Henryís Random Thoughts
May 9 saw the opening of 2009 Reds Bobblehead season, which will proceed with bobbles of Jay Bruce, Edinson Volquez and Brandon Phillips. The four bobbleheads, when placed side-by-side, will share a common background of Great American Ballpark.
This one features popular first baseman and Canada native Joey Votto, who has quickly stepped up to be a big bat in the Griffey-less/Dunn-less lineup of the team. Over 40,000 fans showed up to see the Reds beat the Cardinals on a strong outing by Aaron Harang, making the game a virtual sellout. The team gave out 30,000 of the bobbles, meaning that a substantial minority of fans went home without one. This is the first time in years I have heard of this happening for sure. For some of the more popular ones of recent times, like Griffey and Casey, the team gave out 40,000 each, enough for nearly everyone. A couple of years ago, they dropped the advertised total down to 30,000. This was fine as long as they passed them out on Wednesday night, when they wouldnít draw much more than that. Once they moved them back to Saturdays, this was inevitable, once there was a big enough draw to fill the stadium. I donít know whether it was planned to make too few, due to the recession, or if the team really meant for everyone to have one. I guess we will find out depending on whether the team order more than 30,000 for future games.
The team cut Pepsi loose from serving beverages at the stadium, meaning the era of Pepsi-sponsored bobbles is over. The new sponsor, John Morrell, is a local meat company that advertises heavily during Reds broadcasts. The company that makes the bobbles is Spittiní Image, a company Iíve never heard of. The bobbles seem to be of good quality and the packing of them was better than Iíve ever seen it. The biggest risk might be that it is in the box so tightly, some impatient soul might break a piece out trying to yank it out of the box too quickly. The bat is a separate piece in the package.
Iím beginning to wonder if a Reds bobble appearance comes with some kind of curse. Right before the bobble night, and for the eight games afterwards, Votto has missed some playing time with a strange ailment that doesnít seem baseball-related. You donít get the flu for ten straight days, so God knows what it could be. Time will tell, however. The bobble honors have not been kind to some players. Just ask Austin Kearns or Pete Harnisch or Felipe Lopez, three players whose careers went downhill right around when their dolls appeared.
Jay Bruce Bobblehead-July 4
The Fourth of July saw a day game between the Reds and Cardinals, as the Reds got above the .500 mark by beating the Cardinals 5-2. The house was almost full, with over 37,000 tickets sold. Bobblehead #2 of Jay Bruce offered no real surprises, as the matching background makes it the same size and theme as the earlier Votto. The crowds early on were a little lighter than they were for the Votto game, but based on the attendance figures and the published number given out, somebody left without one. Cardinals games always draw a lot of out-of-town Cards fans, so hopefully, they were the ones that missed out.
This one was sponsored by the US Army, the first time something other than a private company has sponsored one. It is a fitting tribute that the Army would get some recognition on the Fourth.
Joey Votto is back and slugging again after suffering from mental issues. Is the theory of the bobblehead curse dead? Bruce hasnít really suffered any misfortune yet. He needed to get his average up and his strikeouts down long before he was announced as a bobble subject, so that isnít part of it. The next scheduled bobble is Edinson Volquez, who is currently on the DL. How quickly he comes back may determine whether the curse is for real.
Edinson Volquez Bobblehead-July 18
July 18 was an exceedingly cool day by July standards, the kind of day that leads to good walk-up crowds, and this Saturday was no exception. It was essentially a sellout crowd that saw the Reds get beat by the Brewers 5-1, part of a run of futility that has even the most optimistic fan questioning whether this yearís team has even the smallest chance of contending.
This yearís third installment is young pitcher Edinson Volquez, acquired in the Josh Hamilton trade and fresh off an All-Star season, but lingering on the DL in 2009. At the beginning of the year, before the injury bug bit, Volquez won an online fan pool, beating out the rest of the Redsí pitching staff for the glory of being featured on an SGA bobble. The third different sponsor of the year was Kroger, the supermarket giant headquartered in Cincinnati.
Updating the ongoing theme of the bobblehead curse, Jay Bruce, honored on July 4, broke his wrist about a week ago, and will be out several weeks. As ugly as it looked, it did not require surgery. Perhaps the curse is there, but it isnít the kind of curse that ends careers. Joey Votto is back from his issues, and hopefully Volquez will take the hill again soon. Brandon Phillips, the subject of the final giveaway this year, has yet to miss significant time in 2009.
Brandon Phillips Bobblehead-August 15
August 15 saw just over 30,000 die-hard fans show up to see the Reds fall 10-6 to last-place Washington, as ex-Red Adam Dunn managed to hit a homer. More than likely, most of them showed up for the giveaway, as the team was in the middle of one of the worst second halves in recent memory, erasing a respectable start to the year. The final bobble was Brandon Phillips, honored for the second time in as many years. The Phillips appearances have both been for specific achievements, with last yearís honoring his 30-30 year and this yearís honoring his National League Gold Glove award.
Not wanting to risk being too subtle, the team actually painted the glove he is wearing gold. No, that isnít a melting scoop of ice cream in his right hand, it is a baseball, an object that, surprisingly, doesnít make it into too many bobbles. It has made it into a few, but it is usually resting atop something and is closer to mini basketball-size. Having it in the playerís grip is probably one of the more difficult things to render in a piece of mass-market art. Looking at the bobble itself, it looks a little better in person than in the picture I took. This one is sponsored by Cincinnati Bell, the fourth different sponsor this year.
Regarding the curse of the bobble that seems to be going on, Votto has not missed any more time lately, Bruce remains out as of this writing, and Volquez was forced to have Tommy John surgery. Phillips took a pitch on the hand the night of this giveaway, but apparently nothing was broken. On the other hand, Scott Rolen is way too new to be on a bobble, but he got hit in the head a few days after the Reds traded for him, and has been† out since then. This team might just be snake-bit in general.
Well, thatís all for this year. Iíll keep passing the time waiting for a contender by collecting these things. Wait, thereís one more thingÖ..how do they look together? I never cared too much for this gimmick, but I had to push them together to see. The background didnít line up as well as I thought it would. The heights of the background pieces are not exactly even. I guess thatís the level of precision you get in the field of bobble. These guys arenít exactly building engines for Porsches or anything. Phillips almost butts heads with Volquez. I suppose we should be happy they even fit together.