Yearly Archives: 2013

December 18, 2013

The final days of Ryan Freel

Ryan and wife ChristieOn December 22, 2012, former Cincinnati Reds infielder and outfielder Ryan Freel committed suicide. This week, his family released news that he’d been suffering with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a concussion-related disease more commonly associated with football players.

On the anniversary, Brett Popplewell at SportsNet writes about Freel’s tragic life and his sad final days. The story opens in a chilling fashion.

A dead man rested on a couch, surrounded by mementoes of the things that mattered most. Memories from a life already lost: his daughters, his wife, his career. He left no note. No goodbye. Just three words, typed on his phone and sent to his mother. “You forgot one.”

The whole thing is worth a read. Hopefully, one day we’ll be able to prevent both repeated head trauma in sports and the damage that they can cause to people and families.

December 14, 2013

Paranoia, abuse, and the Reds

Yesterday here at RHM, Zeldink wrote up a post about a funny little weirdness that was going on in the Reds’ Twitter-verse. A guy using the handle @SeeHearTell was claiming to be at the winter meetings, reporting on Reds activity, and annoying Jamie Ramsey, which is always fun to watch because he so just so easy to rile up.

The first report, about Brandon Phillips going to the Yankees, did seem to be correct when news came out that it fell through. That could be a lucky guess, though; BP is flashy, expensive, and in the second half of his career–he just screams “Yankees.”

The second report about Homer Bailey and Brandon Phillips being traded to the Dodgers hasn’t come to fruition, but shortly after it was posted, suddenly the Reds sprang in to action to shut down the Twitter account, even though it had been active since December 6.

The Reds’ Director of Digital Media, Lisa Braun, says “This person pretended to work for the Reds & said he was right there in the meetings. MLB security issue.”

I don’t know what the real reason was why they targeted this Twitter account with such sudden and extreme prejudice, but I do know that “security issue” ain’t it. There are at least three glaringly obvious reasons this is complete and utter bullshit:

#1 – There is no security risk involved with someone claiming to be a Reds employee on Twitter
Show up to Great American Ball Park with a bright yellow security jacket and a badge on a lanyard? That is a security risk. You could march right in with a gun or let all your friends in with reasonably priced beer hidden in their backpacks.

Imply that you’re a Reds insider on Twitter? What precisely is going to happen? You can’t get access to anything on the strength of tweets. I’ll provide it: next time you’re pulled over and asked for your ID, offer to show that you can post to your Twitter feed instead as proof of your identity.

Reds reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer, @ctrent, defended the Reds’ actions by saying:

@ctrent was standing up for his friend, but he was also illuminating the much more likely reason for taking down the account: protecting the brand. But brand misuse is a question of intellectual property, definitely not a question of security.

#2 – Lisa Braun said herself that’s not why the account went down
Before she got cold feet and started deleting tweets, Braun said straight out why she got the account deleted:

There are two ways I can interpret this tweet: 1) the real reason is Braun’s kills Twitter account on a whim, or 2) this is just a bit of bravado that she dashed off without thinking about what an outrageous overreach it implied. Either way, next time you have trouble with your Twitter account, you’ll have to wonder whether you pissed off someone in Reds’ marketing. Apparently they have that kind of power.

#3 – @SeeHearTell never said he was a Reds’ or MLB employee
I couldn’t verify this for myself because the account had already been disabled, so I asked:

The response I got was a question. Here’s a screengrab of it, since the original seems to have since been deleted:

That sounded to me like a 144-character way to say “only MLB employees are here; therefore, all you have to say is that you’re here and you’re impersonating an MLB employee.” So, I said:

Which I realize now sounds kind of sarcastic, but I didn’t mean it that way. I was intending to verify my understanding of what she’d said. I didn’t really get verification, though, just another question response, again no longer available on Twitter:

To sum up: no, @SeeHearTell never claimed to be a Reds employee. The best they can say is that it was implied. So even if you bought the idea that claiming to be a Reds’ employee on Twitter could somehow be a security threat, the fact that the claiming didn’t actually happen sort of undercuts that whole thing.

