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THE BE(A)ST OF THE EAST: MY TIME ON THE 2016 #REDSCARAVAN

You folks who followed the 2016 Reds Caravan on Reds.com and here on Better Off Red are probably familiar with the friendly rivalry the “Rock Star Tour,” spearheaded by “Mercury” Marty Brennaman, has with the other three legs of the Caravan.  His daily recaps that appear on BOR, which help capture the pro-wrestling-like competition, must be read the same way they were written – with tongue firmly planted in cheek and with a suspension of disbelief.  Marty free-styles his soliloquies on the bus while I sit nearby and type them word-for-word. In between belly laughs and paragraphs, another tour-member or two might add something or change a word/sentence for editorial purposes.  It’s easily one of the tour highlights as Marty’s live audience (everyone on the bus) sits backs and braces itself for what he’s about to say next.

But I’m here today to fill in the blanks, separate reality from fantasy and provide another glimpse of what I saw/experienced on the East Tour of the 2016 Reds Caravan – (WITH PHOTOS!)

First, I have to say that the guys on this year’s bus formed one of my all-time favorite groups.  With three Caravan “rookies” added to our bus this year, I wasn’t sure how they’d react to our traveling band of merry pranksters but as it turned out – they fit right in.  The rookies, Dmitri Young, Nick Krall and Amir Garrett joined “rock star” veterans Tucker BarnhartRyan Rizzo, Chris Welsh, Mercury Marty and yours truly to cover over 900 miles of highway and several hours of hijinks.

From Thursday through Saturday, our tour went East towards West Virginia.  Our main stops included Athens (OH), Charleston (WV), Parkersburg (WV) and Ashland (KY) with radio affiliate stops in Maysville, Portsmouth, Rio Grande, Middleport, Grayson, Pikeville and Logan (WV) sprinkled throughout.  Our schedule is rigid and precise and built on punctuality.

A typical stop involves the guys signing a lot of autographs, posing for a lot of photos and answering a lot of the same questions.  But let’s face it – how hard can that be?  The guys were naturals at interacting with the media and the fans and answering mostly amusing but sometimes challenging questions.  I was very impressed with our team, especially Reds assistant GM Nick Krall, who gracefully answered the lion’s share of those challenging questions.  Marty even acknowledged on the bus that Nick changed his mind on some of the more traditional opinions that the veteran Hall of Fame broadcaster held on baseball and the Reds team.

During the middle of Day Two of the Reds Caravan, things start to become routine and formulaic.  It’s easy to catch yourself going through the motions and taking for granted what the Caravan is out to accomplish.  However, on two separate occasions in two separate cities, I heard two separate young men say the following while interacting with our panel: “this is the greatest day of my life.”  Of course, I considered the hyperbole of such comments but even still, both times I was taken aback.  Normal everyday people, who are simply involved in a game called baseball with varying degrees of celebrity, have the incredible ability to touch someone so profoundly by simple interaction.  Those grateful fans were my personal highlight of this trip and they, in turn, made me thankful for my small role in this big production.

Not to overstate it but I love my time on the bus with the guys on the Caravan.  The stories, the laughs, the camaraderie combine to create magic…especially when you have the perfect blend of personalities (and we did).  I loved getting to know Amir Garrett.  He’s such a class act and a great kid and I’m going to root my heart out for him.  Tucker and I picked up right where we left off the last time we saw each other and he’s one of the few Reds players I consider as a personal friend.  Like Amir, Tucker’s a world class guy and easy to cheer for and I’m especially excited about his new nickname (Bingo).  Like I said earlier, Nick Krall was fantastic and I was very proud of his performance on the trip.  He was a welcome addition to our crew.  Dmitri is a very special person and a very special friend of mine.  He was asked to join our group at the eleventh hour and without batting an eye, he agreed to postpone his busy schedule to travel with us.  Dmitri is a good man and the experience, guidance, expertise and enthusiasm he brought to our bus was unmatched.  And then there is Ryan and Chris and Marty – three of my favorite dudes who help make this annual voyage an absolute pleasure for me.  Few people can make me laugh as hard and as much as Riz, Creeper and Mercury.

A huge thank you to all of the folks who did the actual heavy lifting on our leg of the RedsCaravan; the real rockstars:  Mike Middaugh, Kayla Parsley, Christian St. Pierre, Nick Kulik, Nick St. Pierre, Sherry Rowland, Pam Owen, Jackie Reau and Lori Salzarulo.

And a very special thank you to all of the fans and affiliates in Ohio and West Virginia who hosted us!

