This week’s guest on the Better Off Red Podcast is a must-follow for any Reds fan on Twitter. He covered the Reds for the Cincinnati Enquirer for the past several years and is now writing about Cincinnati sports for WCPO.com. A long-time buddy of mine and one of my favorite people in the game – John Fay (@JohnFayman).
John joins us in studio to chat about life as a baseball beat writer, his favorite players he’s covered and the current state of the Cincinnati Reds.
Music on this week’s show is provided by the talented singer-songwriter Joe Fletcher. Check out his album “You’ve Got the Wrong Man” now available on iTunes.
To listen to this week’s episode of the BOR Podcast, CLICK HERE.
Happy Thanksgiving from Better Off Red Headquarters! In light of recent events around the world and in the news, we here at GABP hope you get a chance to spend some quality time today (and/or this weekend) with friends, family and loved ones. Be thankful today, take a load off and pig out on some good food!
This week’s BOR Podcast featuring John Fay has been delayed. Instead of releasing the show today, we are going to make it available sometime this weekend after you folks recover from your tryptophan naps and Black Friday bruisings.
You’ll be happy to know we raised $1,500 on Tuesday night at the Holy Grail for Chris Herrell and his family! Well done gang!
Expect good news!
Gobble, gobble, gobble
I want to talk to you about something we’re doing tonight, more importantly I want to talk to you about the guy whom we’re doing it for…
Just about 16 or 17 years ago I was part of an influx of early 20-somethings that joined the Reds front office over at Riverfront Stadium. We were fresh out of college working for our favorite team in our favorite city. It didn’t matter to us that we were making stupidly low wages – I was making like 18,000 dollars a year, which today is about the equivalent of, well, 18,000 dollars a year. But money didn’t matter because in our minds we had “made it.”
The game is different now and it requires more folks to run a Major League Baseball team. There are about 200 or so Reds staffers currently spread out across four floors and two facilities along Joe Nuxhall Way. Logistically, it’s difficult to get to know and/or even interact with all of my fellow Reds workmates. Back in the late 90s early 2000s, however, there were about 50 Reds employees total (on one floor and one building) and we all knew each other, warts and all. Since several of us were all about the same age, we didn’t just work with each other, we hung out after work, we went to the gym together, we attended weddings together, we basically spent most of our free time with the people we worked with. It sounds cliché but we were a family.
One of those 20-somethings was Chris Herrell; a very proud, honest, no-nonsense, go-getter who was insanely good at selling season tickets and relating to his customers. Of our group of 20-somethings, Chris served as our wiser, more mature big brother; a hard macho man on the outside, caring and compassionate on the inside. Chris was also the first of us to have his “stuff” together; wise beyond his years.
Our 20s turned into our 30s and many of us began settling down; marriages morphed into families and opportunities led to career changes requiring location moves. As our group of Riverfront Kids today enters its 40s, there are only a handful of us remaining with the Reds; Chris being one of them. His “older big brother role” has now changed to an “older uncle” or dare I say, “father-like” role to many of the newer version of Reds employees. Chris continues to command respect and is still incredibly awesome at his job. But fairy tales are sometimes ruined by real life.
You might remember a few years ago when we rallied behind Chris when he was diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer. He needed a bone marrow transplant from a needle-in-a-haystack donor. In the bottom of the 9th with two outs, Chris found his improbable bone marrow match in the form of a gentleman all the way from Germany. Wishes were granted, prayers were answered and Chris was on his way to a nothing-to-worry-about-now lifestyle. The Reds invited Chris’ bone marrow donor to the ballpark this year to thank him for essentially saving Chris’ life.
And this is where I wish I could tell you Chris and his lovely wife Laurie with their four beautiful children lived happily ever after. But a cruel twist has presented an unwelcome epilogue to this story.
Recently, Chris was bothered by something in his neck. It seemed like a lump and it was noticeable enough to Laurie that the Herrells agreed to get it checked out. Unfortunately, the lump was serious; the worst case scenario. Chris was diagnosed with Stage IV Lymphoma.
Today, Chris is being treated with aggressive radiation and chemotherapy to combat his Lymphoma. Despite the fact he’s fighting with pride and dignity and always with his head held high, the cancer has been a mighty punch in the gut to his family and friends. He’s one of us, one of the original members of the Reds family for whom I care very deeply. Chris is a Cincinnati Red and a guy I’d give anything; my right arm, my bone marrow, anything I could to help him and his family defeat this evil disease…and I hope you would, too. This is where I ask for your help.
