Results tagged ‘ Cincinnati ’
The ballot for the 2015 Major League Baseball All-Star game has been out for awhile now, but I’ve been holding off with casting my votes for who I’d like to see in the game up in Cincinnati on July 14th. With it seeming like the ballot is coming out earlier and earlier each year, I wanted to give players enough time to put up quality numbers before I made any decisions. But I finally feel there are enough stats to make a logical decision.
Voting is simple. Although there are no longer paper ballots that you can pick up and fill out at your local ballpark, you can head over to MLB.com and fill out an online ballot with the player you feel most deserves the honor for each position. You can vote up to 35 times for the players of your choice. (Voting is open until July 2nd.)
I cast my maximum 35 votes a few days ago. Although the All-Star game is still just under two months away, I figured I’d go ahead and go over the players I picked for the Midsummer Classic. A lot of things can change, with my picks subsequently changing as well, but these are the players I went ahead and voted for to make the All-Star game:
FIRST BASE: Miguel Cabrera (AL), Adrian Gonzalez (NL)
It came down to Miguel Cabrera, Eric Hosmer and Mark Teixeira for me in the American League portion of the first base spot. While Teixeira leads in homers and RBI’s, his batting average was too low for me to select him. In addition, Eric Hosmer has fewer homers and RBI’s than Cabrera in more at-bats, and thus, I picked Miguel Cabrera.
In the National League, it was another tough decision. While Paul Goldschmidt is producing another year worth of MVP caliber numbers, and although Anthony Rizzo is getting better and better, I voted for Adrian Gonzalez. Getting off to a hot start to begin the year, Gonzalez holds the second highest batting average in baseball and deserves to make it.
SECOND BASE: Jose Altuve (AL), Dee Gordon (NL)
Jose Altuve leading all of American League second baseman in stolen bases, sitting second in average and third in homers was enough to get him selected by me to make the All-Star game. Although Devon Travis of the Blue Jays has been a highlight reel each night, Altuve is one of the most exciting second basemen in baseball.
The National League race for All-Star second baseman was an easy decision on my part. Dee Gordon is deserving of the spot, no question about it. Gordon doesn’t have any home runs, but that’s not his game. He leads all NL second basemen in stolen bases, and holds a batting average above .400. That’s deserving of All-Star recognition.
SHORTSTOP: Marcus Semien (AL), Brandon Crawford (NL)
I’ll be honest — I had to double check Marcus Semien’s stats when I was casting my vote for American League shortstop. I knew he was having a good year, but I didn’t realize how good. Leading the American League shortstops in homers and stolen bases, Semien is the unlikely frontrunner for the honor.
It was no easy task to choose a shortstop that had the best stats for the All-Star game. There are a ton of them with good numbers in one category or another. But while names such as Zack Cozart, Jhonny Peralta, etc., stood out, I went with Brandon Crawford, who has good numbers as well as the amazing defense to match.
THIRD BASE: Josh Donaldson (AL), Todd Frazier (NL)
You could make cases for Manny Machado, Mike Moustakas, Josh Donaldson and even Evan Longoria for the American League third base spot in the All-Star game. But I went with Donaldson, who is having a fantastic year. Sitting second in homers but first in RBI’s among AL third basemen, Donaldson should be in Cincy in July.
The first and only Red on my list — likely to be a favorite with the Reds hosting the All-Star game — is Todd Frazier, who I selected for NL third base in the midsummer classic. His batting average isn’t the best, but he is at the top in homers and is deserving in my mind of the honor.
CATCHER: Stephen Vogt (AL), Buster Posey (NL)
This is somewhat of a shocking pick, but a very deserving one. Stephen Vogt wasn’t all that well known as recently as a year ago, but his bat is making him more of a common name. Vogt leads AL catchers in average, home runs and RBI’s, and should lead them in voting when all is said and done.
I could’ve easily picked Miguel Montero or Yasmani Grandal to make the start behind the plate for the National League, but I went with the always consistent Buster Posey instead. Posey leads AL catchers in homers, and should be adding another All-Star game to his already impressive resume.
DESIGNATED HITTER: Nelson Cruz
Although the designated hitter role in the All-Star game goes to David Ortiz the majority of the time, there is simply no other choice for DH this year than Nelson Cruz. It’s not even close. Cruz leads all designated hitters in homers, runs batted in and average, and will be in the All-Star game up in Cincinnati.
