Thursday, April 30, 2009

Elias on Edinson

From our good friends at the Elias Sports Bureau:

Edinson Volquez allowed only one hit in eight innings in his 3–0 win over the Astros on Wednesday, after giving up just one hit (while walking seven) in five innings in a loss to the Braves in his last start.

The last pitcher with consecutive starts of five-plus innings and no more than one hit allowed was the Nationals’ Shawn Hill, who did it spanning a trip to the disabled list in 2007.

The last Reds pitcher with consecutive starts like that was Ron Villone in 1999; the last before him was Johnny Vander Meer, who had consecutive no-hitters in 1938.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Miller incentives tell tale

Enquirer columnist Paul Daugherty got his hands on the details of former Xavier coach Sean Miller's deal with Arizona.

Included within Miller's reported seven-year, $18 million deal is a host of bonuses, a few of which highlight the disparity in values between a Pac-10 power with national championship aspirations and Xavier's program from the Atlantic-10.

Miller would earn $675,000 if the Wildcats won a national title. He gets $25K for a first or second-round NCAA Tournament win, $50K for reaching the Elite Eight, and $175K for a Final Four appearance.

A top-10 finish in the AP Poll earns Miller $30K, or $20K for Top 20. If he's named Pac-10 Coach of the Year, an additional $20K comes his way.

Regardless, Miller will get two cars, 20 basketball season tickets, 8 football season tickets, and 30 private jet hours a year.

As a non-descript throw-in, Miller would get $25K if 42-percent or more of his players graduated. Just 42-percent, less than half.

At least Miller no longer has to concern himself with such trivial matters as an education.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Reds welcome power trio - Aaron, Cosby and Ali.

Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Cincinnati Reds today announced the MLB Beacon Award recipients at a press conference today at the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum.

The three honorees are Bill Cosby for the Beacon of Hope, Hank Aaron for the Beacon of Life and Muhammad Ali for the Beacon of Change. The MLB Beacon Awards recognize individuals whose lives are emblematic of the spirit of the civil rights movement.

The announcement was made in preparation for the Civil Rights Game, which pays tribute to one of our country’s most significant eras of social change and honors Major League Baseball’s involvement in the historic struggle through which legendary African-American players broke barriers and made important contributions to American society.

The game is June 20th between the Reds at Chicago White Sox at Great American Ball Park. This will be the first regular season Civil Rights Game and the first in Cincinnati since the inaugural Civil Right Game in Memphis, TN in 2007.
“Cincinnati has a rich baseball history and has played a significant role throughout our country’s journey towards civil equality,” said Bob Castellini, Reds President and CEO. “We are working with the City of Cincinnati and many of our community partners and sponsors to make this a weekend to remember.”

In addition to the Civil Rights Game on June 20, there will be a series of weekend events commemorating this special occasion. On Friday afternoon, there will be a roundtable discussion at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, which will be moderated by Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogeltree. On Saturday, the MLB Beacon Award winners will be honored at the MLB Beacon Awards Luncheon at the Duke Energy Center, and there will also be a youth summit that day.

Can't blame Miller, but bad timing.

After days of rumor, innuendo and a couple changes of heart, Sean Miller is off to the desert with $18 million over seven years in his back pocket.

Now, on to Xavier, where the timing couldn't have been worse.

By most accounts, next year's Muskies were shaping up to be a preseason top-10 team with Final Four aspirations. Now, we wonder which recruits might bail and if any current players will file their transfer papers.

This possibility makes the coaching search tenuous. It also makes the selection of top assistant Chris Mack more enticing.

The 39-year old Mack might not be ready to take the reigns of a Division I program with two Elite Eights and a couple Sweet 16's in the past 5 years, but he's the one guy who might be able to execute the damage control.

For many recruits, Mack is the face of X. He has a strong relationship with present and future players, as evidenced by the endorsements he's already received from a number of key Muskies.

If you're Xavier AD Mike Bobinski, do you hold out for an external candidate, or do you hire Mack if only for the purpose of stemming the tide?

