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An East Coaster’s First Impressions of Cincinnati

It’s my pleasure to introduce you to our next guest blogger, Justin Long.  In addition to being a valuable member of our Reds Media Relations Department, Justin is a huge asset to our social media content team.  And because I like him, I won’t even comment on his comparing Chapman to Papelbon.   - Lisa

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Hey Reds fans,

I’m one of the newest members of the Reds Media Relations staff. Prior to moving here from Massachusetts in January, I had never been to Cincinnati. I knew basic facts about the Reds and I remember my dad loving the Nasty Boys when I was a kid, but that’s about it. I had never heard of Skyline, Kroger or LaRosa’s, and I didn’t know what a 102mph fastball looked like in person.

Since you folks are diehard Reds fans, and since many of you have probably spent a good chunk of your lives in the Cincinnati area (at least more than I have), I thought you might want to hear an out-of-towner’s first impressions of your team and city. So, here are a few random thoughts and observations as the first month of the season comes to a close:

First things first…

Nine times out of 10, when I meet someone from Cincinnati I get asked two questions: 1) If you’re from Massachusetts, why don’t you have an accent? 2) Have you had Skyline yet?

First, I like the accent question because people always seem so disappointed when I pronounce my R’s and don’t refer to it as Great American Ball Pahk. I grew up in a small farm town almost 100 miles outside the city, and us country folk don’t have accents. (But now that I think about it, to avoid further disappointment I should probably just fake the accent whenever I meet people.)

And yes, I’ve had Skyline a few times. I have to admit that I had MAJOR doubts when I first saw pictures of it, but we’ve actually gotten along just fine. However, if I had to pick a local favorite, I’d definitely go for the wings at Knockback Nat’s on 7th. Best wings I’ve ever had. Check ‘em out if you haven’t already.

Teddy and Todd

Todd Frazier hitting a home run for Teddy Kremer is one of my new favorite sports moments. It’s incredible for so many reasons, but the part of the video that gets me every time is when Ted forgets to grab Frazier’s bat because he’s so overwhelmed with excitement. It’s impossible to watch that video and not smile. VIDEO

Quick side note about Teddy: One of my friends who I worked with in Massachusetts (and who grew up in Cincinnati) knows Teddy from his high school days, and he describes him as one of his good friends. Prior to a football game, Teddy told my friend (who was on the team) that he would block a field goal. My friend didn’t think much of it at the time, but, sure enough, he ended up blocking one at a pivotal moment late in the game. Just like Teddy said he would.

The Cuban Missile

Just as I’m jealous of Nationals fans who get to watch Bryce Harper on a regular basis, I hope you folks realize what you have in Aroldis Chapman. He’s one of the most exciting athletes of today’s sports world. I had seen highlights of his pitching prior to the 2013 season, but watching him in person is 100 times better. The anticipation before he enters a game, the crowd’s reaction when the bullpen doors open, his ability to hit triple digits on the radar gun, that feeling of “Everything is going to be okay” when he takes the mound—it’s all great stuff. I remember having similar thoughts when Jonathan Papelbon entered a game at Fenway Park, but the Chapman Effect is on another level.

The Rock Star

The question I get most often from people back home is, “Who’s your favorite player to work with?” Rather than disappoint my friends and family members by explaining that the Reds players have no clue who I am, I just tell them everyone on the team is great. I really couldn’t pick a favorite—this is a special group. However, I’ve been rooting for Bronson Arroyo since I was a kid (plus, he played for the Sox), so a part of me will always consider him to be a “favorite” of mine. When he recorded his 1,000th strikeout as a Red, the ovation at GABP was more than everyone in the press box had expected. It was a special moment, and a well-deserved moment. I would love to see him get a similar ovation every time he takes the mound. Players like Arroyo don’t come around too often—enjoy him while he’s here in Cincinnati.

Bruce’s Home Run Slump

I think of myself as an extremely patient and optimistic person, so I love when the media blow storylines out of proportion. One of my favorites in 2013 is Jay Bruce’s home run drought, mainly because of how Bruce responds to questions about it: “History shows that I hit home runs.” In other words, he’s not worried. Simple enough! Plus, Bruce’s season HR total has increased every year (21, 22, 25, 32, 34), which puts him on pace to tie Barry Bonds’ record of 73 in 2024 and ultimately set the unbreakable record of 90 at the ripe age of 41. Never argue with math. And, while we’re at it…

…Never Doubt Joey Votto

I love the “Joey Votto’s HR and RBI numbers are down” discussion, because it’s very similar to the “New York Yankees are too old” discussion I heard for roughly 20 years in a row. As a Red Sox fan, I always got my hopes up when I heard the experts talking about how the Yankees didn’t stand a chance because they were too old. Well, every year I had to watch those old Yankees crush the hopes of the Sox (except in 2004 and 2007). This past off-season, the Yankees were DEFINITELY too old to compete…until, you know, they got off to a 15-10 start. Some things are just inevitable, and Joey Votto hitting the ball well is one of those things. So, yeah, I wouldn’t worry about Votto.