So enough of my maudlin ramblings.  Let’s get to the photos, shall we?

MERCURY MARTY RECAPS DAY TWO OF THE #REDSCARAVAN

As is tradition on the Reds Carvan, “Mercury” Marty Brennaman recaps each day of his time on the road.

Here’s day two:

Yesterday marked the second day of the Rock Star group’s tour of the Reds Caravan; and as I extinguished my lights at the Ohio University Hotel room last night, my cup overflowed with a lot of positive emotions but none bigger than pride.  I’m prideful of a lot of things involving this Rock Star Group but one aspect overwhelms all the others and that is the pride I have for for the three rookies: Dmitri Young, Nick Krall and Amir Garrett.  Individually and collectively they have carried themselves with style, with class, with dignity and above all else a sense of giving to the many of hundreds of thousands of people that we have touched in the last 48-plus hours. And believe you me, we’re not done yet.

A quick synopsis of day two as it relates to the rock star group: we woke up yesterday in Athens, Ohio to a full blown blizzard that would cause other people to pause…not this group.  They charged out of the hotel’s entrance to the bus all the while trying to stay upright and not go down due to the ice and snow separating themselves from the hotel and the bus. Were they concerned about life and limb? No one gave it a second thought.  The main concern was boarding the bus and heading toward Grayson, Kentucky and our network affiliate WUGO Radio.  One of the big expectations of the Grayson stop is seeing the man-eating Rottweiler that wanted to take a bite out of everybody but sadly, he’s long passed.  The food spread that the folks at WUGO provide is unmatched, especially the catfish. Another highlight was our introduction to Miss Kitty, a beautiful black and white cat that lives at the station.

From Grayson it was on to Pikeville where they were swinging from the rafters. And as usual, we did not disappoint – we gave it back to the city!  Shortly thereafter, we boarded the bus for our third stop of the day: Logan, Ohio.  As always, no matter what stop we make, the folks here told us that the crowd for this stop was the biggest in recent memory for the Reds Caravan (quite honestly, we are certainly not surprised).

Our last stop of the day was clearly the biggest.  They were seventeen deep on both decks waiting for us at the Charleston Town Center.  Rumors are swirling that there may be a bigger mall by the time WE come back.  It’s truly hard to separate one stop from the other and the reason is simple…we love the people and the people love us (and to those of you wannabes in any of the other three legs – they don’t love you nearly as much).

Until next time,

Mercury Marty.

MERCURY MARTY’S DAY ONE RECAP OF THE #REDS CARAVAN

As is tradition on the Reds Carvan, “Mercury” Marty Brennaman recaps each day of his time on the road.

Here’s day one:

Back in the 1920s the late great legendary sportswriter Grantland Rice penned these memorable words: “For when the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name, he writes not whether you won or lost but how you played the game.” Little did Mr. Rice realize, that when he penned those words, as memorable as they’ve become, that he was writing in truth about the Rock Star Group. Why you ask? When the scorer writes about this group, he concerns himself with honor, integrity, honesty, certainly compassion, and the inherent feeling that everything we do is right. We would grade out extremely high because first and foremost – the people, Reds fans are of the utmost importance to us.  Because of our ongoing and consistent popularity, there couldn’t be any other way.

On day one of this Reds caravan our travels have taken us to Maysville, KY, Portsmouth Oh, Rio Grande OH (Where we provided nourishment to the masses in the form of roasted chicken at the original Bob Evans restaurant), and then on in to Middleport OH and concluding a very remarkable day with the citizenry and students of Ohio University in Athens, OH. Groups that liken themselves (erroneously I might add) to the Rock Star Group would readily single out one stop as being the one that they can hang their proverbial caps on. Well I’m here to tell you, there is no hat rack. EVERY stop we make stands out as a stark reminder of how successful we are at filling the void of the lives of the people we touch. It’s hard to imagine as we, individually and collectively, lay our heads on a pillow tonight and go to sleep (after we say our prayers, of course) we feel very fortunate to be walking, talking members of this rather august group.

Until next time,
Mercury Marty

#REDS BASELINE ITEMS: HOT STOVE TONIGHT, CARAVAN TOMORROW

HOT STOVE LEAGUE SHOW TONIGHT!
Tucker Barnhart, Ivan De Jesus Jr., Jesse Winker and Dmitri Young will be on the Reds Hot Stove League Show on 700 WLW & the Reds Radio Network tomorrow/Wednesday from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. live from the Reds Hall of Fame & Museum. The public is invited.

