Homer Bailey’s Second No-Hitter….

Great American Ballpark, July 2, 2013, site of Baseball’s 280th No-Hitter

…was my first no-hitter. What an amazing game to attend.  The 280th no-hitter in the history of baseball. Here’s my view of this historic game in words, pictures, sounds and video.

Last Thursday, I received a text from my cousin inviting me to see the Giants play the Reds Tuesday, July 2, 2013, with him, his wife and their daughter. Having not yet been to a Reds game this season, “I’m in!” was my immediate reply. He texted back, “they’re great seats.”

As you can see, they were “great seats” indeed! Section 22, Row F, Seat 11. The “ticket”, an unassuming computer print-out, while not very exciting to look at, was my pass to witness a piece of baseball history. Now crumbled, it was folded, pocketed and somewhat abused throughout the course of the game, will be treasured for a long time to come as my “receipt” to document my presence and my witness to greatness. The tweet I sent on arrival, demonstrating the view:

My cousin spent some 15 years living in SF, and thus he and is clan are Giants fans, though his daughter is a huge Reds fans except for when SF is in town. She and a friend had attended last night’s game. Even in the car on the way to GABP, we were talking no-hitters. “Has Timmy ever pitched a no no?” I asked my cousin. “No,” he replied, to which I informed him “Homer has.” By the end of the second inning, I’m turning to my cousin’s wife, saying “So far, Homer’s got a no no going. And Timmy has a 1-hitter going.” It was clear Homer had his good stuff today, but too early in the game to do anything other than joke about a no no…

In the bottom of the 4th inning, I ran up to get some food. Indecision kept me searching, and it was the top of the 5th. Watching Homer on the monitors throughout the stadium, I decided on a Big Boy, which I procured and raced back to my seat. Only missed one batter, and enjoyed the Big Boy at my seat while watching Homer wrap up the fifth. No no intact. This is getting really good.

As each inning passed, the crowd became more intense. By the 7th, when Homer issued the first walk of the game, the crowd was becoming quite vocal. All at once, 27K+ people became one voice. The beauty of pitching a perfect game into the 7th is that you can blow the perfection and still be left with a no-hitter. Homer kept it together, the fielder’s choice not getting the better of him.

By the 8th inning, the crowd was hyper-focused on every pitch. “Oooohs” and “Ahhhhs” took on the tone of a Game 7 in the World Series. This was serious business now. I was somewhat shocked to learn there were only 27,500 and some people on hand, I thought sure there were many more. But we 27K+ people were morphed by Bailey and his teammates and their unwillingness to let the opponents get even a hit, into becoming the baseball beast, an organism so large it fills a stadium, and has only one purpose – to be fully consumed by the game and give it’s energy to the players. The baseball beast would bear witness to history before later breaking into thousands of smaller organisms and dispersing out into the night, carrying what they have seen to the rest of the world.

To be honest, the sights and sounds and excitement energy of the 8th and 9th innings are not describable with words. It was truly beyond description. At the start of the 8th, my cousin turned to me and said, “Homer’s going to do it. He’s going to pitch a no hitter.” The possibility of witnessing such a rare feat was overwhelming. I could not believe I was there.

And for the finale, here’s my phone-shot video of the end of the game. This is how I saw it, this is how I’ll always remember it.

Homer Bailey No-Hitter Finale

I left GABP feeling amazed, stunned, thrilled, charged, happy and lucky, very lucky. Lucky to be there. Like “winning the lottery” lucky. The greatest thing I’d ever seen in a baseball stadium. Thank you, Homer Bailey.

On the way home, traffic was nuts. News trucks lined the streets for blocks. We talked all the way home, save for a few minutes I tuned in to 700 WLW to hear some of the talk. Much to my surprise, all I heard was some moaning about how Homer didn’t take time out to talk to Seg Dennison after the game. When I got home, just after midnight, I immediately started watching the game. It answered a couple of nagging questions I had regarding a couple of plays in the game, including the Choo double/homerun/double at the start of the game. I watched all the way through to the post game, seeing Bailey talk to FS Ohio, followed by the press conference with DustyBaker, then Brandon Phillips, then Homer Bailey & Ryan Hannigan. No shortage of interviews after the game.

