I was advised many moons ago to always stay on the good side of the Baseball Gods. Admittedly, I’ve veered off course from time to time and was justly punished with 4-hour games, long rain delays and ninth inning heartbreaks. But today I’m here to renew acquaintances with those mythical diamond deities by bringing an apple to their classroom.
If you read yesterday’s post about the 2016 World Series, I included a nugget about a fellow named Jack Pfiester who was born in Cincinnati and played for the world champion Chicago Cubs in the 1908 Fall Classic (the last one the Cubs won). Jack was a very good left handed pitcher who played in parts of just 8 seasons for the Pirates and Cubs – finishing his career with a 71-44 record and a 2.02 ERA in 149 appearances and 128 starts. During that Cubs championship run in 1908, Jack gave up just 56 earned runs in 252 innings pitched. In August of that year, he was nicknamed Jack “The Giant Killer” by the Chicago Tribune after a big win against the New York Giants.
Jack died in 1953 and was buried in a cemetery just a few miles from I where I live today. I didn’t realize this, nor did I have any idea who Jack Pfiester was until I wrote yesterday’s blog post.
This morning, before I came into the office, I felt that it was necessary to pay Jack a visit, extend my regards and wish his team good luck in tonight’s World Series. I also told him that Wrigley Field is still around (his championship team actually predated Wrigley) but these days it has two huge videoboards a very loud sound system and something called a “party room” in its home clubhouse. I wonder if he could’ve imagined such frivolities.
I only visited with Jack for a few minutes. As a Reds fan and employee wearing a Reds sweater, I didn’t want him to think I was being disrespectful. I’d rather like to think Jack and his wife of 50 years Lulu, with whom he shares a gravestone, appreciated the peaceful visit. It was certainly a pleasure to stop by and say hello.
I don’t have a dog in this championship hunt but there are certainly folks from both the Cubs and the Indians that I’m cheering for.
Being Spring Training neighbors with the Tribe, we obviously see a lot of each other during the month of March. My colleagues Bart, Court, Jack and others are great people who work hard and do a fantastic job and I’d love to see them wearing a nice shiny ring when we meet again. Especially Court whose wife gave birth on the very day the Indians won the pennant. On the Chicago side, my Central Division pals Jason, Safdar, Alex and Caroline would certainly appreciate a world championship, too.
There are lots of good friends in and out of the game who have a rooting interest in this World Series and that makes it especially fun for me, even if I don’t. That’s one of the many reasons why baseball is such a great game.
More in a bit,
Expect good news!
PS – for more information on Jack “The Giant Killer” Pfiester, CLICK HERE.
The Cubs and Indians are set to square off in the 2016 World Series with Game One emanating from Cleveland on Tuesday night at 8pm. These two pennant winners have gone a very long time since their last world championship; for the Cubs (1908), it’s been 108 years and 10 days (39,457 total days). For the Tribe (1948), they’ve suffered through 68 years and 13 days since their last world title (3,550 weeks).
Today I spent some time researching some info (ahem, “minutiae”) that you might find interesting, including stuff that connects locally.
First, let’s go back to 1908 – the year the Cubs last won the World Series.
Recognizable names born in 1908 include:
- Edward R. Murrow
- Louis L’Amour
- Buddy Ebsen
- Jimmy Stewart
- Mel Blanc
- Don Ameche
- Estee Lauder
- Nelson Rockefeller
- Milton Berle
- Lyndon B. Johnson
- Ernie Lombardi
- Lefty Gomez
Three Major League Baseball players from Cincinnati were born in 1908. They are: Flea Clifton, Buzz Boyle and Ralph Birkofer.
On the diamond, Christy Mathewson led all pitchers in 1908 with 390.2 innings! Honus Wagner batted .354 to lead both leagues (Ty Cobb finished 3rd with a .324 mark).
Grover Cleveland (22nd & 24th president), Frederick Stanley (Gov. General of Canada & founder of the Stanley Cup) Thomas Selfridge (first person killed in an airplane crash) and the actual Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid all died in 1908.
Infielder Harry Steinfeldt, who played for the Reds from 1898-1905, appeared on 4 Cubs World Series teams, including the club’s last world championship team in 1908. Steinfeldt died in 1914 in Bellevue, KY and is buried in Cincinnati’s Spring Grove Cemetery.
