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HAPPY “REAL” OPENING DAY!

Votto

I don’t care what happened yesterday in Tampa or ‘Zona or St. Louis…today is Opening Day. And despite the five games scheduled before 4:10 and three games scheduled to start at the same time as the Reds-Phillies showdown at 4:10, baseball does not truly start until (…what’s-his-name…hang on, let me look it up…) Scott Feldman (…that’s it…) throws the first pitch in Cincinnati. That’s the way it used to be, at least.

For years, the first pitch of the regular season was always thrown by a Cincinnati pitcher in Cincinnati. Because Cincinnati was the home of the first all-openly-professional baseball club, the Queen City was given the honor of officially starting the baseball season. That changed sometime in the 1980s I think, and I blame Bud Selig 1000000% for the change. Look at all the other traditions he messed up while he was in baseball. The All-Star Game determining home field advantage for the World Series, instant replay, time clocks, turning a blind eye to Jose Canseco‘s exploits, expansion, more expansion, moving Milwaukee to the National League, moving Houston to the American League, collusion, designated hitters, outlawing the spitball…you name it, Bud Selig had his dirty hands all over it. There is no doubt in my mind that he was instrumental in destroying the tradition of starting the season in Cincinnati.

I won’t be attending the game today (not sure when my first trip to the park will be), but if it’s not raining I plan to listen to it on the radio (and long for the days of Marty and Joe Nuxhall telling me all the action on the field). I love Opening Day because I love baseball, despite Bud Selig’s efforts to change my mind. Opening Day puts everyone on equal footing. The World Championship of 2016 means nothing today. Today is all about striving toward the Series in 2017.

That said, I do not expect the Reds to do well this season. Their pitching is an absolute mess. But the offense, if it can stay healthy, promises to bring excitement to Great American Ballpark. Joey Votto looks to continue his second-half performance from last year when he was unstoppable. Jose Peraza will get a chance to shine every day at second base. Zack Cozart is back, and hopefully he will be able to pick up where he left off in 2015 when he was playing like an All-Star before his injury. Eugenio Suarez was a pleasant surprise last year, as was All-Star Adam Duvall. Scott Schebler is a question mark, as is Billy Hamilton‘s on-base percentage. Hamilton is amazing to watch once he gets to first base, but that first 90 feet is such a struggle for him. Devin Mesoraco will take up his position behind home plate in a couple of weeks, but Tucker Barnhart is a serviceable part-time fill-in.

If these guys can score 15-20 runs per game, the team has a shot.

If not, at least we still have more mascots than almost everyone else in the big leagues.

MrRed

2016 Reds, 1983 Style: Joey Votto

1983 Topps Votto

This has been an excruciating season for Reds fans so far. The bullpen is horrendous. Young starters are pitching well, but not long enough, and the ball is being handed over to guys that can’t keep the opponents from scoring. It’s a wonder they can even dress themselves.

The offense was supposed to be the bright spot this season, anchored by veteran Joey Votto at first base. But Votto has had a slow start, batting only .234 in the first 34 games with five longballs and 20 ribbies. For the sabergeeks, Joey’s WAR is an atrocious -0.1. Yes, negative 0.1. Hopefully he can turn things around soon and start hitting like he did during the second half last year. If the bullpen has a ten-run lead, surely they won’t blow it, right?

I’ve gotten a very late start to the Reds “fun cards” this year. I debated long and hard on the design to use, finally settling on the 1983 Topps style. This is a classic look, an update of sorts of the 1963 design, and just an overall good look. I hope you enjoy the cards, even if you have trouble enjoying the games this season.

Cards from a Royals fan in Nebraska

Klinker

On more than one occasion, I wondered why Mike was a Royals fan. He lives in Nebraska. There is no connection whatsoever between Nebraska and the Royals, is there? Then it dawned on me…OMAHA! The city has hosted the Royals AAA affiliate since 1969, so it makes sense for Mike to be a Royals fan. (To be fair to Mike, he has probably told me this and I just forgot. My memory seems to be slipping more and more with each passing day.) The Royals actually have an A-ball team about an hour from me; maybe I’ll try to get down there and catch a game sometime this summer with the boys.