You might not know Chris as well as I do or worked with him for a certain amount of years but he’s a very important part of the Cincinnati Reds. I assume since you’re reading this blog, the Reds are an important part of you. Tonight at the Holy Grail Banks, my friends (Chris’ friends) and I will raffle off some really cool Reds prizes during the Hot Stove League Radio Show and again during Better Off Red Baseball trivia. The proceeds from the raffle, all of them, will go towards assisting the Herrell Family with any needs they have during this difficult time. In addition to the raffle, we will also provide other means to donate. Any little bit will help.
Chris would probably appreciate if this post was ended on a much happier note, so I will oblige. Chris Herrell is one of the toughest dudes I’ve ever known. I always likened him to a tough piece of old leather. If there’s one person who I’m convinced can overcome anything, especially Lymphoma, it’s Chris. Expect the good news that he will.
Hope to see you tonight!
(Hot Stove 6-7, BOR Trivia 7-8:30ish)
VOTTO FINISHES THIRD IN MVP VOTING
JOHNSON, ROMANO, STEPHENSON ADDED TO REDS 40-MAN ROSTER
The Reds have selected the contracts of RHP Stephen Johnson, RHP Sal Romano and RHP Robert Stephenson and signed to a 1-year Major League contract through the 2016 season RHP Blake Wood. The 40-man roster is at 38 players.
Johnson, 24, on August 20 was acquired from the Giants in exchange for OF Marlon Byrd. Johnson was selected by SF in the sixth round of the June 2012 first-year player draft.
Romano, 22, was selected by the Reds in the 23rd round of the June 2011 first-year player draft. He enters the 2016 season rated the ninth-best prospect in the organization.
Stephenson, 22, was selected by the Reds in the first round (27th overall) of the June 2011 first-year player draft. For the third straight season he is rated the organization’s top prospect and in 2015 led all Reds minor league pitchers with 140 strikeouts (140ip).
Wood, 30, spent the 2015 season with the Pirates’ Class AAA affiliate at Indianapolis, where he was a mid-season International League All-Star. He led the IL in saves (29), games finished (46) and highest strikeouts/9 innings ratio among relievers (10.74) while ranking second in the league in apps (57).
BOR TRIVIA AT HOLY GRAIL BANKS TO FEATURE RAFFLE BENEFITING HERRELL FAMILY
The Reds Hot Stove League show and Better Off Red Baseball Trivia returns to the Holy Grail Banks on Tuesday, November 24 (TOMORROW)!
Reds staffers will hold a prize raffle exclusive to those participating in Trivia on Tuesday. Proceeds will benefit Reds Season Sales Manager Chris Herrell and his family. Chris is battling Stage IV Lymphoma and everything we can do to help would be greatly appreciated. Let’s all get together Tuesday for the biggest BOR Baseball Trivia yet!
JOHN FAY ON THIS WEEK’S BOR PODCAST
Long-time Reds beat writer John Fay (@Johnfayman) joins me on this week’s episode of the Better Off Red Podcast! Be sure to tune in this Thursday to Better Off Red (ramsey.mlblogs.com).
This week’s edition of the Better Off Red Podcast features the man who helped lead the Reds to a 96-win season in 1999, Greg Vaughn!
Greg checks in to talk honestly about some of baseball’s current issues, his time spent in the game and of course that magnificent 1999 season. This one you won’t want to miss!
Music on this week’s podcast is provided by the very talented Los Angeles band Jesus Sons. Check out their new rock-n-roll album “Bring it On Home” available now on iTunes.
To listen to the latest episode of the BOR Podcast, click HERE.
Keep checking today’s Baseline Items, as this post may be updated with information/news as the day progresses.
Reds release 2016 Cactus League schedule
Pitchers and catchers report Feb. 18; spring training games start March 1 at Goodyear Ballpark; April 2 game vs Pirates in Indianapolis
CINCINNATI (Nov. 17, 2015) — The Cincinnati Reds have announced their 2016 Cactus League exhibition schedule.
Pitchers and catchers will report to their complex in Goodyear, Arizona on February 18 and will work out later that afternoon. Position players will report February 23 and will work out later that afternoon.
The Reds open 2016 spring training with three games against Ohio rival Cleveland Indians March 1-3 at Goodyear Ballpark.
The Reds will play 33 exhibition games during spring training, including 18 at Goodyear Ballpark.