I love Great American Ball Park

I’ve been to other ballparks, but I’m obviously most familiar with Fenway. And even though Fenway is a classic, it doesn’t have the entertainment GABP has. I’m a sucker for everything that gets thrown up on that mammoth screen, from Kiss Cam to the mascot races—it’s all new to me, and I think Adam Lane and his team do an amazing job with all of it. Throw in the fireworks and the free pizza (I love how excited the crowd gets when the 11th strikeout is recorded), and being at any game is quite the treat. You Cincinnatians are lucky. If I had GABP as a kid, I would have been there for every home game.

Which brings me to my last observation:

The Reds Organization is Truly Amazing

It’s not easy packing up your life and moving to a new city, but the Reds couldn’t have made that transition easier. It’s cliché to say something is “like a family,” but that’s exactly how it feels here. Whether it’s been the support for Chris Herrell, the Twitter campaign to have Joey Votto named the Face of MLB, the Opening Day celebration, the legendary Marty Brennaman being in the radio booth, or the general friendliness and helpfulness of the front office staff, this has been a special place to work.

So, there you have it. Even though I still haven’t figured out your weather and I can’t get that “Cincinnati, O-hi-o” song out of my head, Cincinnati easily gets my approval. I’m looking forward to what the next few months have in store. I know my family is rooting for a Reds vs Red Sox World Series, but we’ll just have to wait until October. (Or, I guess I should say Octobah.)

- Justin

Flyover

#TeamHerrell

As most of you know, our co-worker and good friend, Chris Herrell, recently had a bone marrow transplant. Many Reds fans have asked about purchasing the Team Herrell wristband that Mat Latos is modeling in the photo below.  If you are in the Cincinnati area, the wristbands are for sale in our front office lobby from 9a-5pm, Monday-Friday, while supplies last (we ordered 100). They are $5 each. All proceeds go to the Herrell family expenses.

Latos Team Herrell 2

Thanks to Blake in Reds Season Ticketing for making these wristbands available.

And in case you missed these photos, several of the Reds front office staff are sporting new haircuts in honor of #TeamHerrell.

before

BEFORE

after

AFTER

I work with some pretty awesome people.

More soon.  Reds vs. Cards, 8:15pm. Have a great day.  #VoteReds

- Lisa

*Our front office lobby is located at Great American Ball Park.  The main doors are to the left of the box office windows as you head toward the main gates

Brad “The Animal” Lesley

Our next Better Off Red guest blogger brings us some sad news about a member of the Reds family. Stephanie Ben is our Baseball Operations Assistant and manages Reds Fantasy Camp.

Former Reds player, Brad Lesley, passed away on Saturday, April 27th from kidney failure. He was 54 years old (born 9/11/58). Lesley had been staying at an assisted living home for the past seven months where he was receiving dialysis.

Lesley was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the first round of the 1978 amateur draft and made his debut for Cincinnati in 1982. Nicknamed “The Animal”, he was known for his aggressive style on the mound. He played for the Reds for two years before being traded to the Brewers. After his final year pitching for Milwaukee in 1985, Lesley traveled to Japan to continue playing ball. He learned the language and found a love for the culture as well as the entertainment business as a TV star on a comedy show. Brad went on to guest-star in several sports films in the ‘90s including “Mr. Baseball” (1992), “Little Big League” (1994), and “Space Jam” (1996), along with many others.

Lesley’s longest relationship with the Cincinnati Reds came from his participation at Reds Fantasy Camp. He was a coach at “Baseball Heaven” from 2003 through 2011, until he no longer could physically participate given his illness. He was known (especially to those involved in Reds Fantasy Camp) for his passion for the game on the field, but mostly his practical jokes off the field. Lesley treated each Fantasy Camp participant like one of his close friends, making him or her part of his world. This past Fantasy Camp in January we called Brad during our morning staff/coaches meeting. I remember him saying multiple times that he “sends his love” and that’s exactly how I’ll remember “The Animal” – as someone who gave out a lot of love to those around him near and far. The Reds Fantasy Camp “family” sends their love to our friend and coach, Brad “The Animal” Lesley.

