Some brief notes as we get ready to watch the final game of this series, with the Reds trying to avoid a sweep:
Best wishes for a speedy recovery to Joe Nuxhall. I’ve said it many times, but from my standpoint it bears repeating: no one has treated me better than Joe since I came to Cincinnati. It’s an honor to know him and to occasionally get to work with him. I still enjoy hearing him and Marty together too. Joe’s about as tough as they come. I’m sure you join me in wishing him well.
Also, I’m going to post a bunch of Wrigley Field photos when we get to Houston. I took daytime and nighttime pics Monday and Tuesday. That is, if I can find my briefcase. Suffering from yet another brain cramp, I left my briefcase in the luggage area of the team bus after Wednesday night’s game. So if I’m lucky enough to get it back later today, it will mean I also have my digital camera (with all the photos already taken).
Carlos Zambrando’s very tough, but last time the Reds were here so was Eric Milton. Hopefully he can pitch like he did then and like he did in a loss to Arizona over the weekend when the Reds and Cubbies hook-up Wednesday night.
(The photo to the right was taken during one of our "Hot Stove League" shows at the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum this past winter. Get well, Joe!)
Someone suggested during the game I take shots of our vantage point at Great American Ball Park, so here are some… on a night when the Reds had the misfortune of going up against Brandon Webb.
Joe Nuxhall joins Marty for the Saturday Arizona game. I’ll be there as a spectator with my son, John. By the way, Marty’s son will attend Sunday’s game. Anderson High alum (and the TV voice of the Diamondbacks) Thom Brennaman is missing the Friday and Saturday Cincinnati-Arizona games, spending the first part of the weekend in Washington for the Nats-Dodgers for FOX-TV.
I had the pleasure of meeting former UK coach Joe B. Hall before the game. He and his group enjoyed visiting with the many Kentucky-born players between the Reds and D-backs: Austin Kearns, Brandon Webb, Kevin Jarvis and Andy Green. Amazingly, all four umpires for the weekend series have very strong Kentucky ties as well (and, no, it wouldn’t have mattered who was umpiring Friday; Brandon Webb was brilliant, no matter what state the umpires were from).
The results were disappointing, losing two of three in Detroit. Hopefully, this homestand will yield better results.
On a positive note, I had the privilege of saying hi to retired broadcast legend Ernie Harwell, who stopped by the booth on Sunday. The former longtime Voice of the Tigers is one of the game’s treasures.
I took some more pictures. These are from Detroit’s Comerica Park (Comerica is a bank, in case you were wondering). I also included some pics from the Henry Ford Museum. They do have the "Baseball as America" travelling Hall of Fame exhibit on display (which was very impressive, by the way). But since I already overloaded you with baseball nostalgia last week, I went a different direction.
I hope you enjoyed the Cooperstown photos. We had a lot of fun. Those pics and that blog entry will remain on here. We’ll have a link to it throughout the season so you can go back to look at them whenever you’d like.
This entry shows you where we go, now that I’ve (sort of) figured out how to e-mail pictures. These photos are from PNC Park in Pittsburgh, which opened in 2001, and it will be the site of this summer’s All-Star Game.
The view is among the best you’ll find at any ballpark in the country. The weather was mostly horrible this past week, but we got all three games in.
Once we get to Comerica Park in Detroit, I’ll try to post some more photos:
Was it worth all this for two-and-a-half innings? I say "Yes," since those two-and-a-half innings gave us a bonus trip to Cooperstown and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. (Eric Milton did look good for two brief innings, by the way).
I actually went on two tours, one Sunday evening and one Monday morning. The first was the one the players got. After flying into the Oneida County Airport Sunday evening, and busing an hour or so to Cooperstown, the tour didn’t begin until about 10:45 p.m. It was neat to be there. I hadn’t been there in more than 10 years. I won’t bother to tell you how many times I ate Sunday, either. But I was amply nourished, to say the least.
The first photo you’ll see is in the theater, in which tour-goers get to see a film about the game of baseball. Our Reds Hall of Fame compares favorably in terms of the "theater as ballpark" aspect. In both their museum and ours, a film gets things started for the visiting patrons. In this case, it’s a 12-minute film called "The Baseball Experience."
Before showing the players and coaching staff the film, the president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Dale Petrovsky as well as Chief Curator Ted Spencer, told the guys what a truly special place Cooperstown is. Petrovsky said that only the top one percent of players ever make it there, meaning roughly seven current-day players (give or take) will make it.
"This is your museum," Petrovsky told them. "Everyone of you has a file here. We’ll be happy to let you see it."
This will be the "Mother of all Blog Entries." I figured I’d overload you with photos. And I believe you can click on any and all of them to enlarge them for better viewing:
I hope you enjoy this blog entry. Thanks to Dann Stupp for his help posting this.
Another solid performance by Elizardo Ramirez, but the bullpen was unable to do its job, and the Phils won 8-4 Friday night. I like what I’ve seen from Ramirez this season. He’s shown poise, good command and, most importantly, he’s kept his team in games. And the Reds hitters, though only recording one hit against rookie righty Cole Hamels, took a patient approach, ran his pitch count up, and got him out of the game after five innings. The former first-round pick did show promise.
