Friday, May 28, 2010

Reds keep Rolen

I must say I am shocked at how well the team has played since the debacle in Atlanta. I expected a slump and extended losing streak. I expected mental errors and poor fundamentals. None of that happened and I am starting to think it has something to do with a certain veteran infielder.

Scott Rolen is having his best season in 5 years and the rest of the team is feeding off him. His stat line is very impressive at .272/.341/.556/.897/134 for an above average, 35 year old thirdbasemen. The young guys see what he does and learn from it. Phillips has learned to take more walks, walking at a rate of 9.4% when his previous high was 6.8%. Joey Votto has improved his defense and has an Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) of 3.9. The next closest firstbaseman is 2.2. Bruce, who had been in a bit of a power slump until last night, hasn't let that bother him. He has put up .278/.379/.457/.836/121 while playing the second best rightfield according to UZR. Johny Gomes is have a career year. Drew Stubbs has turned it around after a terrible start. Janish and Hanigan have played so well that they could be starters at any time. And Cabrara has.....well he has some RBIs. Yeah. The big change the Reds made between last year at this time and now is Scott Rolen. Everyone talks about how seriously he takes his job and how much he works at his game. It seems to be working. As long as he is in the lineup, the team looks very confident. They are fun to watch, something that hasn't been true in recent years. So from everyone in Reds Country, thanks Scotty.

(Yeah, I am totally glossing over the fact that some of this may have to do with Dusty not sucking but I don't buy it. He still sucks. If you want to hear how great he is, you probably shouldn't visit a website entitled Fire Dusty Baker)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Movie Talk

So no Reds today. Will have something Friday.

For Christmas, my in-laws got me a book called 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. It is awesome and prompted me to try and see as many as I can, whether I had seen it or not. I have watched, or rewatched in some cases, about 60 thanks to friends with large DVD collections and Turner Classic Movies. Here is a quick list of the Best, Worst, and Biggest Surprises so far. I will try and update later this summer since we will be watching a lot more with the television season finished.


The Graduate - Great story, great acting, and great music. It is also referenced in a ton of movies that came later. Dustin Hoffman makes the movie with his awkwardness. He is the 1960's version of George Michael Bluth.

On the Waterfront - Marlin Brando was one hell of an actor. The fact he could make this great movie and come back twenty years later and do the Godfather is amazing. This movie has a ton of great scenes as well that are referenced all the time.


Crimes and Misdemeanors - I must be missing something about Woody Allen. Maybe its because I am not from New York but his acting is just weird. I can't relate to anything he does because I have never met anyone like him. The closest comparison is Larry David and I have never met him either. This movie bored me.

Rebel Without A Cause - I don't get it. There was no real plot and James Dean wasn't that great an actor. The fact he died tragically just before this movie was released has made people think it is amazing when in reality, I thought it was bad. Then again, James Dean isn't my type.\


The Matrix - I guess the two sequels clouded my judgment because I had forgotten how good this movie was. The action scenes are amazing and Keanu Reeves overacts just enough to make it enjoyable. I would recommend everyone to rewatch it and pretend their weren't two awful sequels.

Platoon - Haven't gone back and watched Saving Private Ryan but it will be hard pressed to beat this movie. Tons of great actors all around and Charlie Sheen is pre-hooker so he is still trying to act.

Friday, May 21, 2010

And the run is over

What a 48 hours. They beat the Brewers on an amazing 9th inning comeback, head to Atlanta sky high. Then it blows up. 2 straight walk-off losses including yesterday's epic collapse. I am still recovering. This will stay with the team for a while and may well be the beginning of the end. The past few seasons have had a major turning point where the Reds lose a heartbreaking game in a similar fashion and never recover. Dusty putting Harang in and effectively ruining him in San Diego two year ago comes to mind. Now we will look back at this game as the turning point. I think the team will go downhill. There is a chance they can recover and rise above it. I don't see it happening. Maybe the Cleveland rivalry will take their minds off it but I doubt it.

This is why you have a manager. He is supposed to get his team refocused and ready to move on. This is all Dusty. Either they recover and continue to compete or they fall and the Dusty Baker Farewell Tour picks up steam. Your move Dusty.

In other news, the World Cup kicks off in 3 weeks. I simply cannot wait. Tomorrow is the final of the Champions League which will be a nice tune-up but will pale in comparison to the passion and skill of the world cup. The U.S. should be strong and will have start the tournament with a grudge match 225 years in the making when they play England June 12. Don't Tread on Me. Nike has produced a great commercial to get people excited. Here it is:

Write The Future from Nalden on Vimeo.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

One hell of a run

So I managed to attend the only game the Reds have lost in the last 10 games. Sounds about right. The pitching is fantastic and the offense has done enough. Amazingly enough, Dusty seems to be doing something right which means there is not much for me to write about, so let's enjoy the ride.