- Stephanie

Lesley and Flynn

Lesley and Flynn

Wine, Brown, Freiberger, Murray, Lesley

Wine, Brown, Freiberger, Murray, Lesley

Lesley and Ramsey

Lesley and Ramsey

Lesley and Luckhaupt

Lesley and Luckhaupt

There’s a Reds fan in the MLB Fan Cave

While our friend Jamie is taking some well-deserved time off, we’ve asked a few really cool guest bloggers to join us on Better Off Red this week.  First up, meet Ben.

MLB Fan Cave

Hi Reds fans!

My name is Ben Wietmarschen and I’m one of the nine official MLB Fan Cave Dwellers this year. If you don’t know what the Fan Cave is here’s some info:

-The Cave is located in Greenwich Village in New York City.

-9 people are chosen at the beginning of the season to watch EVERY baseball game (from first pitch to last out) every day, no breaks, and each of us have a particular team that is our favorite.

-While we’re here we are basically professional baseball fans. We make funny/entertaining videos about baseball, we write blog posts about interesting baseball stuff, and we’re on twitter/instagram/vine/etc. constantly talking about and enjoying baseball and interacting with anyone who’s watching the games.
-In addition to being a place where we watch baseball all the time, the Fan Cave is also a very cool event space that hosts concerts and parties and player visits and pretty much anything that the MLB does in NYC that is cool and hip and happenin’.

I specifically am the resident Reds fan in the Fan Cave. If you don’t know anything about me, here’s some info you might find interesting:

-I grew up in North College Hill (son of Mark and Rita Wietmarschen, brother to Andy and Elizabeth) and went to St. Margaret Mary Elementary school, St. Xavier High School, and Kent State University where I ran Track and Cross Country.

-I’ve lived in New York for the last five years trying to be a professional sketch comedian but also working day jobs on various food trucks in Manhattan to “pay the bills”.

-My Skyline chili order is: 4-way beans and 1 cheese coney, no onions, with mustard.

The MLB Fan Cave is actually a really cool thing if you are a big baseball fan but also enjoy things like music, art, comedy, and drinking ice cold beer all the time. You can check out stuff that we do at mlbfancave.com or follow the @mlbfancave twitter or my twitter which is @benwietmarschen. The Fan Cave is basically just a great thing to be aware of if you like watching baseball as part of a community of fun, interesting people. And if you ever find yourself in New York and wanna stop by let me know and you can come check it out.

That’s just a little about who I am and what the Fan Cave is and why I’m writing this blog post. What I really wanna talk about is how excited I am about this Redlegs team that we got on our hands. They’re really great and I think this could be a very special season for all of us.

It’s been a full 23 years since a Cincinnati team of any kind won a championship. It’s been 18 years since the Reds won a postseason series. There are ADULTS, college graduates, people that are married and own houses, that WEREN’T BORN YET when Todd Benzinger caught the last out of the 1990 World Series and everyone went crazy in the Queen City. That’s nuts. It’s also way too long of a time for a city as great as Cincinnati to go without a Championship team. And hey guys FYI: THIS COULD BE THE YEAR WE GET TO DO THAT AGAIN! I don’t wanna count our chickens, but man is it fun to think about.

For all the crazy negative stuff that gets thrown around on twitter and on certain radio shows, I think it’s important that we all recognize how likeable and good at baseball this Reds team is. Here’s some quick thoughts I have off the top of my head on a few of the Reds:

Choo: Has there ever been a more effective offseason acquisition? The lineup’s most glaring hole got filled big time, thank you Reds management.

Cozart: Fantastic set of teeth on this guy.

Votto: Professional baseball robot.

Phillips: Gets it.

Bruce: The clinching walk-off from 2010 is one of the happiest moments of my sports watching life.

Frazier: Gets it.

Cueto: Baller.

Latos: Gonna be an ace for a long time. Also, he should start wearing glasses like Sheen in ‘Major League’. They would add so much to his persona. Just a thought I had.

Arroyo: Junk ball master. I love junk, and Arroyo’s always chucking junk.

The Bullpen: Once everyone is healthy, this is gonna be the best pitching staff in baseball, hands down. Also, someone needs to make an updated Nasty Boys t-shirt and I wanna buy one for everyone in my family.

Dusty Baker: I know we all get frustrated at times with lineup or pitching decisions, but at the end of the day, Dusty manages championship teams, plain and simple, and it’s not a coincidence that the Reds started winning division championships once he got here.

Here are a few more general thoughts I have on the Reds:

-I think its time to eliminate the black from the uniform color scheme. There was a time in the late 90’s when it was a cool thing for baseball teams to add black for no reason at all, but that time has passed. I’d even like to get rid of the black drop shadow behind the ‘C’ on the hats. Let’s simplify, red and white (and gray for road games). It looks cooler.

