Saturday, November 17, 2007


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I'm not gonna write much about this because everyone is saying the same things. But if you hear anyone talking about him, they'll probably be saying the following: He was the voice of the Reds, of summer, of growing up.

I got to talk to Joe once during a rain delay, when they usually open the phone lines. I found out the guy played for a minor league team in Muncie called the Muncie Packers, so named because Jack Marhoefer, owner of Marhoefer Meat Packing, also owned the team. To think that Joe Nuxhall played in my hometown -- well, that was huge for a little kid like me at the time.

And every time Reds baseball came back in the spring, hearing Joe was like hearing a grandpa I never had -- one who'd call baseball games in that lazy, perfect, midwestern drawl. I've been listening to Reds games for 20 years. They'll never sound the same again.

Reds pitcher, broadcaster Nuxhall dies at 79

CINCINNATI -- Joe Nuxhall, who was the youngest player in major league history and the beloved "old left-hander" on Cincinnati Reds radio broadcasts, died overnight following a bout with cancer, the team said Friday. He was 79.

Nuxhall's health problems multiplied in recent years but couldn't keep him away from the game or the broadcast booth for long. He had surgery for prostate cancer in 1992, followed by a mild heart attack in 2001.

The cancer returned last February, when Nuxhall was preparing for the Reds' spring training in Sarasota, Fla. The broadcaster called some games last season even though his left leg was swollen by tumors. He was hospitalized again this week.

He retired as a full-time radio broadcaster after the 2004 season, the 60th anniversary of his historic pitching debut.

Nuxhall and play-by-play announcer Marty Brennaman described the Big Red Machine's two World Series titles in the 1970s, Pete Rose's return as player-manager and then banishment for gambling in the 1980s, and another World Series championship in 1990.

Nuxhall's place in baseball lore was secured the moment he stepped onto a big-league field. With major league rosters depleted during World War II, he got a chance to pitch in relief for the Reds on June 10, 1944.

No one in modern baseball history has played in the majors at such a young age -- 15 years, 10 months, 11 days old. He got two outs against St. Louis before losing his composure, then went eight years before pitching for the Reds again.

"When you think of all the individuals that played at the major league level and you're the youngest in the history of the game and in the Guinness Book of Records, it does make you in awe of it," Nuxhall said on the 50th anniversary of his debut.

He got the chance purely by chance.

Nuxhall grew up in nearby Hamilton, Ohio, and was still too young to shave when the Reds were looking for wartime replacement players. They came to see his father, Orville, who pitched in a Sunday league in Hamilton.

"My dad could throw hard," Nuxhall said. "They were really scouting him. Almost by accident, they found me."

Nuxhall was big for his age -- 6-foot-3, around 190 pounds -- and could throw 85 mph. The Reds offered a contract, and Nuxhall's parents let him join the team when junior high classes let out in 1944.

He spent most of the time watching from the bench, assuming he'd never get into a game. The Reds were trailing Stan Musial's St. Louis Cardinals 13-0 after eight innings on June 10, 1944, when manager Bill McKechnie decided to give the kid a chance.

Nuxhall was so rattled when summoned to warm up that he tripped on the top step of the dugout and fell on his face in front of 3,510 fans at Crosley Field. He was terrified when it came time to walk to the mound.

"Probably two weeks prior to that, I was pitching against seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders, kids 13 and 14 years old," he said. "All of a sudden, I look up and there's Stan Musial and the likes. It was a very scary situation."

Nuxhall walked one and retired two batters before glancing at the on-deck circle and seeing Musial. Nuxhall unraveled -- Musial got a line-drive single, and the Cardinals scored five runs as the young pitcher lost his ability to throw a strike and failed to get another out.

"Those people that were at Crosley Field that afternoon probably said, 'Well, that's the last we'll see of that kid,"' Nuxhall said.

The Reds sent him to the minors. Eight years later, he was back with the Reds, picking up on a career that eventually got him into the team's Hall of Fame. He spent 15 of his 16 big-league seasons with the Reds, going 135-117 before his retirement in 1966.

A year later, Nuxhall started doing radio broadcasts, describing games in a slow-paced, down-home manner that caught on with listeners. Brennaman became the play-by-play announcer in 1974, and the "Marty and Joe" tandem spent the next 28 seasons chatting about their golf games, their gardens and some of the biggest moments in franchise history.

Brennaman made the broadcasters' wing of baseball's Hall of Fame with his blunt, outspoken style; Nuxhall rarely produced controversy with his folksy manner.

