Friday, June 30, 2006

No worries

Brandon Phillips is one cool customer. That's one reason why he's not sweating Sunday's announcement of the NL All-Star team.

The Reds second baseman can make a legitimate case for All-Star inclusion. He was batting .310 with 7 home runs and 44 RBI and 15-for-15 in stolen bases entering tonight's action.

“I’ll worry about it when I find out if I’m going or not going," Phillips said of his All-Star hopes. "Right now, I‘m just trying to win and have a good season. I’m just playing baseball. I always have fun. I never worry about things I can’t control.”

The All-Star selections for both leagues will be made public on Sunday at 7 p.m.

UPDATE: Phillips tied a career-high with four hits tonight.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Peter Gammons

As of Wednesday night, legendary, Sports Illustrated and Boston Globe baseball writer Peter Gammons was resting comfortably in intensive care after undergoing surgery for a brain aneurysm. He was listed in good condition. Gammons suffered the aneurysm at his home on Tuesday.

In a statement, Gammons' wife Gloria said:

"Peter is resting comfortably after surgical repair of a brain aneurysm. We appreciate all of your good wishes and ask that you keep Peter in your thoughts and prayers." has created a manner in which fans and well-wishers can send messages to Gammons. Here's the link:

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Ryan Freel weighs in ...

on the contract extension for Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky.

“I don’t think there’s another GM out there who has made the kind of moves he’s made,” Freel said. “We have a GM who knows what the heck he’s doing. We’d be 20 games below .500 without the guys he brought in.”

Sooner or later ...

Austin Kearns is going to throw a runner out at first base on a hit to right field.

Until Tuesday, Kearns has unleashed his arm exclusively on slow-running pitchers. Last night, he nearly nabbed Mark Grudzielanek.

The Royals second baseman singled sharply to right field in the sixth inning. Kearns fielded the ball on one hop and fired to first base. But, Grudzielanek beat the throw by a half-step.

Kearns has yet to be successful in his attempts, which he says are not intended to embarrass the runners.

"I tried it a couple of times in the minor-leagues," he said prior to tonight's game. "I'm not just doing it for show. I'm trying to get an out."

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

It's never too early, I guess

In this morning's Enquirer, prep sports writers Tom Groeschen and Ryan Ernst weighed in on expectations for the upcoming high school football season.

I thought that was a tad early considering summer practice doesn't begin for another six weeks.

Then, ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit threw out the first pitch prior to tonight's Reds/Royals game at Great American Ball Park to kick off the hype for his Ohio/USA high school football challenge.

Moments later, Colerain Cardinals head coach Kerry Coombs, who participated in the pre-game ceremony, passed me as I was entering the press box.

Geez, even amid the Reds' recent good fortune, football is never far removed from the minds of folks in this town.

By the way, Adam Dunn caught Herbstreit's ceremonial first pitch to comprise a battery of former college quarterbacks.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Sensitivity training?

Phillies pitcher Brett Myers "apologized" for an alleged physical altercation with his wife by saying he was sorry that the incident went public.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen displayed "remorse" for using a homophobic term to describe a Chicago columnist by initially scoffing at the idea that he attend sensitivity training.

Guillen, who has been reprimanded more than once for his lack of verbal restraint, called Sun Times columnist Jay Mariotti a "fag" among other things.

A witness told the Boston Globe that Myers was "dragging (his wife) by the hair and slapping her across the face. It was awful". Myers' wife told police that her husband struck her twice in the face with his fist.

That isn't the worst of it. The real shame is that neither Myers nor Guillen has missed a game.

UPDATE: Myers today announced that he will be taking a "personal leave of absence" from the team until after the All-Star Break.

Resilient Reds return home

Whenever we're about to read the last rites for this club, they somehow manage to pick themselves up off the mat.

Following a 2-8 homestand, their worst since 1950, the Reds responded by taking 2 of 4 from the first-place Mets in New York and 2 of 3 from the Indians at Jacobs Field.

The Reds currently lead the NL Wild Card race and are just two games behind the first-place Cardinals in the Central Division.

“I really don't think we're going to go away,” said manager Jerry Narron recently. “It’s a long season. You’re going to have a lot of ups and downs. We would like to be more consistent, no question about that.”

