Baseball, Forgiveness, and Peanut Butter Sandwiches

“Life is hard,” my Grandma would tell me. “Eventually someone will hurt you. When that happens, you get to decide: fight back, or forgive. It’s up to you. What will you do?”

As a kid, I played baseball in the field behind my Grandma’s house. We played every day, all day, and each day for lunch, my Grandma made us her world-famous peanut butter sandwiches. These were beautiful: a single piece of toast with a thin layer of peanut butter spread on top. That’s simple enough, but what made them special was she wrote your name into the peanut butter so you knew THIS one was yours.

Read the rest at Redleg Nation.

Rituals

This time of year is always tough. Football season is ramping up, the weather has hinted that it might start to cool off a bit here soon, and the kids have gone back to school. Even those of you who are not either a student or a parent have, at the very least, spent a long commute caught in the sloth-like wake of a school bus, wondering why we haven’t developed flying cars be now.

The answer: because your stupid teenagers would drive those flying cars, crashing into each other, killing thousands. Then where would we be?

There’s lots to distract us from our favorite pastime. Heck, I’ve even given up on Fantasy Baseball. My team, the Florida Dumpster Fire, has descended into last place, breaking decades-long records for ineptitude in our keeper league. It’s easy, in seasons like this, where the impossibility of a postseason was a foregone conclusion before the Findlay Market Parade took its first steps on Opening Day. Back then, we thought anything might happen. Now, we know that nothing has and nothing will. How do we keep things relevant?

Read the rest over at Redlegnation

Ron Robinson and the Near-Perfect Game

I have a lot of good Reds memories. Most of us do, I guess.

I remember sitting on the floor in my living room, watching Eric Show give up THE HIT to Pete Rose. The REAL hit came a few days earlier in Chicago, but nobody knew it then and we celebrated like we’d won the lottery. I screamed so loud, our pet beagle, Murphy, had to leave his customary spot in the sun next to the door to get away from all the noise.

I was in attendance on Johnny Bench day in the early ‘80s when Bench hung up his spikes. The game was humdrum, but they gave a Johnny Bench handout at the gates to the first X-thousand guests. I still remember how it looked, sitting in the corner of my room next to the door. No amount of music posters, Chicago Bulls memorabilia from the ‘90s MJ teams, or hastily built bookshelves could supplant it from that place of honor. I kept that handout stapled to my wall until I graduated high school and THEN I kept it with my baseball cards. I lost both it and the baseball cards when my parent’s basement flooded in 1998. So it goes. Bench was always my favorite player. I wore my baseball cap backwards from birth in deference to him. I still do, even though I’m nearly 40 and I look weird when I do it. It just feels wrong to wear it right.

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What if DAS PLAN isn’t working?

Ever since we started this most recent rebuild, the Reds have told us to BE CALM and DON’T WORRY, because (and repeat this with me now) “There is a plan.” This plan allegedly includes graphs and charts and other implements of destruction printed up on glossy paper in an official binder somewhere in Great American Ballpark.

Billy Hatcher and Jose Rijo stand guard over the plan when the Reds are out of town. They drink espresso and reminisce about the 1990 team. Or so I hear.

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The Records Fall: Ichiro eclipses Pete

Sometime this week, or maybe the next, Ichiro Suzuki of the Miami Marlins will break Pete Rose’s hallowed record for most career hits.

Before you get excited, there are caveats to that, of course. Ichiro only breaks the record if you include the 1278 he got while playing in Japan. And, if you’re going to do that, you might as well include Pete’s 400-500 hits from minor league teams. But if you’re going to do THAT, you have to take into account that the Japanese league plays significantly fewer games than the US each season. But then … and then …

I get it. This isn’t a debate about who holds the record. Rather, it’s a conversation about records in general.

Most Reds fans who were alive at the time, know where they were when Pete broke the record. We remember it like it was yesterday.

Read the rest at Redlegnation.

The Loveable Everyman

I have a soft spot in my heart for the Loveable Everyman. I don’t know why. He’s the guy who gets by on grit and nothing else. The guy who out works everyone until he wins.

Maybe it’s the idea that even an Average Joe can find success in the land of opportunity that excites me. No matter how great or how small, everyone has a chance if they’re willing to work for it.

I like that.

I published my second article with Redleg Nation today. It was about the passing of the everyman torch from previous fan favorite, Corky Miller, to the next generation.

Read More.

Something Might Happen

I just started writing, on an extremely part-time basis, for the good folks at Redleg Nation. My first article went up this morning. It’s about Opening Day, and you can read it here.

Dad said not to bring my glove. “We’re all the way up in the red seats,” he said. “No one’s gonna hit it up there.” Then, as if to emphasize the point, “No way. Not. At. All.”

But I brought it anyway.

It was an early April morning in 1988. The late ’80s were good years – the years after Pete Rose had broken the record but before the mess of banishment – when the Reds seemed to always finish second to either the Cards or the Mets no matter how hard they tried.

Dad and I rode a city bus down Winton Road from the northern suburbs, through St. Bernard, through Corryville, past UC, and straight through Over the Rhine like a Barry Larkin line drive, ending up on Fountain Square an hour ahead of the Findlay Market parade. It was Opening Day, the holiest of baseball holidays, and we reveled in our annual pilgrimage.

I held the glove under my left arm. Dad eyed me sideways. “You never know,” I said. “Something might happen.”