They had one high-profile moment together. Both were summoned to commissioner Bart Giamatti's office in 1988 because of their on-air comments after Rose bumped umpire Dave Pallone and was ejected. Angry fans threw debris on the field for 15 minutes as Brennaman harshly criticized the umpire.

Nuxhall became more critical as his broadcasting career wound down. He created a stir in 2001 by suggesting on the air that Barry Larkin was no longer capable of playing shortstop. Larkin, the team captain at the time, replied that he was hampered by injuries.

Just as Brennaman is known for his "This one belongs to the Reds" proclamation after a win, Nuxhall developed a signature signoff. He concluded postgame interviews by saying, "This is the old left-hander, rounding third and heading for home," a saying that is illuminated across the top of the Reds' administration building.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

Monday, August 13, 2007

Rose-colored glasses

Bob Castellini hasn't given up and neither have I!

You might think that just because we haven't updated this blog in almost two months that we've given up hope in this year's version of the Reds. WRONG! Listen to what Redlegs CEO and former bagged vegetable magnate Bob Castellini had to say to

"C'mon. You don't give up yet," Castellini said. "We have 50 games to go. Rose-colored glasses? No. You can't give up on guys. These players haven't given up. They're not just playing for individual stats. They're playing like a team."

That's right. The Reds aren't playing for individual glory! They're playing like a team! A team that got swept by the Nationals but a team nonetheless. And if a guy who is paying Eric Milton around $8 million dollars this season to be hurt and not pitch horribly believes, then so do I.

The Reds aren't even mathematically out of it. According to Baseball Prospectus' Playoff Odds Report, the Reds have a .06385 percent chance of making the playoffs this year! They ran the season 1,000,000 times and the Reds made the playoffs almost 639 times. So if you're like me (and Bob Castellini apparently) and believe in a lunatic variation of string theory, then we might be living in one of those 639 out of a million alternate universes where the Reds will make the 2007 postseason.

Bob and I BELIEVE!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Kyle Lohse

Mr. Inconsistency is still in the rotation, complete with his 4-10 record and 4.77 ERA. I guess I'm a fair-weather Kyle Lohse fan because it's hard to be anything else. I like him when he's effective, but mostly, he's not.

What I don't get is how so many people are afraid of how much Kyle Lohse will cost next season. In a year and a half with the Reds, he's only shown flashes of brilliance amid several mediocre starts and absolute shellings.

What I also don't get is how the Reds can keep running Lohse and Belisle to the mound when Bobby Livingston is flat out getting it done in AAA. Phil Dumatrait is no slouch either, and can't be any worse than Belisle has been lately.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Narron replaced with "random lineup generator" machine to no noticeable difference.

One of these organizations has been run really well and one hasn't. Let's see if you can guess which one is which.

Cincinnati Reds managers, 1991-present: Lou Piniella*, Tony Perez, Davey Johnson*, Ray Knight, Jack McKeon*, Bob Boone, Ray Knight (redux), Dave Miley, Jerry Narron, Pete Mackanin

Atlanta Braves managers, 1991-present: Bobby Cox

(* = won "Manager of the Year" with a different club)

Friday, June 8, 2007

For Fuck's Sake.

I'm not a professional neurologist but this seriously can't be good.

"I know it was a concussion," Freel said in his first public comments since the incident. "I've had them before and know what it is. I was knocked out. Every other time I've had concussions, I've been knocked out. None of them have been like this. I never had the lingering affects. This is totally different than what I had before."

Freel estimated that he's possibly had "nine or ten concussions."

To reiterate: Ryan Freel has had nine or ten concussions. Hell, knowing a bit about Ryan, that's probably a low end estimate.

I love watching Freel but, for fuck's sake, somebody has to stop him from playing again. He's pretty much guaranteed Alzheimer's at this point.

At the very least, Dr. Kremchek should make him wear some sort of helmet when he's out in the field- maybe one that's a midpoint between what John Olerud wore and the ones they strap on retarded kids.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Reds Killers

There are three types of Reds killers.

You know them well:

1) Unknowns who kill Reds pitching and Reds pitching only, or shut down the Reds offense and look like Cy Young for a night. Anthony Reyes is a good example. Brett Tomko is not.

