Results tagged ‘ Barry Larkin ’

Congratulations Gene Bennett

The Reds announced today that longtime front office man Gene Bennett retired. For most Reds fans, his name won’t be immediately recognizable but you’ll know many of the people he’s responsible for signing to the team. He’s been part of the Reds organization for 58 years!

I will write that part again….58 years. Wow.

Gene has long been one of my favorite people to know since I’ve started covering the Reds. He’s always been kind and will come up and talk. He knows the game inside out and I’ve always enjoyed running into him at Spring Training and chatting with him near the practice fields.

Here is a portion of the Reds’ press release:

 He will be honored tonight during the Reds Caravan stop at Fannin Motors in Ashland, Kentucky and on Portsmouth Day in ceremonies prior to the Sunday, April 17 afternoon game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

            “Gene has been an important part of the Reds’ family for almost 60 years,” said Reds President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Walt Jocketty. “He leaves a legacy not only here but also in baseball’s scouting fraternity. He made countless contributions to the success of our proud franchise.”

            Bennett, 82, has been a senior special assistant to the general manager since October 1992. After signing as a player in 1952, he began scouting in 1958 and was promoted to scouting supervisor in 1975. His notable signings include Reds Hall of Famers Don Gullett, Barry Larkin and Chris Sabo along with Jeff Russell, Charlie Leibrandt and Paul O’Neill.

            Larkin, a 12-time All-Star and the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1995, said, “Gene not only is a great scout, as anyone in baseball will tell you, but he also is such a wonderful person. He will be missed by everyone in the game.”

2012 HOF looks good for Larkin

Barry Larkin made a big jump this year in balloting for the Hall of Fame and next year should put him over the top of the required 75 percent of the vote.

Why?

Check out the first time eligibles on the 2012 ballot

Edgardo Alfonzo, Pedro Astacio, David Bell, Jeromy Burnitz, Vinny Castilla, Scott Erickson, Carl Everett, Jeff Fassero, Alex S. Gonzalez, Danny Graves, Rick Helling, Dustin Hermanson, Jose Hernandez, Brian Jordan, Matt Lawton, Javy Lopez, Bill Mueller, Terry Mulholland, Jeff Nelson, Phil Nevin, Brad Radke, Joe Randa, Tim Salmon, Ruben Sierra, Jose Vizcaino, Bernie Williams, Eric Young

Holdovers like Jack Morris and Jeff Bagwell should get some more consideration but to me, Larkin seems like a lock to get in next year.

The Captain and The Mayor

Popped over to the Goodyear complex for a little while before the Reds go to Mesa for the Cubs.

One of the first people I saw Saturday morning was Barry Larkin laughing at his locker in the coaches room. Larkin is in camp as a guest instructor for about 10 days and wearing a Reds uniform for the first time since he departed after the 2004 season.

Although 45, Larkin looked like he could still play.

“Looks can be deceiving,” he replied.

One thing Larkin didn’t overlook was the meaning of wearing that No. 11 uniform again.

“It feels good. It feels natural,” Larkin said. “I was telling Joey Votto the other day about my opportunity to play with the Nationals. When I saw the Nationals uniform with 11 and ‘Larkin’ on the back, I told them I couldn’t put the uniform on. I couldn’t do it. I sat in my locker and just looked at it like ‘something is not right about this.'”

Larkin spent a few years in the Nats front office but now works for MLB Network. As does Sean Casey, who is also back in uniform for the first time on Saturday.

One of my few regrets on this job is that I never got to cover the Reds when Casey was here. I started in December, 2005 during the Winter Meetings and the first news I got to write about was Casey being traded to the Pirates for LHP Dave Williams. We know how that deal turned out for Cincinnati.

Casey, aka “The Mayor”, is about as nice as they come and I’ve gotten to talk with him a few times since he left the Reds. But for the reporters he knew when he played here, there is fond feelings.

Casey saw Hal McCoy in the hallway and engulfed him a gigantic hug with big slaps on the back. I think Hal is headed to the chiropractor in a few minutes.

In that hallway, Dr. Tim Kremchek was giving Casey some grief. Casey called Doc last night while Kremchek was at the Suns-Lakers game.

“Where’s Doc? My elbow is killing me,” Casey said. “I think I need a cortisone shot.”

“You’re retired for God’s sake,” Kremchek said.

“It’s all the pullups I’ve been doing,” Casey joked.

*The Reds had a lineup change. Scott Rolen was scratched and Juan Francisco was the replacement in the fourth spot and at third base. The Reds said nothing was wrong with Rolen.

*After two relief appearances, lefty Aroldis Chapman will make his first start on Wednesday in the split-squad afternoon game vs. the Brewers.

*Jay Bruce is off to a nice start batting .429 (6-for-14) with a homer in six games. Considering the bad year he had last season, it’s encouraging. It’s also a sign that some of the improvement he made after coming off of the DL late in the year is sticking.

“So far, what I’ve been proud of is that I’m not going up there feeling like I’m having to hit or having to swing at pitches,” Bruce said. “I’m making a decision on the pitch I’m going to swing at. It’s not so much of collision hitting this year. It’s more of having more time to make a decision. I’ve chased very few pitches. Everyone is going to chase some pitches or swing at bad pitches or strikeout. I’m trying to cut down on that as much as I can. That’s my goal.”

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No HOF yet for Larkin

The Hall of Fame results were just announced on MLB Network and surprisingly, only one name was called to Cooperstown, Andre Dawson. He received 77.9 percent of the vote on 420 ballots, according to the HOF web site.

