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Jun 9

Great American Ballpark Has The Best New Ballpark Food Of 2011

Posted by: R.A.Pedigo at 1:13 pm | Leave a Comment (85)
Category: Baseball

I am in a “summery” kind of mood today. I spoke about fishing earlier, now let’s talk ballpark food. I know that at least TGR’s Chef Jon will agree with me that when it comes to sports and the viewing of sports, the food you ingest is just as important as the game. I enjoy the food served at our nation’s concession stands as much, or more, than any five star restaurant’s menu.

The good people at Man Tested Recipes have alerted the world that Great American Ballpark and the Cincinnati Reds are not only exciting this year because of Jay Bruce’s thighs, but for a new item in their concession areas. The men at MTR have ranked Cincy’s new ‘Meat Lover’s Hot Dog’ The Best New Food at the Ballpark for 2011. They describe it like this, “Start with a quarter-pound hot dog. Wrap it in bacon. Deep-fry it. Then top it with chili, pepper jack cheese and fried salami. And it’s only $6.50! Are you serious? This is one ballpark that lives up to its name.” Well done GAP!
Here is the rest of MTR’s The Best New Food at the Ballpark for 2011 Top 10 list…

2. Frito Pie Dog — Wrigley Field (Chicago)
Bleacher Bums, arrive hungry. You’ll get a shot at this hot dog topped with a pile of all-beef chili, cheddar cheese and Fritos. So, basically, a Frito Pie with a hot dog in it. Sold!

3. Royal Pork T — Royals Stadium (Kansas City)
Get this baby now; it may not be around by summer. Fans will vote on whether the Royal Pork T–crispy pork tenderloin, caramelized onions, fried pickle chips and Kansas City BBQ sauce served on a hamburger bun–will displace the reigning sandwich champ, the KC Ribeye Stack.

4. The Big Boog — Orioles Park at Camden Yards (Baltimore)
A new sandwich at Boog Powell’s BBQ, beyond the rightfield fence. It’s stuffed with pit-smoked beef, turkey, and pork… In all, twice the meat of a regular sandwich.

5. Three-Pound Pretzel — Rangers Ballpark (Arlington, TX)
Feed the family for $12.50 with this ginormous pretzel that’s said to serve four. Of course you know some guy is going to try to eat the whole thing all on his own.

6. Mac Madness — U.S. Cellular Field (Chicago)
White Sox fans can grab of mac & cheese and top it with an array of awesome toppings at U.S. Cellular’s new Mac Madness Station–including buffalo chicken, Cheetos and Doritos, bacon, and crushed potato chips.

7. Giant Juicy Turkey Sandwich — Target Field (Minneapolis)
This classic of the Minnesota State Fair makes its way inside Target Field. A slow-roasted pulled turkey sandwich served on an extra-soft roll with Minneapolis’ own Ken Davis BBQ Sauce.

8. Doyer Dog — Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles)
Think of it as a Tex-Mex dog. You get an all-beef hot dog served with nacho cheese. Then you can top it–if you dare–with chili, chopped tomatoes, onions and jalapenos. Evidently it weighs twice as much as the classic Dodger dog. The name comes from the way Spanish speakers pronounce “Dodger.”

9. Red White & Blue steak sandwich — Many stadiums
Food Network is opening concession stands in eight ballparks this summer. Each will serve this sandwich with sliced steak, Maytag blue cheese and Peppadew-pepper mayo on a baguette. It’s be found at Progressive Field (Cleveland), Great American Ballpark (Cincinnati), Comerica Park (Detroit), Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Busch Stadium (St. Louis), Miller Park (Milwaukee), Petco Park (San Diego) and Oriole Park (Baltimore).

I am in the mood for a Doyer Dog. I don’t have any clue if it is good, but the explanation of why they call it that is classic!

Jun 8

Fitz’s Redleg Ramblings: The Mid-Week Reds Report

Posted by: Fitzinlex at 12:00 pm | Leave a Comment (0)
Category: Baseball

I will admit it.  As I watched the first two innings of Edinson’s return last night, I was pretty sure the only thing that had changed for the Reds’ opening day starter since his stint in the minors was his hairstyle.  Through two innings, his pitch count was already well north of forty, and it looked like another night of praying he makes it through the fifth inning.  It was painfulReally painful.