LHP Jack Pfiester was born in Cincinnati and pitched to a 2.00 ERA in 252 innings for the world champion Cubs in 1908. Like Steinfeldt, he also appeared on 4 of the Cubs’ World Series teams. Nicknamed “Jack the Giant Killer,” Pfiester died in 1953 in Loveland. He’s buried in Union Cemetery in Montgomery.
The last time the Cubs won the National League pennant came in 1945. Reds Hall of Famer Paul Derringer pitched for the Cubs that year in his last Major League season. He made 3 appearances for Chicago in the 1945 World Series against the Tigers (0-0, 5.1ip).
Loyd Christopher appeared in 1 measly game for the Cubs’ last pennant winner in 1945. His brother, Russ pitched for the Indians in 1948 – the last Cleveland team to win the World Series.
RHP Ed Klieman, born in Norwood and signed by the Reds in 1937, made his lone World Series appearance in 1948 for Cleveland. He gave up 3 runs without getting anybody out, thus, his World Series ERA is “infinite.”
OF Hank Edwards, born in Elmwood Place was a member of the 1948 Indians – Cleveland’s last World Series championship team.
Infielder Roy Hughes was born in Cincinnati and played for both the Cubs and Indians in the ’30s & ’40s, including 6 games in the 1945 World Series for Chicago. Roy died in 1995 and is buried in Guardian Angels Cemetery in nearby Anderson.
Infielder Ray Boone went 0-for-1 in the 1948 World Series for Cleveland, nearly 11 months after son Bob was born. Bob Boone of course would go on to manage the Reds from 2001-2003 while Ray’s grandsons Bret and Aaron starred on Reds teams in their respective Major League careers.
Members of the Indians’ last World Series championship team include:
- Satchel Paige
- Bob Feller
- Al Rosen
- Lou Boudreau
The Indians won the 1948 World Series just 7 weeks after Babe Ruth passed away.
Aviation pioneer Orville Wright also died the same year Cleveland last won the World Series.
A few Reds players born in 1948 include:
- George Foster
- David Concepcion
- Cesar Geronimo
- Gary Nolan
Bob Kennedy, member of the 1948 Indians, attended Morgan Park High School in Chicago. His son Terry went on to play in 14 big league seasons and two National League Championship Series – both against the Cubs (1984 & 1989).
Finally, first baseman Reggie Otero appeared in just 14 Major League games – all for the Cubs during their last pennant-winning year of 1945. Reggie was born in Havana, Cuba, the same birthplace as current Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler. It’s possible that Soler will have to face Cleveland pitcher Dan Otero in the 2016 World Series. Reggie and Dan are 2 of only 3 men named Otero to play in the big leagues (other is Ricky).
Enjoy the World Series everybody!!
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the end of this long election cycle than with the season premier of the Reds Hot Stove League and Better Off Red Baseball Trivia at the Holy Grail Banks on November 9!
The Reds Hot Stove League show will air live on the Reds Radio Network from the Holy Grail from 6-7 pm. Afterwards, yours truly will host another mind-bending edition of BOR Baseball Trivia in which teams will compete for prizes in a “nine inning” showdown!
The Hot Stove/Trivia schedule at the Holy Grail through December is as follows:
- Wednesday, November 9 (WLW)
- Wednesday, November 16 (WLW)
- Tuesday, November 22 (WLW)
- Tuesday, November 29 (WSAI)
- Tuesday, December 6 (WLW)
- Tuesday, December 13 (WLW/WCKY)
- Tuesday, December 20 (WCKY)
- Tuesday, December 27 (WLW)
I hope to see you folks at the Holy Grail this offseason!
The Reds today received high praise for their selections in the 2016 draft. Baseball America this afternoon released their final rankings and review of the 2016 MLB First-Year Player Draft. The Reds were ranked first of 30 teams as having the best draft.
Cincinnati’s first round pick Nick Senzel was named “Best Pure Hitter,” “Best Pro Debut” and ranked second among college selections as “Closest to the Majors.”
