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Cardinals and Reds Fight, Clear Benches

Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips said on Monday that he hated the Cardinals and called them bitches. Word must not have gotten to the Cards until Tuesday because when Phillips came up to bat in the bottom of the first, catcher Yadier Molina had some words. The two started to exchange words and benches rapidly cleared.

Managers Tony La Russa and Dusty Baker seemed to have words for each other and both wound up ejected. Chris Carpenter, who verbally fought with teammate Brendan Ryan on Monday, was in the middle of the fight between the squads. Reds third baseman Scott Rolen, who played for the Cardinals from 2002-2007, was the peacemaker, calming Carpenter and Molina at times.

There’s no way anyone can be surprised that the teams threw down. How could the Cardinals not respond after being called bitches by Phillips? Of course they had to, and obviously each manager defended his team. Here is the Cardinals and Reds fight video and here are some pictures:

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How Long Before Dusty Baker Ruins Johnny Cueto?

In case you missed it Thursday, Reds rookie Johnny Cueto was rather impressive making his major league debut. The 22-year-old was perfect through his first five innings before giving up a solo HR to Justin Upton in the 6th, the only base-runner he allowed all game. Cueto went seven innings of one-run, one-hit ball, striking out 10 for the win. Needless to say, Johnny Cueto was nothing short of dominant. One problem, however. Given the fact that Cincinnati now has a new manager with a track record of abusing young arms, it didn’t take long for my man Pat Lackey to develop Cueto’s timeline to Tommy John. Check it out:

April 3rd- Dominant debut
May 27th- 14 strikeouts against the Pirates, Dusty ramps his pitch count to 125 to close out the 2-hitter. Some fans grumble, but are quickly given the evil eye.
June 15th- His first 130 pitch outing against the Red Sox
June 20th- His second 130 pitch outing against the Blue Jays
July 27th- “twinge” in his elbow
August 17th- Tommy John surgery
August 18th- FireDustyBaker.com gets one million hits

I’m not sure what was more impressive: Cueto’s debut, or Lackey’s timeline. Sad thing is, I think we’re looking at a realistic situation. These days it’s a surprise if a pitcher makes it through the first three-four years of his career without needing TJ surgery. What happened to the old days when they used to let pitcher’s throw with arms swollen like basketballs? Guess Dusty longs for those days.

Adam Dunn Pranks Rookie Jay Bruce

Now don’t get the wrong idea here and think for a second that I’m about to buy into the hype and start posting wonderful tales about Reds prospect Jay Bruce, who can supposedly hit home runs one-handed, and throw balls so hard the whizz makes girls skirts go up. No, I’m just a fan of baseball pranks, and this certainly was a good one. The Enquirer has the details:

Dunn’s most elaborate prank happened Monday. Copies of the “Reds Report,” with Bruce on the cover, arrived in the clubhouse.

The headline next to Bruce’s photo was “The Next Big Thing.”

Dunn had Bruce sign copies for a number of people, including manager Dusty Baker.

Dunn then made Bruce deliver the copy to Baker and ask him if he knew Bruce was the next big thing.

“He came in here all shy,” Baker said. “ ‘It wasn’t my idea. It really wasn’t, Mr. Baker.’ I said, ‘Who’s idea was it?’

“ ‘Adam Dunn.’ ”

“Dunn came by later. I asked him whose idea it was.

“Jay’s all the way.’”

That’s a solid prank right there. Most players are uneasy seeing publications with their names and mugs on the cover. So to personalize one for your manager? That really has to stink. I feel bad for the kid. Thought not as bad as I felt for Kyle Kendrick. That could go down as possibly the greatest prank ever, probably because it was documented on video. If you still haven’t seen it, you must, just keep reading.

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Dusty Baker’s Hiring a Race Issue for Reds Fans?

Word came out over the weekend that the Reds had hired Dusty Baker as their new manager. Apparently the news was not well-received by fans in Cincinnati. Tom Fornelli over at MLB FanHouse quotes someone from the Dayton Daily News who’s suggesting the negative fan reaction is the result of Baker’s race.

Well, Cincinnati Reds fans wanted a big-name manager and now they have one.

Turns out, plenty of them seem to have wanted a big-name WHITE manager.

Saturday night the Reds signed Dusty Baker to a three-year deal – making him the first black manager in the history of baseball’s oldest franchise – and by Sunday morning the move was being met with some very nasty venom on internet web sites and call-ins to talk radio shows.

I’m guessing there are some fans out there who might be opposed to having a black manager (in addition to having a black head coach in Marvin Lewis), but I’m really thinking that most people are upset because they know Dusty Baker is a poor manager. Really, to know all you need to about Dusty, just look at the biggest game he ever managed — Game 7 of the 2002 World Series. Facing a predominantly left-handed hitting Angels lineup, Baker elected to start Livan Hernandez over southpaw Kirk Rueter, who threw six innings in a Game 4 win, and shut the Angels down coming out of the pen in Game 7 (after the damage had already been done). Oh yeah, let’s not forget that Baker elected to pinch hit Japanese slugger Shinjo over Dunston when the Giants were threatening with two men on in the 9th. Shinjo did what he does best — struck out to put the Angels one out away from the World Series win.