On Wednesday, July 3, Scott Sloane continued the moaning all morning, followed by Bill Cunningham, who stepped up the hate campaign against Bailey. For me, the lasty straw was the promo they ran which started with Marty’s call of out 27, then declaring that Ryan Hannigan had called his second no-hitter, with no mention of Homer. Clever, but not at all classy. Then Cunningham repeatedly said “Bailey should be crucified”. By the second time he said it, my fingers are dialing WLW. During the hour and 45 minutes on hold, I thought about what I wanted to say, and realizing how quickly Mr. Cunningham can become confrontational, I decided I should lure him into a false sense of security by “complaining” that Homer’s on-field interview wasn’t pumped through the stadium PA. Honestly, it would have been nice, but as I state in the call to WLW, I really don’t care much for the pat questions and cliche answers of post game interviews. That said, the interviews I did see with Homer were far from routine and quite good. Here’s the call:

Andrew on WLW

I felt it was a good call, though I didn’t get a chance to address all the points I wanted to. I felt I got to Bill Cunningham, and put him in his place a bit. But, if nothing else, I set the stage for the next caller, who nailed the coffin shut and got to the heart of the matter:

Mike on WLW

Later in the day, Tracy Jones repeatedly apologized for the station’s mishandling of this situation, but I would love to hear Seg & Mr. Cunningham apologize for their deplorable behavior. After all, if this is how “The Home of the Reds” treats Homer, it doesen’t make being at home very pleasant.

All radio nonsense aside, Homer Bailey and the Reds gave me the best experience I’ve ever had at a baseball game. Thanks again.

Were you there? Have any thoughts or comments on what you’ve read? Email me at baseball@andrewshaman.com.

 

 

A Battle of Two Teams

For those of you who know me, you know that I follow 2 baseball teams very closely.  Several of you have been asking who & how I’ll be rooting for in this week’s Reds v Phillies 4 game series. So, here is my long answer.

When I was a kid growing up in New Jersey, my introduction to the game of baseball was through the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies are ingrained in my brain, nearly from birth, as the very definition of baseball. Carlton, Maddox, Luzinski and all the rest, my team. My heroes. During that time in NJ, my father would often talk about the Cincinnati Reds, as he grew up in Dayton, Ohio. When the Reds and Phillies played, or if there happened to be a national broadcast of the Reds, it would turn into a history lesson. So there was always an affinity for the Reds in my home.

In 1983, my family moved from Cherry Hill, NJ to Dayton, Ohio. A homecoming for my father. There was cable back then, but not like today. There was no internet or MLB.TV and thus, no way to follow my beloved Phillies. Long story short, the Reds were becoming my defacto team, if for no other reason than geography. Around 2002, my fervor for baseball heated up, moreso than ever really. Within a couple of years, there’s MLB.TV, and suddenly, I can see my Phillies again! Not that I recognized them much. But I could listen to Harry Kalas (the best announcer that ever was, period) again!  Btw, I can do the best Harry Kalas you’ve ever heard, but that’s another story. So I found myself rooting for 2 teams as some put it, but in reality my love for baseball was simply doubling.

Back to the present: for whom, and how shall I be rooting during this 4 game Reds v Phillies series? Here’s how. The Phillies have had an abysmal season. Offense has been slim, with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard out for the predominance of the first half of the season. Roy Halladay has been injured and not performed well. Though, in is last 2 starts, one can see a glimpse of the elite pitcher he has been and can still be. Cliff Lee was winless for almost the first 4 months of the season, and has since collected only 2 wins on the season. Additionally, if he does not garner a win in a home start by Sept. 5, he will have gone a whole year with NO WINS AT HOME. This is a very odd year for Cliff Lee, indeed. Vance Worley, aka “Vanimal”, performed well last season and had a strong start to this season, but his last few outings have been losses, each of them containing at least one “blow up” inning that has resulted lately in Worley not pitching deep into games. Cole Hamels, on the other hand, is red-hot. He had a strong start to the season, and with the exception of his first 2 starts after his big contract signing, he has been exceptional, with a 20+ inning scoreless streak as well. He also pitches deep into (if not complete) games. Which brings us to the Phillies’ bullpen. Papalbon, though he has not had nearly as many save opportunities as the team would like, has performed solidly. But a big reason he’s had so few save opp’s is because of the inability of the rest of the bullpen to get the job done. A very weak link right now for the Phils.