Eighteen-year old Taylor Trammell, who the Reds selected 35th overall also finished among the publication’s superlatives.
To check out the Baseball America article, CLICK HERE.
Hey gang! We’ve got a few things to catch up on so without further ado…
First, some housekeeping. Next month Better Off Red will switch blog platforms from WordPress to Medium. This means the overall look of the blog will appear a lot different than what readers are accustomed to. Expect this change to take place between November 3-8.
It may take a day or so to get used to the different look but I think you’ll find it a bit more pleasing to the eye. Plus, if you’re like me, you’ll agree that the blog probably needed a face lift.
As far as content – Better Off Red will continue to bring you everything that you’re used to and more. In addition, I hope to bring you more photos, videos and written features. For example, we’re currently working on a story about the history of Reds pregame ceremonies that I think you longtime Reds fans will find interesting. This is a feature that will coincide with the platform changeover.
If you have any questions/concerns/comments/compliments, tweet ’em to me at @Jamieblog.
As we prepare for the new-look Better Off Red, we’re also gearing up for the second season of the BOR Podcast!
Production begins soon and we’ll have a whole new lineup of entertaining guests that I’m sure you’ll enjoy.
Be sure to tune in when new episodes become available. In the meantime, catch up with season one HERE (click and scroll down until you find podcasts that begin with “BOR Podcast”).
Recent Reds transactions:
On Thursday the Reds claimed off waivers from the Oakland Athletics IF/OF Arismendy Alcantara and designated for assignment IF/OF Patrick Kivlehan.
Alcantara, 24, began the season in the Chicago Cubs organization and on June 9 was traded to the A’s in exchange for IF/OF Chris Coghlan.
Alcantara spent most of this season in the minor leagues, where combined he hit .278 with 12 HR, 56 RBI and 32 stolen bases for Class AAA Iowa and Nashville and Class A Stockton. He made 16 appearances during 4 stints with the Athletics.
OF Tyler Holt, IF/OF Patrick Kivlehan, C Raffy Lopez, RHP Matt Magill and RHP Jon Moscot yesterday cleared waivers and were outrighted to Louisville.
Last year’s Reds #1 pick, Nick Senzel has been named by Baseball America as the top-ranked prospect in the Midwest League. For more details, CLICK HERE.
For a full list of the Reds top prospects, as determined by MLB.com, CLICK HERE.
Surely you folks heard about the “Swing for Your Seats” promotion that the Reds held over the weekend, right? If not, here’s more from my main man Michael “Mando” Anderson:
On Saturday, over 400 Cincinnati Reds season ticket holders took the field at Great American Ball park to attempt to hit a home run and win their 2017 tickets in the inaugural “Swing for your Seats.”
Two fans actually hit home runs and won their tickets: John Benza from Loveland, Ohio and Nick Wright from Mason, Ohio.
John was the first to hit a home run…a shot that just cleared the left field wall. His family has been 20-game season ticket members for 4 years.
About 30 minutes later, Nick (a former Bellarmine Univ. baseball player) crushed his ball into the Sun/Moon Deck in right field. (he was hitting on behalf of a family friend)
The 400+ season ticket members got four pitches each from a pitching machine set to 60 MPH.
Additionally, two fans hit the outfield wall on the fly and each won a complimentary luxury suite for up to 16 guests for a game during the 2017 season. Various targets were set up in the outfield for other opportunities for fans to win Reds prizes.
Check out the video to see the two winning home runs.
From our friends with the Louisville Bats:
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Louisville Bats and Cincinnati Reds will play an exhibition game at Louisville Slugger Field on Friday, March 31, 2017. First pitch is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. This will give fans the first opportunity to see the 2017 Cincinnati Reds and Bats before Opening Day on April 6. The game will also feature an Adam Duvall bobblehead giveaway. Duvall, a Louisville native and former Butler High School and University of Louisville star, finished the 2016 season tied for 5th in the National League in home runs.
That’s all for now. More in a bit.
Expect good news!
Although we won’t have Jay Bruce (Mets), Paul Janish (Orioles) and Drew Stubbs (Orioles) to cheer on in the 2016 Postseason, there are still several familiar faces vying for a nice shiny World Series ring.
