When Reds pitcher Mike Leake hit his first career home run Monday night off Braves starter Mike Minor at Great American Ballpark, it landed directly in the lap of 20-year-old casual-turned-hardcore fan Caleb Lloyd, who was sitting at the edge of the left field bleachers.
It was also Lloyd's first home run catch, he said later.
When Zach Cozart hit a homer to mark the occasion of the Reds first back-to-back jacks since last season, the ball headed toward the same general vicinity of the first homer, bounced a couple seats away from where Lloyd was sitting and landed directly into his free hand (the other was occupied by his previous homer catch).
The last time that happened was never. I think dude should call Guinness.
(Drew Stubbs followed Cozart's jack with a home run of his own, making it a rare back-to-back-to-back homer hat trick. Sadly, it went to right center field, not directly in Lloyd's pocket.)
The Reds' TV crew invited Lloyd up to the broadcast booth to hang out for a bit. He spoke to the media before last night's game, where he was also named the team's honorary captain and delivered the game card to the ump before the first pitch.
To make the story even more perfect, Lloyd reportedly returned to Leake his first home run ball to keep as a memento and he gave the friend who he said "dragged" him to the game the other ball. What a guy!
That wasn't the first Reds fan's fancy fielding move this year to trump any made on the field (at least for the day). At Yankee Stadium just four days before Monday's miraculous catches, a young Reds fan amongst the savage Yankee masses gracefully swooped a Joey Votto foul ball out of mid air with his glove while his father (also decked out in Reds gear) hoisted him up a good four feet into the air.
The father/son combo was up for ESPN's Web Gem that night, put up against a play at home by Elvis Andrus of the Texas Rangers. The Reds fans won the vote 63 percent to Andrus' 37 percent. (He's probably pissed. I mean, he had to perform his play all by himself!)
The cool surprise ending to this story — according to Jim Day's postgame report on Fox Sports Ohio, the man from the two-person foul-ball catching team was Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan's brother-in-the-law; the kid was the catcher's nephew.
Mick Cronin’s overhaul of the University of Cincinnati basketball program was destined to be a multi-year effort. No one could be expected to take over a program with one scholarship player and only the summer to recruit his first class and then immediately compete in the Big East. UC’s first two seasons under Cronin were going to suck because of the talent level available — even at the JUCO level — at that point in the game, and starting that late with such a sketchy group affected Cronin’s first full year of recruiting as well.
The UC Bearcats came from behind in the fourth quarter to beat Hawaii 29-24 and finish off an amazing 11-2 regular season. Receiver Mardy Gilyard, who graces the cover of this week's CityBeat, caught the winning touchdown pass.
It seems like months ago that football was actually interesting. The first round of the NFL playoffs is cool, and the conference semifinals offer a nice slate of games over a two-day period. But once the conference championships get here, it’s like, “Ah, I’m bored. F the Steelers, and the NFC sucks.”
Then the two-week media break comes, and all we have is speculation, feel-good stories and those weird video game demonstrations on ESPN. (Does anyone else hate Mark Schlabach?) If I have to listen to John Clayton answer another Coors Lite six-pack of Super Bowl questions, I’m going to drink six of those watery beers and smash each bottle over my head. I’ve done it before.
Not everyone is the type of person who throws pennies in the garbage rather than collecting them in a coffee can, rolling them into groups of 50, bundling them in a plastic bag and taking them to the bank to collect the $5 bounty. Luckily for professional athletes, sports agents aren't this type of person.
Hi from Fifth Third Arena!
The UC Bearcats just finished warming up for their contest against the South Florida Bulls. Before they headed into the locker room Darnell Wilks tried a windmill jam with the ball near his knees and Cashmere Wright tried to throw in a crazy rebound. The 'Cats look ready to play some ball.
Throw in a game Dec. 23 at home against St. Francis (PA), which right now is 2-6, and it looks like the ’Cats could open the year with a 12-0 record and no doubt a spot in the Top 25.
Although I missed the morning and afternoon session of Day Three, Brian Taylor snagged a few key photo opportunities. From Center Court, there are shots of the match between Svetlana Kuznetsova versus American qualifier Jill Craybas. The results, with Kuznetsova cruising 6-3, 6-4 into the second round, speak to the stout power of the talented Russian, who happens to be one of the more formidable hitters on the women’s side. Off court, Taylor captured Rafael Nadal during his press conference, where he likely faced questions about the ongoing meteoric rise of Novak Djokovic who is in the midst of a phenomenal run, the likes of which the game hasn’t seen, possibly ever. Will it continue here, or will Rafa or reigning champion Roger Federer (the only player to have beaten Djokovic so far this year) or someone else slow him down before the U.S. Open?
It happened again. This time it didn’t include cat chasing or yelling in the streets at 3 a.m., but Brian Kelly’s outrageous head coaching decisions yesterday threatened to ruin a perfectly good Friday night, just like they did last Saturday.
It’s fitting for Major League Baseball to officially honor its role in spurring America’s Civil Rights Movement by including black players during the 1940s. But it’s also appropriate to recognize the many leagues and individuals who played the game during the decades of segregated baseball that preceded it (and maybe to wonder why it took the league as long as it did to offer inclusion).