The Reds, conversely, have performed solidly throughout the season. They have offense – Ludwick, Frazier, Bruce, Cozart, Hannigan, Rolen, and even some from Stubbs since his return from the DL. They have an amazing record over the last month plus with they’re All-Star 1st baseman, Joey Votto, has been on the DL. They have pitching – Cueto and Latos are killing it. Arroyo has been fairly solid, and some good recent outings by Leake. Bailey has struggled slightly lately, but has come into his own as a force on the Reds starting rotation. The bullpen has been amazing.And, of course, Chapman is simply lights out. An 8 inning game if the Reds have the lead. We’re talking a Mariano Rivera-class closer here. Yes, I said it. That’s what I believe, time will tell if (that!) I’m right.

So, who am I rooting for? Well, short answer, both teams. I expect the series to go 2-2. Here’s where the conflict starts: I fully expect Hamels to win his outing, but, I also fully expect Cueto to win his. That’s the game, game 4 in the series, that I can’t quite predict. I do know it’s going to be the best game of the series. I think Halladay has a shot at winning his outing, but I would not be at all surprised if he doesn’t. And Cliff Lee’s previously mentioned drought of wins at home makes his winning unlikely. And Worley could go either way. Bottom line, the Phills will likely win Hamels outing, and possibly Halladay or Lee, but the Phills winning both would surprise me. I only wish Mat Latos was pitching during the series! Slightly disappointing.

So, if there’s a sweep, how will I fell about it? Well, I don’t think for a minute that the Reds will be swept, not the way they’re going. And I don’t see the Phills getting swept, because I expect one of their star starters to win one for them. The Phills have had an incredible run for the last few seasons, winning it all in 2008, and appearing again in the WS again in 2009. The Reds haven’t had a championship since 1990, and back in 2010 their appearance was cut short by who else, but the Phillies. Especially that notable game that Halladay pitched. ‘Nuff said. But it does seem that both teams will have something to prove this series. The Reds will want some payback for the 2010 post-season, and they are hot enough to get it, as well as solidify their road to the post-sean this year. The Phillies aren’t out of the race mathematically (yet!) so they would love to take or sweep this series to keep them in the running. This is going to be a great 4 game series. Go, teams, go!

Dig it! What do you think??

Baseball Stat Conundrum

So I’m watching today’s Reds vs Cubs game today, and something unusual happened. Watching the WGN feed, I hear Len and Bob discussing relief pitcher Alberto Cabrerra, saying that he has not yet given up a hit, yet I noticed he had a 7.65 era coming into today’s game? How is that possible, I tweeted. I was quickly receiving tweets from others wondering the same thing, and a couple of tweets that explained on August 5, against the Dodgers, he pitched 0.1 inngings, giving up 2 walks and 2 earned runs, then reiterating, “How is this possible?!?!”image

All I could come up with was that it somehow involved additional base runners and maybe some errors. But the runs are EARNED, so no errors were involved. Conundrum. And no other ideas! Well, @rausdenmoore and @rednutsteeljack came up with the answer, and it makes perfect sense, really. Cabrerra comes into the game with a runner on first after the last pitcher gives up a walk. He then walks both batters he faces to load the bases. The next pitcher gives up a bases-clearing triple, which scores the 2 batters Cabrerra had walked. Hence, 0.1 innings pitched, faces 2, walks 2, gives up 2 runs. Wacky! That’s why baseball is the greatest game on earth, because in it, even the impossible can happen! And twitter makes it even better.

Bonus wacky stat: Len and Bob talked about a pitcher (don’t recall name or date) who gave up 2 hits but retired 3 batters, all with 4 pitches! How can that happen? Glad you asked. First pitch: base hit. Second pitch: swung on an missed, runner thrown out trying to steal second. Third pitch: base hit. Fourth pitch: hit into a double play, end of the inning. That’s how that happens. Dig it!

