Third Rule is Don’t Talk to Commies Game Thread, May 7

During the Communist scare, the Cincinnati ballclub was called the “Redlegs,” because the “Reds” was a politically questionable nickname.

For most of the history of American professional baseball, Cincinnati had the tradition of opening the season at home. A year ago, I wrote why that is:

Since the founding of the first modern major league, the National League, in 1876, the Cincinnati ball club has been granted the right to open its season at home nearly every year. This was even true during an eight-year period in the wilderness of the American Association from 1882-1889; the Reds were booted from the NL in 1880, but still managed to retain their Opening Day privileges in their new league, and kept them once more when they came back to the NL in 1890. The Society for Cincinnati Sports Research explains the circumstances of the ban:

“At a special league meeting in October of 1880, the other seven clubs passed a rule prohibiting the sale of alcohol at league parks, even at non-league games, and use of the park on Sundays. Failure to comply would mean termination of the franchise. These new rules were directed squarely toward Cincinnati. Unlike the other league cities whose population was rooted in old English puritanical leanings, Cincinnati consisted of a heavy beer-drinking German population. It was customary for Cincinnati’s German immigrants to serve beer at all gatherings, and the revenue generated by beer sales was vital to the Reds. When Reds ownership refused to sign the pledge, Cincinnati was unceremoniously dumped to be replaced by the Detroit Wolverines for the 1881 season.”

260 thoughts on “Third Rule is Don’t Talk to Commies Game Thread, May 7”

  1. I was thinking about the Ramones earlier today. Joey Ramone had essentially crippling social anxiety disorder to the extent that he could barely function in normal society, Johnny Ramone was such an unrepentant jerk that he was basically a fascist; Dee Dee was addicted to heroin; and they had more drummers than Spinal Tap. They managed to be one of the greatest rock bands of all time despite the fact that they probably literally could not have been gainfully employed doing anything else.

    (Well, Dee Dee knew how to do one other thing, and wrote about it in “53rd and 3rd,” but it isn’t much of a career.)

  2. BJ’s StanceChat:

    Not to be the “I played high school ball” guy, but the first thing the old coach would tell me when I was stanking up the place was to cut down on superfluous motions, even if they were strictly for timing. BJ has a lot going on in his stance/swing, more than most MLBers. Though I think at this point in his career you’d be doing more harm than good regressing his stance down to its base elements. Move some things around a little, hands a little here, foot a little here, more time in the cage, less time in the cage, shrink’s couch, whatever- and at some point you come to grips with him being is what he is from here on out.

    Side note here- The players I recall who most completely changed their stance on a whim were Cal Ripken Jr. and Brian Jordan. Jordan in particular went through like 15 in ’99.

  3. 1. Simmons SS 2. B Upton CF 3. J Upton RF 4. Freeman 1B 5. Gattis LF 6. McCann C 7. Uggla 2B 8. Francisco 3B 9. Medlen P

    Simmons back in the leadoff spot! B.J. Upton banished… to the 2-hole! El Nino Destructor gets his second start this month! Excitement abounds.

  4. @4: Not to be all “I played high school ball” guy, either, but my coaches used to tell me to choke up on strike 2; that your approach to strike 2 carries a whole different set of hitting values than 0 or 1-strike counts.

    I don’t see BJ reflecting any of that.


    @5: I am disappointed that Success is not in the lineup. Good to see FatJuan back in there, however.

  5. The TV guys thought Schafer looked a little banged up after his eventful stint in LF late in the game. A day off will do him good.

  6. I don’t really understand why BJ is at the top of the order.

    My read is that Fredi is trying to show B.J. that he still has confidence in him. The team realizes that B.J. is down on himself right now — witness the Greg Walker comment that if anything B.J. cares “too much” — and that a lot of his problems are mental. So they’re trying to help bolster his confidence by demonstrating that they’re behind him.

    That’s my take.

  7. #9
    Not crazy about it either, but I can’t imagine it’ll last too much longer if BJ continues his whiff-o-matic routine.