I started this post off with a 2011 Bowman card of Matt Klinker (parallel! green border! numbered to 450!) because Klinker was a career minor leaguer, and 2011 was his last season, split between the Carolina Mudcats and Louisville Bats. He also spent some time in the Venezuelan League in 2011, but has not pitched professionally since according to his B-R page. It would have been nice to have seen Klinker on the big league stage with the Reds; the back of his card says he grew up as a Reds fan in Kentucky. His B-R page shows that he graduated from Lakota West High School in West Chester, OH, a suburb of Cincy. I love the local-kid-makes-good story, but it wasn’t meant to be in this case.

Mike sent over several other awesome cards. Let’s travel back to 1972 with George Foster

Foster

…then to 1984 with an autographed Dann Bilardello

Bilardello

…then to 1989 with an autographed Van Snider

Snider

…before returning to the present time with some 2016 Donruss cards, including speedster Billy Hamilton

Hamilton

…and the best first baseman in the majors, Joey Votto

Vottomatic

I know Donruss gets a lot of grief from collectors because of the lack of logos, but I like the cards and am so happy to see an alternative to Topps this and Topps that and Topps then and Topps now. The 1982 throwbacks are especially nice, though the logo and year seem a bit big and bulky. Other than that, I think Donruss is doing a pretty fantastic job.

Thanks for the cards, Mike, and be watching for an envelope full of Royals coming your way!

All smiles on Opening Day

Smiles

A stack of random Reds arrived in my mailbox today from the Night Owl…a perfect way to start the season. Well, a win plus baseball cards would be the perfect way. Night Owl and the Reds just worked together and made my day today.

Opening Day is a holiday in Cincinnati. I didn’t have to work today, but didn’t feel like going down to the park for the game. I’ve been watching a few innings here and there of some out-of-market games, and have listened to some of the Reds-Phillies broadcast, and I’m enjoying it all in my comfortable recliner.

I also enjoyed going through some of the cards that Greg sent. In addition to the Brandon Phillips, Mariano Duncan, Ted Power, and Chris Sabo cards above, Greg delivered Joey Votto, Zack Cozart, Jay Bruce, Rob Dibble, and more.

Votto

Cozart

Cozart

Bruce

Dibble

Reds

Thank you for the cards Greg! And now, if I could just find some time to update my wantlists

The Card Chop Swap

I recently sent some Dale Murphy and Atlanta Braves cards to Steve of The Card Chop, and he responded with a package of Reds cards. Always happy to receive an envelope full of Reds, especially when I need every single one…

VottoPhilllips

Let’s start with this Joey Votto/Brandon Phillips “Back to Back” card from the new 2016 Topps flagship. I like this card. A lot of people are hating on this particular insert set, and while it’s not the most fantastic card ever, I still like it. Plus, Topps was smart by using two players that were pretty much guaranteed to still be on the Reds roster when the season opens. As opposed to this guy…

Chapman

…who will be sitting out the first thirty games serving a domestic violence suspension. I’m not sure how much the Reds will actually miss Aroldis Chapman this year, since he is a closer and expected to save games. The Reds probably won’t have very many games to save.

Bruce

And then there is this guy, who was almost a Blue Jay last week. Jay Bruce has been the subject of trade rumors since the All-Star break last year, and I still would not be surprised to see him in another city for opening day. He has a big contract that Cincinnati would love to get rid of, despite being one of the league leaders in homers and RBI just a few years ago…

Bruce

Bruce

Speaking of league leaders…

Hamilton

…when is Billy Hamilton going to get on base enough to lead the league in stolen bases?

Keeping with the league leaders theme…

Harang

Aaron Harang had the most strikeouts in 2006. That kinda blows my mind. He’s still looking for a job this spring, after finishing the 2015 season in Philadelphia. Another former Reds pitcher…

Arroyo

…is trying to rejoin his former skipper Dusty Baker in Washington. Bronson Arroyo considered returning to the Reds, but settled for a minor-league deal with DC.

