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.
As Jerry Narron said of the road trip, "There’s a big difference between going 1-4 and 2-3."
Regarding the narrow, hang-on-for-dear-life 9-8 win Sunday, Adam Dunn told me, "As long as we win, I don’t care how we get it done."
Also Joe Garagiola stopped by the radio booth Sunday in Phoenix. Marty’s known him for more than 30 years. Marty joined Garagiola as part of the NBC television crew that showed the 1975 World Series.
I first met Garagiola last year when we were in Arizona. He works with Marty’s son Thom on the D’backs Sunday home telecasts. My first impression is: he looks great, exactly like he looked 30 years ago when I watched him as a kid. For those of you too young to remember, the former catcher broadcast NBC’s Game of the Week and postseason baseball for many years. He was versatile enough that he was also a host on NBC’s Today Show for several years. I just looked him up, and was amazed to learn he’s 80 years old.
He’s also one of the best storytellers I’ve ever met. He proceeded to tell Marty and me stories about the legendary baseball executive Branch Rickey, whose most famous act was signing Jackie Robinson and breaking baseball’s color barrier.
Rickey ran the Pirates franchise when Garagiola played in Pittsburgh in the 1950s. He said it’s amazing how far ahead of his time Rickey was (he was big on "on-base percentage" decades before the term was routinely used), and still marvels at the way Rickey could read people, both on and off the field. Joe talked about how much Rickey liked a good debate and how hard he had to lobby for a $1,500 raise one year. Eventually Gariagola won the raise. But it took all the oratorical skills he possessed.
Those communication skills would later make Joe Garagiola wealthy, famous and beloved by generations of television viewers.
If you would have told me that the Reds’ starters in the first four games of this trip would allow 3 runs (Claussen), 1 run (Harang), 1 earned run (Ramirez, on a rough defensive night, but still one earned run) and 3 runs (Arroyo), I would have guessed the Reds would have started off better than 1-3 on the trip. But that’s baseball. Yesterday’s 9-8 victory helped cushion the blow.
On the bright side, it is good to see the starters keeping the team in games. And the bullpen has been getting the job done, too.
The Reds will finally have a "normal" six-game homestand, the first since the first week of the season, beginning Tuesday night.
Also, our Marketing folks wanted to pass along a reminder about some of the club’s upcoming promotions for this homestand:
- Bleacher Discount Date – Bleacher seats for $4 when purchased in advance of game day (Thursday, May 11, 7:10 p.m. vs. Nationals)
- Great American Insurance Group Adam Dunn Figurine Night (Saturday, May 13, 6:10 p.m. vs. Phillies)
- Kahn’s Mothers Day Sports Bottle (Sunday, May 14, 1:15 p.m. vs. Phillies)
Well the Reds’ Friday night roll stopped with a thud on Cinco de Mayo, thanks largely to about the ugliest inning I’ve ever seen. And, no surprise, UK alum Brandon Webb was his usual brilliant self. D’backs take round one, 7-1. So now we’ll see if Bronsono Arroyo can keep doing what he’s been doing.
After the game last night, I was unable to interview Webb because he was getting ice in the trainers room. I did talk to Luis Gonzalez, who had two hits an an RBI in that forgettable second inning. Gonzalez said it was nice to see Webb beat "his hometown team." Brandon is from Ashland, Kentucky. And, yes, he still lives there. Met some guys that grew up with him when we were there for our Caravan stop this past January.
About Arroyo, Gonzalez told me, "We haven’t seen a lot of him. He’s an American League guy coming in. We’re hoping that we can get his pitch count up early and try to take advantage. But we know that he’s got a great slider and he’s been pitching real well as of late."
On what was a bad day for the Reds, probably the most interesting development was learning, once we got back to our hotel after the game, that the L.A. Lakers are staying here. They play the Phoenix Suns in Game 7 of their playoff series later today. There was a Phil Jackson sighting in the lobby, and we saw former OSU star Jim Jackson as well (he’s 35 now, just to make you feel a little older.) Their game starts about an hour before the Reds and Diamondbacks.
Another beautiful day in paradise, by the way…
Also, on a serious note, we want to wish Reds employee Chris Herrell all the best. A great guy, a super employee, Chris has been in the hospital the past couple of weeks. Chris, we’re thinking about you…and GET WELL SOON!!!