It’s never easy to narrow down several dozen players to three All-Star picks for each league, especially when you could make a strong case for a dozen of the outfield choices for each league, but it’s a requirement when casting a ballot. So, while I voted for the players who I felt were All-Star caliber players at the moment, there are a few more I would’ve liked to vote for, but couldn’t. Keep that in mind when reading the outfielders I selected for the American League and National League:
Mike Trout, Josh Reddick and Adam Jones (AL)
Mike Trout was a nobrainer, as he once again is in the process of posting another fantastic season, but the other two spots were somewhat difficult with all of the great players. In the end, after examining all of the stats, I made the tough choice of Josh Reddick and Adam Jones. I hope to see them in the All-Star game starting lineups.
Bryce Harper, Justin Upton and Giancarlo Stanton (NL)
As with Mike Trout in the AL, picking Bryce Harper for National League outfield was the easiest choice of the three. But after a lot of debate between the candidates to fill the other places, I wound up choosing Justin Upton and Giancarlo Stanton. Upton is having a good year, and despite a subpar average, Stanton is dominating yet again.
Nick Travieso was drafted by the Reds in the 1st round of the 2012 draft. Since the draft, Travieso has had his share of ups and downs, but overall, he’s been able to show flashes of his potential to become a top notch pitcher at the major league level, doing fairly well in a couple of minor league seasons.
In his first full season of pro ball in 2013, Travieso spent the year with Class-A Dayton, going 7-6 with a 4.63 ERA. While that’s not overly impressive, Travieso was still in the process of learning how develop into the pitcher the many feel he can become. This season, look for Travieso to breakout.
Heading into his second full season in the minor leagues, there are a lot of eyes on Travieso, being so highly ranked. But if he can show what he’s capable of, this season and beyond, it shouldn’t be too long before Travieso finds himself pitching on the mound up in Cincinnati.
Nick Travieso — top pitching prospect in the Reds’ organization — took the time recently to answer some of my questions:
1.) At what age did you first become interested in baseball? Who was your biggest baseball influence growing up?
I actually played hockey before I started playing baseball. I started playing baseball when I was four. My parents got me into it because I would like to throw things around the house. My biggest influence growing up would have to be my dad, mainly because we worked every single day on fundamentals and just getting better all around. He played a huge role in my success throughout my childhood career up to now.
2.) Who was your favorite baseball player growing up? Why?
Growing up I idolized Roger Clemens. I have always been a Yankee fan, and I loved watching the way he pitched. He attacked hitters regardless of who was at the plate, and I wanted to be like him one day.
3.) You were drafted by the Reds in the 1st round of the 2012 draft. What was that process like for you? Where were you when you first found out? Initial thoughts?
The process was tough just due to the fact that I had always planned on attending college. When I first found out, I was with my family and a few friends at my house just watching the draft. The first thing I said was how fortunate I was to be a part of such a great and successful organization.
4.) Although you’ve played a season and a half of professional baseball to this point, having been a relief pitcher the majority of your time in high school, are you still making the adjustment to being a starting pitcher? What’s the most difficult part of the transition? Do you prefer starting or relieving?
It was a very long road for me. I was use to throwing 1-2 innings tops and taking a few days off before pitching again. I always liked closing just because I could throw every pitch as hard as I could and empty the tank knowing that I wouldn’t have to throw for a few days again. There were a lot of adjustments, but the biggest one was getting my arm in shape for more than a couple of innings and building my body to gain stamina to maintain velocity. I personally love starting now. I love being in control of the game from the very beginning.
5.) Playing for Dayton in 2013, where attendance is usually high, did pitching in front of the large crowds have any impact on your pitching?
Pitching in Dayton for the first time was something I had never experienced before. I never threw in front of more than about 1,500 people. Coming from extended spring training, where we would have maybe 5 people at a game, to Dayton, where there are 8,000+, yeah, it had an impact. My adrenaline was running, and I couldn’t really control it. But as I got more comfortable, I started to be able to control myself and start pitching the way I know how to.
6.) Talk a little bit about life on the road: What’s the most difficult aspect of it? What do you do to pass the time?
The hardest thing about being on the road is probably the bus trips. They are brutal. The trips range anywhere from 4-12 hours, and it’s hard to do much but sleep. Our road trips usually leave either early mornings or late at night so we catch up on our sleep on the bus. Sometimes we’ll have some cards to play or some movies to watch, but other than that, a lot of us use it as rest time.
7.) Is there any one stat that you pay attention to throughout the season? Or do you try to steer clear of them altogether?
