Blog Archives

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.

May 27, 2013

Pictures from Sunday’s disappointing loss to the Cubs

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Reds (31-19)0040000000451
W: Gregg (1-0) L: Hoover (0-4)


Panoramic shot from the sun deck

Panoramic shot from the sun deck.

The RHM crew headed out for its first Cincinnati Reds game of the season over Memorial Day weekend, catching the final game against the Chicago Cubs on Sunday.

Johnny Cueto started the game, and I felt fairly confident that the Reds would both sweep the hapless Cubs and provide us with the 11 strikeouts for the free LaRosa’s pizzas. Sadly, neither of those things happened, thanks to a bullpen meltdown by the Reds.

Perhaps due to the fact that it was my first in-person game of the season, I went a little photo happy. The best of them are available below.

May 24, 2013

Joey Votto actually could give 110%

Votto's a good looking guy

If Joey Votto puts his mind to it, he can accomplish anything.

One of my minor pet peeves is when people make a comment about devoting more than 100% to a certain task. Technically, that’s impossible. Sure, I understand what the person means: they’re devoting all of themselves to whatever it is they’re talking about.

A person has 100% to give to something at any given moment. Anything more than that is not something that a person is capable of.

Except for maybe Joey Votto. The more I read about him and his approach to the game of baseball, the more I think he could do anything he set his mind to, even breaking the laws of mathematics. I mean, just look at one of the finer points of Pete Rose’s that he’s taken to heart.

“Early in my career, Pete kept an eye on me,” Votto said, “and the one piece of advice he gave me was, ‘When you get the second hit, get the third hit. And when you get the third hit, get the fourth hit. And when you get the fourth hit, get the fifth hit.’ That really stuck with me, because it’s a genuine challenge when you’re tired, or you’re sick, or the score is mismatched, or you’re facing a tough pitcher, or you’re not in a good mood that day. Whatever it is.

“What I took away from Pete’s advice is, ‘You’re playing for yourself. You’re competing for your team. You’re doing the best you can every day to get the most out of your abilities.’ So when I have that at-bat when the score is 10-0, yeah, I usually check in with myself and make sure I’m in a prime place to hit and I’m ready to go and I’m not about to give away this at-bat. I’ll take my time before the at-bat or call timeout so there’s no excuses and nothing I can look back and regret.”

It’s the epitome of never giving up an at-bat, no matter the situation. And it appears to be rubbing off on other Reds. Shin-Soo Choo is an obvious example. Choo has seen his on-base percentage explode so far this year compared to his career percentage. While that could still come down to earth, it may not, and Choo’s already crediting Votto for his smooth transition to the National League.

Choo has used Votto as a major resource in his acclimation to the National League. If he’s not picking Votto’s brain on the pitcher he’s about to face, he’s eyeballing Votto’s at-bats from the dugout or the basepaths for subtle tips on how to approach different situations.

Even Xavier Paul is getting in on the not making outs train. His on-base percentage is third on the team. As he said to John Fay, “To me, on-base percentage is lot more impressive than batting average.” Obviously, hits are a component of getting on base, but the growing realization among Reds players about the value of each out is refreshing to see. Hopefully, the manager will one day see that, as well.

All in all, Joey Votto is awesome. We all already knew that, except maybe for a certain micro-processing fart funnel. But it’s always nice to see stories outside of Cincinnati reflect that.

May 15, 2013

Joey Votto on Sports Illustrated’s Fortunate 50 list

Votto in a tuxEvery year since 2004, Sports Illustrated has rounded up the annual income of athletes and ranked them. This year, the number one athlete is boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr. And making his first appearance on the list is Cincinnati Red favorite Joey Votto.

Yes, coming in at number 45 with a total income of $19,250,000 is Votto.

The 2010 MVP and a perennial All-Star isn’t a national household name. But Votto, 29, is extremely popular in Reds country and last year Kroger markets unveiled VottO’s cereal in Cincinnati and Dayton.

Only $250,000 of that total is from endorsements, so there’s definitely room for improvement in the future.

As far as I can tell, Votto is the first Red to make an appearance on the list. The first few years of the list were never placed on the internet in full and have been lost forever, so I’m saying that’s good enough.

Congratulations, Joey! And congratulations to the Reds’ ownership. It’s really nice to see them committing to keeping their excellent home-grown talent and rewarding them accordingly.

March 21, 2013

Aaron Harang honors Joe Nuxhall

Aaron Harang Wearing Joe Nuxhall's Name and Number in TributeI saw this story about Aaron Harang today making the rounds on various Reds blogs and thought I’d share.

Harang, as you may remember, was the one shining spot in the pitching rotation of the Cincinnati Reds during the first decade of the new millenium. Sadly, his best years were wasted on terrible, terrible Reds teams, and by the time competent people were in charge, Harang was on the down-side of his career.

He resurrected it in San Diego, though, and is now with the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he’s decided to change his uniform number from 44 to 41. In case that number sounds familiar, it’s one that legen–wait-for-it–dary Reds pitcher and broadcaster Joe Nuxhall wore.

Nuxhall moved to the broadcast booth in 1967 and called Reds games for 38 years, including Harang’s first two seasons in Cincinnati, in 2003-2004. The two struck up a friendship that lasted until Nuxhall’s death in 2007. Harang has donated to Nuxhall’s charity foundation, the Miracle Fields in and around Cincinnati, and still keeps in touch with his son to this day.

“He was just a special guy in general,” Harang said. “Everybody who came in contact with him thought the world of him.”

When Harang came to the Reds, he wore the number 39, which was Nuxhall’s first number. Harang changed to 41, another of Nuxhall’s numbers, when he was with the Padres, but it wasn’t available in L.A. Until last year when the wearer of it was traded. And now it’s Harang’s, assuming he can secure that fifth spot in the Dodger’s rotation.