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REDS CARAVAN STARTS TOMORROW!
The 2016 Reds Caravan, presented by Cincinnati USA Regional Tourism Network, consists of four separate tours traveling over 3,300 miles making stops in five states over four days. The tours kick off TOMORROW (Jan. 28) from the Reds Hall of Fame & Museum and conclude with the “Caravan Finale” on Sunday, Jan. 31 at the Florence Mall.

Travel along with the Caravan buses on Reds.com/Caravan.

2016 Reds Caravan Logo

 

BETTER OFF RED PODCAST EPISODE 111: BRYAN PRICE & AARON BOONE

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In this week’s episode of the Better Off Red Podcast, we talk to Reds manager Bryan Price and former Reds third baseman/current ESPN baseball analyst Aaron Boone.

Bryan caught up with us at Redsfest to talk about the challenges of 2015, the outlook for 2016 and the talent that’s coming up through the Reds minor league system.

Aaron, who was recently named to ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball team, tells us about his new co-workers, his transition from the field to the broadcast booth and his time he spent in Cincinnati as a member of the Reds.

Music is provided to us this week by the Montreal indie rock band Half Moon Run, whose latest album Sun Leads Me On is available NOW on iTunes!

To listen to this week’s podcast, CLICK HERE.

#REDS ANNOUNCE CARAVAN FINALE TO BE HELD AT FLORENCE MALL ON JANUARY 31

CINCINNATI (Jan. 21, 2016) — The Cincinnati Reds Caravan will end its multi-state tour of four buses with a final stop at the Florence Mall in Florence, Ky. on Sunday, Jan. 31. In attendance will be five Major League players and four minor league players along with Reds manager Bryan Price. Joining them will be Reds President and CEO Bob Castellini, President of Baseball Operations Walt Jocketty, five Reds alumni, broadcasters, mascots and front office personnel.

The doors to the Florence Mall will open at 9 a.m. and a question and answer session will begin at 11 a.m. in the Center Court area. From Noon to 2 p.m., current Reds players and manager Bryan Price will sign autographs (while time allows) and the minor leaguers and Reds alumni will pose for photos with fans.

“We are excited to stage this year’s Caravan’s finale in Florence for the first time,” said Phil Castellini, Reds COO. “After three days on the road traversing Reds Country, it’s befitting we host our biggest event close to Great American Ball Park so our hometown fans can be part of the fun.”

The 2016 Reds Caravan, presented by Cincinnati USA Regional Tourism Network, consists of four separate tours traveling over 3,300 miles making stops in five states over four days.

Reds Caravan at Florence Mall on Sunday, Jan. 31
– 2028 Florence Mall, Florence, KY 41042
• 9 a.m.: Mall doors open to the public
• 11 a.m. to Noon: Q&A hosted by Marty Brennaman & Jeff Piecoro
• Noon to 2 p.m.: Autographs with current players and photos with Reds alumni and minor leaguers
– Mall parking info: http://www.florencemall.com/en/parking.html

Current Reds attending:
– Bryan Price – manager
– Devin Mesoraco – catcher
– Billy Hamilton – outfielder
– Tucker Barnhart – catcher
– Ivan De Jesus Jr. – infielder
– Keyvius Sampson – pitcher

Reds minor leaguers attending:
– Alex Blandino – infielder
– Amir Garrett – pitcher
– Cody Reed – pitcher
– Jesse Winker – outfielder

Reds alumni attending:
– Tom Browning
– Chris Welsh
– Jeff Brantley
– Corky Miller
– Dmitri Young

Reds front office personnel attending:
– Bob Castellini – President & CEO
– Walt Jocketty – President of Baseball Operations

Additional details:
– Each fan is limited to one autograph per player and there are no posed photos with the group.
– There will be two photo booth opportunities for fans to take part, one with the minor leaguers and the other with alumni.
– Fans will receive a complimentary 4”x6” photo keepsake and are welcome to use their personal cameras as well.
– Autographs are not permitted at the photo stations.

The entire event is open to the public and free-of-charge. Appearances and schedules subject to change.

Visit reds.com/caravan for up-to-date information on the 2016 Reds Caravan.

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PETE ROSE TO BE INDUCTED INTO #REDS HALL OF FAME

HOF Weekend Graphic

Rose’s No. 14 jersey to be retired and ’76 World Series Champions honored during 2016 Reds HOF Induction Weekend, June 24-26

CINCINNATI (Jan. 19, 2016) — Cincinnati Reds legend Pete Rose will be inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame and his number 14 jersey retired during 2016 Reds Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, June 24-26, 2016.

Rose was selected as the sole inductee for the class of 2016 by the Reds Hall of Fame Board of Directors.