Cincinnati2316.590-14-99-7188185+3Won 49-1
St. Louis2217.564111-611-11166136+30Won 14-6
Chicago Cubs1722.436610-107-12178190-12Won 24-6
Pittsburgh1622.4216.59-97-13133236-103Lost 23-7
Milwaukee1524.38584-1411-10206222-16Lost 82-8
Houston1325.3429.57-156-10112176-64Lost 44-6

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Game notes, Preakness notes

Made the decision to go up for the game last night with Drew, a Cards fan. Driving up there was a lot of buzz on the radio about the team. Sitting only 0.5 GB, most thought there would be a good crowd. We got seats in right field and got out there by the bottom of the 1st. Decent size crowd, numbering over 27,000, and we were treated to a pretty good game. Harang pitched decent, getting out of a first inning jam but then violating the one rule I live by, DON'T PITCH TO PUJOLS! Just before the pitch I told Drew they should walk him. Five seconds later it was 2-0 Cards. now he has confidence for the last 2 games of the series. Awesome. The Reds went down 4-0 when some scrub hit one just out of the reach of Bruce. If the wind is blowing anywhere but directly to right field, that is an out and the score stays at 2-0. Drew Stubbs clubbed one late to bring the Reds to 4-2 and the Reds threatened in the 9th. They scored one and had first and second with one out when Hernandez hit into a tailor-made 6-4-3 double play. Tough way to end.

I thought the Reds played pretty well. they fought back from down 4-0 rather then roll over as they had in the past. Dusty had an awkward episode where he yelled at the umpires for a while because they ejected Cairo. I don't get what that was about. Cairo pinch hit, struck out looking, then argued with the ump. Seemed simple but was a little too much for Dusty to wrap his head around. Typical.

The Preakness runs today. Let's hope Super Saver can win and set up an exiting Belmont stakes in three weeks. If I were a betting man, and I am since I am going to Churchill today, I would take a longshot since Super Saver is beatable. The race runs about 6 on NBC. You should watch since the Reds aren't until 7 and the NBA is taking its mandatory 5 day break in the middle of the playoffs. Got to regroup after the most likeable player got eliminated Thursday. Now the best bet is the Canuck Steve Nash. Let's hope he beats the Rapist from L.A.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Reds surging(?), and other thoughts

Is it possible the Reds can contend? It is mid-May and they sit three games behind the Cardinals and in second place in the Central. They are two games over .500 and on a three game winning streak. Dusty has hovered mostly in the below average-average range with only a few ridiculous moves. I must admit I am pleasantly surprised with how the Reds stand considering they have not played their best baseball. After this weekend they will have played nine games against St. Louis but only three against Milwaukee and Houston combined. The schedule should get a little easier and a nice winning streak could set them up to be buyers rather then sellers come July and August.

Our other national pastime, the Real World/Road Rules Challenge, is back and better then ever. The show is using Fresh Meat, meaning people who have not been a part of either show in the title. Somehow they still managed to find a dozen crazy people that they had not already whored themselves out for their 15 minutes of MTV fame. Where do these people come from? It is a similar plot with Wes and Kenny, the Magic and Bird of these things, going head to head for control of the game. Who will win?(I bet Kenny) Who will get hurt?(most likely a few of the uncoordinated girls thrown in to hook up and be bad at challenges) Who will get an STD?(Can I take all of them) I love this show.

The NBA playoffs have been very boring save for the LeBrons. Boston showed up finally but I have a feeling Stern will make the call that LeBron gets to win the next two games. The league is hemorrhaging money and the only way to get ratings is for LeBron to keep winning. Stern will get his Kobe vs. LeBron this year. Book it.

The NHL continues to be irrelevant. Wake me when it is an overtime game 7. Those are interesting.

Super Saver will be going for the second jewel of the triple crown at Pimlico on Saturday. I think he has a good shot and hope he does because it would make the Belmont much more exciting. If Super Saver were to lose, I bet Lookin at Lucky gets him.

In non-sports news, only ten days until the final LOST episode. The final season has been a bit up and down but last week's really set up what could be an amazing final run. It was a bloodbath with main characters getting killed and others getting set up for a dramatic conclusion. Doc Jensen has it covered for all you LOSTheads.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Boston thoughts

OK, I know one of my 5 readers is a Boston sports fan but I need to get something off my chest.

I hate 99% of Boston fans.

Let me say it again....I hate 99% of Boston fans.

Maybe it isn't their fault but every time I meet a new Boston fan they act like entitled, righteous, assholes. Their teams are better and more storied and their fans are more numerous, knowledgeable, and just better then everyone else. ESPN feeds into this by constantly talking about their teams. After total Boston homer Peter Gammons left I thought it would get better. What did they do to replace him? Hire both Nomar and Curt Schilling. Awesome. The Red Sox won with the most roided teams ever in 04 and 07. Before and after they have spent like the Yankees and not won anything. The Celtics were handed a championship in 08 thanks to former Celtic Kevin McHale handing them a hall of famer for nothing. Other then that gift, they were irrelevant for 20 years. The Bruins are irrelevant in an irrelevant league. May as well be a WNBA team. I think my hatred of the Shady Brady and Bill Belicheat is well known. They haven't done anything since they were forced to stop cheating. Funny how that works. So these teams are average to above-average at best. What is their reward? ESPN saying Boston is the epicenter of sports thanks to an irrelevant Bruins team playing the same day as an overmatched and bad Celtics team with the just plain bad Red Sox getting ready to get blown out in Fenway to the Yankees.

