Looking Forward to Calls to the Bullpen

A quick thought for today. I’m really pining for some baseball. Usually happens every year around this time. Sure, countdowns to pitchers and catchers reporting help to excite me, but ultimately I’m waiting for the real thing on March 29th. You can bet I’ll be at the stadium again this Opening Day, but I’m sure they’re be a few more blogs between now and then about that. This post is focused on one thing, the Reds bullpen.

Now I know that’s not grabby, may have even lost one or two folks who clicked in to this post, but the Reds just signed their second free agent reliever of the offseason. Both relievers were signed to two year deals, and neither one is a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. They’re bonafide, major league deals, meaning the front office believes these guys can bring some real value to the bullpen.

Jared Hughes was signed a few weeks ago and David Hernandez was inked at the beginning of this week. Middle relievers don’t tend to move the needle in January, but it’s these types of guys who playoff contending teams go after in July…so it only makes sense to see value in having them for an entire year.

I’ll not get into the stats, right now, but leave it to an emotional response. I love these signings. It shows that the coaching staff believes in the young pitchers vying for spots on the starting rotation, and it is the Reds way of emulating teams in years past whose bullpen propelled them to a successful season.

Sure, Milwaukee getting Christian Yelich is the kind of transaction that galvanizes a fan base. It officially signifies a team’s belief that its window to the playoffs, and possibly contending for a world championship, has opened. The deal was one the Reds could not make, though. The Bre Crew had to give up one of their two best prospects and 3 of their top 10. To put that in perspective, that means the Reds would probably have to have traded Nick Senzel. If you haven’t heard of him, that’s because he is still in the minor leagues, but he is the Reds future great hitter. A future that could begin this season at some point when the Reds call him up to the majors. He is not someone I want the Reds to trade…unless they are getting Clayton Kershaw…and that ain’t happening.

The Reds now have a bullpen that could easily finish in the top half of the league, so long as health problems do not become a thing. If the starting rotation can just be average, with the lineup they can run out each night, the Reds have a real shot to improve this year.

And I know I am crazy biased…but I really don’t think I am far off when I say they could finally end the streak of losing seasons in 2018

Pitchers and catchers report in 13 days.

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I’m Back…or at Least Trying to Be

So, I might be lazy….ok, I am lazy. I’m writing this post something like 6 months (I din’t look) since my last one. Heck, if you want to get technical, I for sure haven’t written all year, so yeah, bad Frederick.

That being said, consider this my re-re-re-foray into regular posting. I promise I will try, can’t really do much beyond that. All vamping aside, this is just a general post. A sort of refresher, get to know the guy typing, post.

I enjoy being me. I’m comfortable in my own skin. I laugh what I laugh at, and it really doesn’t bother me if what I am laughing at makes you shake your head. In fact, that will make me laugh more.

I am happy with myself physically, as well. Definitely got the “dad bod” going on…because beer and stuff…but that doesn’t bother me. What does bother me is getting fitted for a suit…which is why I work out, currently. Now when I say work out, I mean I use a treadmill and then flail my arms about while clutching some sort of weight in my hands. I have as much knowledge of what I am doing in the gym as does a sumo wrestler at a weight watchers meeting. That said, I still try.

The whole thought about getting fitted for a suit stems from thinking about two weddings this year in which I am closely tied, my own, and my best friend JD’s. Got to get a suit for both of em…and having a person (man or woman does not make it any less awkward) measure my body is just hilarious. I figured I could at least make it less of a guffaw when I hear the measurements if I go to the gym at least a handful of times in the next half year. As someone who is famous once sang, it’s the climb.

And, yeah, dieting is out the window, so you can stuff that in a sack. I like food.

So I figure I can be active at the gym for a bit each day, and then try out that thing that Alex Guerrero has Tom Brady doing where he trains his mind to not get hurt. I’ll just use my time in front of the television watching college basketball to teach my mind to make my body not as fat. Not the craziest idea there’s ever been, right? Sweet, now pass me the chips…

How to Survive a Bad Football Game

I live in Cincinnati. I love my town, I love the awesome things there are to do, places to go, people to see. I love the sports teams. My Reds are nearer and dearer to my heart than any sports team, period, but the football teams have a bit carved out in my heart, too.

My Bengals and my Bearcats are loved, that must be posed before I continue.

But I am honest with my fandom, and I know that I root for some lousy football teams.