When all was said and done, Volquez completed seven innings with one run allowed, five strikeouts and two walks.  Plus, he had a hit, two sacrifice bunts, and a run scored for good measure.  Granted, it was the Cubs (which may have actually been a step down in competition from what he faced in Louisville), but it was a solid outing that offers a glimmer of hope for the remainder of the season.

Speaking of this season, let’s move quickly to the reason Flavor Flav is greeting you today.  It’s because the subject is time.  As in, if the Reds are going to make a move, the TIME is NOW.  Here’s why:

For the second straight year, I sat down with the Reds schedule before the season started and mapped out what I thought they needed to do (series by series) to make the playoffs.  (Don’t judge me) I start with the number of wins I think will be required (this year it is 92) and then determine what is needed and what is realistic against each team.  For example, I expect the Reds to dominate a team like the Cubs, but I also expect them to struggle at times against teams like the Giants, Phillies and Cardinals.

As a result, it isn’t a simple matter of the Reds needing to win 3.68 wins per week.  Some weeks should be better than that.  Some will naturally be worse.  Coming into the current Cubs series, I thought the Reds needed to have 35 wins under their belt to be on track.  They had only 30.  At some point, they have to make up for those five losses.  And their best chance to do it is now.

The Reds have just begun a string of 35 games which will carry them to the All-Star break.  They will face a difficult schedule, featuring a west coast swing to San Francisco and Los Angeles, and series against the Yankees, Rays, Indians, and the Cardinals (twice).  However, in my pre-season calculation, I figured the Reds would only be one game over .500 during this stretch. That’s why this is the perfect time to make something happen. If they can get hot, they have a great chance to dig into their deficit.

Their schedule after the All-Star break gets easier, but we can’t count on them to close a significant gap that late.  In the 10 full weeks in the second half of the season, I am counting on the Reds to win at least four games seven times.  Expecting them to do much better than that isn’t realistic.

So that’s why the move has to be made now.  My pre-season analysis required them to have 53 wins by the All-Star break to be on track.  I think they need to at least be in the neighborhood (50 or 51) to have a shot.

If not, this may be the only thing to look forward to at Great American Ballpark come September.

Jun 2

Fitz’s Redleg Ramblings: The Mid-Week Reds Report

Posted by: Fitzinlex at 1:47 pm | Leave a Comment (1)
Category: Baseball

A day off.  Finally.

After playing a game on 20 consecutive days, the Reds are actually getting to sleep in today.  It was a tough stretch in which 16 of the games were against teams with the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 8th and 9th best records in the majors.  The end result was a loss of 2.5 games in the standings.

Things looked particularly bad Tuesday after Corey Hart banged a three-run shot to put the Reds in a hole they couldn’t climb out, and then again Wednesday when they were down 3-0 at the seventh inning stretch.  But thanks to bombs from Player-of-the-Month Bruce and Player-of-the-Forever Votto, the Reds managed to win their first series in the past five and finished the rugged stretch at 9-11.

It probably wasn’t as bad as it looked.  They had 2 one-run losses to the Indians (one bad pitch by Bailey cost them one of those games), a one-run loss in 19 innings to the Phillies, and 2 one-run losses to the Braves (one in 12 innings, the other featuring one bad pitch by Cueto and a bad out call on Janish at the plate).

There’s no need to panic yet, but there are certainly reasons for concern.  Here are the three biggest issues facing the Reds right now:

  1. Offensive production from the shortstop position.  I will admit, last season there were times I wondered if Paul Janish should be starting ahead of Orlando Cabrera.  That notion now seems ridiculous.  Granted, Janish is an outstanding fielder, but his offense is wilting this season in his role as more of an everyday player. There is absolutely no pop in his bat.  He might be the Reds’ version of Perry Stevenson: a player you like a lot, can do some good things for you, but you know your team is in a heap of trouble if he can crack your starting lineup.  And Edgar Renteria is old.
  2. Starting pitching.  Cueto looks great.  Wood seems to be coming around.  Leake is decent, but doesn’t look like anything more than a fifth starter.  But Homer has found his way onto the disabled list (again), there’s something wrong with Bronson, and there’s the lingering riddle of Edinson Volquez.  One of the dudes on the radio last night said Volquez found the correct “arm slot” while pitching in Louisville.  I just hope he can find the plate.  To make any upward movement in the standings, the Reds MUST get production from Bailey, Arroyo and Volquez.  Not Cy Young quality, but they need to pitch consistently into the 7th inning and keep the bullpen rested.
  3. Scott Rolen:  His .244 average is actually higher than I thought it would be.  But with only two homers and 18 RBI, his offensive production is anemic.  I’m sure a lot of it is has to do with his shoulder, but he’s not getting younger, and I don’t know if resting him more and putting Cairo (or Juan Francisco when he gets healthy) into the lineup more often is the answer.  Bottom line:  Votto needs protection, and right now Rolen can’t provide it.  Bruce has fit nicely in the cleanup slot the last two games.  Hopefully he can keep it up.

In the meantime, don’t forget it’s election season.  Vote Reds. Early and Often.

May 25

Fitz’s Redleg Ramblings: The Mid-Week Reds Report

Posted by: Fitzinlex at 10:02 am | Leave a Comment (3)
Category: Baseball

Finally.

Just a week ago, the Reds were fresh off a sweep of the Dirty Birds, a sweep of the Cubs, and were in first place in the Central.  But before Jay Bruce’s 9th inning heroics last night, they hadn’t won since.  Since I didn’t take full credit for the hot streak they were on, I’m certainly not accepting the blame for the swoon.

They’ve managed to lose in a variety of ways.  They lost with Travis Wood taking a no-hitter into the sixth, but ultimately not making it out of the inning.  They lost with Homer Bailey throwing ONE BAD PITCH that resulted in enough runs to lose a 2-1 game.  And they lost two games in blowouts.

After they had left eight runners on base through eight innings, I figured it would take something extraordinary to grab a win Tuesday night.  Maybe Bruce’s 2-out, 3-run double off the Phillies’ closer wasn’t Criss Angel-quality extraordinary, but it was good enough.

On Sunday I discussed the difficult decisions Dusty Baker was being faced with because of the subpar performances of two key players—Edinson Volquez and Jonny Gomes.  I figured, for a variety of reasons, Dusty would keep things status-quo.  He did not, and I think he deserves a lot of credit for showing some great leadership.

For starters (pun kinda intended) he shipped Volquez to Louisville.  This was no small feat.  Rarely does a team’s number one starter wind up in the minors for something other than an injury rehab outing.

Volquez, besides not paying attention to his cap size, apparently doesn’t even pay attention to the games he’s pitching in, and assumed he had been the bad-luck victim in a parade of one-run losses.  I hope Cincinnati Enquirer writer Paul Daugherty’s opinion that Volquez could benefit from “the cold water of a Class AAA bus ride or three.”

As for Gomes, Baker kept him on the big club, but Jonny will likely ride the pine for a few games while Heisey and Lewis get some chances to show what they can do.

I agree with both moves.  Volquez needed an attitude adjustment, and Gomes just needs some time to clear his head and stop pressing so hard.

But I’m not going to completely give Dusty a pass.  During the losing streak the Reds have shown very little aggression.  Sometimes situations call for a team to try to create its own breaks—run a little and put some pressure on the defense.  When they finally did this Tuesday night (a Stubbs bunt which resulted in a throwing error and ultimately led to the go-ahead run), good things happened.  It simply needs to happen more often.

To close, here’s something else that needs to happen more often: displays of the Oscar-worthy acting skills of Joey Votto.

 

May 22

Fitz’s Redleg Ramblings: The Mid-Week Sunday Reds Report

Posted by: Fitzinlex at 4:14 pm | Leave a Comment (7)
Category: Baseball

Yes, I know the title of my post includes the term “mid-week” in it, but I’m hurriedly cranking something out in hopes of “un-jinxing” the Redlegs.  I’m starting to think I should have quit after one post.  Unless they can overcome a current four run deficit against the Indians, they will have lost five straight since I wrote my glowing review on Wednesday.