It’s hard to completely ignore stats. Although stats don’t show everything, they are still very important. I try to stay away from them as much as possible but if there is one stat I tend to look at it would be my ERA. That’s one stat that’s always out there every start on the big screen, so it’s one that, no matter how good or bad it may be, everyone can see.
8.) What do you feel went well in 2013? What are your goals for 2014?
I learned a lot in 2013; a lot about how to pitch. Everyone in pro ball can throw, but when you can pitch you have an upper hand. That’s one thing I feel went well for me. The fact that I steered away from just throwing and actually learned how to pitch. 2014 is a big year for me. It’ll be my second full season and I’m looking forward to it. I felt that the 2013 season was to get use to the whole process, but this year it’s time to get out there and battle. I just want to stay healthy throughout the season and pitch the way I know how to.
9.) Favorite TV show? Favorite food?
I’m not so much a TV guy. I watch a lot of fishing/hunting shows, but lately I have been watching ‘The Big Break NFL’, just because it helps me with my golf game. I’m Cuban, so my favorite food is definitely Cuban food. It’s hard to come by during the season, so when I’m home, I take full advantage of it.
10.) Lastly, what advice would you give to kids who are just starting out that dream of playing professional baseball one day?
The two things I would say is to never give up on your dreams and to work hard. I had a lot of ups and downs throughout my baseball career, but I never gave up. You have to be able to keep pushing to make it where you want to be, and you can’t be satisfied until you get there. You have to work hard every day to beat out your opponents. One quote I live by is “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”. Never stop working.
Big thanks to Nick Travieso for taking the time to answer my questions.
You can follow him on Twitter: @NTravieso21
With the 2013 Hall of Fame class set to be announced tomorrow at Noon, on MLB Network, I thought it would be fun to post a blog entry on all of the Hall of Fame players I’ve ever seen in person. If my memory serves me correctly, I’ve only encountered a total of nine members of the baseball Hall of Fame. Furthermore–an interesting point to make–every HOF encounter I can recall ever having has taken place within the past seven months.
I might be forgetting a player I saw in one of the earlier years of my life, but I’m fairly sure that the following are the only HOF players I’ve been lucky enough to see in person:
JOHNNY BENCH-JOE MORGAN
Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan were the first two members of the Hall of Fame that I can recall seeing. Admittedly, I was around 100 feet away from them, but it still counts, as we were all in the same live scenario at the same time. This particular interaction came on June 23, 2012, in Cincinnati, Ohio. (If you’d like to read all about the entire day–where I actually got to shake hands, and take pictures, with several Reds’ HOF’ers–feel free to check it out HERE.)
Basically, as far as Bench’s and Morgan’s purpose goes for being in ‘Cincy’, Sean Casey and Dan Driessen were at Great American Ballpark with the sole purpose being that they were getting officially inducted into the Cincinnati Reds’ Hall of Fame. The Reds decided to bring back a couple dozen members of their HOF, and Morgan and Bench happened to be two of the players they brought out to the ballpark:
I realize it’s not the most flattering picture, but it’s the only one I took of the two of them together. In case you can’t tell, Johnny Bench is the one in the white shirt, putting on his jacket, and Joe Morgan is the one just to the left of him; also putting on his jacket.
The next six Hall of Fame encounters I’ve had came while on a trip out to Kansas City, Missouri, to the 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby:
CAL RIPKEN JR.-TONY GWYNN
I ran into Cal Ripken Jr. at around 6:30 in the morning, on July 9, 2012, shortly after chatting with Ryan Howard. Ripken was surrounded by several media members at the time and was having a conversation with Manny Machado:
I could’ve (and should’ve) waited until Ripken was finished doing was he was doing and approached him to ask for an autograph, but, in addition to it being early in the morning–with me still being half asleep–I regretfully neglected to take a ball card of Ripken out to Kansas City. I still kick myself about it, but you can’t go back in time. Perhaps I’ll run into Ripken again sometime down the road, but if not, at least I’ll always have the memory of our encounter.