Steve sent over a slew of 2006 Topps Reds that I didn’t have yet.

Reds

Ross

David Ross announced that 2016 would be his last season in the bigs, and Jason Heyward gave him a pretty “suite” retirement gift.

Phillips

Brandon Phillips is the only player from the 2006 Reds team that is still in Cincinnati in 2016. 2006 was before Votto and before Bruce. One of the players on that roster is now deceased. It seems like an eternity ago, when Ken Griffey and Adam Dunn still roamed the outfield at Great American Ballpark.

Steve sent several other 2006 Topps Reds, but I don’t remember half of them. I did want to show one other card in the package, going way back to 1995…

Larkin

Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, punched out of a Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine. I loved the 90s.

Cards piling up…

You know how you get new cards, and you put them in a stack to sort later? And occasionally you get some cards in the mail from fellow bloggers, and they go in stacks too? But then you forget who sent what…and you feel guilty for letting those cards sit in stacks for weeks without scanning and posting…and then finally you start scanning but you don’t even know what some of the cards are…

Browning

This Tom Browning stamp was not on my wantlist. I was somewhat aware of the existence of these St. Vincent stamps thanks to the Tim Wallach blogger, but I’ve never attempted to make any kind of list of which Reds were included in the set. I believe this item came from 2×3 Heroes.

Votto

Another package included this Joey Votto Bowman Chrome (does anyone else call it “Chroman” in your head? No? Just me?). If I’m not mistaken, this came from Jim of the late, great GCRL blog.

I love getting cards in the mail. I also love getting cards in person. A young friend at church who knows I collect cards recently gave me a shoebox full of “junk wax” that was made loooooong before he was born. But there were also some things made after he was born…

Alomar

…like this gold Sandy Alomar Jr. card from 2007 that I had never seen before. There are apparently different versions and different years of this Danbury mint issue, including one showing Alomar as a member of the Colorado Rockies. I had no idea Alomar ever played for the Rockies until writing this post.

Thank you Jeff, Jim, and David for the cards!

Fun Cards Submission: 1959 Topps “Baseball Shrills” Joey Votto

Votto birthday

Following a kerfuffle at home plate Wednesday night, Joey Votto was handed a two-day suspension. He is appealing the suspension on the belief that he should not have even been ejected from the game, let alone suspended. Home plate umpire Bill Welke refused to grant Votto a timeout, which led to a heated exchange between the two. Votto was subsequently ejected along with manager Bryan Price. It was the third time this season Votto has been ejected from a game.

TWJ contributor Patrick sent this “fun card” over Thursday night, and I had intended to post it Friday morning. I have no excuse for failing to do so other than forgetfulness. It’s a great card which shows humor in light of the situation.

Happy belated birthday to the 2010 NL MVP, and thank you again for a great “fun card” Patrick!

2015 Reds, 1990 Score style: Joey Votto (Superstar)

Vottomatic

How awesome is Joey Votto? Not as awesome as he was in 2010, but he can still rake when he’s in a groove. Sixteen longballs, 43 ribbies, and a .277 average ain’t too sloppy. He wasn’t an All-Star this year, but I have to believe he was on the cusp if there had been room for an extra first baseman.

Fun Cards: 1938 Goudey “Heads Up” Joey Votto sketch

Joey Votto Heads Up

All-Star voting has begun, and Joey Votto is so far having a season worthy of midsummer glory. So is Adrian Gonzalez, but Joey has the edge in my mind since he plays for Cincinnati. Seven home runs, 16 RBI, .312 batting average…it’s almost like it’s 2010 all over again. Who are you voting for?

2015 Reds, 1990 Score style: Joey Votto

Joey Votto

Last year was rough for Joey Votto and his fans. Really rough. Limited to only 62 games, the injured former MVP hit an anemic .255. The Reds (and Reds fans) hope he can regain at least his All-Star form, if not the MVP-type numbers of 2010. It sure would be nice to see him starting at first base on July 14 at Great American Ballpark.

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