Reds Opening Day 2013 Recap

Cincinnati Reds Opening Day 2013 Recap
After one game on the books, the 2013 Cincinnati Reds felt very similar to the 2012 Reds. I’m not the only person to think this, either. In his post-Opening Day blog titled New Season, Same Feeling, ESPN 1530’s Mo Egger writes, “…you know how you felt during those last three games of the NLDS last October? That feeling of just waiting, dying, for something to happen offensively, and consistently being let down? I felt that yesterday.” He went on to point out that the Reds were 0-10 with runners in scoring position. It is tough to win when you have no offense.

However, my take on what feels the same about the 2013 and 2012 Reds is a little different than Egger’s. I’m getting sick and tired of watching Reds pitching give up meaningful and/or difference-making homeruns to weak hitters. It’s one thing to get beat by another team’s stud, but to lose games because you give up three-run bombs to Jaime Garcia (he’s a friggin’ pitcher, btw)…it’s devastating.

Opening Day 2013: Angels over Reds 3 – 1

How did the Angels get three runs? A solo homer by catcher Chris Iannetta and a two-run (game-winning) single by…Iannetta. Batting from the eighth spot, Iannetta managed to basically beat the Reds by himself. In a lineup with Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Mark Trumbo and, oh yeah, Josh Hamilton, the Reds got beat by a guy who batted .240 with nine jacks last year. Truly an 8-hole hitter.

So why does that remind me of last year? In 65 losses, Reds pitching surrendered game-tying or go-ahead homeruns to seventh, eighth and ninth place hitters 11 times last year. Only 2 of the 10 hitters even had double digit HRs (there are only 10 because one guy got ‘em twice). That means in about 20% of the Reds losses last year they got beat by a scrub.

Just for fun, I compiled a list of these Reds-beaters.

Player Order Team Avg./HRs
Omar Infante 7 Marlins .257/4
Xavier Nady 9 (ph) Nationals .184/4
Tyler Greene 8 Cardinals .230/11
Ian Stewart 7 Cubs .201/5
Wilson Ramos 8 Nationals .265/3
Ronny Cedeno 8 Mets .259/4
Cody Ransom 7 Brewers .210/17
Martin Maldonado 7 Brewers .266/8
Erik Kratz 8 Phillies .248/9
Erik Kratz 7 Phillies .248/9
Jaime Garcia 9 Cardinals .250/1

Mental Toughness

This is strictly opinion, but getting beat by bums is a by-product of a mental let-up. Generally speaking, Reds pitchers were able to get 3-4-5-6 hitters out in these 11 losses. But I think the mental effort required to retire the ‘dangerous’ part of the lineup caused Reds pitchers to ease up mentally on the 7-8-9 hitters. Miss a spot here, hang a curve there, and BAM, even Mario Mendoza could go yard.

The Reds pitching staff is relatively young (minus Arroyo), so here’s hoping last year’s foibles built some mental toughness for 2013. After one game, though, I’m not so sure.

—Ryan Varney


2013 NCAA Final Four Predictions

2013 NCAA Final Four PredictionsThe 2013 NCAA Men’s Final Four matchups are now set, so I decided to take a peek at how my brackets were shaping up. This year I entered two brackets in two separate pools. Total cost: $10. Potential winnings: $750. One pool could net me $600, while the other only $150. Clearly, I’m hoping to dominate the $600 pool.

With bated breath, I logged in to check my brackets. My heart rate accelerated when I saw that I was at the top of BOTH pools.

March Madness Pool #1

Ryan's $600 NCAA March Madness pool brackets
At the top of my $600 March Madness Pool

March Madness Pool #2

Ryan's $600 NCAA March Madness pool brackets
At the top of my $150 March Madness Pool

This has never happened to me – I’m usually out by the Sweet Sixteen. Could I actually make some money?! Ultimately, to win the $600 pool I need Syracuse to win the whole thing. If Louisville wins, I should at least get 2nd. However, any further advancement by Michigan, and my brackets are busted like Kevin Ware’s leg.

Go ‘Cuse!

Reflections on the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight Games

Another year leaves me wondering why I keep thinking Ohio State can play basketball. Thad Matta’s gotta go. Allowing your team to rely on poor perimeter shots instead of getting them to drive to the basket cost your Bucks the game, Mr. Matta. As early as late in the first half, it was clear that when the Buckeyes drove to the hoop, the Shockers couldn’t keep from fouling them. Ohio State finally adopted this approach late in the second half, but by then it was way too late.

Bill Self

Billy Donovan

On the flip side, Michigan was awesome. As a Buckeye fan, this should make me want to puke (which, after checking my brackets, it does indeed), but man oh man was it great to see them wipe the smirk off the face of Bill Self coming back on Kansas in OT. That game was absolutely riveting. Coach Self still can’t bear to look (top left).

And what can you say about the Florida game? I believe Billy Donovan’s expression says it all (bottom left). I was pulling for the Wolverines (calm down fellow Buckeyes) as they are all that remain of our lauded Big Ten. Of course, that was before I realized how detrimental Michigan winning could be to my winnings. Sorry Team Go Blue, I’m back to hating you now.

Syracuse didn’t look very crisp against Marquette, but the defense was staunch. They’re going to need a replication of that defensive performance against Michigan – though Nik Stauskas can’t possibly stay that hot from downtown, can he?

And Louisville? My heart goes out to Kevin Ware (and, yeah, I apologize for the tasteless joke earlier). What an unbelievably freak occurrence. I’m with his teammates in wishing him the speediest of recoveries. Despite the loss, Louisville stayed mentally tough and made the phrase “Duke sucks” seem quite legitimate. I don’t care how charming our Cinderella Shockers are, Louisville won’t have any sympathy. I see Wichita State getting pressed into ground wheat.

What’s Next (Here Comes the Pessimism)

I’ll take Louisville over Wichita St. by eight. Michigan will beat Syracuse by one on a last-second, boneheaded turnover (because the college hoops gods hate me). Louisville wins the whole she-bang 78 – 70. I win about $200. Just about enough to cover the bottle of Dom Perignon I bought to celebrate finally winning a March Madness pool.

—Ryan Varney