My Tony Gwynn sighting came just a few hours later, only a couple hundred feet away from where my Cal Ripken Jr. encounter had occurred. Gwynn was set to sign autographs for an endless line of fans–many of which had been in line for a couple of hours–and I, in anticipation of his arrival, positioned myself off to the side of the crowd, as I waited for Gwynn. I ended up standing there for what seemed like forever, as Gwynn didn’t show up until 45 minutes after his scheduled appearance time. I was tempted to leave about 30 minutes into the wait, but I’m glad I didn’t. The extra 15 minutes of patience allowed me to be able to add another HOF’er to the list, as well as get a picture:
BARRY LARKIN-REGGIE JACKSON-HANK AARON-GEORGE BRETT
Barry Larkin would be the next Hall of Famer I would come across while out in Kansas City. Just to the right of where I took in most of the All-Star workout day’s batting practice, Larkin was hard at work, as an episode of ‘Baseball Tonight’ was being filmed. There’s not much more I can say about my Larkin sighting, so I’ll go ahead and leave you with a photo:
Reggie Jackson has the most interesting story (in my mind) of any other HOF player I’ve ever seen in person. My first (notice I said *first*) sighting of Jackson came shortly before the start of the home run derby, when he made his way out onto the field to throw out the first pitch:
It was great to see such a great player–one of only four to ever hit three home runs in a World Series game–in person, but little did I know, at the time, that this story would only get better from there. The next morning, I was sitting in the Kansas City airport terminal, when who walks by? Reggie Jackson. That’s right, Mr. October himself just so happened to be on the same flight (he was in first class) as I was. How cool is that?! It’ll be hard to ever top the encounter I had with Jackson out in KC, but you never know….
Jumping back to the day before I saw Jackson in the airport terminal–with it still being July 9th–the next Hall of Famer I spotted was Hank Aaron. It wasn’t the best sighting ever, as it took me at least 30 seconds to locate him, after he was shown on the center field jumbotron, and I ended up with only a 5 second, or so, sighting; leading to a blurry photo:
Aaron is arguably the best player I saw out in Kansas City; perhaps the best of all the HOF’ers I’ve ever seen in person.
The last HOF encounter I had, on my trip to Kansas City, was George Brett. I first spotted Brett down by the field when he made his was to the broadcasting table to do an interview/play-by-play type thing, during a portion of the derby. Brett wasn’t out for long, thus I don’t have anything all that interesting to talk about, but he was, however, out in the open long enough for me to take a photo:
The most recent story I have of a face-to-face encounter with me and a Hall of Fame member occurred on July 18, 2012, in Durham, North Carolina. The Lehigh Valley Ironpigs were in town taking on the Durham Bulls and Sandberg just so happened to be managing the visiting Ironpigs. Unlike the eight HOF’ers I had seen before, I was actually successful in getting an autograph from Sandberg–two if you want to be technical:
The autographs I was able to get from Ryne Sandberg. (The Sharpie was running out.)
It was easier than I thought it would be, as I found it unusually simple to work my way down by the dugout, and to my surprise, Sandberg signed for nearly ten minutes; so that certainly helped out as well. I forgot to bring along my camera to this particular game, so you’ll have to take my word for it that I met Sandberg. (I suppose the above autographs are proof enough.)
So there you have it. Those are the nine Hall of Famers that I can remember seeing in person. If Mark McGwire, Bernie Williams and/or Sandy Alomar end up having their names called tomorrow, when the 2013 Hall of Fame voting results are announced, I can add anywhere from one to three more names to the list, as I’ve seen all three players before.
I have a feeling, however, that I’ll be stuck at nine players until at least the 2014 vote.
How many MLB Hall of Famers have you seen in person? I’d love to hear your answer, with the story behind it (if there is one), in the comments section below.
My day started out in downtown Cincinnati, at the Red’s Hall Of Fame museum:
The doors opened up at 8:00 am, but I arrived at around 10:30. The reason I was going to the museum in the first place was the meet and greet that was going to run from 11:00-1:00, and it seemed unecessary to show up any earlier.
The first thing I saw after getting my ticket scanned and rounding the corner was a wall of game used jerseys, bats, etc., of former Reds’ greats:
In addition to the Reds’ memorabilia, there was a lot of non-Reds’ items as well, including a game-used Roberto Clemente cap:
After making my way through the first floor of the museum it was on to the third floor, where the meet and greet was being held. There was already a fairly large line, so I went ahead and jumped in it. After around 45 minutes of waiting, the line began moving, and the meet and greet got underway.
The players weren’t permitted to sign autographs, but you could go through the line and get your picture taken with them, which is exactly what I did:
1. Mario Soto
2. Lee May
3. Gary Nolan
4. Jack Billingham
2. David Concepcion
3. Eric Davis
4. A random picture of a group of statues. (Put in to make everything uniform.)
Everyone I’m pictured with above was part of the first half of the meet and greet. The second half featured both Dan Driessen and Sean Casey, who were going to be officially inducted into the Red’s Hall of Fame later in the day:
(Yes, I realize the picture is a bit blurry.)