So…Why Do I Care?
Hey, remember when this was just a mildly entertaining “is it real?” discussion about a random Twitter account that was predicting trades? Suddenly it’s a story of intrigue, questions answered with questions, and evidence destroyed.

It’s apropos of nothing; the Reds overreacted ridiculously and then tried to pretend like they were being rational about it all along, like a high schooler who stumbled and then tried to strut it off like nothing happened.

But MLB and the Reds do too much strutting. It’s not OK to scream “security!” because you’re annoyed or because your brand is being played with. It’s an abuse of power, and it needs to be identified that way. I want them to be ashamed of themselves because they’ve been acting shamefully.

Of course, you can’t rule out the possibility that this has all just been a J.J. Abrams-esque scheme to keep us talking about the Reds even though they haven’t done jack at the winter meetings. In which case I will have played right into their devious plot!

December 13, 2013

Jamie Ramsey and the mole

One of the disadvantages to not really paying attention to the Reds or baseball at all this off-season is that I occasionally miss some things. And apparently, I’d missed a doozy of a Twitter account until this morning.

At the beginning of December, an account named Seeall Hearall appeared with this as its first tweet.

Starting with a double negative is an inauspicious beginning. Seeall Hearall made up for it, though, proceeding to divulge all manner of information on purported negotiations the Reds and General Manager Walt Jocketty were having. The majority of the updates focused on the Reds’ attempts to trade Brandon Phillips to the New York Yankees.

Throughout all of this, people were asking both Seeall Hearall and Reds public relations spokesperson (and would-be rock star) Jamie Ramsey questions attempting to verify the account.

Seeall Hearall ignored the questions for the most part.

Ramsey, fanned the flames of controversy and kept it going by answering a question with a question.

Seeall Hearall had long been saying the Phillips trade to the Yankees was going to happen. But yesterday, it all fell apart.

Seeall Hearall doubled down on the trade rumors, though, and posted this bombshell last night.

It’s unlikely the account is real, but anything that whips up Jamie into a fit is hella entertaining. The off-season is long, and we need something to watch.

December 10, 2013

First Hall of Famer from the steroids era elected

The worst case of conjunctivitis. Ever.Tony LaRussa was elected to the Hall of Fame yesterday, along with Joe Torre and Bobby Cox.

LaRussa is the first manager or player from the much-maligned steroids era baseball to be elected to the Hall. This election was not performed by the Baseball Writers of America, as the most popular results are. Instead it was done by a Hall of Fame Baseball committee charged with electing managers and overlooked players.

LaRussa won a total of three World Series as manager, one with the Oakland A’s and two with the St. Louis Cardinals.

December 5, 2013

Ryan Hanigan traded

Ryan Hanigan before he drove in an insurance run.

Ryan Hanigan before he drove in an insurance run.

More than a month after signing Brayan Pena to be the backup catcher for the Cincinnati Reds in 2014, the Reds finally addressed their catching surplus and traded Ryan Hanigan to the Tampa Rays.

The deal was a three-team deal that also involved the Arizona Diamondbacks. In return, the Reds received 22 year-old lefthander David Holmberg. The pitcher has some potential as a back-of-the-rotation starter, which is an area the Reds were very weak in last season.

This also signals to Devin Mesoraco that it’s time for him to step up.

“(Manager Bryan Price) and I talked about it a lot,” Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. “We felt he was ready to take the next step. We still have a high regard for his talent. He’s matured as a catcher and offensively the last two years. We think he’s ready to be a frontline guy.”

I hope so, too. Mesoraco’s shown slow, but steady improvement, which is kind of expected from the catching position. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s up to the challenge.

As for the trade, it seems a good one. The Reds traded from a surplus and addressed a weakness. Holmberg isn’t an ace-level prospect, but the Reds don’t need that. Hanigan had one more year before reaching free agency. Basically, the Reds turned that year into several more years of a 4th or 5th starter. Very nicely done.