CINCINNATI - It's Friday, August 3, 2012:
ANTICIPATION: There's a pennant race in the NL Central and the Reds can dispose of the pesky Pirates this weekend, or Pittsburgh can tighten the standings. It's Mat Latos against Wandy Rodriguez Friday, Mike Leake against James McDonald on Saturday and Homer Bailey against A.J. Burnett on Sunday.
REDS VS PIRATES: Starting in 1970, the Reds and Pirates had some great series. The Reds eliminated the Pirates from the NLCS in 1970, 1972 and 1975. 1972 featured one of Johnny Bench's greatest moments, the game-tying home run in the fifth and deciding game against Dave Giusti. The "We are Family" Pirates beat the Reds in the 1979 playoffs, and the Reds won a tough five game series against the Pirates to get to the World Series in 1990.
A FRIDAY QUIZ: Name the Pirates outfield in 1990.
REDS 9 PADRES 4: The Reds scored six runs in the third inning on Thursday to take their third game of the series against San Diego. Johnny Cueto went seven innings in winning his 14th game of the season
HR DROUGHT: When Eddy Rodriguez of the Padres hit a home run against Cueto on Thursday, it was the first home run that Cueto had allowed in 11 starts and 80 innings, the longest stretch in the majors this season. The Reds record is 85.1 innings set by Bruce Berenyi in 1982. That will win you a bar bet.
NO VOTTO, NO PHILLIPS, NO PROBLEM: Todd Frazier started the scoring with a two-run homer. Ryan Hanigan doubled home two more runs, and Jay Bruce singled home two more. Scott Rolen had three hits.
GOLDEN SOMBRERO: It was a forgettable day for Xavier Paul, who has been hitting the ball well since he came to the Reds. But Thursday he went 0-5 and struck out four times.
STAT TO REMEMBER: The Pirates have feasted at home, where their record is 33-16. They are 27-28 on the road.
STANDINGS: Pittsburgh was off on Thursday while the Cardinals were losing 8-2 to the Rockies. The Pirates are 3 1/2 games in back of the Reds. The Cardinals are eight games back.
SORRY I MISSED THAT ONE: The USA Men's basketball team beat Nigeria in the Olympics Thursday 156-73.
THE CINCINNATI KID: Flyweight Rau'shee Warren starts his bid today with a bout against Nordine Oubaali of France. This is the third Olympics for Warren.
THE WEIGHT: Where has America's amateur boxing program gone? Seven of the nine fighters on the US team were eliminated before they reached the quarterfinals. I can imagine the pressure on Warren to advance to save face for the Americans. He's a talented kid, I hope he can do it.
DID YOU KNOW?: Bengals Offensive Coordinator Jay Gruden has been named the fourth best player in the first 25 years of the Arena Football League. Gruden, a quarterback, led the Tampa Storm to the Arena Bowl title in 1992. He was the MVP of the league in 1993.
WORTH NOTING: Kurt Warner, who went on to have a great career in the NFL, was only ranked the 16th best Arena player of the quarter century.
DOES SI LEIS KNOW ABOUT THIS? There was an article in the New York Times last Friday stating that strip clubs in Tampa are eagerly anticipating the GOP Convention. Tampa is know for its strip clubs, and the article said there are 20 such clubs in Tampa and 50 in the Tampa Bay area. But this is what shocked me.. "Per capita, it(Tampa) ranks behind Las Vegas and Cincinnati." Are you kidding me? I think somebody has to check their facts.
MUCH GREEN FOR THE BROWNS: Jimmy Haslam has bought the Cleveland Browns for a billion dollars plus. This guy has made a fortune owning the Pilot Flying J Travel Plazas all over the USA. Does this mean another start-over for the Browns?
THE BEST EVER? I've heard some debate over the past couple of days about whether Michael Phelps is the greatest Olympian of all time because he's won the most medals. Rubbish! Is Pete Rose the greatest hitter in baseball because he had the most hits? No way. I think it's fair to say that Phelps is the greatest swimmer ever in the Olympics, but I wouldn't go any further than that.
THE LIST: I think it's nearly impossible to pick the greatest Olympians, because you're comparing different generations, different disciplines and different talents. But my list would start with Carl Lewis,and continue with Jesse Owens and Edwin Moses. Did we ever see a greatest gymnast than Nadia Comaneci? Or a more artistic diver than Greg Louganis? Or more thrilling skiers than Franz Klammer or Jean Claude Killy? I like Michael Phelps, but he has to get in line, a long line.
HAIRCUT DAY: I head to downtown Aurora for a haircut Friday morning, but it won't compare with the clip that Marty Brennaman will get following the Reds game Friday night. Marty lost a bet and the payoff is the shaving of his head. Congratulations to Marty and the Reds Community Fund for turning a simple bet into a fun event. It's been the talk of the town all week.
FRIDAY QUIZ: When the Reds beat the Pirates in the 1990 Playoffs, Pittsburgh had a great outfield of Barry Bonds, Andy Van