    Johnny was a bully (and a big Yankees fan), but he needed those other guys—after all, Joey & Dee Dee pretty much wrote all the songs.

    Dee Dee was an on-and-off junkie & Joey had major OCD issues, but they needed Johnny because he cracked the whip & “made the army march,” so to speak.

    A glorious mess, in a way. But oddly, after every show on the road, Johnny would make the driver find the nearest 7-11 so he could buy milk & cookies.

  8. Irrelevance: Medlen and Bailey are a combined 1-7, but both sport 3.38 ERAs.

  9. Meanwhile, Derek Lowe, a real winner, is 1-0 on the season, despite zero starts and a 5.56 ERA.

  10. BJ batting second? Eh, could be worse. At least this way he should see a lot of hittable (or buntable) pitches. I wish him luck.

    From previous: thanks, jjschiller, I think. (Guess I should go check out Rowland’s Office:)

    I had fully expected the RedSox to suck out loud and the Blue Jays to dominate. Looks like Boston got the right manager.

  11. If BUpton is in the lineup, there’s no reason for him not to bat second.

  12. There is the building his confidence theory. Then there is the theory that with Jupton ‘protecting’ him he’ll see more fastballs in the zone espoused by the announcers last night. Heck, it must to build his psyche because he sure aint hitting any pitches in the zone.

  13. Maybe the Blue Jays are just Marlins North.

    Speaking of theories, here’s a small-sample-size alert to the Change of Scenery Theory:

    Jason Bay in 76 PAs in Seattle: 262/355/446

    That includes 3 2B, 3 HR, 8 BB & 20 K.

    Maybe he just hated playing near an airport.

  14. Here’s tonight’s batting order again:

    1. Simmons SS
    2. B Upton CF
    3. J Upton RF
    4. Freeman 1B
    5. Gattis LF
    6. McCann C
    7. Uggla 2B
    8. Francisco 3B
    9. Medlen P

    Barring any “protection” or any “confidence” or any change of much from anyone in the lineup, we can summarize the likely outcomes of any single trip through that order as:


    If you move that order around, assuming you’re not moving Uggla or FatJuan to the 2-hole, you’re going to have something like:


    At that point you’re almost conceding run scoring chances in the second half of the lineup. Anyone after McCann is going to need to jack one in order to score, because the odds of Uggla/BJ/FatJuan/Medlen stringing together hits in a row (right now at least) is just fantastically low.

  15. I don’t want to jinx it, but I think Uggla has started to figure shit out.

  16. Well even if I did jinx him, it’s not like he can get that much worse. I’m buying low on Struggla and we’re gonna ride this thing all the way to positive WAR territory.

  17. @19 It’s possible that Uggla has indeed turned a corner – he’s hit the ball hard up the middle and to RF several times in recent games.

  18. 22- As long as he hasn’t turned enough corners to go back where he started. But yes, those triples were a very good sign.

  19. The Weather Channel website says that “The rain will come to an end around 8pm,” so hopefully just another hour or so. Radar shows the line of showers to be pretty thin.

  20. Bethany, you know that commercial where a small business turns on their online ordering system, and a couple sales roll in and everyone starts cheering? And then more sales pour in and cheers get louder and louder? Sales really start getting exponential and all people can do is look in awe at the numbers they’re seeing? But then the numbers get so unbelievably big that the backslapping and high fives cease, their joyous expressions evolve into a bewildering aspect, and you can see them silently working through the logistics of how on earth they will possibly respond to the volume of sales they’re ringing up?

    That’s a great commercial, a classic in fact, and I hope it happens to you!

  21. @24 Great placement, Bethany!

    @27 But it’s Carroll today. That’s actually been a big subject on the ajcbraves Twitter feed today. Seems she’s getting a little tired of people thinking she’s DOB. Can’t blame her. Although personally I always find the sudden drop in cantankerousness a dead giveaway.

  22. @31 Aww, thanks John.

    @32 I haven’t been paying close enough attention to my twitter feed today! They really should give her her own twitter account. I actually prefer her to DOB.