“Inducting Pete into the Reds Hall of Fame and retiring his iconic number 14 will be a defining moment in the 147-year history of this storied franchise,” said Bob Castellini, Reds President and CEO. “He is one of the greatest players to ever wear a Reds uniform and it will be an unforgettable experience watching him being honored as such.”

“Pete Rose’s on-field achievements and impact on the Reds and its fan base are unquestionable and worthy of induction into the Reds Hall of Fame,” said Rick Walls, executive director of the Reds Hall of Fame & Museum. “We look forward to this summer where, in front of his fans and with his teammates, ‘Charlie Hustle’ will be recognized for his contributions to the rich and distinguished history of the Reds.”

2016 Reds Hall of Fame Induction Weekend – schedule of events (subject to change)
– Friday, June 24: Reds vs. San Diego Padres (7:10 p.m.)
• Pregame ceremonies celebrating the 40th anniversary of the 1976 World Series Champion Reds
• Reds players and coaches will wear 1976 throwback uniforms
• All fans receive a commemorative 1976 Reds team photo
• 1976 World Series replica ring ticket package (details to be released soon)
• Fireworks Friday presented by Cooper Tire
– Saturday, June 25: Reds vs. San Diego Padres (4:10 p.m.)
• Pregame Hall of Fame Induction ceremony presented by PNC Bank
• As part of Super Saturdays, all fans receive a Pete Rose poster
– Sunday, June 26: Reds vs. San Diego Padres (1:10 p.m.)
• Pregame Pete Rose Number 14 Retirement Ceremony
• All fans receive Pete Rose commemorative print
• Hall of Fame Induction Gala presented by Clark Schaefer Hackett at the Duke Energy Conv. Center (starts at 6 p.m.)

Visit reds.com/Pete for updates and additional details for 2016 Induction Weekend.

The best way for fans to guarantee tickets to all three Hall of Fame Induction Weekend games is with the Pick-6 Plan:
• Pick any six regular season home games (excluding Opening Day) and receive a Joey Votto 30-inch Louisville Slugger® bat and six free McDonald’s® Extra Value Meals® with the 2016 Reds Pick-6 Plan presented by McDonald’s®. Save up to 25%!
• Order online at reds.com/Pick6 or call (513) 765-7500.

Tickets to the 2016 Reds Hall of Fame Induction Gala presented by Clark Schaefer Hackett on Sunday, June 26 at the Duke Energy Convention Center will go on sale February 14.

Peter Edward “Pete” Rose, Sr.
The most prolific hitter in baseball history, Cincinnati native Pete Rose wore the uniform of his hometown Reds from 1963-1978 and again from 1984-1986. He ranks at the top of the Reds’ all-time franchise list in games played (2722), plate appearances (12,344), runs scored (1741), hits (3358), singles (2490), doubles (601), total bases (4645) and bases on balls (1210). Only three players in Reds history have driven in more career runs than Rose’s 1036 and only three players hit more triples in their Reds careers than Rose’s 115. Rose’s Reds career was marked by virtually every honor that can be bestowed on a Major League Player. His 13 All-Star selections as a Red are the second-most in Reds history and include selections at an All-Star -record five different positions. In 1963, Rose was named the National League’s Rookie of the Year and was selected as the Most Valuable Player of the National League in 1973. A three-time NL batting champion, Rose was also a two-time winner of Gold Glove Awards for defensive excellence. In 1975 and 1976, Rose captained the Big Red Machine to consecutive World Series titles and was named the Most Valuable Player of the 1975 Fall Classic. In 1978, Rose authored a 44-game hitting streak which stands as the third-longest in Major League history. Rose played for the Phillies and Expos from 1979 – August 16, 1984 when he returned to the Reds in a trade. On September 11, 1985, Rose singled in the bottom of the first inning of the Reds game against the Padres for the 4192nd hit of his Major League career which broke the all-time career hit record held by Ty Cobb. Rose finished his career with 4256 hits.

About the Reds Hall of Fame:
The Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame is the oldest continually operating team Hall of Fame in all of baseball. Since its inception in 1958, 85 players, managers and executives have been honored with induction. The Reds Hall of Fame & Museum at Great American Ball Park features 15,000 square feet of historical, interactive and educational exhibits, highlighting the rich and storied tradition of the Reds and baseball in the Queen City. The mission of the Reds Hall of Fame & Museum is to celebrate greatness, preserve history and provide inspiration. Plan your visit at RedsMuseum.org.