How 'bout a few more wins at home, skip?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Bruce lives up to billing

Reds' top draft choice Jay Bruce put on a show at the Midwest League All-Star Game on Tuesday.

He went 3-for-5 with a home run, double, single, three runs scored, and two stolen bases to earn the “Star of Stars” Award.

Bruce hit only one homer during the pre-game Home Run Derby but redeemed himself a few hours later to help the East squad earn the victory.

No regrets

While I was vacationing on the beach in Charleston, SC, the Reds were being swept by the White Sox to complete a 2-8 homestand, their worst since 1950.

Sorry I missed it. Ok, I'm not.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Batting practice Bengals

A rather unusual sight greeted me when I arrived at Great American Ball Park this morning.

Mixed among the Reds players on the field during batting practice was a contingent of rather large human beings sporting orange T-Shirts.

Turns out, it was the Cincinnati Bengals who begin their mini-camp at Paul Brown Stadium this week.

Several Bengals players took their hacks in the batting cage led by linebacker David Pollack who emerged as the overwhelming star.

Among Pollack's batting practice homers was a shot that struck the LaRosa's sign just below the left-field bleachers.

By the way, a Louisville Slugger looks more like a toothpick when held by the 6-5, 340-pound Willie Anderson.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Ross' play answers Krivsky's critics

Wayne Krivsky knew what he was doing when he acquired catcher David Ross from the Padres.

"Why trade for another catcher when we already have Jason LaRue and Javier Valentin?" cried the naysayers. "Why carry three catchers?"

Perhaps the Reds' GM knew Ross was capable of supplanting one of the other two?

As it turns out, Ross is the best of the three.

Ross has batted .347 with 9 home runs and 22 RBI in 29 games. He produced his third career two-homer game on Monday night.

LaRue was batting .184 and had a recent 0-for-29 skid. Valentin, while a capable pinch-hitter, isn't an every-day guy.

Ross says the competition has been beneficial for him.

"I think we root for each other," said Ross during an interview for an upcoming Downtowner Newspaper column. "We're all good catchers capable of doing the job for a lot of teams. It has been tough for playing time with three guys. But, I think it's been a bonus."

When Ross became Bronson Arroyo's catcher of choice, it assured him of one start every fifth day.

Ross has started behind the plate in 7 of the past 10 games.

Monday, June 12, 2006


On a day when Fifth Third Field in Dayton was named one of the 10 best ballparks in the minor leagues, the Dragons gave their fans barely two hours to enjoy their stay.

That's how long it took right-hander Carlos Fisher and the Dragons to dispel of the West Michigan Whitecaps tonight in Dayton.

Fisher, an 11th round pick in the 2005 first-year player draft out of Lewis and Clark State College, allowed just three hits in seven innings and struck out 10 to help lead the Dragons to a 1-0 victory.

The 10 strikeouts match Travis Wood for Dayton's season-high. The game's duration was the shortest of the season for the Dragons.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Enough already

If I hear one more fan cite the high cost of concessions as a reason for not attending games at Great American Ball Park, I'm going to scream.

Look, concession prices at professional sporting events are high everywhere. This is not a condition unique to Cincinnati.

Fact is, Great American Ball Park ranks as the 8th LEAST expensive among the 30 MLB teams. ranked the Reds as the 8th best value in the big leagues. The Fan Cost Index at Great American Ball Park was 7th-best among the 30 teams. Ticket prices were reasonable as well at 19th out of 30.

High ticket prices, expensive concessions, inadequate parking and safety issues exist in all major league towns, and yet attendance is up in most locales. The proper question to ask is: what makes these issues more of a concern here than in other similar-sized cities like, say, St. Louis?

My theory: Cincinnati has a dwindling population of young, single, urban professionals. These are the folks who couldn't care less about the cost of taking a family of four to the ballpark, which is the most oft used measure. They are also the most likely to jet downtown on a whim to attend a Reds game. Recent comments from the majority of the population here seem to indicate that attending Reds games is an arduous chore which requires much advance planning and a laundry list of costs and hassles. Geez, is it really that much of an ordeal?