Baker is just a bad decision maker, and that’s why I’d be upset if he were hired to manage my team, and that’s why I’m guessing Reds fans are upset. That, and they were probably hoping for Tony LaRussa. But sure, blame it on race, that’s always good as an attention-grabber.

Nick Lachey Almost Bought the Reds?

About a year ago, man-bander Nick Lachey became an owner of a minor league baseball team called the Tacoma Rainiers. That’s cool to me, because the dude can probably pour a little bit of cash into the organization should the need arise. What I didn’t know however, was that Lachey almost joined the elite company of Marge Schott. In an interview with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, he says he almost bought the Cincinnati Reds.

How did you get involved with the Tacoma Rainiers?

About two or three years ago, I was involved with a group that was trying to buy the Cincinnati Reds, which is my hometown. And we didn’t get the team, but obviously it kind of sparked that interest in me. The Rainiers were up for sale and… it was a good opportunity.

Hot damn, I’m just glad we didn’t have to find out what the 7th inning stretches would have been like at that ballpark. Who would’ve thrown out the first pitch on Opening Day? Backstreet Boys? O-Town? Good thing we didn’t have to live through that chapter of life. Could you just see Lachey chewing out Edwin Encarnacion after a game? ROTFLMAO!

No Excuse for Edwin Encarnacion Not Hustling

What I read in the post-game recap of the Cincinnati Reds 3-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night disturbed me to no end.

Narron said he removed 3B Edwin Encarnacion from the lineup after one inning because Encarnacion did not run out a pop fly.

I finally saw the video of it on Thursday and have to agree with and praise manager Jerry Narron. Narron yanked Encarnacion from the lineup and replaced him with Juan Castro without hesitation.

“Eddie told me he did not see the ball,” Narron said. “You’ve still got to run. I don’t care if we lose every game. We’re not going to play guys who don’t hustle. Simple as that. I told them from Day 1. We’ll pinch-hit pitchers. We’ll play pitchers. If you cannot hustle, you cannot play. Simple as that.”

I don’t care if we lose every game we’re going to hustle while we’re doing it.

Now that’s the type of statement I truly appreciate. If you’re Encarnacion, rather, if you’re any player, there are only so many factors in the game you can control. You cannot control calls by an umpire, interference by fans, nor fantastic plays by the defense. But one thing you can always control is how hard you play. That’s what truly disappoints me about Encarnacion, and any player who doesn’t hustle for that matter.

I don’t care what kind of talent you have. I don’t care how much money you’re making. If you don’t run out pop flys, then you don’t make it on my team. Nor do you make it on Narron’s. I have a newfound respect for Jerry Narron and congratulate him for setting standards for hustling in the Major Leagues. Try this contradiction on for size — what would former Reds 3rd baseman, Charlie Hustle have to say about Encarnacion?

Baseball Preview: Cincinnati Reds

Last year’s record and finish are in parenthesis with projected improvement/decline indicated by plus or minus.

Cincinnati Reds (80-82, 3rd in NL Central) -10 games

Get Crunked: Adam Dunn is one of the premier sluggers in the league, and he also walks a ton, making for a good overall combination. Despite injuries last year, Edwin Encarnacion is an emerging player at 3B, and Brandon Phillips came on strong at 2B last year. Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang provide a good 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation.

Party Foul: Ken Griffey Jr. is already hurt, Ryan Freel will get hurt, and Edwin Encarnacion needs to keep from getting hurt. The middle of the lineup isn’t as stacked as it used to be, and the pitching isn’t good enough to offset the loss in offense. Oh yeah, and there’s still no closer. Big problem.

Adam Dunn is one of the best sluggers in the game

What’d my GM do: He locked up Aaron Harang for four years at $36.5 mil, not a bad price tag compared to what some of the other pitchers are getting. Former #1 overall pick Josh Hamilton was acquired in a low risk/high reward proposition. Alex Gonzalez was signed for 3 years to play some good defense and fill the Felipe Lopez hole at shortstop. Mike Stanton was signed for two years, and he’s still an effective lefty out of the pen.

Lay it on me Straight: This team got lucky last year. The fact that they were in the playoff hunt was due to two factors, their luck, and the lack of good teams in the division. This year Reds fans will see their team regress to where they should’ve been last year. Oh yeah, the bullpen still blows after getting ripped off in the Austin Kearns trade.

So where my boys gonna finish right now: Much farther below .500 than last year, nowhere near the playoff race. Where they finish within the division depends on how Milwaukee, Houston, and Pittsburgh do, but I’m thinking 4th or 5th is a safe spot.

Can we be better than that: The luck ran out last year, so no, expect a lot worse.