Blog Archives

February 26, 2013

Votto hits first home run since June 24

It’s only Spring Training, but yesterday Joey Votto hit his first home run in a baseball game since June 24. That was two knee surgeries and one disappointing playoff appearance ago, in case you were counting.

The Cincinnati Enquirer’s video of the shot from the press box is below.

This is just great to see, and it has nothing to do with the Reds winning their first game of the Spring. Votto having his power back, along with his awesome everything else, makes this team so much more dangerous.

February 20, 2013

The Rolen Legacy

Rolen long-tossing before the gameLast week, Scott Rolen announced that he would not be returning to the Cincinnati Reds for the start of the 2013 season.

“Right now I’m simply not ready to make a commitment. I would like to leave my options open, without closing any doors. I am looking forward to all of the challenges, both personally and professionally, I will face in the future.”

The statement is the definition of non-committal. Rolen was unable to commit to another full season and also unable to commit to never playing professional baseball again. Aging in baseball is not an easy thing for the player, and no one demonstrates that more than Rolen.

After multiple shoulder injuries and surgeries, he arrived in Cincinnati a shell of his former self. But he managed a great season in 2010 and pushed the Reds to their first winning record in a decade and their first playoff appearance in 15 years. Unfortunately, he was never able to recapture that and performed poorly in both 2011 and 2012. The decision has to be hard.

Cincinnati Enquirer reporter John Fay had a nice article about Rolen, reflecting on his legacy. Fay in his career has covered Hall of Famer Barry Larkin and future Hall of Famer Ken Griffey, Jr. He compares them to Rolen in the injury related trials they faced towards the ends of their careers and then reflects on Rolen’s legacy.

Rolen will be missed. He was a great leader and a great teammate. But, in a way, his work with the Reds was done. His legacy is in his lessons he taught.

“I got everything I needed from him playing beside him,” Joey Votto said. “I learned a tremendous amount. You can always learn, but the two or three years I had with him were not wasted. I tell you what: He changed my path as a player. He was a shining example of the kind of player I want to be. Simply because of how quiet he was and how respected he was throughout baseball.”

Votto definitely carries that air of quiet confidence that Rolen had. There’s no doubt that Rolen taught Votto and other Reds players a lot and will be missed. Although Rolen has expressed no interest in coaching, I do hope he has the opportunity to teach and lead. And heck, if he can manage to be the Rolen of old for a month, it sure would be nice to see him back in action one more time.

January 3, 2013

Remembering Ryan Freel

On December 22, 2012, Ryan Freel was found dead in his home in Florida, killed by a self-inflicted shotgun wound. He was the father of three, the oldest of whom just celebrated her eighth birthday. He was 36.

As you may have noticed, I’ve put off writing about this. It seemed like a topic that deserved some quiet reflection, which there isn’t time for in the days leading up to Christmas. That didn’t stop it from affecting my holiday season, though. Of course, Ryan Freel isn’t a close friend or family member, but it felt weird to continue being jovial while it was in the back of my mind. Everybody brought it up in conversation. It made for somber holiday party chit-chat.

Still, as the days went by the shock and sorrow of the news gradually dimmed compared to the happy memories. How, before games at different ballparks, he used to confirm with the umpires what he was allowed to climb on to in order to make catches. Farney. The time he had a little too much domestic beer at Applebee’s and tried to start a cheer for Danny Graves. I just can’t help but laugh thinking about those times.

The South Park character I made for Ryan FreelI remember when Reds and Blues used a South Park character generator to make pictures of the whole roster, but Freel was on the DL, so I thought I saw my opportunity. The R&B Freel character appeared online just minutes before mine did. I was never so mad at Joel as right then.

Autographed Ryan Freel t-shirtI remember how Freel’s was the first and only autograph I ever sought out, and how my husband had the t-shirt framed for mother’s day one year. That t-shirt still hangs on the wall; I’m looking at it as I write this. I remember how he and his wife appeared at that inappropriately-and-somewhat-offensively-named “Baseball 101″ program that the Reds put on, and how all those fiercely devoted old lady Reds fans adored him.

But mostly I remember the joy it brought my soul to watch a person commit so completely, win or lose. These days, most people probably don’t remember when I used to write “Human League” profiles about the players, but Freel was one of the first, and this was something I dug up from that post:

Ryan Freel sliding in to second

Wherever he’s playing, Freel has a reckless disregard for his own safely and will fling himself into walls, stands, the ground, other players, or anything else that stands between him and the ball. He has broken the arm of one fan and the nose of another, and a near-collision with Barry Larkin resulted in aggravation of an existing injury for the veteran shortstop.

But mostly if anyone gets hurt, it’s going to be Freel. He’s had bruises, fractures, strains, tears, you-name-it, but he always seems to bounce back quickly. Freel is a frequent Web Gem Nominee because his defensive plays often appear to be, if not impossible, at least highly improbable.

Or perhaps a better paragraph to end on would be this one:

When you select a player’s jersey to wear, you’re honoring that player, but you’re also sending a message to the world about yourself. When you elect to don #6, you’re telling the world that you appreciate passion, energy, and a can-do attitude. You’re saying that you aren’t afraid of embarassement, pain, or hefty emergency room bills. You’re saying that you don’t wait around for things to happen; you make your own destiny.

RedsZone.com put together a fundraiser for suicide prevention in his honor, and Freel’s family is donating his brain tissue to head trauma research. Make your kids wear their helmets, guys.

December 27, 2012

Fundraiser for Ryan Freel

Ryan and wife ChristieWhen the news broke of Ryan Freel’s suicide last week, it made for a very sad evening at the RHM household. During Freel’s time with the Cincinnati Reds, he was the most entertaining athlete on the field and a joy to watch. The news of his passing just before Christmas was difficult to handle.

Some good news has come out of the tragedy, though. The Reds fan forum RedsZone has organized an effort to raise funds for the Cincinnati branch of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Ryan Freel’s recent death has shocked Reds nation and affected many individuals, both in the Reds family and elsewhere. Ryan Freel was a beloved member of the Reds family, and gave fans a reason to cheer at every game. From his diving catch in GABP to rob Pujols, to his fearless vault into the stands of Coors field, to the game where he stole second, third, and home, he always gave his all to help the team.

So, in his honor, RedsZone.com would like to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Cincinnati Branch, so that Freel’s tragic death doesn’t have to be in vain. From Christmas Eve to the end of January, donations of any amount will be accepted and then 100% of the money will be given to AFSP-Cincinnati.

Donations can be made online through YouCaring.com.

September 28, 2012

Homer Bailey: The first no-hitter

Homer Bailey tossed the Reds’ first no-hitter since Tom Browning’s perfect game in 1988.

In the first of a three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds starter Homer Bailey threw a no-hitter.

He faced one more than the minimum number of batters and was one error and one walk away from a perfect game. Scott Rolen had an error that allowed Clint Barmes to reach base. Later, Bailey walked Andrew McCutchen. After stealing 2nd base, McCutchen attempted to take 3rd, but was thrown out by catcher Ryan Hanigan.

Bailey threw 115 pitches, struck out 10, walked 1, and allowed no hits and no runs. He picked up his 13th win and the Reds’ first no-hitter since Tom Browning’s perfect game back in September 1988.