REDS – PROUD AND CONCERNED – TIME TO STEP IT UP AGAIN…

It’s a Beautiful Saturday in Maryland – this old Soldier has just finished a nice run over the past 90 minutes – – getting slower and older, but the beautiful blue skies and the 60-70 degree weather is strength to the bones, and to hopes in the world of sports, especially to one who has found the beginning of the 21st Century a little dry and faded. 

Not this year:  College Football is in the air, and I’m cheering on my Crimson Tide of Alabama, and looking to old favorite Buckeyes of Ohio State as well.  Hey, what else can a transplanted Ohioan do? 

This yearFinally – the Baseball Reds of Cincy are finally back in the thick of a pennant race – for the first time in a decade, and the first Winning Season since 2000.  Votto, Rolen, and Comany have kept Reds Fans excited over the 2010 Season.  Now, the bats have gotten a little cold, and they’ve let the Cards dream of a dramactic comeback – time to put their hopes and the stories of choking Mets and Phillies from baseball years, decades gone by to rest. 

I put much, but not all of this message on the Baseball HOF Writer Hal McCoy’s regular blog on the Reds.  Hal McCoy and the great sportswriter of the Dayton Daily News, and this was in response to his Friday article on rookie pitching sensation Arnold Chapman’s first Major League loss – to the Houston Astros.    

 

September 18, 2010 9:33 AM |

Okay, I believe the REDS are going to pull this out, and win the division, but Cordero needs to get his stuff together, and pitch great relief again, and Rolen and Edmonds need to act, behave, and play like the strong Veteran influences they’re supposed to be – now is NOT the time to wither away, and Votto & Company would benefit from their leadership.

Think of Pete Rose with the Phillies in 1980 and Gary Matthews with the Cubs in 1984. Matthews was called “Sarge” during his playing days – Guess who gave him the nickname? The same one he credited with being a great example on the field, in the dugout, and clubhouse as well – PETE ROSE. Hall of Fame Third Baseman Mike Schmidt gives Mr. Rose the ballplayer the same credit, and more – he has given Rose credit for making Schmitty aware of his talents and helping him to become a more complete player. 

Both Charlie Hustle and The Sarge led their teams – with good seasons, but they were both obviously on the downside of their careers.  Still, their presence was felt – and voiced when necessary – no doubt Rose’s voice was loud, booming, and a challenge, while I’m not sure of Matthews.  The Result:  Rose’s hustle and heart helped lead the Phils to their first World Series since 1950, and their first World Series victory EVER.  Matthews’ play and example got the Cubbies within runs and innings to fall just short of a trip to the Fall Classic since 1945 – they still haven’t been to the World Series since that date.   

The point is – Rose and Matthews were LEADERS.  Mr. Rolen and Mr. Edmonds need to do the same, on and off the field. Our Veterans, both with World’s Championship Rings, need to “Step It Up NOW.” I realize Scott Rolen is having a great year – I hope Mr. Edmonds follows his lead, gets better, and contributes more on the field to the Reds’ run while with us.  Scott Rolen has been a solid player all year, and I appreciate his hustle and heart during the 2010 All-Star Game – great headfirst slide.  Had that been done by a Red since Rose and Sabo?  I have my doubts…

Scott Rolen MUST continue to be a strong factor in the Reds Winning in 2010.  I appreciate the fact that it definitely sounds like he’s a better family man than Pete Rose has been known for being.  That will always be a strong factore with me, as I believe a good man must be a solid example on and off the field of sports, business, or for that matter, Soldiering  One’s Family Life says a lot to me about the measure of a man or woman.  I glad that Mr. Rolen finds more time with his family, and it sounds to me like he’s not far from calling it a baseball career – I can say that, as an old Soldier, I wish I had more time with my Boys before they go off to College, and on their own.  As it is, my time with them under my roof is almost done – enjoy your family while they’re young, Mr. Rolen.  You’ll never get lost time with them back, and no honors can replace that. 

