June 2006

Photos from Shea and Jacobs

First of all, congratulations on the well-deserved contract extensions for General Manager Wayne Krivsky and Manager Jerry Narron.  Each has done a super job, and each sets a high standard for the entire organization to follow.

Wayne has upgraded the team in an incredibly short period of time.  The trades to acquire Bronson Arroyo, Brandon Phillips and David Ross have had a huge impact. Jerry maximizes the talent available to him. He sets the right tone, preaching the fundamentals. He’s trying to teach a lot of young players what it’s like to be a winning team.

In other business, thanks mostly to pilot error (with me being the pilot), I’m tardy in getting the Shea Stadium and Jacobs Field photos up here, but better late than never.

The parks are on opposite ends of the spectrum. "The Jake" is 12 years old, but still looks new. Shea is about my age, and looks it! The good news for Mets fans, as well as visiting teams: a new ballpark is under construction and should be ready to go in 2009.

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Cover of the Mets official game program from the inaugural 1962 season

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The Miracle Mets of ’69.

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The Mets of ’99, featuring Al Leiter, who beat the Reds in a one-game playoff.

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Across the subway tracks: the National Tennis Center, home of the U.S. Open.

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Yes, it’s called the Flushing Bay beyond the left-field wall.

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Walkway from the clubhouse to the visitors dugout.

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Marty navigates the narrow hallway leading to the booth. (Don’t tell the Fire Marshall.)

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Tight quarters for our booth.

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Marty with "The Godfather," fellow blogger Marc Lancaster of the Post.

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Day game on June 22.

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For many years Shea had the largest scoreboard in the majors.

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Our next door neighbors, Jesse Jackson, Chris Welsh and George Grande of FSN Ohio.

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The wall behind our broadcast position. It hasn’t been painted since LBJ was president.

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This is where the bus drops off players beyond the right field wall… ("We’ll leave the light on for ya’.")

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Night game at Shea.

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This "Big Apple" is a Shea tradition. The apple pops up for a Mets home run.

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Marty with our main man in New York, on-site producer Jay Braiman.

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An airplane takes off from nearby Laguardia Airport.

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Beautiful Jacobs Field (I didn’t go as picture crazy in Cleveland as I did at Shea). The amenities are very nice, like so many new ballparks.

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Looking left.

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Looking right.

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Beautiful day Saturday for Game 2 of the series with the Indians.

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All-Star Voting Reminder

060627votereds_1The folks in the Reds Marketing department wanted to make sure I pass along some timely information about this year’s All-Star voting. Give it a quick read, and don’t forget to cast your ballots. It looks like Ken Griffey Jr. will need a final push from Reds fans to earn a starting role on the National League squad.

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Only two days remain to cast your All-Star ballots for the 2006 All-Star Game at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park! Updated vote totals were posted yesterday, and Ken Griffey Jr. is just one spot away from a starting role on the team.

So Reds fan, he needs your help.

Here a few points to keep in mind:

  • You can vote online up to 25 times, and it only takes five minutes or so to cast all 25 ballots.
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  • You MUST cast your ballots by 11:59 p.m. on Thursday.
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  • 060627griffeyDon’t forget that you’ll need to "write in" Brandon Phillips (.310, 7 HR, 43 RBIs, 14 SBs) for second base and David Ross  (.323, 10 HRs, 25 RBIs, 1.094 OPS) for catcher.
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  • Don’t worry about Bronson Arroyo (9-4, 2.58 ERA, 84 Ks). Fans can’t vote for pitchers, but we’re confident that Phil Garner, this year’s NL All-Star manager, has a spot reserved for him.

“Off-the-field” outshines “on-the-field”

I didn’t make it to the Arroyo-Aurilia ?Perfect Pitch? concert Thursday night (but I did win a new golf bag in the Joe Nuxhall Open, thanks to the group I played with).  But I was happy to hear the concert drew such rave reviews and that so many people turned out (about 700!) and (most importantly) that it raised $35,000 for the Reds Community Fund.