-The Reds have one of the best twitter communities of all baseball teams. Since being in the Fan Cave, I’ve gotten experience with a lot of different teams’ fan bases through twitter, and the Reds is near the top every time. Every team has a faction of negativity, that’s inevitable, but if you’re ever looking to talk Reds baseball with a group of fun passionate people, hop on twitter and search #Reds. Also, a lot of fun photoshop pictures and new catchphrases are being tweeted every game.

-A quick thought about the negativity. I’m sick of people instigating negativity and then bashing it when it comes out (I’m thinking mainly of certain people in the press who I won’t name but it’s really annoying for someone of high sports press stature to tweet a sarcastic negative thing about how the Reds aren’t hitting or something, and then to almost immediately call out Cincinnati fans for being too negative. It’s a pet peeve of mine). All cities have negative fans, Cincinnati is not worse than any other city that has a sports team.

-That’s not to say Cincinnati sports press is bad, there are so many great people who write about and talk about the Reds. In particular I think Mo Egger, Joel Luckhaupt, and Chad Dotson and his crew at RedlegNation.com are very worthwhile reads/listens when it comes to Reds chatter.

-Man, I don’t like the St. Louis Cardinals and I can’t understand how anyone could.

That’s all I have for this blog post. If you have any questions about the Fan Cave, Google.com is a good website to find answers to anything, Fan Cave or otherwise. Or you can reach me on twitter. I’ll urge you one more time to follow what the Fan Cave is doing by visiting mlbfancave.com because I really think Baseball is figuring out fun new ways to enjoy the game and it’s exciting. Also, I have blog posts and video sketches up on the web site that you can enjoy or not. Whatever you do, please get pumped for the Reds baseball team this year, I know I am, because it’s gonna be a special season.

Yours in the Cave,

Ben

Monday in St. Louis

It’s been a tough road trip so far, but our boys finished off the weekend strong with a 5-2 win over the Nationals on Sunday. Tony Cingrani shined as he threw 6 scoreless innings and 11 strikeouts, including 4 strikeouts in the 4th inning. Get your Monday started off right with a video recap from yesterday’s game:

Reds vs. Nationals, 4/28

And check out these great images from the series, including the much-talked-about Votto high socks.  (Click on photos to enlarge.)

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Tonight at 8:15pm we kick off every Reds fan’s favorite series…Reds vs. Cardinals.   Between now and then, get in your 35 votes at reds.com/allstar to help get your favorite Reds to the All-Star Game in NYC.  You’ll also be registered to win a 2013 Cincinnati Reds Team Autographed Baseball.

Have a great Monday.  Stop back in this afternoon as we’ll have an extra special guest blogger joining us on Better Off Red.

See you over on twitter.  We’ll welcome a new player to The Show.

Go Reds!

- Lisa

A New Reds Blog Has Joined The Lineup

Hey, there’s a new blog – We’ve added a 5th blog to our Reds lineup!  In addition to Better Off Red, Mark My Word, So I Married A Baseball Player… (check out Dallas’s new blog design!) and Reds Camps (learning to play baseball and softball the Reds way), there’s a shiny, new Reds Hall of Fame blog!

Greg Rhodes, Rick Wall and Chris Eckes bring you great stories of Reds past, along with updates on what’s currently happening at the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum.  It’s informative and entertaining – definitely check it out.

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People/MLB Tribute For Heroes – Nominate a military hero to represent the Reds and be recognized at the 2013 All-Star Game in NYC.   Visit tributeforheroes.com for details and to nominate a hero.

Tribute For Heroes

More later.  Reds vs. Nationals, 7:05pm.

Go Reds!

-Lisa

Reading BOR means you know stuff before all your friends

Happy Thursday.

All-Star Voting has begun!  – Yes, it’s only April, which gives you plenty of time to make sure your favorite Reds are on the field at the All-Star Game in NYC on July 16. #VoteReds now at reds.com/vote.  If you vote more than 20 times through that link, you’ll be entered to win a 2013 Cincinnati Reds Team Autographed Baseball.

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It’s the “Season of the #Whiff” – our friends at Head & Shoulders for Men have created a contest to reward one MLB club each month a $10,000 donation for their local RBI programs.  Here are the details:

Some of the other teams have gotten a good start on us for the first month, but we know that: 1) we’ve had no shortage of strikeouts this season so far, 2) Reds fans are the champions of hashtags battle, and 3) Our  fans on twitter have been great supporters of the Reds Community Fund…so we’ve got a great formula for success.  Check out the latest leaderboard voting results here: mlb.com/whiff.