  23. Bethany, what are the halfliners going for? I do believe I could use a couple.

  24. The ball has glanced off BJ’s bat 3 times already. I’m gonna say that’s a win.

  25. Reds’ TV guy after that hit says “we saw a number of those in the first inning last night, bleeders and dinkers and dunkers.” Really? Chris Johnson walked, Jupton hit a bit of a bloop, but Freddie’s single was a line drive.

  26. Simmons, BJ, Justin, Freddie: Cue up the Sesame Street tune… “One of these kids is doing his own thing!”

  27. No El Oso Grand Slammo? White Bear, how could you?

    We better score one run this inning!

    Come on, B-Mac, show the kid how it’s done!

  28. All 3 outs were of course K’s, but I’ll take that for 3 runs and 40+ pitches.

  29. 57- And they’re on the way to getting a win and free pizza. Best of both worlds.

  30. Joey Votto looks so strange in the batter’s box. He appears to look everywhere BUT at the pitcher until the last second. It’s a little disconcerting.

  31. Toronto pitcher hit in face with line drive…doesn’t look good…oh man.

  32. @64, Hate to hear that. I can’t even watch those on replay anymore since Wohlers hit Robby Thompson.

  33. A Greggian like call against Simmons right there in terms of both quality and unjustified enthusiasm.

  34. @66, word is he was conscious on the way to the hospital, so that’s good. I’m not sure I want to see the replay again. The ball hit him so hard it went into the outfield for a triple. He was down on the field not moving for a good ten minutes. Pitchers are going to eventually wear head protection I hope.

  35. Hitters resisted wearing batting helmets too. The old guys like Ted Williams never wore one due to a grandfather agreement. Now everybody wears them. Hopefully rational minds will soon develop some protective gear for pitchers and mandate its use.

  36. I watched multiple starts from both Jo-Jo Reyes and Horacio Ramirez. I’ve seen much worse 0-2 pitches.

  37. Ouch. Infield single and a close play at first breaks up the Harvey perfect game.

  38. 88 — I didn’t even manage to flip to the game before the jinx had taken effect.

  39. @95 Very glad. I managed to get him in the late rounds of a keeper league, and he’s been lights out all year.

  40. I love the way Andrelton throws the ball.
    I love the way Freddie receives it.

  41. Simmons makes me miss Pastornicky. Did I say “miss”? I mean “totally forget about.”

  42. @103 Yes! I was just about to mention how my immediate reaction to a ball hit to SS has gone from ‘dread’ (Pastornicky era) to anticipation/excitement now.

  43. @102 It would be cool if Simmons can pitch off the mount and return to the shortstop position immediately to field the groundball. Of course, if he strikeouts everyone, that will not be needed.

  44. The Reds announcers are talking about a book about Ted Turner’s antics as Braves owner/manager for a day. Anyone know the name of the book?

  45. “Ted Turner: It Ain’t as Easy as It Looks” possibly, that’s from the late 90’s.

  46. Don just asked “How many of you remember Corky Miller was an Atlanta Brave?”

  47. Suddenly Medlen’s command sucks. He doesn’t have room for error with that fastball.

  48. Dear BJ, did you watch Votto? 0-2 count, shortened his swing pushed it to the off field, double.

    PS: Terrible camera work had me thinking that Phillips drive was a homer.

  49. You’re watching the Reds feed too? That was some of the worst camera work I’ve ever seen.

  50. Two innings left, nine Ks- maybe the fans won’t get their pizza tonight.

  51. I’m not sure I don’t run him back out there for the 8th. At least for the first hitter or two. It’s gonna be a long road trip.

  52. Nice work, Meds.

    BTW, Harvey was working on nearly 3 extra days of rest coming into tonight’s game: 9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 12 K, 0 BB

  53. @125

    Was watching the Braves feed. Not sure how that works. They were focusing on Gattis looking not particularly interested in making a play.

  54. Seems the Braves are going the Wickman Route with O’Flaherty: “it’s his last year here, so who cares how much we use him?”

  55. @134, it’s been every at bat. I don’t know if it’s nerves or what but it seems odd.