With one of its greatest teams just months from taking the court, Xavier is in a sticky situation. As Miller heads off to build a national championship contender at Arizona, he leaves a potential mess on Victory Parkway.

In a few short days, the best of times at Xavier became the worst.

No early returns

A seven-year, $161 million investment did not pay dividends on Opening Day as the Yanks' prized pitcher, C.C. Sabbathia, was roughed up for six earned runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings in a 10-5 loss at Baltimore.

Most disconcerting for the Bombers was C.C.'s five walks and zero strikeouts. Too early to declare the honeymoon over, but a quick glance of this morning's back pages confirms C.C. isn't in Milwaukee anymore.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Missing it already

On Opening Day 1999, this wet-behind-the-ears sports writer waltzed into the press box at Cinergy Field for the first time, knowing barely a thing about covering big-league baseball.

There are those who'd argue that remains to be the case, but I'd like to think that during the past 10 years I've grown as a writer and as a person having worked alongside some of the most talented scribes to grace the Reds beat, such as Hall of Famer Hal McCoy.

To be clear, this isn't a farewell speech. I'll be back. Soon I hope.

But, Monday, April 6 marks the first Opening Day in 13 seasons that I will walk into a Reds ballpark carrying a ticket rather than donning a credential.

Sunday's team workout was the first I'd missed since 2000, the first following the celebrated arrival of Ken Griffey Jr.

I haven't attended an Opening Day as a spectator since 1996. I'm anxious to see what I've been missing. I hear beer is in abundance.

The economy has hit hard. The weekly newspaper for which I worked as a columnist since 1997 folded this past winter. In addition,, one of my feature writing clients, slashed its freelance budget in response to these difficult economic times.

As a result, my Major League Baseball writing assignments will be fewer. It remains to be seen how few, but I'm still holding out hope that I'll get to cover my share of big-league games at Great American Ball Park this season.

I'm encouraged that business still is good in the freelance writing game. The fall and winter has brought an increasing number of basketball and football assignments, both high school and college. I'd surely trade a handful of them to cover the game I love, as baseball is indeed my passion.

But, tomorrow I'll be shivering along with you, making the best of Cincinnati's most precious day amid the wintery conditions. I'll hoist a beer and hum along to 'Take Me Out To the Ballgame'.

I might even cheer. Shhh. Don't tell anyone.

Friday, April 03, 2009

XM to air entire MLB season

NEW YORK – April 3, 2009 – SIRIUS XM Radio (NASDAQ: SIRI) announced today that XM Radio will air every game of the 2009 MLB season live nationwide starting with Opening Night, April 5, when the World Series Champion Philadelphia Phillies will host the Atlanta Braves at 8:00 pm ET at Citizens Bank Park. Listeners from coast to coast will hear the Phillies radio broadcast for the game, featuring legendary broadcaster Harry Kalas, Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen, on XM channel 175.

MLB Home Plate, SIRIUS XM’s 24-hour baseball talk channel, will broadcast live on Opening Night from Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia prior to the Phillies-Braves game. Scott Graham and former Major League catcher and manager Buck Martinez will host a pre-game special from 5:00-8:00 pm, interviewing players and talking to fans around the country as a lead-in to that night’s game and the start of the 2009 season.

The following day, April 6, XM will carry all 13 games from MLB’s traditional Opening Day. Through the regular season and post-season, XM will air every game from all 30 Major League teams on XM channels 175 to 189. A schedule of upcoming MLB games on XM can be found at Listeners can also get Spanish-language broadcasts of games on MLB En Espanol, XM channel 174.

On Monday, April 6, MLB Home Plate host and former Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox manager Kevin Kennedy will report live from Fenway Park in Boston before the Red Sox play the Tampa Bay Rays and from 1:00-4:00 pm ET, Seth Everett and former Mets GM Jim Duquette will host a special edition of their daily MLB Home Plate show, Power Alley, live from Camden Yards in Baltimore before the Orioles face the New York Yankees.