So my camera was in its holster Thursday night, but our man Dann Stupp got some good shots of the festive evening at the Madison Theater in Covington, Ky. (photos below).

It’s been an interesting week, with some of the off-the-field stuff providing the good news, the concert, Joe’s golf tournament (Joe will do Sunday’s game with Marty, by the way).  And how ’bout Wednesday morning, when virtually the entire Bengals team and their head coach, Marvin Lewis, came over to Great American Ball Park to take batting practice?  What a great gesture, olive branch, extended by both franchises.  The looks on some of the Bengals faces after getting a Griffey autograph were priceless. (Photos below)

On the field, it’s been a mostly forgettable week, with various areas of the team struggling on a given night. 

The All-Star game is in Pittsburgh next month.  It’ll be fascinating to see how many, and which, Reds make the squad.  It appears Junior will be voted in.  He’s put up some impressive numbers, especially considering how many games he missed earlier in the year with injuries.  And his highlight-reel catches have certainly been played on ESPN enough to show people he’s still getting it done in center.  Bronso Arroyo is certainly a worthy candidate.  He wasn?t spectacular the other night, but he kept his team in the game.  Bronson is 8-3. Four pitchers have nine wins; no one had 10 as of Saturday morning.  His era is 2.51, fourth in the National League.  He should be a lock.  Todd Coffey has put up impressive numbers as well, 3-1 with a 2.17 ERA after Saturday’s rough outing; his ERA had led NL relievers much of the season. Through Saturday night?s game, Coffey had made a team-high 32 appearances.

The other guy who I’d love to see make it probably won’t be voted in because he’s not well known enough (yet). But how can you keep Brandon Phillips out of the game?  Excellent defense, and hitting .304 after Saturday. With 38 RBIs, he’s been among his team’s leaders in that category much of the year. Because of Brandon’s meteoric rise, and the fact that he didn’t join the Reds until soon after the season started, he’s not listed on the NL ballot.  And since Cleveland let him go, he’s obviously not on the AL ballot.  So he fell through the cracks this year.  Hopefully he’ll be on the ballot representing the Reds for years to come.  Of course, you can write-in Brandon Phillips.  I hope he at least makes it as a reserve.

And if David Ross had more at-bats (and his numbers stayed strong), his overall play would probably put him in the Mid-Summer Classic as well.

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The Reds welcome the Bengals to Great American Ball Park.. Nearly 60 players showed up for batting practice.
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Marvin Lewis talks to Marty Brennaman. The batting cage was at the end of a long line of Bengals players.
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Although Chad Johnson was admittedly "so-so" at the plate, he says he connected for a few clean hits.
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The Madison Theater in Convington hosted Thursday’s "Perfect Pitch" concert.
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Screaming Mimes, a group made up of game-day Reds staffers, opened the show. Ticket sales, a silent auction, CD purchases and other fundraising efforts brought in more than $35,000 for the RCF.
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The lovely Raquel Aurilia performs. After her performance, Raquel signed copies of her CD, Finding My Way.
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Rich Aurilia addresses the crowd after his wife’s performance. Felipe Lopez was just one of many Reds players in attedance, including Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn, David Ross, Ryan Freel and others.
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The man of the night was Bronson Arroyo. Bronson has a CD of his favorite covers, which is called Covering the Bases. He signed copies after the show.
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Bronson and the other performers hope it’s just one of many concerts to come.

Honoring the Ol’ Lefthander

This past Saturday, the Reds honored the Ol’ Lefthander on the 62nd anniversary of his Major League debut as a 15-year-old.  It’s still mind-boggling that someone so young faced the likes of Stan Musial and his Cardinal team that would go on to win the World Series that season.

The Reds declared it "Joe Nuxhall Day" at Great American Ball Park.  CEO Bob Castellini joined Marty as they gave Joe yet another well-deserved tribute.  Because of rain, they had the event in the lobby of the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum, which, by the way, you need to check out if you haven’t been. (As a side note, Dale Petroskey, the President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Coooperstown, will be here this week to get his first look at what the Reds have done with baseball’s best team hall of fame.)