2) Former Reds: This category has two subcategories:

a) Oh Yeah, I'm a Baseball Player: Austin Kearns, Felipe Lopez, Ryan Franklin, Rick White, and on and on and on -- guys that couldn't get it together in a Reds uniform, but upon donning someone else's, suddenly remember how to play the game...but only against the Reds.

b) Whew! No More Pressure To Be As Good As I Am: Let's face it. Reds history is littered with players who had unrealized potential in a Reds uniform, or guys that never got a chance because Reds scouts are dumb mother fuckers, and as soon as they left, suddenly, baseball immortality. I'll grant you Paul O'Neill was good in a Reds uniform, but when he went to New York, suddenly his bat was as wide as a surfboard and his batting average jumped 110 points. One can only assume that if Eric Milton or Ken Griffey, Jr. ever leave Cincinnati, Milton will become a Cy Young candidate and Griffey will not suffer another injury of any kind in his life. He'll also be able to hit with the bases loaded and not only surpass Hank Aaron, but Sadaharu Oh and Jesus Christ for most homers. Those are examples of unrealized potential. Guys that never got a chance include Trevor Hoffman, Paul Konerko, Jeff Montgomery, and Brendan Harris to name a few. Idiotic sportswriters will look at the current Reds roster and ask dumb questions like "Where would he play?" as if that question really needs a response. For a team with no closer, a platoon at first base, and a combination of no offense from Juan Castro and 9 errors on Alex Gonzalez (more than he made all of last season), I have some ideas. At the very least, if they had no place to play here, the GM could've gotten something in return.

3) People the Reds really should start walking, but simply don't, because Boone/Miley/Narron is a genius. Lance Berkman (39 career homers), Albert Pujols (29 career homers), and Bill Hall (14 career homers) are examples of star players whose Christlike ability is somehow magnified even more vs. Cincinnati in all offensive categories -- mainly because the Reds are stupid and can't follow statistics closely enough to see patterns -- simple ones such as "Albert Pujols kills us every time" or "We make Bill Hall look like Babe Ruth."

Let's open this up and see if anyone is actually reading this blog. Reds killers. Name some.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Fair Weather Fans

I've always considered "fair weather fans" annoying, mostly because they're not around for the losing, when the rest of us are miserable, but still here.

So imagine my surprise when I was called a fair weather fan over at C. Trent's blog.

Fair weather fan? I've been around through the dismantling of the Big Red Machine, Marge Schott's ridiculous reign as owner, Pete Rose's gambling, the injury calamity of 1989, the Jim Bowden three-ring circus and his parade of 5-tool washouts and pitching retreads, Carl Lindner's nearly-as-ridiculous-ownership, and now, what appears to be the Reds' seventh consecutive losing season.

In fact, the only time I really "went away" was during college, when I didn't have time to follow the games every day. While I was away, they won a pennant in 1995 and made a run in 1999. Fair weather fan, indeed.

No, that's not it. Call me passionate, question my knowledge of the game, call me flat out wrong -- but fair weather fan? That's not gonna cut it.

The context of this came during a debate about why Reds fans boo. Well, lots of fans boo when they're pissed, and in Cincinnati, they have every right to be pissed. I mean, just re-read my third paragraph. It ain't like Cincinnati has a legendary level of positivity. The franchise has been a laughing stock for years.

And guess who's still here.

People are quick to blame the fans for not being supportive. That's just bunk. Give fans something to support besides a parade of incompetent owners, general managers, managers, and players. Give fans something besides racial insults and gambling scandals. Give them something to get behind.

If you want their fandom, you need only exist in a baseball town. People will come. James Earl Jones said so.

But if you want their money, you need to build a winner and commit to winning. You can't just provide the same lip service that previous regimes provided, with the same result. Fans see through that. You can't blame them for complaining.

That's not "fair weather" fandom. That's just capitalism at work. Surely a town crawling with so many conservatives understands basic business. You can't expect fans to line up all smiles for miles to watch a last place team. Won't happen. That shit only works in Chicago, and that's only because of beer and WGN, and the inexplicable notion that it's cool to like the Cubs.

So what do you call a passionate baseball fan who doesn't go away but refuses to attend another game or give the organization another dime until it commits to winning -- really commits to winning? What do we call that?

Can we call that a fan? Sure.

Can we call that a die-hard fan? Why not?

Can we call it a savvy consumer who doesn't want to get duped for a $7 beer and a sunburn? Oh hell yes.

Just don't call it a fair weather fan. Because that doesn't make any sense. Especially in a town like Cincinnati, where there hasn't been any fair weather in years.