As Yogi would say, the last in this line of losses was a case of “déjà vu all over again.”  Edinson Volquez gave up a 2-run homer early, put pressure on his defense which resulted in an unearned run, and ultimately couldn’t get out of the THIRD inning and left his team down six runs while he was hitting the shower.

We all know the Volquez story: acquired from Texas for Josh Hamilton.  At the time, it didn’t seem like such a horrible deal.  Volquez had the kind of stuff that led you to believe he could be a number one starter, and despite Hamilton being a classic “5-tool player,” no one projected him as a future MVP and Triple Crown threat.  Besides, with his substance abuse history, there had to be the worry that it could rear its ugly head again someday.

But here we are in 2011, and since the trade Hamilton has indeed been named MVP and Volquez has had one great season and one Tommy John surgery.  In spring training, Dusty named him the number one starter in hopes that the incentive of being in the final year of his contract would pay dividends.  It has not.

And this is what makes Dusty Baker’s job so difficult.  Volquez is the guy that was once seen as the bedrock of the starting rotation, and instead he’s turned into quicksand.  It’s easy from my recliner to say that it’s time to cut our losses, release him, and cast our hopes on one of the many solid starters in Louisville.  But he’s a guy that can throw in the mid-90s and can make batters look stupid when he has control of his changeup.

To add to Dusty’s headache is the case of Jonny Gomes.  In many respects, he carried the Reds for the first two weeks of the season: 15 RBI in the 14 games.   He has had only eight since (three on one swing against the Astros) and his batting average has dropped around 100 points to its current .171.  Meanwhile, Chris Heisey is batting .273 with 17 RBI in half the at-bats Gomes has had.  And Fred Lewis looks like he would work well in a platoon situation with Heisey.

But Dusty is a “player’s manager,” which means he won’t throw Jonny to the trash heap because of one bad month.  But with Volquez and Gomes, you have to ask the question “when will enough be enough?”

May 21

Those “Other” Sports Afternoon Update

Posted by: Ryan at 2:37 pm | Leave a Comment (0)
Category: Baseball

We don’t traditionally cover the “other” sports on TGR, however, when the Cats are in NCAA tournament play we gotcha.

The Kentucky softball team is on to the NCAA regional finals after beating #10 seed Michigan 7-6. UK will advance and play on ESPN Sunday at 1. The Cats will have to be beaten twice to be eliminated from the regionals. The opponent for Sunday is yet to be determined.

Also on tap today, UK Men’s tennis team will take on USC today at 2:45 in the NCAA elite 8. UK Athletics will have a live blog during the match.

May 18

Fitz’s Redleg Ramblings: The Mid-Week Reds Report 

Posted by: Fitzinlex at 11:15 am | Leave a Comment (2)
Category: Baseball

You’re welcome, true believers.  Since my inaugural post on TGR, the Reds have gone 11-2.  Coincidence?  (Probably so.)

Actually, I think the run has far more to do with a couple of young hurlers returning to the parent club than my musings.  As I mentioned in my first blog, I was expecting the Reds to get on track once Bailey and Cueto worked their way back into the starting rotation.  Suffice to say their return has been to the Reds what a Hollywood Judge is to Lindsay Lohan.  What Hardee’s is to a cardiologist’s bottom line.  What Billy Clyde was to Dakotah Euton’s D1 scholarship hopes.  Three starts by Bailey and two by Cueto have yielded a grand total of four earned runs and five wins.

The Reds were a game under .500 when the wonder twins showed up.  Now they’re eight games over .500, but more importantly they’ve brought a swagger back to the Reds’ rotation.  Here’s how I see their return:  if the Reds were within a couple of games of the Cardinals, and they made a late season trade to pick up a solid starter to help down the stretch, you’d be pretty excited.  Right?  Well, they were around two back of the Cardinals when they got TWO solid starters, and they’ll have them for FIVE months.

Facing the Reds is an unenviable task right now.  Sure, they’re hitting, but the real problem for the opposition is the Reds pitching.  Along with Bailey and Cueto, there is the ever-consistent Bronson Arroyo, and Travis Wood seems to be working through whatever problems he had at the beginning of the season.

