Tuesday, February 27, 2007

No inductee? No problem

Aside from Cooperstown, New York's need for tourism dollars and Major League Baseball's own private initiatives, who's to say there has to be an induction ceremony at the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum every summer?

Perhaps the Veterans Committee is sending the proper message but being overly stingy with its voting, failing to elect a single player in three consecutive votes.

Hall of Fame chairman Jane Forbes Clark feels the committee's apparent lack of "cooperation" merits an investigation, of sorts.

"We are disappointed that no one has been elected in the three voting cycles," Forbes Clark said. "We will be evaluating this process and its trends at our next meeting ... and discussing whether there should be any changes."

What, like uncovering a new crop of more deserving candidates?

In my opinion, the National Baseball Hall of Fame was built for the likes of Ruth, Mays, Cobb and Aaron not Craig Biggio, who with his 3,000th hit this season will likely earn serious consideration.

The most unfortunate part of Forbes Clark's argument is ... she's right. The criteria for Hall of Fame candidacy has been diluted to the point where an argument can be made for virtually any player if you use the dreaded "if he's in, then he should be in" formula.

I, for one, would love to see former Cubs third baseman Ron Santo get his just due, based on the criteria the writers have set forth. Perhaps the veterans have other ideas.


Monday, February 26, 2007

Perez wins health battle, now back to baseball

How could I forget perhaps the best budding comeback story of spring camp - Miguel Perez.

Perez, an eloquent minor-league catcher and accomplished violinist, is trying to recover from a blood clot which required the removal of his right rib to relieve pressure on an artery. Shortly thereafter, Perez developed internal bleeding from an infection resulting from the surgery.

Perez, 23, is finally starting to concentrate on baseball again. The ever-articulate backstop says he's gained a new prespective on baseball and life as a result of his recent health issues.

"You're here today, but you don't know if you'll be here tomorrow," Perez said. "That's what I learned from this experience."

Best news of camp ... thus far

It's uncertain whether Paul Wilson will be a major contributor for the Reds this season, but just hearing some positive news in regard to the right-hander's progress will do for now.

It was sad to watch Wilson, one of the true gentleman in the game, become increasingly frustrated during his rollercoaster rehab last season.

I was among the throngs of media who ventured to Dayton to watch his encouraging rehab start with the Single-A Dragons only to see it all unravel for him soon after.

Wilson is a freak when it comes to physical conditioning. Not sure if there is a more physically-fit pitcher in the big-leagues, but even Wilson admits that he can overdo it at times.

Several observers at spring training camp in Sarasota say the early returns on Wilson are outstanding. But, live game-action still awaits as do many other hurdles and obstacles that will test Wilson's mettle.

One thing about this year's Reds, they have a laundry list of guys worth rooting for this spring. Among them are Wilson, Josh Hamilton, and Eddie Guardado who are trying to make comeback bids, and Homer Bailey who is looking to make his much-anticipated debut.

Plenty of storylines to go around.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Nuxhall misses pitch to Hall

Well, I guess if you have spent 35 years broadcasting Kansas City Royals games, you deserve something.

Better luck next time, Ol' Lefty.


Sunday, February 18, 2007

Columbus covers the Reds ... too

Beginning January 1, the Columbus Dispatch stopped charging a fee for access to its web site.

After being largely invisible to most area fans who could point and click to the Enquirer, Post and Dayton Daily News sites for free, the Dispatch is now a more easily-accessible outpost for Reds news and opinion.

The Dispatch's Jim Massie has been covering the Reds beat for many years, and he does one heck of a job. Massie fills in on the Ohio State womens basketball beat during the baseball offseason, but he'll be picking up full-time Reds coverage shortly.

If you have room in your links, I suggest you add the Dispatch prior to Opening Day.

What, no hot tub injury?

Unlike the Chicago Cubs' reckless right-hander Kerry Wood, the Reds' rumored-to-be right-fielder Ken Griffey Jr. maintains a rather mundane lifestyle off the field.

Speculation ran rampant about how he suffered a broken right hand this winter, but Griffey cleared the air for Reds beat writers yesterday in Sarasota.

Griffey's injury didn't occur in a barfight, during a 100-mph motorcycle romp or, like Wood, falling out of a hot tub. Griffey, 37, said he got into a wrestling match with a 13-year old ... and lost.

"I was wrestling with my kids, starting with the youngest (Tevin)," Griffey told Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News. "We were wrestling and the other two (Taryn, Trey) jumped on. The oldest (13-year old Trey) rolled over on me and I lost my balance. I used my wrist to try to avoid falling on the other two. Trey felt really bad about it."

Did I say "mundane" lifestyle? Griffey's injury occured on his yacht. Trust me, it ain't no bass boat.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

From hospital to Hall?

That's the hope for Joe Nuxhall.

Not there's ever a good time to be hospitalized, but for the Ol' Left-hander this couldn't have been worse timing - the first week of spring training and just days before the announcement of this year's Ford C. Frick Award winner.

Nuxhall, 78, is currently residing at Sarasota Memorial Hospital where he's being treated for a recurrence of lymphoma.

"The treatment is going well," said Nuxhall's son, Kim, yesterday. "He was up walking, which is good. The next thing are the spots on his leg, how they're going to treat those. If he has chemotherapy, he'll come back home, if they think that's best. If he has radiation, he'll stay (in Sarasota)."

