On a Rite of Spring

Thousands of people descend on downtown for a parade, the game, and the general excitement of this annual rite of spring. The young and old, male and female, tall and short, rich and poor, workers and nonworkers, locals and out-of-towners … most dressed in red.

Many workers do not go to work – and many of those who do are not as productive. Kids skip school – and many those who do not face a day of study halls or atypical activities. These behaviors happen every year – thus predictable – then normality follows the next day.

For those who do not know, professional baseball started in Cincinnati. For many years, a Reds home game served as the start to the Major League Baseball (MLB) season. In recent years, that tradition has given way to MLB’s quest for more money, but the Cincinnati Reds remain as the only team that starts the season with a home game – so this day was Opening Day…a special day in Cincinnati … and no other city in the country embraces the day as my city along the Ohio River.

After a horrendous winter, weather brought us sun and warmth. With this setting serving as the perfect opportunity for me to get away from the move-related activities, I went downtown to join thousands of others who were also dressed in red.

For ease and convenience, I parked on the Newport, Kentucky side of the river, and emerged from the garage at Newport on the Levy …

Newport on the Levy with shops, eateries, theaters, and an aquarium

Newport on the Levy with shops, eateries, theaters, and an aquarium

… then had lunch at this establishment (the owners won venture capital money on Shark Tank) …

 

Excellent source for grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup

Excellent source for grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup

… the Cincinnati skyline and the quiet baseball stadium 4 hours before game time

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood

… the Ohio side with three sports venues on the river and a glimpse of the Brooklyn Bridge’s prototype

Cincinnati has a beautiful riverfront ... and parks are behind me

Cincinnati has a beautiful riverfront … and parks are behind me

… looking back to Covington, Kentucky and the other end of our famous bridge

Daniel Libeskind designed the building with the slanted roof

Daniel Libeskind designed the building with the slanted roof

… while walking beside the stadium, banners remind me of important events in Reds history

Sorry Yankee fans, but our Big Red Machine was one of the best teams ever

Sorry Yankee fans, but our Big Red Machine was one of the best teams ever

… fans eagerly awaiting the start of the festivities around Great American Ball Park

The party goers are just to the right (next pic)

The party goers are just to the right (next pic)

… but many others found a party a short distance away

This must be the no-alcohol zone

This must be the no-alcohol zone

… but for me on this day, I was heading into the city center where thousands gathered for an Opening Day tradition … and that will come in a post next week … besides, I didn’t have a ticket to the game.

On the All-Time Willies

Music has brought forth legends as Willie Nelson and Boxcar Willie, but the song Little Willy (by Sweet) was never a favorite of mine. Free Wily made it to the big screen while Groundskeeper Willie appears on The Simpsons – but the most famous may be Steamboat Willie who became famous with a different name.

While Wiarton Willie is the famous Canadian groundhog who prognosticates the weather. Willie the Wildcat serve as mascots at Northwestern and Kansas State. Ever received a wet willie, tasted Famous Willie’s BBQ, gotten the willies while watching a movie, or know what the British call willie? I didn’t realize that the SS Wily served as a Dutch cargo ship (1938-1939). But it wasn’t a floating chocolate factory nor captained by Willy Wonka.

Nonetheless, these Willies are about baseball … yes baseball – our timeless national pastime – so why not a quote from a non-Willie: “The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good, and what could be again.” (James Earl Jones from Field of Dreams)

Similar to the All-time Mickeys, not that many Willies have made it to MLB, Nonetheless, this team boasts some offense – even the bench is stacked with notable All-Stars. Opponents will fear the heart of the batting order, but will be eager to bat against a shaky mound corps. Even though the Willies will play good defense, given their pitchers, they must rely on out-scoring other teams in high-scoring games. One thing for sure, they will distance themselves from the All-Time Randys who have difficulty fielding, hitting, and pitching.

To see the All-Time Randys, All-Time Mickeys, and other all time teams, see Categories in the right-side sidebar, and then Sports > All-Time Teams or click here.

Ladies and gentlemen, now taking the field, the All-Time Willies.

