Dog days, toasted ravioli and Shaq
We’ve definitely hit a dog days of August lull at this point of the season. The Reds clubhouse, devoid of personalities like Jerry Hairston Jr. and David Weathers, seems a little quieter. Players just do their business and get ready for games, which is what they should be doing. It just makes for less interesting content for you to read about. With the Reds a season-high 13 1/2 games out of first place entering the night, there is obviously a lack of buzz around the team that contending would have otherwise brought.
I can tell you’re less interested, perhaps? The comment totals have nosedived in recent days.
The highlights of the day so far were two non-baseball related things. For lunch, I joined Hal McCoy and Enquirer writer Tom Groeschen at Charley Gitto’s — a downtown Italian eatery here and a good one. Hal introduced me to the place a few years ago and it’s a hit — especially the toasted ravioli appetizer. Toasted ravioli is to St. Louis what Skyline Chili is to Cincinnati. One great thing about the restaurant is the hundreds of photos on the wall — mostly of past generations of ballplayers. Tommy LaSorda, of course, is up there. So are guys like Steve Garvey, Whitey Herzog, Stan Musial and more. Once when I was there, I walked past Burt Young — who played “Paulie” from the Rocky movies.
From high up in the press box perch was a strange sight — basketball star Shaquille O’Neal in a Cardinals jersey. Shaq was around the batting cage with Albert Pujols shooting a future installment for his reality sports show on ABC, called “Shaq Vs.”.
A few Reds like Jay Bruce and Dusty Baker greeted Shaq with a handshake. Baker looked positively tiny standing next to the seven-foot plus O’Neal. I wished I had seen 5-foot-6 Daniel Herrera and Shaq together. I missed it.
Later, Shaq didn’t botch a ceremonial first pitch. He threw a solid strike to Pujols.