Joe has a great sense of timing.  A week earlier he was in the hospital, but on this night he was the star.  After the pregame ceremony (which was shown live in the ballpark on the videoboard), Joe did a lap (in a golf cart) around the field to the adoration of the crowd.  He then set up shop in the Reds Community Fund booth behind home plate, where he signed almost 300 copies of his book "Joe: Rounding Third and Heading for Home."  I enjoyed reading it myself last year.  He was so busy signing, the line didn’t end until the seventh inning!

I had my trusty digital camera there Saturday…

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This is Joe’s plaque in the Reds Hall of Fame.
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Marty was the emcee for the tribute.
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Reds CEO Bob Castellini has shown a great appreciation for the history of the franchise. No one has lived more Reds history than Joe. Joe’s son Kim works tirelessly to help make Joe’s Character Education Fund a success.
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A nice crowd turned out to honor Joe.
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Joe, flanked by his daughter-in-law Bonnie, as well as Kim. This check from Bob Evans Restaurants to the Character Education Fund was for $20,000.
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Back in First

You can’t ask for much more than back-to-back sweeps in Houston and St. Louis. The Reds won in a lot of hostile environments. The smallest crowd the Reds saw on the nine-game road trip was 37,000. Rich Aurilia said after Wednesday’s win, "It was like playing in a playoff atmosphere."

Hopefully we’ll see some good crowds at home.

As some of you know (and as Marty has pointed out numerous times), St. Louis is my hometown. It’s always nice to see family and friends when we go there, and it was particularly sweet to rain on their (baseball) parade.

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That’s my sister-in-law, Lynn Stewart, holding my two-month-old niece, Margaret. I don’t think the Bad Boy Blog scared the baby, but it may have put her to sleep. Lynn helped me post the Houston photos. High school friends Steve Haack and Ted Busch stopped by the booth, as well as my mom, Marilyn, and dad, Layton. My parents are now converted Reds fans. Marty’s a big hit in any town. A local TV station followed him around Wednesday for a story they’re running this weekend.
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Actor and Cardinal fan John Goodman stopped by the booth. He became a Reds on Radio fan in the 1970s when he was performing at La Comedia theater in Springboro, Ohio. Early in the week, he listened to our broadcast on 700WLW during his drive from Virginia to St. Louis after filming for Bruce Almighty 2.
Longtime Busch Stadium organist Ernie Hayes. When I hear him play, it takes me back to my childhood. He’s the answer to the St. Louis trivia question: Who’s the only guy to play for the Cardinals and the St. Louis Blues hockey team? Me with my fraternity "little brother" Scott Sutter. Despite his choice of beverage on this particular night, he’s in the wine business.
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Tuesday night, the Reds spoiling the party and sending some Cardinal fans home early. The view from our radio booth during batting practice. Not only is it a great view, but it’s also air-conditioned. Up 38 steps, you’ll find the press box for the writers (which is not air-conditioned).
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This is the view from the second row of the press box. (It’s a little more of a bird’s-eye view than our vantage point.) But on a positive note, the writers have plenty of refreshments. Media Relations Director Rob Butcher ate nine of these brownies in one game back in April. The game’s just underway. This "Sea of Red" is something Reds CEO Bob Castellini told us is his dream for Great American Ball Park, night in and night out.
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Chris Welsh and George Grande occupy the booth to our left. Chris Welsh swiped my camera and got a shot of Marty and me during a commercial break. That’s the Cardinals’ longtime mascot, Fredbird the Redbird. (Gapper has much better legs.)
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Our view of the game after dark.
Once again, I weasel my way close to the field for easy access. This is moments after Griffey’s game-winning home run in the ninth inning of Monday’s game. I interview Rich Aurilia after the Reds’ 7-4 win on Wednesday. Aurilia matched his career highs with four hits and five RBIs.