BUT…2010 is almost done, so keep up the Good Work.  Rather than just marvel along with Mr. Edmonds on a hungry and young Astros team, you guys need to show those Astros what a young and hungry Winning Team looks like.  I know I’m not a ballplayer, but I’m a fan, and I’m encouraging and challenging you as such.  I want to see my Franchise back in the Postseason on a regular basis once more, and you guys can help do that. 

I remember the Red’s motto from 1975-76 World Championship years – saw this on banners, posters, advertisments.  Based on the legendary Jerry Reed song, It went like this: “When you’re hot, You’re REDS’ HOT!”  Well, it’s time to help this franchise get Hot once again, and PLEASE don’t get hurt/ knocked out of the season in the process. 

Mr. Rolen, I hear of a leadership that’s not led by many words or flag-waving, but by example.  Sounds like a Stan Musial – Joe DiMaggio-type leadership, and those Hall Of Famers could play.  So…that’s great – just keep it up, pick up Jim Edmonds along the way, and Lead The Way Home to the Postseason…and BEYOND.  GO REDS!!!


ROSE, PHILS - Up Close (18SEP10).jpg 

CHARLIE HUSTLE LEADING THE PHILS…

The Sarge - Gary Matthews (18SEP10).jpg

GARY “THE SARGE” MATTHEWS – GLORY DAYS…

ROLEN - Rockies_Reds_Baseball (18SEP10).jpg

SCOTT ROLEN HUSTLES – LEADS BY EXAMPLE…

1980 NLCS - HUSTLE (18SEP10).jpg

 

 

 

1980 NLCS - HUSTLE, 2 (18SEP10).jpg

CHARLIE HUSTLE LED BY EXAMPLE, TOO – ON THE FIELD, SCORING BIG RUN

(GAME #4 – 1980 NLCS)

 

***  I enjoyed Mr. Shelton’s blog on MLB.com – I hope he doesn’t mind my using it here, and the timing to my thoughts couldn’t be better, as I just read this minutes ago

 

Reds following Rolen’s lead to verge of playoffs

Veteran’s postseason experience could be key for young club

CINCINNATI — Scott Rolen would love to be able to say he had all of this figured out.

When the third baseman got traded last July 31 from the Blue Jays to the then out-of-contention Reds for three players, he didn’t just return closer to his Indiana home. He’s now with a first-place team on the verge of making the playoffs.

“This time last year, a lot of people thought it was an odd trade,” Rolen said. “I was excited about it because it was back to my comfort zone. It’d be a better story if I said that I was looking at that team and I knew it was going to be great. I’m sorry I can’t get there for you. I got the chance to come as close as I could to home. [Reds GM] Walt [Jocketty] and I, we had a history. He thought I could come here, fit in and we had a good young team. I’m in.”

Great American Ball Park is less than a three-hour drive from the 35-year-old Rolen’s home in Bloomington, Ind. His family, which includes his wife, a five-year-old daughter and three-year-old son, spends homestands with him in Cincinnati and can be in Indiana during road trips. Off-days and nights after day games can offer some stolen moments to see his kids’ soccer games or tuck them into bed. That wasn’t as easy from Toronto, and would have been much harder had he played on one of the coasts.

“On the off-day [next Thursday] after Milwaukee, I’m going home to be with them and meet the team in San Diego. I couldn’t have done this in Toronto,” Rolen said. “[My daughter] Raine was starting school. I can drive home. I’m three hours away. I can fly home. I’ve driven home on off-days when she is in school. We’re together as much as we can possibly be together. When I was younger, I loved playing on the road. I couldn’t wait to get on the road. Now, I second-guess myself every time I’m on the road, like, ‘What am I doing?’ ”

Last winter, Rolen and the Reds re-worked his deal to defer some of his $11 million salary while adding two more years that pay him $6.5 million in each of the next two seasons. His career will conclude in Cincinnati — no matter what.

“I have a complete no-trade clause all the way through. I plan on using it,” Rolen said. “We’ll see how first grade goes and second grade goes. If we can’t catch a break, we’ll home school. We’re going to stay together. That’s the way we like to do it.”