  56. @139, The two broadcasts must share cameras. I never really thought about it either. The camera guy was convinced that Phillips hit was way out.

  57. The long-forgotten “O’Failurety” nickname may have to be revived if this persists.

  58. @144, I thought he actually looked more relaxed in his earlier AB’s. Hands back, less twitchy in his load. Certainly no expert, though.

  59. Those two singles were hit pretty softly. Hard to get too mad at O’Flaherty about those.

  60. The problem is he doesn’t strike anyone out. You’re gonna suffer from these scenarios when you can’t get whiffs.

  61. @147, I’m not talking placement, I’m talking shaking like he’s standing in front of a bear. But I’m no expert either. Just struck me as odd.

    Come on, Eric…

  62. I’d really like it if we denied Reds fans free pizza by one strikeout, then had Kimbrel strike out the side

  63. This team, as constructed, cannot win without a lock-down bullpen.

  64. Well. That just happened. Kimbrel has lost enough on his fastball to make him mortal.

  65. Kimbrel fastball all of a sudden is easier to hit at 95 mph .. Oflaherty and Kimbrell getting worn out … some other guys gotta step up .. they need a rest sometime.

  66. All three blown saves result in losses. The Braves pen is officially mediocre now.

  67. And that’s why Mariano remains Mariano. Because every other flash-in-the-pan super dominant reliever turns into this at some point.

  68. Both those pitches looked pretty good to me. Not ideal results and maybe no movement, but I am trying to come up with something to type right now other than “I guess relievers really ARE fungible…”

  69. @197

    I’ve been thinking about that recently. There just isn’t a comparison to him.

  70. Not time to panic. But very much time to worry.

    Hurry back, Jonny.

  71. @197- I will always remember Andruw donkey-konging a Rivera cutter into the nether regions of the night back in ’99 for a game-winning grand slam, and thinking why any average schmuck couldn’t do it. Of course that was 14 years ago, and since, yeah.

  72. MLB has both fastball’s homered on at 96 MHP, and the first pitch to Choo was 97. That’s not terrible for back to back

  73. Time for Criag to think about that changeup. It seems like they were sitting on his fastballs.

  74. Yeah both homers looked like pretty good pitches to me. Tip your cap and all that. I think Kimbrel would be better suited if he were around the plate a bit less. If you throw that hard you can benefit from being “effectively wild”. He throws lots of strikes. Even the best fastballs get hit if the batter guesses right.

  75. This is why you don’t give closers long-term deals. None of them are worth it. Of course, a small ball park didn’t help.

  76. I’m glad I missed this one. I’ve got half the confidence in Kimbrel that I did last year. Something isn’t right.

  77. He’s definitely not right. Maybe it’s not injury and he’ll be fine, but the past couple weeks have been ugly.

  78. Two months ago at the WBC, my wife watched Kimbrel and said, “He doesn’t look right.” She couldn’t pinpoint any specifics; it was just a general observation. So I ignored her.

    I hate it when she’s correct.

  79. He didn’t even look real good last night. I feel like he’s only had a few appearances this year where he looked like himself.

  80. Time to go find some relief help ….. Walden boo , Venters Hurt, OFlarety tired , Kimbrel tired .. we need some help … sell off something.

  81. Kimbrel definitely wasn’t sharp during the WBC, but I don’t think he looks the same now. Those weren’t really bad pitches today. I know this is hard for many folks here to believe, but sometimes you can be healthy, mechanically sound and rested and still get beat. Even if your name is Craig Kimbrel.

    As for hitting panic mode on the bullpen. Just no. It’s fine. It’s baseball, things happen.

  82. @ajcbraves: Kimbrel has given up 3 home runs in his past 3 appearances, after giving up 3 HRs in each of his previous two seasons.

    Oh, and the Braves are 7-12 over the last 3 weeks.


  83. He deserved the 1 ERA last year, but I wouldn’t expect that to happen every year. He’ll be fine.

  84. Kimbrel’s trouble has been more command-related than velocity, in my opinion. I would like to see another mph or two, true, but it’s possible that he didn’t hit the high 90s consistently until the summertime last season. What I see happening is that he’s just not hitting his spots like we saw in 2012. McCann sets up for a high fastball that comes in around the ankles: I’d like not to see that again.