Ah, but what if the opponent’s starter pitches a gem and the game ends up in the hands of the Reds’ bullpen?  Well, folks, that’s where the Reds’ pitching staff truly shines.  They have ALL THE PIECES:

Middle Relievers:  Logan Ondrusek and Sam LeCure.  Ondrusek comes off the mound at you with a frame of 6’8” and 230.  That’s like facing the Great and Powerful Jorts, and there is nothing more intimidating than that in all the world (is there, Jared Sullinger?) And aside from having one of the most epic ‘staches in Reds history, Sudden Sam has given up as many earned runs in May as I have.  And Jordan Smith shows the toughness of a long-term big leaguer.

Lefthanded Specialist:  Bill Bray.  Has a slider that registers in the high-80s, an ERA under 2.00 and was really nice to my kid when we traveled to see the Reds play in Pittsburgh last year.  You should love him.

Setup Man:  Nick Masset.  Remember how awful he was when the season began?  Well, he’s been that GOOD for the past month.  Take away one awful outing against the Marlins on May 1, and he has given up one earned run in a little more than a month.

Closer:  Two words:  Co.  Co.  Yes, despite his efforts in 2010 to boost sales of nitroglycerin tablets, Francisco Cordero has been exactly what you want in a reliever.  He comes in, throws strikes, and gets things over quickly.  Three wins, eight saves, and only one blown save on the season.

Suffice to say, the Reds pitching is REALLY good.  But we can’t ignore the problems, which are:

Edinson Volquez:  If you look at his record and strikeouts alone, you’d think all is well.  He’s 3-1 and has struck out more than a batter an inning.  But at times he can’t find the plate, and his pitch count inflates at the rate of the national debt.  He hasn’t made it to the seventh inning YET.  And he’s the number one starter.  Sparky Anderson once said “Just give me 25 guys on the last year of their contracts; I’ll win a pennant every year.”  Volquez is in the last year of his contract.  Sparky wasn’t talking about him.  Volquez turned down a four-year contract from the Reds in the offseason in hopes of increasing his value with a solid season.  Granted, he was better last night.  But if he doesn’t turn things around soon, all he’s gonna parlay his free agency into is a tryout with the Royals for the league minimum.

Aroldis Chapman:  The $30 million dollar man has not lived up to the hype he created last season.  Maybe there’s a problem with his arm.  Maybe there’s a problem with his head.  Whatever it is, he needs some time to get things right.  So here is my recommendation to Dusty:  send Chapman to the minors and start the process now of converting him back into a starter.  Walt Jocketty didn’t drop that many dimes for Chapman to be a reliever.  The bullpen this year is solid.  Chapman really isn’t needed.  So give him 2/3 of a season in the minors and the entire offseason to get ready to be the fourth or fifth starter next year.

The final roster spot:  Not a huge problem (we are, after all, talking about the last dude on the team), but there’s a question as to the best way to fill it.  Jose Arredondo was good against the Cards this weekend, but awful last night.  And Macy’s bargain hunter Mike Leake has shown to be a decent starter, but his appearances out of the ‘pen after Bailey and Cueto returned were not great.  There are some good hurlers in Louisville (mostly starters), and maybe it’s time to give one of them a shot.

But after last night, we know this for certain: The Cubs are absolutely awful.

May 10

A Story We Have To Share

Posted by: Ryan at 5:40 pm | Leave a Comment (0)
Category: Baseball

AFTER MOM’s DEATH high school star throws no-hitter and hits 4 home runs in same day! Unbelievable!

May 6

BlueTube With Thecatsfan15

Posted by: R.A.Pedigo at 1:07 pm | Leave a Comment (0)
Category: Baseball

You don’t have to have been a fan of TGR for to long to remember the outrageous exploits of TGR’s YouTube correspondent, thecatsfan15. He was here for a great deal of the 2nd part of the season giving you all of his thoughts on the cats upcoming game.

Well, he is back, and if you are a Cincinnati Reds fan, you are not going to be pleased with him today. Turns out, Mr. thecatsfan15 is a Chicago Cubs fan who hates the Reds. The Reds and Cubs start a series today at 2:20 pm. Here are his thoughts on the Reds and Cubs…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyPNqO4D8LE

May 4

Fitz’s Redleg Ramblings: The Mid-Week Reds Report 

Posted by: Fitzinlex at 1:00 pm | Leave a Comment (5)
Category: Baseball

I’m the oddball.