The home schedule features the World Series Champion Kansas City on March 15, San Francisco Giants on March 4, Arizona Diamondbacks on March 20, Chicago Cubs on March 22 and night games against the Seattle Mariners on March 12 and Milwaukee Brewers on March 28.
The Reds will wrap up the 2016 Cactus League schedule on Thursday, March 31 vs. the Indians then travel to Indianapolis for an exhibition game on April 2 with the Pittsburgh Pirates at Victory Field, home of the Indianapolis Indians of the International League. Visit http://www.indyindians.com for ticket information. That press release is attached.
The full spring training schedule can be found at www.reds.com/spring.
Spring Training Ticket Information
Deposits are currently being accepted for 2016 Spring Training season ticket plans. Full season (all Reds and Indians home games) and half season (all Reds home games) ticket plans are available.
Group tickets go on sale Monday, Nov. 23 at 10 a.m. Mountain Standard Time (MST) and three-game mini plans go on sale Dec. 7 at 10 a.m. MST. With mini-plans, fans are able to combine Reds and Indians home games to make up the perfect spring training getaway.
Flex Ticket Books
After a successful debut in 2015, Flex Ticket Books return again for 2016. Purchase booklets of either 10 Infield Box or Outfield Box discount ticket vouchers. Redeem vouchers at Goodyear Ballpark Box Office for any spring training home game and save $2 per ticket.
Individual game tickets go on sale Saturday, Dec. 12 at 10 a.m. MST.
Complete ticket details can be found at reds.com/spring or by calling the Goodyear Ballpark Ticket Office at (623) 882-3130.
FanFest, Fireworks & Inside the Ropes Tours
Catch the 3rd annual Goodyear Ballpark FanFest following the Reds vs. Indians game on March 26. Activities include autograph sessions, inflatables, baseball skills challenges and more. For ticket information contact the Goodyear Ballpark Ticket Office at (623) 882-3130.
Don’t miss the Fireworks Spectacular following the Reds vs. Mariners game on Saturday, March 12.
Sports Marketing USA offers “inside the ropes” tour packages that include a pregame tour of the Reds Player Development Complex and a visit with a Reds baseball personality. More information can be found at reds.com/springtravel or by calling (800) 892-7687.
Note: Arizona’s time zone is the Mountain Standard Time (MST) zone, which is currently two hours behind Cincinnati. Arizona does not observe Daylight Saving Time and after March 12, 2016 Arizona will be three hours behind Cincinnati.
STEVE BAUMANN PROMOTED TO REDS HEAD ATHLETIC TRAINER
Club Announces Major League Medical Staff
CINCINNATI – Cincinnati Reds President of Baseball Operations Walt Jocketty today announced the promotion of Steve Baumann to head athletic trainer for the Major League club.
Assistant athletic trainer Tomas Vera and strength and conditioning coordinator Sean Marohn will return to the Reds’ medical staff. They will be joined by new assistant athletic trainer Jimmy Mattocks, who was promoted from Class AAA Louisville.
Baumann, 38, spent the previous 11 seasons as the club’s assistant athletic trainer. Following a summer internship with the Major League team, the local native and University of Cincinnati graduate joined the organization full-time in November 1999 and worked at rookie Billings (2000-02), Class AA Chattanooga (2003) and Louisville (2004) before he was hired as an assistant by Cincinnati in time for the 2005 season.
Mattocks, 33, has been in the organization’s player development department for 10 years, including the last 5 seasons as head athletic trainer at Louisville. He also served in that capacity for Reds affiliates at Billings, Class A Dayton and Chattanooga.
The 2016 season will be Vera’s sixth on the Major League medical staff and Marohn’s third.
From the Cincinnati Reds:
The Cincinnati Reds offer condolences to the family and friends of longtime scout and cross checker Jeff Barton, who died yesterday at age 50. Jeff was a part of the Reds’ family for more than 26 years and touched not only our organization but also the baseball scouting fraternity. He made countless contributions to the success of the Reds franchise and was instrumental in the signing of many former and current Reds players. At December’s upcoming Winter Meetings in Nashville, Jeff will be recognized as Scout of the Year for the west region. Our thoughts and prayers are with wife Karen and daughters Allison, Makenna and Avery.
The Scout of the Year Award honors a lifetime of scouting excellence. Jeff received the most votes in the history of the award.
In his role as a cross checker, Jeff had influence in the drafting and signing of, among others, Trevor Hoffman, Joey Votto, Michael Lorenzen, Robert Stephenson, Jon Moscot, Tony Cingrani, Justin Turner, Mike Leake and Brad Boxberger.