Now there have been good times, don’t get me wrong. Playoff games, top ten national rankings, high-stakes bowl games, those have happened. What has happened, however, in far more abundance is losing. And more losing. And some more…and even losing in games which a win would mean soooo much goodness and happiness….but no, still losing.

In order to remain sane and have nice things, you have to learn a few things. You’ve really got to pay attention and revel in the little things. Things so small, most blow-hards screaming their lungs out at yet another piss-poor pass attempt would have absolutely no knowledge of. A prime example Would be the game between UC and Marshall, a few weeks back.

Most folks were bolting at halftime when the score was 24-0 in favor of the visiting Thundering Herd. A crowd of 35k was reduced to 25k, then 20k, then 15k by the beginning of the 4th quarter. Here’s how you hang tight when the score isn’t:

1. You got to have a friend who is on your level. Someone who doesn’t get too hot, but also someone who is in to the game. Be sure you will yell. If you care somewhat about your team and they begin to play awful, it will cause a reaction inside you that beckons a loud noise emit from your mouth. If your buddy does not share that, or even may laugh at you for doing so, you will only get angrier and want to leave real quick. So you have to have someone with you that will join you in your angst, but do nothing to add to it.

2. You’ve got to have an awareness of things going on in the periphery of the field. That reporter that is dressed to the nines and just tripped over her cameraman’s cord, that’ll keep you grounded with a good laugh. The mascot conversing with the strength coach? Perfect opportunity for “What do you think they’re saying?” – “Probably talking about that reporter that just bought it.” Little side things make the difference.

3. Be aware of game day trends. What I mean here is this: is it a whiteout/blackout themed game? Saturday against Marshall was advertised as a “Red-out” game for UC. The band, the cheerleaders, the dance team, the student section, even the football team themselves were going to wear red….until the football team charged out of the locker room in black. Fun little thought to blame a poorly performed game on “They don’t even have the right uniforms on, how they going to call the right play?”

4. Have good seats. Now this has nothing to do with location and everything to do with material. Nippert Stadium is inundated with bleacher seats. They’re everywhere. So your toosh gets a little unhappy after about an hour. Enter bearcatseats.com. They let you rent chair-back attachments that you can slide on your little piece of bleacher. Now me and my friend did not pay to rent, we stumbled upon the generosity of a fellow fan. As one of the many making their way for the gates come halftime, the older couple directly to our left told us we could use their seat-enhancers for the remainder of the game. Without hesitation, we slid em down our way. The difference between bleacher and cushy-seat-thing is the difference between concrete and couch cushions. Not to mention the nice little attachment that supports your back. Something Nippert’s bleachers don’t do. Add in the people in front of me leaving, so I could put my feet up, and the game could continue as it pleased.

5. Last but definitely not least you need a snack and a drink. Now this can be a lot of different things, and it largely depends on the environment. When you’re standing shoulder to shoulder in the student section, may just want to keep it to a hot dog. When Johnny Jumps-a-lot is right next to you, it’s hard to justify holding a beer that may or may not get spilled on the people in front of you. Take a walk on the concourse if you got to have a tasty beverage. If you’re at home, though, loaD up on the nachos and get a drink with readily available refills. In that particular UC/Marshall game, I didn’t have a snack, but I had a pint of some German beer in my right hand while relaxing on my seat cushion and had my feet kicked up on the bleacher in front of me. One thing is good about going to the stadium of a bad team: lots of room to spread out.

It’s ultimately taken the better part of my sports fan-life to figure this out: sports are for enjoying, don’t let them frustrate you.

Of course, if you’re at home, you’ve likely changed the channel.

Heard it Here First, Change is Coming

Bengals fans, get ready: 2018 will bring a new head coach to Cincinnati AND a new starting quarterback.

I’m just telling you this now to get you ready. No, I am not from the future, but the pieces have been set on the board and the duo of Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton are in check.

The last offseason brought two dynamic playmakers to Cincinnati on the offensive side of the ball and two pass rushers on the defensive side, all via the Draft. It also saw the two most impactful offensive linemen in orange and black leave. It is currently labeled an overreaction, but in the coming weeks it will become clear, Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler going to different teams was the most important thing to happen to the Bengals in 2017. Important because it set them up for a much needed regime change.

“Well, didn’t the front office foresee this? Why didn’t they have a contingency plan?” you may ask. That is where my theory begins.

Knowing Mike Brown was comfortable with the current regime and would not make a change without overwhelming evidence (as proven by Marvin Lewis not being fired after a disappointing 2016 season), Katie Blackburn got her friend Duke Tobin together and hatched a plan.