Nuxhall is among the finalists for the Baseball Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award given for broadcasting excellence. The winner will be announced on Thursday.

First things first, Joe. Get well. The Hall of Fame comes second.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Yes, I cover girls basketball ...

When you're coaching girls basketball players who are more likely to become doctors, lawyers or corporate executives than play college hoops, all you can do is have fun.

Such is the case with Indian Hill High School head coach Don Ulmer.

"We get up and down the floor well," Ulmer says of his team. "And, sometimes we remember to take the ball with us."

For those not aware, kids at IHHS generally aren't lacking financially or intellectually.

But, last night Ulmer's Braves were outsmarted - go figure - by Western Brown head coach Jon Crall who drew up a new defense at halftime to help rally his team to a Division II sectional win:


Trust me, covering prep girls basketball can be entertaining at times, sans dunks and vertical leaps measured in feet, of course.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Sir Albert the Citizen

Albert Pujols, who was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, became a U.S. citizen this past week.

The Cardinals slugger's new-found citizenship is an admirable achievement, but the means by which he attained the title is even more impressive.

Pujols aced the citizenship test in much the same manner in which he has bashed NL pitching for the past five seasons - with a perfect score. Yep, Pujols got 100-percent of the questions correct.

Sure, he was given the standard study guides, but it's still an impressive feat. Here's a copy of the test. Give it a try. Don't cheat.


Friday, February 09, 2007

Standing in line is sooo 2005

I remember how much fun it was to take the train to Wrigley Field and "camp" outside the ballpark for bleacher seats which were sold, not in advance, but day of game only.

Bleacher seats cost $2 then. A gallon of gas cost less. Some traditions die hard.

With increasing demand to buy online, the age-old custom of camping out to purchase seats for concerts or major sporting events is becoming, well, a thing of the past.

Innovations such as Tickets.com and ticket bundling marketing strategies have made standing in line and speed dial a passing fancy. Nowadays, all you need is a broadband connection and a credit card and you can snare any ticket you wish.

Last year, some fans camped out for a week for Opening Day tickets. Do the words "wind chill advisory" mean anything to you?

Anyway, the attached Enquirer story uncovers how the Reds are out to spoil your fun ... so to speak. Opening Day tickets are no guarantee, unless you're a season ticket holder.

So stay inside, before you catch a death of cold.


Thursday, February 08, 2007

Arroyo: "The fans have embraced me here"

Last spring, Bronson Arroyo was anything but happy to be in a Reds uniform. He was in the process of building a house not far from Fenway Park when his beloved Red Sox traded him to Cincinnati in exchange for Wily Mo Pena and cash. Arroyo's bitterness still lingered when he joined the Reds in spring training.

But, after a stellar 2006 season in Cincinnati, Arroyo began to feel more at home. Today, the 30-year old right-hander signed a deal that will, in principle, keep him in the Queen City for several more years.

"I still have fond memories of Boston," Arroyo said. "But, the fans have embraced me here. Obviously, I wouldn't be signing a deal that keeps me here for another five years if I didn't enjoy myself. Locking up a deal like this is once in a lifetime."

For the Reds, who inked Aaron Harang to a long-term deal on Tuesday, it's more like twice in a week.

Dynamic duo inked through 2010

When the Reds acquired right-handed pitcher/musician Bronson Arroyo from the Red Sox last spring, comical reliever Kent Mercker said, "Well, our karaoke just got better."

The Reds starting rotation improved as well.

The Reds today rewarded Arroyo with a two-year contract extension through the 2010 season with a club option for 2011. On Tuesday, right-hander Aaron Harang avoided arbitration by agreeing to a four-year contract through the 2010 season with a club option for 2011.

Last season, Arroyo and Harang became the first duo in Reds history to produce at least 200 innings and 184 strikeouts each. They tied for the major-league lead in starts. Arroyo ranked first in the majors in innings pitched (240.2). Harang finished third in the NL in that category (234.1).

Arroyo, 30, last season was a National League All-Star and was voted by the Cincinnati chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America the winner of both the Johnny Vander Meer Award as the club’s Most Outstanding Pitcher and the Joe Nuxhall Good Guy Award.

On March 20, Arroyo was acquired from the Red Sox in exchange for Wily Mo Pena and cash.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Thou shalt covet pitching

When it comes to right-hander Aaron Harang, ‘Thou shalt not covet’ is one commandment the Reds have chosen to ignore.

The Reds yesterday signed Harang to a four-year contract worth more than $36 million. The new deal virtually assures he’ll be a Red through the 2010 season with a club option for 2011.

Harang went 16-11 last season with a 3.76 ERA with a NL-leading 216 strikeouts and six complete games, becoming the first Reds pitcher to lead the league in both victories and strikeouts since Ewell “The Whip” Blackwell did it in 1947.

Fans frustrated with the Reds’ inactivity in the free-agent pitching market can take some solace in the club’s decision to reach into the coffers to retain Harang. It’s a move for the future, not the quick-fix strategy we’ve seen all too often.

“We couldn’t be more excited about getting a deal done,” said GM Wayne Krivsky at Tuesday's press conference at Great American Ball Park. “This sends a heck of a message to our fans and our players. It shows a commitment by ownership to step up and keep Aaron here for the foreseeable future.”