1B – Willie Montanez (AS)
2B – Willie Randolph (AS)
SS – Willie Wells (HOF)
3B – Willie Kamm
C – Dan Willie Wilson (AS)
OF – Willie Mays (HOF)
OF – Wee Willie Keeler (HOF)
OF – Willie Stargell (HOF)
DH – Willie McCovey (HOF)

SP – Wee Willie Bill Sherdell
SP – Willis Willie Hudlin
SP – Willie Sudhoff
SP – Willie Blair
SP – Willie McGill
RP – Willie Hernandez (AS)
RP – Willie Frazier
RP – Willie Banks
RP – Willie Adams

Bench – Willie Davis (AS), Willie Horton (AS), Willie Jones (AS), Willie McGee (AS), Willie Wilson (AS), Willie Bloomquist

Mgr – Willie Randolph

All-Time Rons

Some Rons go by any of the variations of the name. Although we are most familiar with President Ronald Reagan – yet Mrs. Reagan commonly referred to him as Ronnie – while others used Ron. To the contrary, I cannot recall hearing Ronnie or Ronald for Representative Ron Paul – who oddly enough has a name of two first names like a famous Ronald McDonald who actually wasn’t a Ron, Ronnie, or Ronald, but this post is not about Willards or Scotts – it is a post about Rons like Ron Howard, who ironically also has two first names.

The music world gives us Ronnie Milsap, Ronnie Dunn, Ron Wood, and Do Ron Ron, yet another entertainment form made Ron Jeremy a star. King Arthur’s lance was Ron, but the king never faced Re-Open Nominations or had to deal with a Research Octane Number or Resilient Overlay Networks; but he spend more than one night in the same hotel on consecutive days, he was classified as Remaining OverNight. Yet, questions remain. Did he ever cross the Ron River in Switzerland? Did he ever play Rise of Nations? Did he ever file a Report of Nonconformance?

Regardless of the previous questions, there is no doubt that this post is about Rons, but not my cousin Ron – but MLB Rons. Interestingly, this post is actually a collaboration with Journey Towards Epiphany. Kimberly, the heart and soul behind that blog I enjoy reading, is from Chicago. Somehow, she mentioned that she wanted to write a post about a baseball Ron who Chicagoans adore – Ron Santo. Thus, we decided to release these to posts on the same day, so I encourage others to read her post about Ron the Beloved Cub.

The All-Time Rons surprised me. Although none have made it to the hallowed halls of Cooperstown, many Rons journeyed to baseball’s midsummer classic – the All-Star Game (AS). Although the offense lacks a main power source and the starting pitching lacks a dominant stopper, the offense will hold its own – but the pitching is a bit thin. Nonetheless, the All-Time Rons will easily outdistance the All-Time Randys who consistently languish near the basement.

To see the All-Time Randys and other all time teams, see Categories in the right-side sidebar, and then Sports > All-Time Teams or click here.

Ladies and gentlemen, now taking the field, the All-Time Rons.

1B – Ron Fairly (AS)
2B – Ron Hunt (AS)
SS – Ron Hansen (AS)
3B – Ron Santo (AS)
C – Ron Hassey
OF – Ron Gant (AS)
OF – Ron LeFlore (AS)
OF – Ron Northey
DH – Ron Cey (AS)

SP – Ron Guidry (AS)
SP – Ron Darling (AS)
SP – Ron Reed (AS)
SP – Ron Kline
SP – Ron Robinson
RP – Ron Peronoski
RP – Ron Davis (AS)
RP – Ron Valone
RP – Ron Bryant

Bench: Ron Belliard (AS), Ron Oester, Ron Coomer (AS), Ron Kittle (AS), Ron Karkovice, Ron Jackson

Mgr – Ron Gardenhire

On the All-Time MLB Foodies

A few years ago a guy named Mo asked, “What about a food team?” Sure, anyone can whip together names as Ice-T, John Candy, Coco Chanel, Eve Plumb, Jerry Rice, Jack Lemmon, Soupy Sales, Halle Berry, Carrot Top, Meatloaf, Kevin Bacon, Cookie Gilchrist, Warren Burger, Fiona Apple, Brutus Beefcake, Anthony Weiner, and a few Playmates named Candy or Cookie; but, what about baseball? After several years on my plate, here is a dish of delicacies for Mo.

The All-Time Foodies are a surprising lot as 11 Hall of Famers make the team. Problem is too many are outfielders. What a problem for rookie manager Peanuts: pick three, insert one as DH, and convert one to a first baseman.