"Once again XM listeners will have access to every Major League Baseball game with no blackouts or exclusions,” said Scott Greenstein, SIRIUS XM’s President and Chief Content Officer. “So no matter where they live, fans won’t miss a game involving their favorite team. Plus, they’ll be treated to game calls from some of the game’s legendary voices like Vin Scully, Harry Kalas, Bob Uecker and others.”

In addition to live play-by-play coverage, SIRIUS XM offers baseball fans 24 hour coverage of the game on MLB Home Plate, the only radio channel dedicated to covering Major League Baseball seven days a week, 365 days a year. Now available to both XM and SIRIUS subscribers (XM channel 175, SIRIUS channel 210 with the “Best of XM” programming package), MLB Home Plate offers the most comprehensive radio coverage of the Major Leagues with a daily lineup of talk shows hosted by baseball experts and insiders like Cal Ripken Jr., Bill Ripken, Rob Dibble, Jim Duquette, Kevin Kennedy, Buck Martinez and others.

“MLB Home Plate offers both XM and SIRIUS listeners a true insider’s look at the game,” said Greenstein. “Our hosts provide the kind of perspective that can only be learned as a big league player, manager or front office executive. Listeners can hear compelling interviews with players and managers every day and fans can call in to talk about the topics that are on their minds.”

MLB Home Plate Daily Schedule: (All times ET)

· 7 – 10 am: Baseball This Morning with Scott Graham and Buck Martinez
· 10 am – 1 pm: Power Alley with Seth Everett, Jim Duquette and Billy Ripken
· 1 – 4 pm: Inside Pitch with Jeff Joyce and Kevin Kennedy
· 3 – 6 pm: The Show with Jody McDonald and Rob Dibble
· 6 – 7 pm: XM PreGame (Fantasy 411 6pm – 8pm Fridays with Mike Siano and Cory Schwartz)
· 7 - 10 pm: Game (8p-11p Fridays after Fantasy 411)
· 10 pm – 2am: MLB Live with Joe Castellano

· 8 – 10 am: Minors and Majors with Grant Paulsen
· 10 am – 1 pm: Talking Baseball with Ed Randall
· 1 pm – 4 pm: Game
· 4 pm – 7 pm: MLB Live Weekend with Casey Stern
· 7 pm – 10 pm: Game
· 10 pm – 2 am: MLB Live Weekend with Lee Hamilton

· 8 – 10 am: Minors and Majors with Grant Paulsen
· 10 am – 1 pm: MLB Live Weekend with Holden Kushner
· 1 pm – 4 pm: Game
· 4 pm – 8 pm: MLB Live Weekend with Lee Hamilton
· 8 pm – 11 pm: Game
· 11 pm – 2 am: MLB Live Weekend with Joe Castellano

**This schedule is subject to change based on game schedule.

For more information please visit

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Fans to watch Reds BP in Dayton

DAYTON, OH—The Dayton Dragons announced today that Fifth Third Field gates will open at the special time of 1:00 p.m. for Saturday’s 3:05 p.m. Reds Futures Game. Gates are opening one hour earlier than normal for this historic game to allow fans the opportunity to view pre-game activities.

“While we normally do not open the ballpark for batting practice, the Dragons feel that the significance of this event creates special circumstances,” said Robert Murphy, Dragons President. “If the Reds and the Futures Team are able to take batting practice, we want fans to have the opportunity to see it.”

The Reds and the Futures Team are both tentatively scheduled to take batting practice on Saturday. The special 1:00 p.m. opening would allow fans to be present for both rounds. However, batting practice for either team could be waived at the Reds discretion based on weather, travel and/or their arrival time to Fifth Third Field.

Tentative Batting Practice Times

Futures Team: 12:55-1:40 p.m.
Reds: 1:40-2:25 p.m.

The Reds Futures Game offers fans a unique opportunity to see the Reds Major League players along with their best minor league prospects from the Single-A, Double-A, and Triple-A levels. Many current Reds players played for the Dragons including first baseman Joey Votto, outfielders Jay Bruce and Chris Dickerson, third baseman Edwin Encarnacion, and pitchers Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey. Many players on the Futures Team also played for the Dragons including infielder Todd Frazier, outfielder Drew Stubbs, shortstop Chris Valaika, and third baseman Juan Francisco.