Rolen’s happy home life has equated to a happy work life at the ball yard. He entered Friday batting .292 with 19 home runs, 79 RBIs and a .366 on-base percentage in 120 games. His defense has been superlative enough to warrant a shot at an eighth career National League Gold Glove.

Rolen was on an MVP-candidate pace in the first half of the season, with 17 homers and 57 RBIs. He’s only gone deep twice with 22 RBIs since the All-Star break, but is batting .297 with a .373 OBP over that span. He missed 10 games dealing with a hamstring injury and was out the past two games with neck and back soreness.

With an eye toward helping a young team take a big step forward in 2010, Rolen’s leadership skills were a large part of the thinking behind the trade that brought him to Cincinnati. His style doesn’t fit the traditional view of a leader. There is no flag-waving, no pep talks, no playing the father figure to younger players.

No, Rolen got his leadership chops the old-fashioned way — he earned them. And he expects his teammates to do the same.

“He’s one of those guys that leads by example,” Reds center fielder Drew Stubbs said. “His presence is felt even when he’s not speaking. All of us see what he does on the field. He’s played a long time at this level and still treats it like a he’s a rookie almost. He’s out there playing hard, running hard on every ground ball, grinding out at-bats.”

Rolen’s presence has clearly benefited the Reds, who are 93-60 in games he’s started over the past two seasons. This season, they are 16-17 when he’s not in the starting lineup.

Reds outfielder Jim Edmonds, 40, is seeing Rolen’s imprint on a club for the second time. The two played several seasons together with the Cardinals and went to a pair of World Series together in 2004 and ’06.

“He’s really dry and not overly loud,” Edmonds said. “He’s not yelling and screaming. He’s one of those guys that, when he says something, it means something. That’s kind of what you need.

“No-nonsense. Basically, you have your guys that play every day and you want them to be serious most of the time, play the game and show everybody how it’s meant to be played. Then you can have a castoff to the side or a bench player that’s a little wild or out of control. A team jels that way.”

Rolen’s postseason experience will be invaluable come October for a Reds organization that hasn’t been in the playoffs since 1995. Aside from Rolen and Edmonds, only pitchers Bronson Arroyo and Arthur Rhodes, shortstop Orlando Cabrera, utility man Miguel Cairo and catcher Ramon Hernandez have played in the postseason. The vast majority in the clubhouse will be experiencing it for the first time.

“You can’t talk about it. You just have to live it,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “Then you talk about it if you’re not living it right. That’s the only time you talk about it — if you’re not living the moment right.”

How others rate the Reds’ chances is of little concern to Rolen. He plans to enjoy the postseason, which can only happen by playing free and loose.

“When you get that chance, we’re just all going to throw our gloves in,” Rolen said. “I had two great lessons with postseason experience. [The] 2004 [Cardinals club] was the best team I ever played on. [We had] veterans all the way through, up and down the lineup. I thought we were the best team in baseball, but we were swept by the Red Sox. I remember telling my wife when I got home, ‘I’m not going to win a ring. I don’t know what kind of team we have to have, but I won’t be able to do it.’

“In 2006, with 83 wins, a terrible record in September, backing into the playoffs and we’re supposed to be eliminated in the first round and we kind of walked through it. We didn’t have lights-out hitting, pitching or chemistry. We just got there. Pitchers pitched, hitters hit and fielders fielded for three weeks and boom — ring. What I learned from that is just get there. Let’s not worry about who is matching up with who and what’s the best draw. Just get there.”

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

 

VOTTO, ROLEN, GOMES, BRUCE, ETC - FUNNY (18SEP10).jpg

 

 


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One comment

  1. juliasrants

    Charlie Hustle….you know I am old enough to remember his playing days well. And you are so right – the value of the veterans in the clubhouse can not be measured!! They have a calming influence over the younger players and they are at times more valuable in the clubhouse then they are on the field. Good luck to your Reds – I hope they make the playoffs!!!

    Julia
    http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com

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