  85. @222 Maybe, but can we even see anything wrong in his pitches? A mechanical issue implies that poor pitches are resulting. In other words you should see something different in his actual pitches, not just the result.

    Maybe there’s something there to see, but I haven’t seen much. The only thing I’ve gotten a hint of, but am not confident is there, is that his breaking pitch looks a bit less sharp, and not as much near the strike zone (I suppose these are both testable if I wanted to bother combing through the data). So maybe they’re able to sit fastball more because it’s not keeping them off balance. But I wouldn’t suggest that with any conviction at this point.

    It’s also possible that teams have changed their approach to him, and that he’s making pitches that are just as good, or almost as good, but getting not quite as good results.

  86. @219, Great point. Even the mighty Mariano Rivera has blown big games. Just look at the 2001 World Series.

  87. @225: Isn’t flying open an element of being tired? How much did he pitch in the WBC?

  88. After several hours of reflection, I’ve come to the conclusion that the other team is trying, too.

  89. When I went to bed, Braves were up 4-3 going into bottom 9, and I somehow knew there was no point in staying up another 15 minutes to check the final score: I was positive they were going to lose.

    This is not the same bullpen as last year.

  90. I thought that both HRs were just good hits. Mesoraco and Choo went down around the knees and got em. Downward swings that created a lot of backspin. Tip your cap. But Kimbrell needs to think about this game plan a little. I got the feeling that both Reds were sitting on the low fastball.

  91. Fangraphs stats tell me that Kimbrel is throwing too many fastballs. I am blaming poor pitch selection.

  92. The bullpen cannot spring a leak or it is going to be a long summer.

    To me the lack of consistent offense has hurt the pen. The closer the games, the more Fredi leans on the back end of the pen. The idea was the offense was going to put up some curly numbers a couple times a game and depth of the pen would be utilized to shut teams down without over working. So far that has just not materialized. Walden, EOF, and Kimbrel have pitched a lot in the early going. EOF and Kimbrel did not have full spring trainings either and I wonder if they aren’t gassed to a certain extent.

    The offense needs to unload for a couple of nights and give the back end a couple of days to rest and look at video and they will be alright.

  93. Yeah, I seem to remember when Wagner was here he had a 2 week stretch where he just wasn’t getting it done and then things got back to normal and he was dominant the rest of the year. I think Kimbrel did the same thing in 2011, he’ll be fine assuming no injury. Remember that two of the blown saves came in absolute jokes of ballparks in Colorado and Cincinnati.

  94. Thus far we’re middle of the pack in offense and near the top in pitching. I would have thought that it’d be more likely for those two to be reversed. If we don’t score more runs then we’re gonna rely on our staff of mostly soft-tossers that don’t pitch deep into games to carry us. I’m not liking the odds of that holding up all season.

  95. How far was the first home run? Does that ball stay in the park in Atlanta? I hate GAB.

  96. Hard to complain about the offense when the team has scored 20 runs in the last three games. The pitchers’ ERA has been solid, but the peripheral suggest that this is not a great pitching staff.

  97. All our bitching and moaning goes away with another 10-game winning streak.

  98. @239 – According to ESPN’s Home Run Tracker, Mesoraco’s HR was 400 feet. It was a “just enough” HR in GABP, and would not have been a HR at Turner Field (you can view park dimensions from the “Overlay Ballpark” drop down menu).

    Choo’s HR to end the game, on the other hand, was a home run in basically every MLB park – that was a no-doubter.