Attendance at Reds games has been solid that past two nights. Of course, a large portion of the ballpark was populated by Cubs fans who don't seem to care too much about high costs or, for that matter, their club's position in the standings.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Sharp as a tack

Joe Nuxhall appears drawn and still has a lingering cough. That's certainly to be expected after spending seven days at Fairfield Mercy Hospital with double pneumonia.

But, there's certainly nothing wrong with the 'Ol Lefthander's memory.

Nuxhall was honored in a pre-game ceremony at the Reds Hall of Fame tonight in honor of the 62nd anniversary of his major league debut. On June 10, 1944, Nuxhall became the youngest player in the modern era to appear in a big league game when he took the mound for the Reds at the age of 15 years 10 months and 11 days. He allowed five runs, five walks and two hits in 2/3 innings.

When a reporter asked Nuxhall who the umpire was that "squeezed" him that day, Nuxhall said he believed it was Larry Goetz, a Cincinnatian who umpired in the majors from 1936 to 1956.

We were able to confirm through Retrosheet that Goetz was indeed the home plate umpire that day. Good job Nuxie.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Rocket launch

Lexington, Ky. - The folks at Legends Field deserve a round of applause for their handling of the media circus which enveloped their ballpark last night for Roger Clemens' first minor-league start.

The press box at Legends Field has a capacity of, I'm guessing, 30. The ballpark itself has a seating capacity of around 6,000. There were 131 media credentials issued and attendance was listed at 9,222.

You do the math.

Other than some glitches with the wireless internet in the media tent, everything went off without a hitch.

Clemens looked strong, allowing one run on three hits, no walks, and six strikeouts in three innings. He's scheduled to pitch Sunday for Double-A Corpus Christi and then make one start for Triple-A Round Rock before rejoining the Astros.

"It was a circus atmosphere," said Clemens. "It took me some time to get locked in."

The Astros, who just lost Roy Oswalt to the 15-day DL, hope it doesn't take 'Rocket' long to lock in at Houston.

Monday, June 05, 2006

There's precedent

The Reds swept the Astros this weekend in Houston for the first time since 1999.

Ah, '99.

My first season covering the club was a magical one with Jack McKeon's Redlegs rolling to 96 victories before falling one win short of reaching the playoffs.

If you recall, it was a four-game sweep at the Dome in Houston in late June which jumpstarted the '99 Reds to a memorable run which put them on the brink of the playoffs. Ron Villone (remember him?) tossed a one-hitter at the 'Stros to highlight that series.

We'll find out beginning in St. Louis tonight if the Reds can carry the momentum of this past weekend's broom-job in Houston into the rest of the season.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Who says sports reporters are out of shape?

My wife and I joined more than 1,300 others in running the Redlegs Run for Home 5K this morning. A good time, and workout, was had by all.

The race began on Mehring Way behind Great American Ball Park, continued west of Paul Brown Stadium before returning to the ballpark where it concluded near the visitors dugout.

The voice of the Bengals, Brad Johansen, and 700 WLW's Bill "Seg" Dennison served as MC's for the event. Tom Browning was the official horn-blower at the starting line.

Reds COO John Allen and his wife, WLW's Andy Furman and "Yiddy" Ambruster, and several Reds employees were among the participants.

By the way, I finished in 29:45. That's a 9:36 mile. Not bad for a sports writer, eh?

UPDATE: The Redlegs Run for Home generated more than $54,000 for the Reds Community Fund. Nice job.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Want to catch Clemens in Lexington?

Forget it.

Tuesday's game at 6,000-seat Legends Field is sold out.

I'll be on hand for A full report will be posted here following the game.

Clemens was expected to arrive in Cincinnati today to visit the grave of his mother, Bess, who passed away last year.

Here are the details on the Rocket's return to the Astros and his debut next week in the Bluegrass State:

Joe Nuxhall update

A message from Joe Nuxhall's son, Kim:

"Joe is resting comfortably at Mercy Fairfield Hospital, where he is being treated for pneumonia. His health is improved from yesterday, but he will remain in the hospital for a few more days. Joe’s family and I appreciate your support, thoughts and prayers."