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#JoeyVotto #RedsTweetUp – Our first Reds TweetUp of the 2013 baseball season is happening on Friday, May 10th and we’ll be celebrating #JoeyVotto as the MLB Network’s #FaceOfMLB.  The ticket package includes a field box seat in our TweetUp section and this really cool, exclusive t-shirt.

Get your tickets while they are still available at reds.com/tweetup.

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Hang out in the MLB Fan Cave – Want to see the Reds play the Mets at Citi Field?  Want to visit the MLB Fan Cave and meet Reds Fan Cave dweller @BenWietmarschen and a few Reds players while you are there?  Enter our #RedsFanCave promotion on Instagram!

Get all the details by going here:  reds.com/instagramcontest.

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Good seats, good price – And if all that wasn’t enough, there’s our Reds Win, You Win promotion that makes it possible to buy lower-level field box tickets for the Reds vs. Braves series at GABP on May 6-8 for only $16 ($20 off!)

Reds Win You Win

Visit reds.com/redswin for the offer.

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Now you feel really smart, don’t you?

I’ll be back soon with details on a few new Reds blogs, the new Reds Hall of Fame Grille, a special military salute at the All-Star Game and more.  Reds vs. Nationals at 7:05pm.

Go Reds!

- Lisa

LET’S MAKE #JOEYVOTTO THE #FACEOFMLB

If you are on twitter, you’ve probably seen Reds fans furiously tweeting the #JoeyVotto hashtag.  The MLB Network asked fans to vote for the face of their club in January, and is now having a competition bracket style via twitter to make one player the Face of MLB.  And let me tell you, based on our track record, Reds fans are LEGENDARY around MLB for their hashtag battles.

Here’s where we are today:

bracket 2-22

Votto has made it to the final four and is now going head to head with Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates.  Voting for this round will end at 6:30am on Monday.  Winner will be announced on the MLB Networks’ Hot Stove show at 9am et that day.

IF Joey advances to the finals, he will take on Matt Kemp of the Dodgers (Kemp won his hashtag battle by a close margin this morning), Monday through Friday of next week for the title of the Face of MLB!

Some of the basic rules: one #JoeyVotto hashtag per tweet only, retweets count, and you don’t need to include @MLBNetwork or #FaceofMLB in the tweet.

There are certainly more important things in life than hashtag battles, but it’s our chance to show the baseball world how much we love our team and have a little fun while we are doing it. Thank you for all your support.  Reds fans are the best! Happy Spring Training!  – Lisa

Washington Nationals v Cincinnati Reds

Baseball Is Happening in Goodyear

The full squad is in Goodyear and Spring Training is officially underway!  The Reds’ first game takes place on Friday, 2/22 against their Goodyear Ballpark roommates, the Cleveland Indians.   If you are headed out to Arizona for the Spring Training action, get the latest info HERE.  And follow Goodyear Ballpark on Twitter and Facebook.

If you aren’t able to join us in Goodyear this year, all the games will be available on 700WLW or Reds.com.

Here’s a look at what’s happening at the ballpark, thanks to Rob Butcher, Zach Bonkowski, Corey Hawthorne, Ralph Mitchell and Karen Forgus.

Goodyear Team Store

Goodyear Team Store

Photo day with Getty Images and Topps

Photo day with Getty Images and Topps

Morning warmups

Morning warmups

Corky Miller & Mike Stefanski

Corky Miller & Mike Stefanski

Sean Marshall

Sean Marshall

Mat Latos

Mat Latos

Dusty Baker

Dusty Baker

Todd Frazier

Todd Frazier

Korean media

Korean media

Goodyear Ballpark

Goodyear Ballpark

Ryan Hanigan

Ryan Hanigan

Jack Hannahan

Jack Hannahan

Homer Bailey

Homer Bailey

Jami from Reds Productions

Jami from Reds Productions

Dusty Baker

Dusty Baker

Brandon Phillips

Brandon Phillips

Goodyear Complex Lobby

Goodyear Complex Lobby

Aroldis Chapman

Aroldis Chapman

Jay Bruce sportin' new Batting Practice Caps

Jay Bruce sportin’ the new Batting Practice Cap

Aroldis Chapman

Aroldis Chapman

Brandon Phillips

Brandon Phillips

Hope you are having a great weekend.  43 days until Opening Day!

- Lisa

SUNDAY ON THE 2013 #REDSCARAVAN

LEXINGTON (thanks to Michael Anderson)

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HAMILTON (thanks Rob Butcher and Audra Sordyl)

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DAYTON (thanks to my phone)

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