The fans in Pittsburgh are actually the center of the sports world, and it kills me to say that. They have a bad baseball team too, better hockey team, and better football team. Plus they are only a few hours from LeBron and a real basketball team. I don't remember much coverage of that city on ESPN as the epicenter of sports. Maybe they should hire Mario Lemiuex and Terry Bradshaw as independent analysts.

It wouldn't be so bad if the Boston fans didn't actually believe what they read. ESPN says we are the best so we must be. Well read this: You are not the center of the sports world. Your teams have gotten lucky and/or cheated a few times to make you relevant. Other then that you are an also-ran. You will never be New York so give it up.

Ok, I feel better. Baseball and other talk return next week.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Reds April update

Well here we stand, 13-13, tied with the Cubs for second in the division, and 5 games behind the Cardinals. Mostly boring and average. Let's see the few things that have stood out, either good or bad.

The Good

Scott Rolen (.259/.337/.481/113 OPS+, 5 HR, 11 RBI, 8 BB/11 K) - He has stayed healthy, playing in 22 of 26 games. He has been solid in the middle of the order, hitting homers and taking a walk when he has to. His defense has been a little below average thus far according to UZR but it is still a small sample size and an improvement over anyone the Reds have had their in the past 5 years.

Joey Votto (.297/.420/.495/140 OPS+, 4 HR, 14 RBI, 20 BB/24 K) - He is always solid and continues to be one of the top 15 first baseman in baseball. His strikeouts are very high but he is hitting well and taking walks when necessary. His defense has been the best on the team thus far which only adds to his value. He is the best player on the team and if he can put a few of those strikeouts in play, he could really put up amazing numbers.

Mike Leake (2-0, 2.94 ERA, 150 ERA+, 22 K/16 BB, 1.307 WHIP, 33.2 IN) - He has been the biggest surprise of the young season. He barely made the team out of spring training but has been the Reds best pitcher by far. He walked 7 his first start and 5 the second but came in with only 4 total in his last 3 starts. The team has rallied around him and everyone has been raving about his mound presence. If Jason Heyward of the Braves wasn't anointed before the season, Mike would be in the running for Rookie of the Year.

The Bad

Aaron Harang (1-4, 6.68 ERA, 66 ERA+, 27 K/ 7 BB, 1.515 WHIP, 33.2 IN)
- So much for being the ace of the staff. He has simply given up too many hits and too many runs. He is still getting no run support but even with ample support he would be having a bad season. He is always a trade candidate if the Reds become sellers this summer but no one wants him with those numbers. Let's hope for a turnaround in hist last 30 starts.

Drew Stubbs (.193/.292/.313/60 OPS+, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 7 SB, 11 BB/27 K) - Bad numbers from any player, especially your leadoff man. His main problem seems to be putting the ball in play. He can take a walk and steal bases but he has way too many strikeouts. If he put half those in play his average would jump into the .250 range and OBP into the .350 range, both good number for a leadoff man. He is still very young but will not be leading off much longer unless he turns it around in May.

Orlando Cabrara (.250/.288/.348/67 OPS+, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 7 BB/12 K) - This is the one that is really frustrating because his backup Janish is hitting very well and plays much better defense. Dusty likes it because of his RBI but that is 1% of the story. The other 99% say that Janish is a better, more patient hitter with a vastly superior glove. Free Janish!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Derby post

Here is an analysis from my buddy Kyle Kaiman.

Derby, Derby, Derby!

For all the readers out there, hello.

I have been allowed to contribute to this blog even though I am a loud and forever proud Brewers fan – that is how much this blog’s author respects/wants my opinion on the “greatest two minutes in sports.”

For anyone in the Louisville area, the first Saturday in May means only one thing – the Kentucky Derby. Every year, people from across the nation flock to Louisville for this prestigious race. Some people come for the pageantry, some for the hats and others for the celebrities, but I come for one reason only; I want to make money.

This year is no different. Accordingly, I am contributing to the aptly titled (Please do not fire him; he is probably the main reason the Brewers beat the Reds.) to impart a little betting knowledge on y’all.

So without further adieu:

As a general rule, a favorite in a horse race wins approximately 33% percent of the time. In a race like the Derby, where there are so many good horses who will not be favored, DO NOT bet the favorite. One can find value in a number of horses for very big odds. For example, on Saturday, take a flier on a horse like Line of David or American Lion. Both horses have won prep races leading up to the Derby (the Arkansas Derby and Illinois Derby, respectively), and both horses will be very long odds. Morning line for both is somewhere near 30-1. That is what is called a value bet.

Since my contribution is not a betting tutorial, nor do I wish to give away all of my betting secrets and strategies, I will keep this relatively short.

Bet a horse because it feels right, not because everyone else is betting it. My advice, however, is go long in this year’s Derby and pick a horse with a big price. There is no bigger thrill than cheering for a winning horse when no one else in the section has him.