We always have visitors in the radio booth, both before and during the game. Last night Jim LaBarbara, aka "The Music Professor," spent some time with us. Jim and Marty are old friends. He’s a huge Reds (and baseball) fan. Jim has been on the air in Cincinnati for a long time. He’s the afternoon drive dj at WGRR radio. When you hear Marty say "Hey, Prof" during a broadcast, he’s acknowledging that Jim has just walked in. Before the game last night, four gentlemen who bought a package at a charity auction stopped by, and we visited with them for a while. A visit to the radio booth was part of their prize. Also stopping by last night was Reds CEO Bob Castellini, his first visit since escorting the President to the booth Opening Day.
Joe Nuxhall stops by at most of the home games. Before the game, Joe is down in the camera well at the home-plate side of the first-base dugout. That area is known as "Nuxey’s Office." But we usually get to see him in the booth as well. And, again, Joe will do Sunday’s game with Marty.
The four "constants" in the booth are Marty and myself, as well as executive producer Dave "Yiddy" Armbruster and Bill "Seg" Dennison. Dave’s been producing our broadcasts, spring training and regular season for 20 years (at least). He has about 1,200 jobs at our flagship station, 700WLW. You hear "Yid" weekday mornings doing traffic reports on WLW as well as other ClearChannel stations. His nickname came from his brother, who couldn’t prounounce "David" when they were little tikes. Seg works 365 days a year, as you know if you listen to WLW. Seg’s nickname, well, that’s part of Bob Trumpy’s legacy. Trumpy, by the way, has stopped by the radio booth twice this season.
I am going with the team to Cooperstown, so I plan on telling you how it goes. Dann Stupp, the "mastermind" of this blog operation, gave me a lesson on posting photos Friday. We’ll find out if I learned anything.
What a storybook ending to Thursday’s game: Junior off the DL hits the game-winning home run. Rob Butcher informs us that Ken Griffey Jr.’s game-ending home run was the first for a Major League player in his first game off the disabled list since Barry Larkin May 6, 2003, versus St. Louis. The last Reds player to win an extra-inning game with a homer was Adam Dunn, who beat the Expos with a three-run homer in the 10th inning on June 5, 2004.
The last time the Reds trailed by three runs in extra innings and came back to win, Johnny Bench hit a three-run home run to beat the Mets, 6-5. The date was June 5, 1973.
When I talked with Junior after the game, it was great to see such joy on his face. He loves to play, and after watching his teammates battle for the past month, he was happy to contribute to a win.
When we have extra innings, Marty and I usually call every-other inning. I call the evens, Marty has the odds, which is why he was the one who called Junior’s home run (a great call, by the way).
I always go down to the field level in the ninth inning to grab our "Star of the Game" right as the game is ending. Last night was one of those games in which I went down in the ninth, came back upstairs to call the 10th, thought about going back downstairs for the bottom of the 11th, with the Reds trailing. But I held out hope that the Reds might rally to tie it and force a 12th inning. I was more than happy to quickly make my way downstairs while Junior was still rounding the bases and grab him for an interview after he won it in the 11th.
On the road, it can be tough for me to get back upstairs to call extra innings after I’ve gone downstairs in the ninth. At home games, all of the ushers and attendants take care of me and hold the elevator for me. On the road, I’m "on my own," so I often can’t get upstairs and downstairs in time for extra frames.
While we’re talking about broadcasting, I’m pleased to report that the Ol’ Lefthander will be in the booth Sunday. Marty and Joe will call Sunday’s game with the Phillies on Mother’s Day.
I think everyone in the ballpark, and the broadcast booth, felt fortunate that Wednesday night’s game was a) played, b) played on time and c) played without interruption. It was an ominous afternoon sky, and it appeared we might have a "banana phone" type of night, but we dodged the bullet.
As for the game itself, it was nice to see a total team effort. It took most of the 25-man roster to beat Washington, 9-6. The hitters bailed out the pitchers, who have more than held up their end of the bargain this season.
Scott Hatteberg had the big two-run double in the eighth inning. He hit it off left-hander Mike Stanton. Even though Hatteberg’s been mostly a platoon player this year (playing mostly against right-handers), he came to the plate in the eighth hitting .385 versus left-handers. He’s quietly helped make this a better team. He has good at-bats, sees a lot of pitches, has a high on-base percentage and plays good defense.
Bronson Arroyo will try for his sixth win of the year tonight. Washington counters with Cincinnati native Zach Day. By the way, we enjoyed Bronson’s debut as a sports anchor on Local12 with Brad Johansen Wednesday. Arroyo did a nice job delivering the 6 p.m. sports report.
Not much good to come out of Tuesday’s 7-1 Nationals’ win. Except for a good line delivered by Washington’s veteran shortstop Royce Clayton, who went 3-for-4 with two doubles in the game.
By now you’ve no doubt seen or heard about Alfonso Soriano’s 492-foot home run that cleared the batter’s eye in centerfield in the ninth inning. Washington’s hitters have complained about the large dimensions at their home, RFK Stadium, since it re-opened for baseball last year. I asked Clayton on the radio what guys were saying to Soriano after the home run (the fourth longest in Great American Ball Park history).
"We told him it’d probably be a double in Washington or maybe off the wall," he said, laughing.