  99. I was also thinking it was pitch selection causing the majority of Kimbrel’s problems. I figured Gattis/dugout were not calling pitches as good as McCann might have. Now McCann is back so hopefully yhe pitch selection will improve. Maybe McCann hasn’t had a chance to get back into his routine (whatever it might be) yet. I am hoping after McCann gets settled back into the daily grind he will get on top of the scouting reports and developing a pitch selection strategy and all will be right with Kimbrel (and the rest of the bullpen). I don’t know that it’s true but I feel like the starting pitcher and the catcher probably spend time going over the scouting reports and any other info they can get to develop a plan but maybe the bullpen pitchers tend to relay more on the pre-game work the starter and catcher have done. or maybe all of this is just me trying to find some rationalization for Kimbrel’s struggles…

  100. BJ may not be my favorite but he made a hell of an effort to get that first homerun.

    Interesting points about pitch selection. Didn’t really see much off-speed stuff from Kimbrel last night.

  101. Yeah, the first home run would have been caught on the warning track in most other places. It is what it is.

  102. While last night was a real gut-punch of a loss, maybe the Reds were owed a little karmic payback for the epic Brooks Conrad game-winning grand slam against the Reds from 2010. I just watched that clip several times and I already feel a lot better. Thanks, Internet!

  103. Kimbrel was dominate vs the first two hitters and used his slidder more.

    These guys are just sitting on his fast ball, He needs to mix it up more.

    It’s not like he is walking a bunch of guys. Both shots were knee high fastballs that would have been strikes.

    The more I think about it, the less worried I am.

  104. Schafer

    What a terrible lineup.

  105. I agree BJ catches Mesoraco’s ball in Turner

    @248 – I agree. A better game plan from Kimbrell was needed last night. But giving him some leeway we don’t know what the scouting reports say about Mesoraco or Choo.

  106. i know its a little late…. but the original post doesnt explain anything…? it never ties in the alcohol ban with opening at home….? am i missing something?

  107. I’m not sure what — if anything — it means, given such a tiny sample, but Kimbrel seems to have changed his pitch selection pretty significantly year-over-year, as kc alluded to @233:

    2012: 67% FB, 33% CU
    2013: 80% FB, 20% CU

    But the arguably more concerning difference between last year and this is his whiff rate:

    2012: 20.6% FB, 21.8% CU
    2013: 12.4% FB, 16.7% CU

    The lack of swing-and-miss on the fastball is very odd given his average FB velocity is only down 0.8 MPH from the whole of last year, and his average FB this April was actally slightly faster (96.91 MPH vs. 96.57).

    It seems like it mostly comes down to bad luck, however: last year Kimbrel allowed a .268 BABIP against his fastball, .267 BABIP against his curve; this year, those numbers are .400 and .500, respectively. Neither set of numbers is likely sustainable, and I’d expect 2013’s to move toward his careeer numbers of .335 and .306.

    Since it’s only been a month, I wouldn’t start worrying too much, but I’ll certainly be concerned if he doesn’t start mixing in more curveballs or generating more swinging strikes over the next few weeks. Odds are, this season winds up like 2011: mortal, but still outstanding. I hope.

  108. Based on those numbers, it just seems like he’s not locating his curve ball, it’s getting hit hard, so he’s throwing his fastball more often, which is making him more vulnerable anyway.

    I think he’ll get fixed. If his velocity is not down, I’m pretty convinced he’s just not comfortable with his off-speed.

    The last walk-off the Reds had against us was with Linebrink on the mound in a tie-game in the 9th. I’ll lose it with Kimbrel any day.

  109. Yea, I think he hasn’t been throwing the curve as much because he hasn’t had it under control. And without it mucking up their timing, hitters are able to make better contact on the fastball..

  110. I didn’t check the cards before the game, so watching the Braves come to bat has revealed a lot of unpleasant surprises. What’s with the FuckedDay lineup, Fredi? Thinking what we really need after last night is another dispiriting defeat?

  111. @254/255:

    I thought the same thing about location, but it turns out he’s actually getting more called strikes on the curve than at any other point in his career (27.3% vs. 24.1% in 2012 and 21.8% career).

    He also appears to be shying away from using the curve as a put away pitch, as he threw it with two strikes 47% of the time last year, but only 32% this year, which may have something to do with the dip in strikeouts.

    But yeah, it sure does feel like hitters are sitting fastball and taking the curve for strikes.

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