The two stalwarts on the Bengals’ offensive line were coming to the end of their contracts. Zeitler was going to command a hefty pay raise, one the Bengals were not going to give due to their philosophy of not paying guards lucrative money. Whitworth, on the other hand, was a fan favorite and the unquestioned leader of the offensive line at left tackle. He was moving into the twilight of his career, though, meaning a lowball-type offer could be explained.

So, the front office moved to offer Whit a contract they knew he would turn down and failed to make a better offer once the Rams moved in to sign. They also neglected to even put forth an offer to Zeitler, letting both go. Duke Tobin proceeded to assure anyone wary of the situation that the necessary replacements were in-house, advising that the team, instead, focus on upgrading the skill positions.

They did not set the team up to fail, but they chose the path with success being the least likely outcome.

AJ Green, Tyler Eifert, Brandon LaFell, Tyler Boyd, and John Ross are all dynamic players…when they have the ball in their hands. AJ runs some of the best routes, and is able shake off any cornerback, in the game…but it doesn’t matter if Andy is on the ground in the backfield with the ball still in his hands. “But Andy had the quickest release in the NFL last year!” you argue. Let me show you something, per Pro Football Focus.

Andy is a bottom-half of the league ranked quarterback under pressure. His average QB rating of 91.8 last year fell to 57.1 while under pressure. Last season the o-line, with Whit and Zeitler, allowed the sixth-fewest amount of plays in which Dalton was under pressure. He was sacked on 22% of those plays, however, which is the worst percentage in the league. That’s with an average offensive line covering for him. If you ask any NFL “expert” you will find that the Bengals have one of the worst rated offensive lines in the league. The amount of plays Andy is under pressure will go up, meaning his effectiveness will stay down.

Dalton will have his worst season in five years and he replaced.

Now they are athletes, after all, and they can improve. The game isn’t played on paper. Any given Sunday…blah, blah, blah. These Bengals were built so that the most likely outcome would be a 4-5 win season and a regime change.

Tell me I’m wrong until you are blue in the face, but I will defend this theory until I am proven wrong.

Disappointment

Let me qualify what I am about to say with this: I love queso and I enjoy Chipotle. The taste of that cilantro-rice with their fresh meat and really good salsa just works together really well. And queso…well…c’mon. There is no better dip for your chip.

I mean, a jar of Tostitos queso and whatever tortilla chips there are in the house is my number one pick for a Saturday or Sunday of football. Tastes amazing, and cleanup is just tossing stuff in the fridge (if there is some left) or the trash. The easy cleanup has it just ahead of Velveeta&Rotel, to me, because you have to make that queso, meaning there is a pot to clean.

Heck, in a pinch, melting some cheese on top of your chips is a solid play.

Heres where my posture turns.

Chipotle made queso. The one thing their menu lacked. My friends and I have always agreed, should Chipotle make queso, world domination would not be far behind for the Tex-mex giant. Chipotle becoming a hotbed for killer foodborn disease notwithstanding, the restaurant has actually blundered with their installment of the cheesy delight.

It sucks. I really don’t know how else to describe it. Chipotle got caught up in some glory battle over fresh ingredients or something and made a not-so-good-tasting product. By itself on a tortilla chip, it actually tasted more like cheddar potato soup. I was incredulous. All they had to do was take some of their delicious salsa and some of their fresh cheese and combine the two. Whatever they did instead of that created something more confusing than auto insurance fine print. Once combined with a burrito, taco, whatever you get at Chipotle, it completely disappears. I got it on my bowl and couldn’t tell it was there. Thinking I was losing it, I grabbed a chip, scooped some queso, and added some rice from the bowl (and only rice) and I was unable to tasks the queso of which I had a good bit of on the chip.

Starting at $1.25 to add it to your burrito, it’s a bit costly. By this line in the blog I’m sure you are thinking “Okay, maybe you’re overreacting? Is it possible you hyped it up too much and were betrayed by your own expectations?” The answer is no. Not at all. This stuff sucks. Don’t waste your money on it.

Bottom line, if you want queso on your Chipotle, do this. Go to Kroger, buy some Tostitos queso, then go to Chipotle and order your stuff. Then combine. Don’t waste your money or time with Chipotle not-queso.

Football

We did it. Just pat yourself on the back right now. Congrats buddy, we’re here. It is football season once again.

