Saturday, January 26, 2008

Reds' caravan stresses autographs

If you wanted an autograph, this was your time.
The Reds' winter caravan stopped at the Lima Mall Friday night. A crowd of over 500 came out to greet Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, Hall of Fame announcer Marty Brennaman, Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky and Mr. Perfect Tom Browning.
But with the huge crowd, Brennaman declared that there would only be time for five questions from the fans. Then, the autograph session would consume the remainder of the two-hour program.
I would have liked to seen the usual 20-to-30 minute question period. But, instead, it was sliced to around 10 minutes to handle the autographs.
I guess it all depends on what you go there for. Personally, I like the banter between the fans and the Reds players and representatives. Brennaman is always brutally honest and Krivsky did a good job of fielding tough questions.
However, if you liked autographs and didn't mind waiting in line for over an hour, this was your caravan.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Indians come to Lima

Rafael Betancourt was impressive.
And I'm just not talking about his 1.47 earned-run average last year.
Betancourt was quite frank and honest in his talk to the media on the Indians' caravan Thursday at The Old Barn Out Back.
He admitted he was shocked when as a Boston farm hand he was told he was moving from his dream position of shortstop to pitcher. He had never pitched before.
He was honest in saying he made a mistake and was guilty when he was suspended for doing performance-enhancing drugs.
And Betancourt was honest in saying he was more than concerned and worried when he had surgery on his right elbow and had a titanium plate and six screws inserted in it.
Betancourt is now the best set-up man in baseball, but didn't cry out to be the closer.
He knows his day will come, sooner or later.
He's waited this long and survived a suspension, a change of position and major arm surgery.
Betancourt is truly happy to be Major League pitcher.
In this day and age, that is truly refreshing.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Locos find a new home

So, the Lima Locos are packing up their bats and train whistles.
Good-bye Shawnee. Hello Simmons Field.
I feel much better about this move after talking with Locos general manager Steve Meyer. He told me the city leveled the outfield and re-seeded the infield last fall.
There is plenty more work to be done, but the city is ready to help out. The city will be moving the center-field fence and the light pole behind it back from 350 feet to 380.
The Locos will be painting the dugouts, grandstand and the new fence. There will also be a new scoreboard and a new batter's eye.
Parking could still be an issue. Sure, there is a grassy area near the field, but will that be enough?
I just hope the Locos continue to grill those same dogs and burgers that made Shawnee the top concession stand in the area.
The field may take a while to look like the Locos and the league wants it to.
But, eventually, it will be a nice place to play.
And, they will be selling beer. That should push the nightly gate over the 500 mark.
Right now, I'm not thinking of the last time I covered a high school tournament game (Coldwater vs. LCC) at Simmons. That's when the field had high grass, dandelions and ruts all over the outfield. It looked more like a junkyard than a ballpark.
Instead, I'm thinking of how nice the field looked the first time I saw it.
And how nice it could be again.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Post holiday mix

Well, we're back from the holidays.
Here are a few random thoughts:
The Reds dealt center fielder Josh Hamilton away for the Rangers minor league pitcher of the year, Edinson Volquez. If Volquez steps in and becomes the No. 3 or No. 4 starter this season, it's a good deal.
The Lima Locos are moving from Shawnee to Simmons Field. Simmons will need work, but if that work is done, it could be a good move in the long run. I'll get into this more in future blogs.
Boys basketball is having another sluggish year in our area. There are a few good teams out there like Shawnee, Ada and New Knoxville. I saw the class of the Putnam County League Saturday when Pandora-Gilboa bumped off Ottoville on a buzzer shot by Sam Maag. P-G's Josh Lee, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, has come a long way in the last year. P-G was outplayed for three quarters, but still came out with the win.
Strolling the mall over the holidays, I saw plenty of Ohio State jackets, jerseys, etc. You will see who the true OSU fans are if the Bucks lose to LSU Monday and these people are still wearing their jerseys on Tuesday.
By the way, I'm starting to see some Celtics' jerseys again. I haven't seen those since Larry Bird retired.