This week’s episode of the Better Off Red Podcast features two-time Gold Glove second baseman Pokey Reese!
Pokey tells us what he’s up to these days, his thoughts on Brandon Phillips, playing for the 1999 Reds and 2004 Red Sox and much more!
Music on the podcast this week was provided by the fantastic English singer-songwriter Jack Broadbent. Check out his new album “Along the Trail of Tears” available now on iTunes.
The latest edition of the Better Off Red Podcast is available HERE!
In honor of Veterans Day, the Reds Hall of Fame & Museum is pleased to offer all veterans and active military members complimentary general admission (with valid I.D.) Wednesday, Nov. 11 through Sunday, Nov. 15.
Additionally, the first 200 visitors to the Reds Hall of Fame & Museum will receive a free commemorative Reds Military Appreciation coin, while supplies last. (Visitors need not be a veteran to receive the coin.)
The following Reds Hall of Famers served in the armed forces:
– Johnny Bench
– Ewell Blackwell
– Smoky Burgess
– Harry Craft
– Lonny Frey
– Warren Giles
– Ken Griffey, Sr.
– Tommy Helms
– Bob Howsam
– Fred Hutchinson
– Brooks Lawrence
– Mike McCormick
– Eppa Rixey
– Johnny Temple
– Johnny Vander Meer
The plaques of Reds Hall of Famers who have served their country will be marked for visitors’ reference.
The Reds Hall of Fame & Museum at Great American Ball Park is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday during the offseason.
Plan your visit at redsmuseum.org or by calling (513) 765-7923.
About the Reds Hall of Fame & Museum:
Driven by a mission to celebrate greatness, preserve history and provide inspiration, the Reds Hall of Fame & Museum is the place where the story of Reds baseball comes alive each day. Established in 1958, the Reds Hall of Fame is the oldest continually operating team Hall of Fame in all of baseball. Since its inception, 85 players, managers and executives have been honored with induction. The museum features 15,000 square feet of historical, interactive and educational exhibits, highlighting the rich and storied tradition of the Reds for fans of all ages.
Located at Great American Ball Park, the Reds Hall of Fame & Museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. year-round.
Plan your visit at http://www.redsmuseum.org or by calling 513-765-7923.
#REDS BASELINE ITEMS: REDSFEST TO FEATURE OVER 80 CURRENT AND FORMER REDS; HOT STOVE/TRIVIA TONIGHT!
Redsfest Tickets On Sale Now
CINCINNATI (Nov. 10, 2015) — FOX Sports Ohio Redsfest presented by PNC Bank will be held at the Duke Energy Convention Center in Downtown Cincinnati on Friday, Dec. 4 from 3 to 10:30 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 5 from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
More than 80 current players and coaches, Reds Hall of Famers, alumni and broadcasters are expected to attend including Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Aroldis Chapman, Todd Frazier and Billy Hamilton.
Tickets are on sale now at reds.com/redsfest, (513) 381-REDS, Great American Ball Park box office and select Kroger stores with Ticketmaster retail outlets.
Two-day tickets are $25 for adults and $12 for kids 12 and younger. One-day tickets are $17 for adults and $7 for kids. Children three and under are admitted free.
With each two-day Redsfest admission purchased, fans will receive two free tickets to the Reds vs. Pittsburgh Pirates game on Sunday, April 10. Fans purchasing a one-day Redsfest admission will receive one free ticket to the April 10 game.
The first 11,000 fans though the Redsfest doors each day will receive a free Reds drawstring bag and a Mr. Redlegs knit cap.
Redsfest has grown to more than 300,000 square feet of activities including autograph and photo booths with current and former Reds players, interactive games for fans of all ages, game-used and authentic memorabilia and much more.
For the most up-to-date information and additional details about Redsfest, including Autograph Opportunity Sweepstakes and Elite Pass Auctions, please visit reds.com/redsfest.
Sign up now for the Redsfest “Texas hold ‘em” poker tournament at reds.com/poker or (513) 765-7240. The 10th annual Prestige Audio Visual & Creative Services Reds Community Fund Celebrity Poker Tournament presented by Ashlee Fence takes place on Saturday, Dec. 5 with a guaranteed $11,000 first prize.
All proceeds from Redsfest benefit the baseball-themed outreach programs of the Reds Community Fund.
Join us tonight at the Holy Grail Banks beginning at 6pm ET for the Hot Stove League Radio Show and Better Off Red Baseball Trivia!