I wasn’t surprised that Barry Larkin didn’t get in on the first try but I was surprised that he only got 51.6 percent (278 votes). I thought it would be higher.

The good news for Larkin and his fans is that this vote was still a solid indication that he will get in someday, and probably pretty soon. It could certainly be worse — his shortstop contemporary, Alan Trammell, got just 22 percent of the vote on his seventh try.

I feel bad for my friend and former Twins pitcher Bert Blyleven, who fell a mere five votes shy from getting in. Blyleven received 74.2 percent. He still has two more tries and next year should be his time.

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Larkin's HOF chances?

I took a read around the Internets today as I wrote a preview story about the Hall of Fame ballot reveal on Wednesday as it pertains to Barry Larkin.

Several BBWAA members with Hall of Fame votes revealed their picks. Based on what I saw, Larkin could fall a little short of the required 75 percent.

In Larkin’s favor were writers like ESPN’s Jayson Stark, FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, Hal McCoy and another Hall of Fame writer, Tracy Ringolsby. So were Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman and Ken Davidoff of Newsday.

“Barry Larkin is one of the greatest shortstops who ever lived. Period,” Stark wrote. “Barry Larkin is a Hall of Famer. An easy Hall of Famer.”

“OK, so Larkin didn’t revolutionize the position the way Ripken and Ozzie Smith did, ” Rosenthal wrote. “And none of his achievements was as historic as Ripken’s consecutive-games streak. His 10 career trips to the disabled list also deprived him of greater counting stats. Shouldn’t matter. Larkin was a more complete player than Smith and perhaps even Ripken.”

From Scott Miller of CBSSports.com:

“In Larkin’s case, for example, his on-base percentage plus slugging percentage (OPS) was .815, as opposed to the NL shortstop league average during Larkin’s career of .678. The only two shortstops throughout the past 30 years whose OPS was that much higher than everyone else at his position was Alex Rodriguez and Nomar Garciaparra. I’m not sure enough people appreciate this aspect of Larkin, and I think he’ll probably fall short in this year’s voting.”

BaseballThinkFactory.com had a leaderboard based on 88 full ballots it saw. Not looking favorable for Larkin.

88.8 – Alomar
81.8 – Blyleven
80.7 – Dawson
58.0 – Larkin

Dave Van Dyck of the Chicago Tribune said no on Larkin and also no on Bert Blyleven, Edgar Martinez, Jack Morris, Tim Raines and Alan Trammell. Van Dyck picked Roberto Alomar, Andre Dawson and Lee Smith to get in.

T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com told me he did not check Larkin’s name on his ballot.

In his story for USA Today, Mike Dodd revealed his ballot and was not in Larkin’s corner. His main reasoning, however, seemed nearly laughable.

“I’m one of those voters who believes first-ballot election is a genuine distinction and a worthy one,” Dodd wrote. “And I think Larkin falls just short of it. I’ll vote for him next year. And yes, probably [Alan] Trammell, too.”

I know voters can change their minds over the years and players’ careers can take on a different perspective with more time — that’s their privilege. But holding out on someone you think is worthy just because he shouldn’t get in during his first time on the ballot? Really? 

Can someone explain to me how Larkin’s numbers will improve from year one on the ballot to year two and beyond? The notion of a “first ballot Hall of Famer” is a bit silly. He’s either a Hall of Famer or he isn’t.

The 2010 HOF ballot will be revealed at 2 p.m. ET. MLB.com and MLB Network will carry it live.

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Best/Worst of 'The Aughts'?

Obviously, this week has been one of reflection about the decade that’s about to end. In terms of the Reds, I was trying to think of the best moments of the “aughts,” and then I tried to ponder about some of the watershed events in Cincinnati sports in general. It was tougher for me since I spent half of this decade not living in Cincinati.

So, what did I come up with?

The bottom line: This has been one rough decade for the Cincinnati sports fan. If you’re reading this, I guess I’m not telling you something you don’t already know.

I thought about Kenyon Martin breaking his leg in the Conference USA Tournament in 2000, ruining the Bearcats’ possibly best chance at a National Championship. There was Kimo Von Oelhoffen plowing into Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer’s knee during the playoffs in 2006. There was Bob Huggins’ 2004 DUI and subsequent fall as head coach of the Bearcats. Even one of the feel good stories — the UC football team’s undefeated 2009 season — was marred at the end since head coach Brian Kelly bolted for Notre Dame before he could take the team to the Sugar Bowl.

And then there were the Reds. Remember how optimistic everyone was when the decade started? In 1999, the Reds were one game away from making the playoffs and seemed poised for good times when Ken Griffey Jr. arrived for the 2000 season. That would be the one and only winning season for the Reds this decade. There have been numerous managers and general managers that have come and gone without success and many more players.

There have been some nice Reds moments, of course. Griffey’s 500th and 600th career home runs (in 2004 and 2008, respectively) immediately come to mind. Jay Bruce’s debut week in the Majors in 2008 was sensational. There was Adam Dunn’s 535-foot homer to the driftwood on the banks of the Ohio River in 2004. Brandon Phillips and Bronson Arroyo arrived in 2006 and Joey Votto hit the scene in late 2007. Phillips had a 30-homer, 30 stolen base season in 2007. The 1990’s most popular Reds player, Barry Larkin, retired in 2004.

Here’s the question for you to ponder as 2010 approaches — what is your favorite two or three Reds memories from 2000-2009? And while we’re at it, how about your favorite Cincinnati sports moment?

Hopefully, the next decade will be more fun for the Cincinnati sports fan. It almost has to be, right?

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