The division series are now set in both leagues with the Blue Jays vs Rangers and Red Sox vs Indians in the AL and the Dodgers vs Nationals and Cubs vs Giants in the NL.
Need a team to root for? Perhaps your favorite former Red is on one of these eight teams. Let’s take a look…
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Edwin Encarnacion was acquired by the Reds along with Ruben Mateo in a 2001 trade with the Rangers that sent Rob Bell to Texas. In five seasons with the Reds (as a third baseman), Edwin batted .262 with 71 homers, 263 RBI, a .345 on-base pct., and a .449 slugging pct. In July of 2009, he was dealt to the Blue Jays along with pitchers Josh Roenicke and Zach Stewart in exchange for Scott Rolen.
Many forget that Edwin was waived by the Blue Jays in 2010, picked up by Oakland and granted free agency before re-signing with Toronto in December of that year.
Dioner Navarro appeared in 24 games as the Reds backup catcher in 2012. An avid European soccer fan, Dioner is currently with his seventh team in 13 big league seasons.
Shin-Soo Choo made quite an impression in his lone season with the Reds after Cincinnati acquired him in a 3-team deal in December of 2012. As the Reds’ center fielder in 2013, “Mr. Choo,” as Dusty used to call him, slashed a very impressive .285/.423/.462 with 21 home runs in 154 games. Following that season, he signed with the Rangers as a free agent.
BOSTON RED SOX
Ryan Hanigan did not make the Red Sox ALDS roster but he could possibly still appear in an ALCS and/or World Series game if the Red Sox advance. It’s still hard to believe that this 10-year vet went undrafted in 2002 before signing with the Reds as a passed over free agent. In seven seasons, the Reds gritty backstop batted .262 in 474 games.
Although there are no former Reds on the Indians current roster, the two teams have a few things in common: they both call Ohio home, they both share a Spring Training ballpark in Goodyear, Arizona and they both had Jeff Treadway at one time.
How could I forget Terry Francona!? “Tito” appeared in 107 games for the Reds in 1987.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Johnny Cueto will start for the Giants on Friday night in the first game of their series against the Cubs. “Johnny Beisbol” is no stranger to the Postseason, as this will be his seventh playoff series. From 2008 to 2015, the Reds ace went 92-63 with a 3.21 ERA in 213 starts for Cincinnati. He was dealt to the Royals on 7/16/15 for Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed. Cueto signed with the Giants on 12/16/15.
Aroldis Chapman debuted for the Reds as a 22 year-old in August of 2010. Since then, the Cuban flame-thrower has become arguably the most dominant closer in the game today. After six seasons with Cincinnati, Chapman was traded to the Yankees (12/28/15) and then to the Cubs (7/25/16). While with the Reds, he was a key figure in assuring fans free pizza for games at Great American Ball Park.
David Ross came to the Reds from the Padres in March of 2006 in exchange for pitcher Bobby Basham. Of his 15 years in the Majors, “Grandpa Rossy” spent three of them in a Reds uniform, including his best season as a big leaguer in 2007 when he hit 21 homers with a .932 OPS in 90 games.
Travis Wood nearly threw a no-hitter in Philadelphia while pitching for the Reds. Do you remember that? “Woody” was selected by the Reds in the second round of the 2005 draft and spent 2 seasons with Cincinnati before being dealt to the Cubs in 2011 along with Dave Sappelt and Ronald Torreyes in exchange for Sean Marshall.
Jake Arrieta?! Yep, the very same Jake Arrieta who threw a no-hitter against the Reds this season at Great American Ball Park never actually played for our beloved Redlegs but he was drafted by the Reds in 2004 (did not sign).
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Yasmani Grandal was the Reds first round pick (12th overall) in 2010. He was traded on December 17, 2011 with Yonder Alonso, Brad Boxberger and Edinson Volquez to the San Diego Padres for Mat Latos. From San Diego, Grandal went to the Dodgers in 2014 and last year celebrated his first All-Star appearance.
Josh Ravin was the Reds fifth-round pick in 2005. After nine years in the Reds system, Ravin went the Brewers and then to the Dodgers where he made his Major League debut in 2015.