The Reds Futures Game at Fifth Third Field is believed to be the first time that a Major League team has played a collection of its top prospects in the ballpark where many of those players once played.

A limited number of lawn tickets remain available for the game. Lawn tickets are $12.00. Lawn tickets can be purchased at the Fifth Third Field Box Office, by calling (937) 228-BATS (2287), or by emailing More information is available at The Box Office is open Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

An ode to ink on my fingers

Stored inside a cabinet in my basement office are acid-free boxes designed to preserve history. If you believe everything that's been written and said lately about the demise of newspapers, the boxes protect living fossils.

Alongside clips of stories I've written resides my personal collection of historic newspapers.

One features the complete text of Abraham Lincoln's second annual message to the nation from December 1862, taking up one-third of the front and back pages.

Another from 1796 discusses the transfer of land which would one day become Dayton, Ohio, signed in text by then-President of the United States George Washington.

I have Civil War papers, World War II papers, sports pages from the 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's, a Washington Times that tells the story of Babe Ruth's "called shot" in the 1932 World Series -- although Grantland Rice's tome doesn't mention that Ruth called the shot -- and an 1870 New York Times that recaps a game involving the Cincinnati Red Stockings of George and Harry Wright fame.

This is history, my friends.

Newspaper printed pre-1900 was composed of a mixture of cotton and linen making it virtually indestructible. A 1916 New York Times crumbles at the slightest touch, while papers from the 1700's are as prestine as the moment they were being read by Revolutionaries.

At my fingertips are moments in time captured in ink. Everything from the weather, to various aspects of daily life including classified ads, which most often are entertaining.

Some have fingerprints, coffee stains, cigarette or cigar burns. On December 2, 1862, who was reading the paper that I hold in my hands nearly 150 years later?

As I ponder the so-called "death" of newspapers, I often consider the journalistic loss, the disappearance of our last great democratic watch-dog. But, I also think about the romance that will be lost, the romance which drew me into this business in the first place.

Perhaps in a past life I sat on a train alongside Rice, Red Smith or Ring Lardner, in a smoke-filled cabin en route to the next town where I'll wax poetic in type-set about war, politics, or Ty Cobb.

Despite our difficult economic times, the historical significance of newspapers still is valued in this country.

When Obama was elected President, newspapers flew off the racks and from newstands throughout the country as citizens horded them as keepsakes. We didn't print off web pages and race to Hobby Lobby to have them framed.

From the Titanic to Pearl Harbor to 9/11, newspapers were our window to the world and its most tragic and celebratory stories.

I eat lunch in Downtown Cincinnati most days, and I always take a moment to scan my surroundings to see how many people are reading newspapers. In short, a lot.

USA Today, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Cincinnati Enquirer are the most popular.

The internet is the future, and newspapers are scrambing to keep up. There are many difficult challenges ahead. But, as we look forward to the future of newspapers and consider their value in present society, let's not forget what they've meant to us all along.

When my son, Benjamin, was born on March 3, 2009, I made sure to keep a copy of the Enquirer from that date. It's in an acid-free box in my office, not far from Abraham Lincoln.

What's new at Great American Ball Park?

Reds fans can look forward to these changes at 100 Joe Nuxhall Way during the 2009 season:

$5 Tickets and Menu Items

- $5 Single Game Tickets: $5 Outer View Level tickets are back to give fans a great value throughout the season. Tickets are in sections 509-510 and 536-537 (corners of the upper deck) and are available in advance and on game days, if available. The $5 tickets are available for all regular season games except for Opening Day.

- $1 Menu Items: $1 hot dog, $1 12 oz. Coca-Cola sodas, $1 bag of peanuts, $1 popcorn, $1 ice cream cup...available at two concessions on the fi rst base side, in the Fan Zone and on the View Level.