Photos from Houston

What a weekend in Houston! First sweep ever at Minute Maid Park and the first three-game sweep in Houston since 1990’s wire-to-wire World Series season. I took more photos to show you the park, which opened (with the now-blasphemous name of Enron Field) back in 2000.

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It’s the most "open" of the retractable-roof ballparks.  This was before Friday night’s game. That "thing" on top is the roof, which was retracted until mid-game on Friday night. A replica of a 19th century locomotive rolls along tracks above that wall. Astros offices are housed in the building down the line.  Some folks will watch games from the rooftop ala Wrigley Field.
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A very deep center field, 436 feet. That’s Tal’s hill in straight-away center field (ala
Crosley Field). The pole under the US flag is in play.
Early in Friday’s game. Only 315 feet to left and only 362 to left-center. Those seats are known as the "Crawford Boxes," as the park is located on Crawford Street.
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As rain begins to fall mid-game Friday, the roof begins to close. It takes between 12 and 20 minutes to close, and the game continues uninterrupted. Marty and I before the roof closed Friday night.
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Saturday and Sunday the roof was closed. Me and Astros broadcaster Dave Raymond in a camera well near the field during the 11th inning of Sunday’s win. Ryan Freel was the "Star of the Game." Marty and fellow Hall-of-Fame voice Milo Hamilton, an Astros broadcaster. Milo’s recent autobiography is "Making Airwaves."
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Me with Sigma Chi fraternity brother Brad Wilder and his fellow attorney Frank Onion (Reds bullpen coach Lee Tunnell’s high school teammate) at the Fox Sports Grille. My cousin Jeff Nunn (the blacksheep of the family) with the "Bad Boy" at Pappasito’s, a popular Houston Mexican restaurant chain. As Marty would say, I was eating "like I was going to the electric chair."
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Photos from Wrigley

Since this is the "Bad Boy Blog," after all, I figured I’d tell you where I went after Monday’s day game.  I didn’t take pics, but my college roommate (and Chicago native) Jim Sweeney and I went out in Wrigleyville (the area of bars and restaurants around Wrigley Field).

We had dinner at a good Mexican place, El Jardin (with the "J" pronounced like an "H").  El Jardin is reputed to have the strongest margaritas in Wrigleyville (I don’t know about the strongest, but they’re good).  Later we hit Hi-Tops, which is right across the street from the ballpark. A Wrigleyville staple, it features dancing downstairs, and a bar and restaurant upstairs.

Later we stopped by Tavern on Rush, which is quite the hot spot on Chicago’s famous Rush Street.  It’s where the beautiful people go (and me too…)

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Yes, I found my brief case (thanks Gary Wahoff), and so here are photos from Wrigley this week.

But first, since it’s my blog (and my son was involved), a couple of photos from George Foster’s baseball clinic at Riverside Park in Newtown during the last homestand:

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Big George (I just looked it up, he’s 57 years old, amazingly.  Looks 15-20 years younger).  He’s soft-tossing to my son, John. The kids all had a good time, and George was great with all of them. A confined work space for broadcasters, but you don’t complain because it’s Wrigley Field.
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Perspective from where I sit; sometimes the TV monitor can get in the way.
Actor (and Chicago native) Vince Vaughn leads them in "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." Sorry about the flash.  FYI: Jennifer Anniston was at the game but did not come up to the press box.
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Marty at work. Out the left side of the booth. On-site prodcuer Ed Murphy takes our picture.
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In the ninth inning, I sit in the stands. It allows me to quickly get to the field for a player interview.  Not a bad seat, eh? Of course, I am surrounded by Cub fans. Looking back at the press box. Notice the Harry Caray tribute with the large glasses.
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The view out the back window of the press box gives you a nice view of the Chicago skyline. View from my seat for a night game at Wrigley. Fans stand during the seventh-inning stretch
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A longtime "Reds on Radio" fan: talented Wrigley Field organist Gary Pressy. He’s listened to WLW from Chicago since the 1970s. We can see a little bit of Lake Michigan down the right field line.