Justin Turner didn’t always have that long red hair and big bushy beard! The Cal-State Fullerton product was selected by the Reds in the seventh round of the 2006 draft. After succeeding at nearly every level in the Reds system, he became part of a trade in 2008 that netted catcher Ramon Hernandez.
Matt Belisle is still considered one of the all-time biggest eaters in Reds history. The dude could put away some hard-boiled eggs like no other. Probably still can. The 36 year-old Belisle made his big league debut in 2003 as a member of the Reds staff. He spent five seasons here before he was granted free agency in 2009.
Chris Heisey will forever remain a popular member of the Reds family. The Reds 17th round draft choice in 2006, Heisey spent his first five big league seasons as a Cincinnati Red. In 2014 he was traded to the Dodgers in exchange for pitcher Matt Magill.
Mat Latos pitched for the Reds from 2012-2014 and made two postseason appearances for Cincinnati during that time. The big Floridian right-hander was traded to the Marlins in December 2014 in exchange for Chad Wallach and Anthony DeSclafani.
Dusty Baker will always be one of my most favorite human beings in or out of the game of baseball. A true gentleman and a great baseball man, Dusty was the Reds skipper when the team returned to the Postseason in 2010, 2012 and 2013. In six years as the Reds manager, the team went 509-463.
On Sunday afternoon, the Reds season came to an end with a 7-4 loss to the Cubs. However, Joey Votto’s 2016 performance will continue to reverberate well into the offseason and beyond. Votto finished the year with a .326 batting average, .434 on-base percentage (1st in NL), .550 slugging percentage, .985 OPS, 29 HR and 97 RBI in 158 games. All of this came after Joey was slashing .213 avg/.330 obp/.404 slg at the beginning of June.
Although it was a long season for Reds fans, we here at Better Off Red want to help remind folks just how incredible Votto’s season happened to be with a few of the following tid bits:
- Joey became just the second Reds player to ever produce a .320 batting average and a .430 on-base percentage in a season. Votto joins Joe Morgan who did it in 1975 & 1976.
- Joey in the second half of the season batted .408 with a .490 on-base percentage and a .668 slugging percentage. He’s the first player to hit .400 over the second half of the season since Ichiro Suzuki batted .429 in 2004.
- Joey led all Major Leaguers in several second half categories, including batting average (.408), OBP (.490), SLG (.668), OPS (1.158), hits (107) and times on base (154).
- Overall in 2016, Joey reached base safely 294 times. To put that into perspective, in 1962, Frank Robinson reached safely 295 times. Robinson led the NL that season with a .421OBP, .624SLG and a 1.045OPS. Joey holds the Reds franchise record for times on base during a season with 319 in 2015. He’s been on base at least 275 times in 5 of his 10 seasons. Only Pete Rose (9 times) has been as prolific.
- Joey is just the fourth Reds player in modern history and the first since 1925 to collect 181 or more hits in 556 or fewer at-bats. The last Red to do it was Edd Roush (1925 & 1923), followed by Hal Chase (1916) and Sam Crawford (1902).
- Joey made exactly 400 outs in 677 plate appearances. It’s just the 53rd time since 1901 that a player with that many plate appearances made as few amount of outs. Of those 53 times, 36 have been by Hall of Famers. Joey is the first player to do it in back-to-back seasons since Hank Greenberg in 1937 and 1938. He’s the only Red ever to do it.
From my pal @Bongreatness...
Fans in attendance at today’s game will receive a 2016 Reds Team Photo, courtesy of Delta Air Lines. Today is also Fan Appreciation Day – and thousands of prizes will be awarded to fans at the ballpark over the course of today’s game. Starting at the top of the 1st inning through the end of the game staff will be at the Fan Appreciation redemption tables located in the Kroger Fan Zone at the Main Stage. Winning ticket locations will be displayed on the GABP videoboards throughout the game. Gates to the ballpark are scheduled to open at 1:10PM for Season Ticket Members and 1:40PM for all remaining fans.
During pregame ceremonies today the Rosie Reds will make their annual scholarship presentations to local student athletes. Scholarships will be awarded to student athletes from nine local universities & colleges.
