too. Among closers, only Papelbon has served up more than 5.

I realize it’s apples to oranges, but it’s still pretty incredible that Coco’s 22 walks in 40 2/3 are more than Halladay has allowed (18) in 139 IP, more than Carl Pavano has allowed (17) in 118 IP, more than Scott Baker has allowed (19) in 109 IP and, sadly, way more than Cliff Lee has allowed (6) in 103 2/3 innings this season.

Take that, Charlie

For the second time in a week, a National League manager named Manuel was ejected during a game against the Reds. But unlike Charlie, we don’t really have a problem with Jerry … pretty impressive tantrum actually. NO LOVE FOR CHARLIE.

I read John Fay’s notebook item about how Votto said he’s over the snub (which is impressive, because we definitely aren’t. Adrian Gonzalez?! Omar Infante?!?! Come on!!) That he’s over it is the right thing for him to say for sure, but HOW COOL WAS IT that he made a nice little statement by CLUBBING two home runs in the Reds’ 8-6 win against the Mets on Monday. I’d say that’s letting your actions speak. And the fact that the two homers gave him the league lead made it even cooler. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Charlie.

OK, that’s enough. Go do some Vott-ing!!

Charlie Manuel – persona non grata

Operation: Manuel Override
I’m not usually a huge boo-er, but I do think Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel deserves to get booed mercilessly the next time he’s introduced at a Reds game for his questionable HOMER selection of Ryan Howard to the National League All-Star squad – even though our man Joey Votto has better numbers – in addition to, as pointed out by Jeff Passan of Yahoo!, his inexplicable selection of Omar Infante instead of Votto.

Votto – .313, 19 HR, 57 RBI, 53 runs, 7 SB, .988 OPS (leads NL)
Howard – .296, 15 HR, 58 RBI, 52 runs, 0 SB, .859 OPS
A. Gonzalez (players’ pick) – .295, 16 HR, 51 RBI, 43 runs, 0 SB, .902 OPS
Infante – .311, 1 HR, 22 RBI, 23 runs, 3 SB, .721 OPS

Unfortunately, the Phillies don’t return to Great American Ball Park this season. They were just here last week, and what I wouldn’t give to turn back time, go back to the game I attended last week (which, unfortunately, was the one we lost in extra innings after none other than VOTTO himself hit a 3-run homer to tie it in the bottom of the ninth against Manuel and the Phils) and boo the crap out of him. Thanks for not holding a grudge though, Charlie; I’m sure it tore you up that you didn’t get as much beauty sleep after Votto extended the game an extra half-hour or so.

Anyway, here’s what we’re going to need. For those Reds fans who will be lucky enough to be in attendance in Philly when we play the Phillies this week (Thursday through Sunday), we’re going to need you to let Charlie hear it. But you may need to be a little discrete about it because some Philly fans are pretty crazy and might puke on you if they hear you booing their skipper.

The rest of us will have to boo our TV sets. And wait for next year’s schedule to come out to see when the Phillies will be here. IF Manuel even makes it to next year with the team. (I mean, they could be back to a .500 team after we sweep them this week, and they have big expectations in Philly.) And vote for Votto, of course.

Note: “Operation: Manuel Override” – Gotta give credit, where credit is due.

OMGRant – still bitter about Cantu

Updating an item from 5/4/09 that’s still relevant (updates from original post in bold)

I’m still amazed that Reds fans don’t complain more about the fact that the team COMPLETELY GAVE UP ON Jorge Cantu and let him walk after the 2007 season. Somebody clearly made a great call taking a flyer on this guy after the (then-Devil) Rays gave up hope following a disappointing 2006 season and after he hit .207 in 58 at-bats for them in 2007. But the Reds knew he wasn’t that far removed from .286-28-117, which is what he did at 23 years old in 2005. So they gave up basically nothing for him in July 2007 and he proceeded to hit .298 in 57 at-bats for the Reds. But I don’t understand how you just give up on a guy who has shown huge potential previously and hits .298 for you now that he’s healthy again.

In all honesty (I’m not blowing smoke here) I called P-Doc during Extra Innings right around the end of the 2007 season and said it’d be nice if they gave Cantu a serious look at first base the following year. Nobody was really talking about him much because it was a part-time role he had even after the Reds traded for him. P-Doc pretty much shrugged it off and pointed out that the Reds ought to focus on their rising stars. Now I’m not suggesting that I’d want Cantu as my first baseman over Votto. But this guy plays 3B too, and I don’t think we would’ve needed to give up EE, Roenicke and Stewart for Rolen if we still had Cantu.

Look, all this guy has done since the Reds released him after 2007 is hit .277 with 29 home runs and 95 RBI in 2008, .289 with 100 RBI in 2009 and .303 with 13 RBI in 8 games so far this year.

Cantu homered Wednesday night, making him the first player in major league history to have at least one hit and one RBI in each of his team’s first nine games.

Cantu’s mark dates to 1920, when RBI became an official statistic.

Including last season, Cantu has 13 consecutive games with a hit and an RBI, the longest streak since Mike Piazza went 15 straight from June 14-July 2, 2000.

And every time I watch him face the Reds there’s barely even a mention during the broadcast that we gave up on him.

And in case you were wondering, don’t blame Walt Jocketty. Cantu was released by the Reds Dec. 5, 2007; Jocketty was hired as a Special Adviser to the Reds on Jan. 11, 2008.