- $5 14 oz. draft beer: Sold at all beer stands except in club and suite levels

- $7 adult value meal: Regular hot dog, 16 oz. Coca-Cola soda and small chips or snack (18 locations)

- $5 kids value meal: Kids hot dog, small Coca-Cola soda, snack and baseball card (10 locations)

New Ballpark Features:

- HD Scoreboard Displays: New 140-foot x 40-foot High Definition scoreboard/videoboard in left fi HD “out of town” scoreboard display on the left fi eld fence...768 feet of new digital ribbon boards that wrap almost all the way around the stadium...NL standings displays on the right field light towers.

- FOX Sports Ohio Champions Club: A renovated Club 4192 is now the all-inclusive FOX Sports Ohio Champions Club, featuring a buffet with everything from hot dogs and burgers to subs and pasta, plus unlimited non-alcoholic beverages...and the new Champions Club Boxes featuring “race track-style” boxes and an outdoor bar. Over 40 LCD HDTV’s are prominently displayed in the Champions Club.

- Toyota Tundra: A brand new, bright red, Toyota Tundra is back at GABP for ‘09...and this year there is a “Hit Me” sign located between the Power Stacks in right field. If a Reds player hits the sign, a lucky fan will win the Tundra.

- Coca-Cola: Coca-Cola is now the official soft drink of the Reds. There is a new Coca-Cola sign on top of the scoreboard, complete with the iconic Coca-Cola script logo in red and white.

Two new exhibits at the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum:

- Crosley Field Remembered: Visitors to the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum will be immersed in the sights, sounds and feel of Crosley Field, the ballpark the Reds called home from 1912-1970. Unique visual representations, artifacts and interactive elements combine to bring Crosley Field back to life.

- Negro Leagues and Cincinnati: Through images, fi lm and artifacts, visitors will be able to take a glimpse at a part of Cincinnati baseball often forgotten or ignored. Negro Leagues and Cincinnati will enlighten and remind you of the importance baseball played in Cincinnati to all people.

Reds Go Green

- Recycling: Comprehensive recycling program with Rumpke for all plastics and paper waste with over 100 recycling containers throughout the ballpark

- Carbon Credits: In partnership with Duke Energy, the Reds purchased carbon credits to offsets the estimated fossil fuel emissions associated with the game day operation of GABP for Opening Day and on April 24 in recognition of Earth Day. The purchased carbon emission offsets will assist funding of the Nuevo Chimbote Municipal Solid Waste Composting Project in Peru.

Gillette Civil Rights Game Celebration, June 19-21

- The Reds are honored to host the Gillette Civil Rights Game, with a weekend full of events June 19-21. Held as part of the Major League regular season for the fi rst time, the Civil Rights Game pays tribute and celebrates our country’s most significant era of social change and honors MLB’s involvement.

- An awards luncheon featuring national icons and a youth summit on Fountain Square are a few of the events scheduled for the weekend. The Gillette Civil Rights Game vs. Chicago White Sox on Saturday, June 20 at 7:10 p.m. will feature both teams wearing 1964 throwback uniforms.

After 58 years, Sheppard silenced

When the New York Yankees are introduced on Opening Day at their new stadium, the crowd might not be listening to Bob Sheppard's voice for the first time in more than a half-century.

Sheppard, the venerable Voice of the Yankees who from 1951 to 2006 did not miss an Opening Day, is retiring, according to the New York Times.

Sheppard's resounding monotone style was a signature at Yankee Stadium, where he bellowed out the lineups for some of the Bronx Bombers' greatest teams.

"Now batt-ing for the Yank-ees, Number 2, Derek Jee-tah, Jee-tah", would echo throughout the cavernous confines of Yankee Stadium.

Sheppard's first announced lineup in 1951 included Mickey Mantle, Phil Rizzuto, Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra. Now, it appears the 98-year old Sheppard has had enough.

I've visited 30 Major League ballparks. What I remember most about my initial visit to Yankee Stadium is hearing Sheppard's voice for the first time.
He's a true baseball treasure who'll be sorely missed.