After the meet and greet was over, I picked up bobblehead number one of the day:
After I was done at the museum, I made a brief visit to the gift shop (home of the 40 dollar t-shirt) before finally heading over to the main entrance of Great American Ballpark:
While all of this was happening, there was also a block party taking place in the street. It began at around 11:00, but by the time Casey made his way to the stage that was set up for the band that had been playing all morning, it was around 1:15.
Casey didn’t talk long, but it was cool to see the fans react to him the way they did. There were at least a couple thousand people packed into the street, and they were all big fans of the Cincinnati Red’s and Sean Casey:
After Casey finished talking, I made walked back over to the gates behind home plate. The promotion for the game was that the first 25,000 fans would recieve a Sean Casey bobblehead, and I wanted to make sure I was one of them.
To my surprise the lines were already fairly long by the time I got back:
Due to the large crowds the gates opened up 45 minutes before they normally would have, and I was thrilled. It was pretty hot outside, and standing in the direct sun was almost unbearable.
As I stated earlier it was Sean Casey bobblehead day, and they certainly had a lot of them:
As you can tell, batting practice was in full swing (no pun intended), and it stayed that way for another hour or so. BP ended at around 3:00, and with the Hall of Fame ceremony set to start at 3:30 I decided to take a break from the heat and walk around the shaded concourse.
A few minutes into my walk I noticed a crowd beginning to form:
Jim Day (on the left) and….well, I’m not sure who that is on the right (help?) were broadcasting the Red’s pregame show live on Fox Sports Ohio. I’m 99% sure I was on TV, but since I didn’t record the broadcast, or know of anyone who did, or even watched, I can’t say for sure.
I stood and watched for around 5 minutes before heading back to my seat. By the time I got back the groundscrew were hard at work getting everything set up for the Hall of Fame induction ceremony:
It wasn’t long before the seats were filled with 20 or so Red’s Hall of Famers (2 of which are in the National Baseball Hall of Fame):
After each player’s name had been called the induction speeches began. Driessen and Casey gave their own but the great great great great nephew of the late John Reilly, Kirtley Kinman, gave the speech for him:
Casey and Driessen threw out the first pitches of the game:
The game itself wasn’t anything spectacular, with the Reds winning 6-0. The most interesting part of the game occured in the 4th inning when Scott Rolen hit his 507th career double to move past Babe Ruth on the all-time list:
This year’s game went much better than last year’s, when I didn’t even make it through the gates due to a rain out. Now that I’ve been inside I can say that Great American Ballpark is an extremely nice park, that I hope to visit again sometime in the future.
The next MLB ballpark I’ll be visiting is Kauffman Stadium for the 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby on July 9th. More on that a little later in the week…..
It’s been awhile since my last blog entry, and it’ll be awhile before my next one. I’m very busy at the moment, and will be out of town for the next few weeks–with the exception of the first week in July.
I’m leaving for Cincinnati, Ohio, on Friday, and won’t really have the time to blog about the Reds-Twins game that I’ll be attending, until a few days after my return on June 30th. The plan right now is to post an entry detailing my trip to Cincy, on July 2nd, but that date is subject to change.
I was planning on blogging about last years Reds-Yankees game that I attended but it was rained out, and thus I decided not to. As of this moment, the weather forecast is 86 degrees and partly-cloudy for Saturday; so fingers crossed the forecast holds out.
Game time is set for 4:10, but I’m planning on arriving to the ballpark by 10:30 am. While it might seem extremely crazy (even for me) to arrive 5 1/2 hours before a pitch is even thrown, there’s method to my madness. The Red’s Hall of Fame museum is hosting a meet and greet from 11:00-1:00, and there are some very decent names that are due to be there–Jack Billingham, David Concepcion and Eric Davis to name a few. Soon to be inducted Sean Casey and Dan Driessen are set to be there as well, so this is a really neat event to be attending. (For the full list of players who are set to be there, CLICK HERE.)
None of the former Reds’ players are going to be signing autographs, but the chance to meet former stars face-to-face, and get a quick picture, is good enough for me.
I almost forgot to mention that Saturday is also Sean Casey bobble head night for the first 25,000 fans. Also, shortly before game time, there is going to be an on field ceremony honoring the 2012 Reds’ Hall of Fame inductees, in which Sean Casey and Dan Driessen are due to address the crowd. It should be interesting to hear their induction speeches.
I’m planning on taking tons of pictures, and will do my best to chronicle the events that take place at Great American Ballpark on June 23rd, at a later point in time. So be sure to check back sometime during the first few days of July for that.