My Thoughts on the Trade Deadline

Okay, so the trade deadline was yesterday at 4pm. I’m just getting around to writing this now, after a full night of actual games and a decent night’s sleep. It’s taken this long to collect my thoughts. So, let’s first address the Reds. They picked up reliever (formerly closer) Jonathan Broxton. In years past, in his years closing for the Dodgers, I have seen quite a bit of Brox, and have always been impressed. I think he will be an excellent 8th inning man, and he makes Cinci’s stellar bullpen that much more formidable. As last night went on, I got progressively more excited about Brox being a Red. That said, throughout the evening I heard some disconcerting points alleged. Firstly, it has been said that KC fans feel about Brox the way we felt about Coco Cordero. I sure hope not. I aslo read that he has pitched only twice in the last 17 days. Concerning, but could that be because The Royals have only had 2 save opps in the last 17 days? Maybe, but one would think they’d still be using him in non-save situations just to get him some work. So I need to know a little more about why he’s pitched to infrequently. SO, my overall feeling is that Walt made the right move by not messing with the chemistry of this “Red” hot team. Glad nobody got traded away. One interesting note: Since acquiring Broxton, the Reds are undefeated and average 7 runs per game. Just sayin…

Now, on to the Phillies. I know why they traded Victorino, and it kinda makes sense with his pending free agency, but I still hate it! Remember, I’m resistant to change. So many great memories of the Flyin Hawaiian, he’s been such an important core player. I will miss him, but I wish him all the best in sunny L.A. On the other hand, I have NO IDEA why Hunter Pence was traded. Just does not make sense to me. He’s been a great addition to this team, and again, I’m sad to see him go. On a side note, there was so much talk about Cliff Lee getting traded, and according to Ruben Amaro, Jr., he was never on the trading block. Yet even today, the “reporters” still talk of how a deal could not be reached with the Rangers for Lee. Somebody is misinformed, or worse yet, lying. I suppose it doesn’t matter really now, but the misinformation created a lot of additional stress on an already stressful day/week. Just sayin… The one move I really don’t understand is giving catcher Tuffy Goeswich (BEST name in baseball) to Toronto for NOTHING in return. By definition, that is NOT a trade. It’s a contribution, a gift, but it’s not a trade. Please explain, Phillies. SO, to sum up, saw 2 of my favorite players go, so I am a bit sad. But I will say, seeing tweets from Shane and Hunter thanking the Phillie fans and keeping us up to date on the travels makes it a bit more bearable. Nice to stay connected to them even after they move on. And, of course, the Phillies pull out a gem last night, winning 8-0 over the Strassburg-led Nats (just 3 games too late!), so that made things a bit more bearable. I am slowly adjusting to the changes, and it will likely take a while, but I will follow the Phillies every step of the way, win or lose.

Trade Deadline Is Killing Me

As the baseball trade deadline is roughly 23 hours away, I find myself quite depressed, fearful and anxious. Keeping in mind that I normally suffer for any or all of those symptoms all the time, it may not seem like such a big deal, but it is. Because this time, it’s not just all in my head, they are quite real, and arise from the fact that my team(s) could look quite different tomorrow. Having been a lifelong Phillies fan, their predicament has me quite knotted.  Five of my Phillies fav’s have been the subject of trade rumors, and while some are just plain rediculous, and not going to happen (Rollins, Utley, Howard), others seem quite possible if not likely (Victorino, Pence, Pierre, Blanton, Lee – wait, should Lee be on the other list? Quite likely…). I am resistant to change, so I wish none of them gone. That said, a case could be made that it’s smart to shift Victorino, which I might slightly agree with, but Pence  and Pierre I don’t at all think should be gone. As a Reds fan, living in Dayton, Ohio for the last 30 years, I am also concerned about the moves that Walt might make. I am not one to upset a winning club chemistry, but, that said, if the Reds end up with Victorino, Pence or Pierre, I’d be happier about that than if any of those for-now Phillies ended up on any other team. A lot of anxiety, and it’s compounded by the recent onset of my twitter addiction. Talk about rumors! I can’t quit checking the feed. But it’s tricky, too. It’s taken me a few days to get savvy, but now when I see 1000 re-tweets of a confirmed trade from “Ken RosenthaI” (that’s not an “L”, but a caps “i”!), I know better. Now I’m hip to the “i” for an “L” trick. Live and learn… Bottom line – sad to see Phillies players depart, but they probably will. BUT I DON’T WANT THEM TO. And Reds, DON’T CHANGE A THING, PLEASE. But they probably will. So, if I don’t survive the next 23 hours, at least you’ll know why. But I hope I do, so I can See HOF Marty shave his head this Friday. So go Reds, and OMG Phillies (night off tonight)! To all the Phillies today who won’t be tomorrow, I sincerely thank you for all the excitement. It’s been a great run, but please know I love you win or lose.