This team is good enough to create havoc for the better teams and distance themselves from the All-Time Randys, who aren’t very good – but not the leagues worst! The lineup is a feast-or-famine lot and the starting pitching is good. However, if a team can get to a starter to put stress on the bullpen, this team could be in trouble. In other words, the All-Time Foodies no worse than a middle of the pack team with enough talent to create some havoc for the contenders. And who knows – even maybe pushing for contention.

To see the All-Time Randys and other all-time teams, see Categories in the right-side sidebar, and then Sports > All-Time Teams or click here.

Ladies and gentlemen, now taking the field, the All-Time Foodies.

1B – Mike Lamb
2B – Cookie Rojas (AS)
SS – Cookie Lavagetto (AS)
3B – Pie Traynor (HOF)
C – Johnny Oates

OF – Pick 3, one DH, and get one to learn first base: Sam Rice (HOF), Jim Rice (HOF), Zach Wheat (HOF), Turkey Stearnes (HOF), Goose Goslin (HOF), Chick Hafey (HOF)

SP – Catfish Hunter (HOF)
SP – Bob Lemon (HOF)
SP – Noodles Hahn
SP – Dizzy Trout (AS)
SP – Candy Cummings (HOF)

RP – Goose Gossage (HOF)
RP – Vinegar Bend Mizell (AS)
RP – Sugar Cain
RP – Frank Pears
RP – Stew Bolen

Mgr – Peanuts Lowry (Long-time coach, but never a manager)

Bench: (The extra outfielders would bump someone and some of these won’t make it,  but these players are worth mentioning.) Darryl Strawberry (AS), Pepper Martin (AS), Ruben Sierra (AS), Peaches Graham, Pickles Dilhoeffer, Ken Berry, Candy Maldonado, Salty Parker, Billy Bean, Chicken Wolf, Coco Crisp

On the All-Time Harrys

Since I had a difficult time sleeping one night, I went to my bookshelf and selected a book that I had yet to read – Holy Cow by Harry Caray. It was an easy and enjoyable read, but that’s understandable because I’m a longtime baseball fan, one who listened to Harry broadcast Cardinal games in the 60s, and then delightfully watched him do Cubs’ games on WGN.

The most surprising thing in the book? That’s easy – University of Alabama offered young Harry a tuition-only baseball scholarship, which he turned down because he couldn’t afford the remaining costs.

Harry Caray loved baseball. Here are some of Harry All-Time Selections.
Most Complete Player – Joe DiMaggio
Greatest Power Hitter – Hank Aaron
Greatest Baserunner – Jackie Robinson
Most Natural Talent – Mickey Mantle
Most Graceful – Roberto Clemente
Best Catcher – Johnny Bench
Best RH Pitcher – Bob Gibson
Best LH Pitcher – Sandy Koufax
Best SS – Marty Marion
Best 3B – George Brett
The First Pick if he started a team from scratch – Stan Musial

With all this in mind, what about the All-Time Harrys?

Many Harrys have played on the diamond. Interestingly, some have gone by Bud, Cookie, Doc, Duke, Fritz, Izzy, Junior, Moose, Nemo, Peanuts, Pep, Rip, Shadow, Slim, and Socks – but did any of them make the team? What about Harry the Hat and Harry the Cat?

A strong outfield and veteran starting pitching will put this team in the middle of the pack (at best) – but far better than the All-Time Randys who simply aren’t very good.

To see the All-Time Randys and other all time teams, see Categories in the right-side sidebar, and then Sports > All-Time Teams or click here.

Ladies and gentlemen, now taking the field, the All-Time Harrys.

1B – Harry Davis
2B – Harry Steinfeldt
SS – (Harry) Cookie Lavagetto (AS)
3B – (Harry) Peanuts Lowrey (AS)
C – Harry Danning (AS)
OF – Harry Heilmann (HOF)
OF – Harry Hooper (HOF)
OF – Harry Walker (AS)
DH – Harry Simpson (AS)

SP – Harry Brecheen (AS)
SP – (Harry) Slim Sallee
SP – (Harry) Bud Black
SP – (Harry) Rip Collins
SP – Harry Coveleski
RP – (Harry) Fritz Dorish
RP – Harry Harper
RP – (Harry) Cy Morgan
RP – Harry Byrd

Mgr – Harry Wright (HOF)

To close, here’s my all-time favorite Harry Caray TV commercial.