I was the sports-crazy kid growing up in the Commonwealth whose first love wasn’t the Kentucky Wildcats.  (It actually might have been Lady Aberlin on Mister Rogers—I was always a sucker for royalty—but I digress.)

My first love was the Cincinnati Reds, and how could you blame me?  In 1975 I turned 10, discovered baseball, and the Big Red Machine promptly won consecutive World Series.  I was hooked.

I’ve had a couple of respites from my Reds fandom (college and graduate school—CURSE YOU, KNOWLEDGE!), but I have been all in for a few years now and am working diligently to channel my 13 year old son in the same direction.  So far I think it’s working, but it could just be his insatiable hunger for goetta dogs at Great American Ballpark.

So when the boys at TGR asked if I’d be interested in writing an occasional piece on the Reds, I bit.  Ya can’t beat a relationship built on desperation:  they need copy, and I desperately need to be heard.  It’s a sickness.

I recognize for many of you this column will merely be considered an obstacle standing in between you and important discussions of “Where in the World is Trevor Lacey?” and Winston Guy’s tackling skills.  But give baseball a chance, if for no other reason than it’s there for you EVERY SINGLE NIGHT (sans two) from April through October.  Remember those weeks during the basketball season when the ‘Cats don’t have a mid-week game?  Remember how you get the shakes around Thursday?  Well, baseball won’t do that to you.  And I’m pretty sure “Family Guy” isn’t on every single night, so what else do you have to do?

I want to be positive about the Reds in my first blog (which ain’t easy, considering that as I write this they are losing 9-3 to an awful Astros team.  At home.), so I am suppressing my thoughts about Edinson Volquez and focusing on the reigning MVP, Joey Votto.

The Reds’ first baseman is picking up right where he left off last season, and at 27 years old, he has his best seasons ahead of him.  An interview with The Sporting News last season (hyperlink it) provided some great insight into Votto’s professional approach.  In my opinion, there are very few in the game who take their work as seriously as him.

I went to the Reds game last Saturday, and his at-bat which stood out most to me actually resulted in an out.  But it was his unwillingness to give in that impressed me.  He was facing the Marlins’ Josh Johnson, a hard-throwing righthander who has to be the early favorite for the Cy Young Award in the National League.  Johnson was giving Votto nothing in the middle of the plate.  But he fouled off pitch after pitch until he worked a favorable count, and when Johnson finally threw Votto a fastball, he ripped a rocket straight at the centerfielder.

In the box score, it looked like a routine F8, but in actuality it was a phenomenal battle between two of the best in the game.  I’ve seen Votto do this a number of times, and this thought came to my mind:  I’ll bet Joey Votto sees more pitches per at bat than most players in the league.  I went in search of the answer, and was surprised by what I learned.

Turns out, Joey only ranks 26th in the league, seeing 3.95 pitches per at bat.  He’s not even first on the Reds, somehow trailing Drew Stubbs (13th), Jay Bruce (21st) and Paul Janish (22nd).  There really isn’t a huge difference between first and last in the standings.  The leader, Dexter Fowler of the Rockies, sees 4.39 per at bat.  The worst, San Francisco’s Miguel Tejada, comes in at 3.12.

But I believe this is a case where Mark Twain was right, and statistics represent the third kind of lie. While it appears that every major league batter sees 3-4 pitches per at bat, Votto is smart enough to recognize when he is over-matched by the opposing hurler.  In those situations, he alters his approach to “waste” the tough-to-handle pitches in hopes that (if he can make the plate appearance last long enough) the pitcher will ultimately make a mistake.  And Joey Votto can destroy pitchers’ mistakes.

For the first month of the season, Votto and Brandon Phillips are unfortunately the only Reds having All-Star caliber seasons.  But hope is coming Thursday in the arm of young Homer Bailey, and I anticipate that getting him and Johnny Cueto back in the rotation, along with a healthy Scott Rolen in the lineup, will get the Reds back on the right track.

If not, there’s always “Family Guy.”