Tonight, a big school with national title hopes weirdly opens on the road at a conference foe’s stadium that will showcase a team destined to squeak into a bowl. Yeah, Ohio State plays Indiana. I’m not too interested in that game, though, and here’s why…

The UC Bearcats open up their season at home against Austin Peay. The lowly Governors have won something like one game in 4 years. They didn’t win any last year. Now they come to the Queen City to face a revamped, reinvigorated Bearcats team led by the next big thing in coaching, Luke Fickell.

Luke has already done some things right. Firstly, by definitively announcing who the starting quarterback is. I know, that seems pretty easy, but ol coach Tuberville couldn’t even do that last year. Hayden Moore, Gunner Kiel, and Ross Trail were handed starts like Tuberville was Oprah giving out gifts to her audience. All three started multiple games, and all three were surprised pretty much every week. Remember senior day, when Kiel, the senior quarterback, didn’t play a down? Yeah…

That’s all changed, though. Straight out of camp, Fickell tabbed Moore as this year’s guy. Moore even expressed his gratitude in an interview, not just for being named the guy, but the way it was handled. He feels confident now, something he sorely lacked last season. He’s go experienced teammates on the offensive side of the ball, so we’ll see what happens.

Speaking of experience, that’s something the defense lacks. Take the linebackers, for example. The corp has a total of eight guys. Six of them are freshmen, one a sophomore, and the other, Jaylyn Minor, is the lone senior. The program needed rebooting after last year’s 4-8 record, and Luke has the young guys to do it.

Most folks are saying the key thing to watch in this game, that should ultimately be a blowout, is how well the running game looks. Last year it was pretty atrocious. Mike Boone is back and healthy now, though, so it will be intriguing to see if the O-Line has improved any at all. If it has, the Bearcats may go Bowling this winter.

IDK: Turbo

If you google how to create a successful blog, most, if not every article will tell you to find your niche and stick with it. I don’t like that. I enjoy many things, but am no expert in anything, so I will take on everything. That being said, there’s an awful lot that I don’t know. These posts will be about things I have no knowledge of but decided to look em up and write about em.

 

This being my first know-nothing post, I didn’t want to tackle something too out there, like string theory. Instead, I thought I would write about a turbo charger on an automobile engine.

I like cars (and trucks) and enjoy car shows.

jeremy-clarkson-facts

Grand Tour host, and former Top Gear presenter, Jeremy Clarkson once described what a turbo charger (henceforth referred to as ‘turbo’) does. He said, “Exhaust gases go into the turbocharger and spin it, witchcraft happens, and you go faster.” Probably as good as you can explain it, really.

 

 

Say I am slightly more curious, though. The all-knowing Wikipedia describes a turbo as such: “(it) is a turbine-driven forced induction device that increases an internal combustion engine’s efficiency and power output by forcing extra air into the combustion chamber.” Sounds like it’s your annoying younger sibling who constantly is blowing on your ear during a long road trip in order to get a rise out of you. The reaction is the mechanical equivalent of you throwing a tantrum.

2017-porsche-911-turbo-test-review-car-and-driver-photo-674265-s-original

Engines aren’t limited to just one turbo, either. The Porsche 911 turbo has a pair of turbos that create a quick ride. Blowing all that air and pumping proportionate amounts of fuel pushes the 911 T up to 60 mph in less than three seconds. You can only blink like a few times before you’re speeding on every road that doesn’t start with the letter I.

 

The McLaren P1 takes that even a step further, adding an electric engine to the mix. See, despite not having driven a turbocharged car, I have heard that there is a slight lag between acceleration and turbo firing. The German engineers who made the P1 decided to fix that by having the electric motor boost the engine while waiting for the turbo to wake up. Because of that, well, there’s a reason you haven’t seen a P1 around your suburb (unless you live in Beverly Hills).fbrywmx2sswrg1kor11c

Nowadays turbos are pretty common. A turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is becoming more normal and replacing the V-6. Turbos, despite making your car more awesome in the performance area, also make your car more fuel-efficient. Take the new Chevy Cruze, for example.2017-chevrolet-cruze-lt-sedan-headlight

 

The 2017 Chevy Cruze comes with a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, in some options, that delivers 40 mpg highway and 30 mpg in the city. The 1992 Grand Marquis I scoot around in, meanwhile, has a V-8 and gets maybe 12 mpg overall. Give me that Chevy.

So, yeah, basically a price tag that bumps up a few nickels due to that “turbo” tag, it’s worth it.