Also during pregame ceremonies the Reds & Club Red will recognize a group of Mason High School students who stepped up to encourage a message of hope & encouragement in their school following the passing of a classmate. The five students will become members of Club Red, the official Reds teen club, for embodying the kind of courage and leadership that Club Red represents.
One final pregame ceremony today will salute 4 members of the Cincinnati Reds front office & gameday staff who are retiring after the 2016 season. The ceremony will include Harry Frisby (Public Safety & Security Officer), Gary Kirk (Maintenance Worker), Bill Vornhagen (Usher – 46 years) & Bob Keller (Usher – 50 years).
Actor Adam Hill, who is currently performing with the first national tour of The Sound of Music at the Aronoff Center, will join us during the middle of the 7th inning break today to lead us in the singing of God Bless America.
Following the conclusion of today’s game it is the 3rd Run the Bases of Great American Ball Park, presented by Entenmann’s Little Bites. Today’s run the bases promotion is open to all fans in attendance.
Joey Votto is currently hitting .324 with a .434 on-base pct., .548 slugging pct., 29 home runs and 94 RBI. With 2 games left, Joey is trying reach the following milestones:
Here are the career second-half leaders in OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) since 1920:
- Ted Williams, 1.122
- Lou Gehrig, 1.089
- Barry Bonds 1.072
- Jimmie Foxx, 1.032
- Hank Greenberg, 1.030
- Joey Votto, 1.008
From my pal @Bongreatness…
The first 25,000 fans in attendance at today’s game will receive a #TeamCincinnati tee-shirt, courtesy of Butterbee’s American Grille. Gates to the ballpark are scheduled to open at 2:10PM for Season Ticket Members and 2:40PM for all other fans. However those gate opening times may be adjusted in accordance with Cincinnati Fire Code should the crowd size outside the gates dictate it so.
During pregame ceremonies the Reds will honor a group of longtime Season Ticket Members for their continued support of the franchise.
Also during pregame ceremonies Cincinnati Reds Hall of Famer Leo Cardenas will be inducted into the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame. The Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame was established in San Francisco on October 24, 1998, and is dedicated to recognize the contributions of Hispanic players in baseball. To date, the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame has inducted 66 players and managers and today will add their 67th member.
Friday, September 30, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Bryan Price To Return As Reds Manager
Agrees To 1-Year Contract Extension & Team Option
CINCINNATI – The Cincinnati Reds today announced that Bryan Price will return as the club’s manager in 2017.
The entire coaching staff has been offered contracts to return next season.
Price, 54, has agreed to a 1-year contract through next season with a team option for 2018. In October 2013, after 4 years on manager Dusty Baker’s staff as pitching coach, he signed a 3-year contract through this season to become the 61st field manager in club history and the 51st since 1900.
“I like the young, aggressive team Walt and Dick have put together with players from within our system and from recent trades,” Reds President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Castellini said, referring to President of Baseball Operations Walt Jocketty and Senior Vice President, General Manager Dick Williams. “Bryan has been here seven seasons now. He’s comfortable with the direction we are heading with our young players, and we are comfortable with him leading us in that direction.”
“Three years ago we felt Bryan was the right person to help us move the organization forward, and our opinion of him hasn’t changed. While we haven’t produced the record we would have liked, we look at the youth of our team, particularly our pitching staff, and the unusually large number of injuries we’ve suffered over the last few years,” Jocketty said. “We are very happy with the performances of some of the young players we’ve acquired over the last couple of seasons. We’ve been particularly pleased with the production provided by Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, Adam Duvall, Eugenio Suarez, Jose Peraza and Scott Schebler.”
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to come back and see this through, this vision of getting back to the much higher expectations that we’ve had here historically with this great franchise,” Price said. “We can see the light at the end of the tunnel here, with the combination of young players and veterans and knowing we’re starting to stockpile talent from within the system. I’m happy to be here to see this turnaround.”
He added, “I’m proud to continue working with this group of players and coaches. I have admired their efforts, hard work and grit through this challenging season, efforts represented by the improvements we made in the second half.”
The Reds went 32-57 (.360) prior to the All-Star Game but since then are 35-35 (.500), an increase in winning percentage of .140 that ranks second-highest of any team in the Major Leagues in that span (Atlanta, +.159).