The Storm…Before THE Storm

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Last Thursday night in Yankee Stadium history was made.  The New York Yankees, who are decidedly not my favorite team, hit 5 home runs, an unprecedented 3 of them were Grand Slams.  Now this is a blog for the Cincinnati Reds so gushing about the Yankees is distasteful and unnecessary but when I read the box score a few things jumped out at me.

What would Reds fans do or say if our team accomplished this feat?

First, there would be a fair amount of ecstasy.  No, not of the illegal drug variety, but pure unadulterated joy.  Think about this accomplishment.  During the 2011 season, three Reds have hit Grand Slams:  Ramon Hernandez April 16th, Miguel Cairo June 7, and Edgar Renteria August 2.  The Yankees had 3 in 9 innings.  The Yankees scored 22 runs on just 21 hits.  While clutch hitting was obviously the rule of the day Oakland certainly made it as easy as they could by walking 13 batters to set up the Bronx Bombers.

The last time the Reds delivered that kind of a beating to an opponent was in 1999 when the scored more than 20 runs twice during the campaign.  The first time was May 19 vs the Colorado Rockies where the Redlegs won 24-12.  In this game Jeffrey Hammonds hit 3 home runs driving in 5, while Sean Casey smacked an additional 2 home runs driving in 6.  Catcher Brad Johnson also hit a home run in the game.  Another interesting fact was that Barry Larkin was the only starter not to record 3 or more hits having to settle for just 2 hits and 3 runs scored.  What a slacker…

The second game during this season came on September 4, 1999 in the horrid rat hole known as Veteran’s Stadium in Philadelphia.  This game the Reds put on an amazing display of power winning 22-3 by virtue of 19 hits and 8 walks.  9 of the 19 hits were home runs and 3 others were doubles.  I might have even enjoyed being in Philadelphia just for the opportunity to witness this game.  Catcher Eddie Taubensee hit 2 of the home runs the rest were by virtually the entire line up: Jeffrey Hammonds, Greg Vaughn, Mark Lewis, Pokey Reese, Brad Johnson, Aaron Boone, and Dmitri Young.  Strangely, the only starter not to have a hit in this game was again Barry Larkin.  Guess he knew to step up when they needed him and to sit back and let others have the glory during these two games.

The second thing we would see would be the complainers, those Reds “fans” who look for the dark cloud around every rainbow.  I expect they would look at the box score and debate the future of an offense that strikes out 9 times and leaves 12 men on base.  So far this season the Reds have left 12 or more men on base only 10 times during the regulation 9 innings splitting their record with 5 wins and 5 losses including last nights 4-3 win where the Reds left a 15 men on base.  You win games by having runners get on base and then driving them in, in retrospect maybe we should be focusing more on the fact that in 61 Reds losses not only did we fail to drive in runs, we didn’t get on base enough either.  Just a thought.  All in all, the Yankees had a good day and last night, so did the Reds.  Just not quite as dramatically.

I have only witnessed one Grand Slam while at the ball yard and I will always treasure the memory.  Ray Knight stepped to the plate leading off in the 5th inning with a 6-4 lead on May 13, 1980 and hit a home run to left center to start the inning off.  Junior Kennedy then grounded out followed by singles off the bats of Rich Auerbach and Dave Collins bringing Ken Griffey to the plate (1980 was before Jr/Sr designations were necessary).  Griffey delivered his pitch into right center and the rout was on.  A single by Dave Concepcion and walks to George Foster and Johnny Bench punctuated by a fly out off the bat of Dan Driessen and Ray Knight was back at the plate with the bases loaded and 2 outs leading by a comfortable 10-4 margin.  I was sitting in the second deck of Riverfront Stadium behind first base and the crowd was giddy with excitement at this inning without end and Knight did not disappoint delivering another ball into the left center stands and clearing off the bases.

Sure the Yankees just won a single game Thursday night, but somewhere in that crowd another teenage boy just captured a memory that will remain with him for a lifetime.

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