 

#REDS URBAN YOUTH ACADEMY ANNOUNCES WINTER PROGRAMMING

CINCINNATI (January 14, 2016) — The P&G Cincinnati MLB Urban Youth Academy is currently recruiting for winter 2016 baseball, softball and T-ball clinics.

The Urban Youth Academy in Roselawn is operated by the Reds Community Fund and offers free, year-round baseball and softball instruction, plus educational and vocational opportunities for boys and girls ages 5-18 residing primarily in urban neighborhoods in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.

T-ball Clinics – Sundays from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (through Feb. 28)
• One hour indoor T-ball games for boys and girls ages 5-7 teaching the basics.

Dave Parker

Dave Parker

Baseball Clinics featuring Reds HOF’er Dave Parker – Tuesdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. (through Feb. 23)
• For boys ages 8-13 whose skills range from intermediate to advanced, teaching fundamental skills and a complete understanding of the game of baseball.
• Baseball clinics include instruction from Cincinnati native and Reds Hall of Famer Dave Parker.

Softball Clinics – Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. (through Feb. 24)
• For girls ages 8-18 whose skills range from beginner to intermediate, teaching the basics of hitting, throwing, fielding and pitching.

“The Urban Youth Academy is focused on baseball and softball instruction for boys and girls who typically wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford or have access to this type of programming,” said Cameron Satterwhite, Assistant Director of the Urban Youth Academy. “The Academy’s staff offers high level coaching and training to young people of all skill levels.”

“We help our Academy members succeed off the field as well by offering homework assistance and tutoring through our partners at the University of Cincinnati and health awareness seminars from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center,” said Colleen Cheek, Outreach Manager for the Reds Community Fund.

To register for clinics and information on all Urban Youth Academy programming, please visit reds.com/academy or call (513) 765-5000.

P&G Cincinnati MLB Urban Youth Academy
2026 E. Seymour Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45237
(513) 765-5000
Reds.com/Academy
RedsUrbanYouthAcademy@reds.com
Academy hours: 3 to 9 p.m. (closed Friday)
Office hours: 8:30 am to 5:30 p.m. (closed Friday)

The Urban Youth Academy is also available for daytime rental (until 3 p.m.) to host corporate or private events. Please contact Charley Frank at (513) 765-7231 for rental information.

2016 #REDS CARAVAN SET FOR JANUARY 28-30

2016 Reds Caravan LogoCINCINNATI (Jan. 12, 2016) — The 2016 Cincinnati Reds Caravan kicks off Thursday, Jan. 28 from the Reds Hall of Fame & Museum and will travel over 3,300 miles making stops in five states over three days.

The Caravan is presented by the Cincinnati USA Regional Tourism Network.

The four Caravan tours travel through Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee providing fans with the opportunity to interact with current and former players, top minor leaguers, broadcasters and members of the Reds front office staff. At each of the 16 fan stops, the groups will field questions and sign autographs while time allows.

“The Caravan is our official kick-off to the new season and our players, coaches, broadcasters and front office personnel are excited to meet with loyal fans in every corner of Reds Country,” said Phil Castellini, Reds Chief Operating Officer.

All Caravan fan stops are free and open to the public, and at each fan stop listed below the Reds will raffle two tickets to the 2016 Opening Day game on Monday, April 4 (4:10 pm) vs. the Philadelphia Phillies.

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The Reds Caravan will also visit over 20 of the Reds on Radio affiliates throughout Reds Country during the tours.

Additional Caravan participants may be added to select tours. Times are subject to change.

Reds sales representatives will be at each stop to answer ticketing questions and discuss 2016 ticket plans, while the Reds Hall of Fame, the Reds Community Fund and Cincinnati USA Regional Tourism Network will attend select stops.

Memberships to the Reds Heads Kids Club, Reds Rookies Baby Club, Club Red and Reds Hall of Fame & Museum will be for sale at select stops.

Seating is limited at all Caravan stops. Autographs will be available on a first-come, first-served basis while time allows. No posed photographs. There may be restrictions on items celebrities can sign.

Visit reds.com/caravan for up-to-date information, maps and photos.

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BETTER OFF RED EPISODE 110: LIVE FROM REDSFEST PT. 3

Redsfest3 Cover

In this episode of the Better Off Red podcast, we return to Redsfest 2015 to visit with six of our favorite dudes – John Lamb & Kyle Waldrop, Dmitri Young & Corky Miller and Doug Flynn & Tucker Barnhart.

Music provided for this episode is provided courtesy of Ramsay Midwood.  Check out his music – especially Shoot Out at the OK Chinese Restaurant on iTunes!

To listen to this edition of the BOR Podcast – CLICK HERE.

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