Henryís Random Thoughts
April 20-Brandon Phillips Bobblehead
4/20 had something for us to look forward to this year, even those of us who do not inhale any mind-altering substances. It was the opening of bobblehead season for Reds fans. This is the earliest in the year that they have ever been handed out, beating the April 30 giveaway in 2011. The weather was unseasonably cold, and when you add to that the early start time, the game had a winter feel. However, the first 30,000 fans got the bobblehead, there was some free baseball (in the form of extra innings), and the Reds won, so those who braved the cold went home happy. The bobblehead honoree even drove in the winning run on a sacrifice fly. The paid gate was around 35,000, so if a number of them no-showed due to the cold, itís conceivable that almost everyone who wanted the giveaway got one.
The Reds honored Brandon Phillips with this one. This is the third time theyíve honored him. Since the first one was a dual ď30/30Ē commemorative, and the second one was a fielding pose, they could lay claim to offering something new in the form of this batting pose. As they have with recent ones, they shipped the bat as a separate piece that goes into a hole in the figureís hands. PNC Bank sponsored this one, so perhaps they are back to having really big-name sponsors.
This one was furnished by Impact Promotions, the same company that has had the Redsí business for a couple of years. The square green base is the same as the one used for active players last year.
While the Reds did lean on stars who have already appeared on bobbles with this Phillips and a later Votto giveaway, those who like to see new players featured need not fear. There are five giveaways scheduled this year, and they are all active players. So that leaves three slots for new faces.
May 11-Aroldis Chapman Bobblehead
May 11ís day game once again gave the fans everything they could have asked for: cool weather, a big Reds win over the Brewers, and the most-hyped giveaway of the year, the Aroldis Chapman bobblehead. The game was a sellout, but without standing room tickets being sold. As the Reds dip further into moving their ticket prices up as demand surges, itís more likely that the goal will be to sell out at the last minute at a higher price rather than early at a lower one. Bobblehead fans as well advised to get tickets well in advance for the well-hyped Saturday games, before they start fiddling with prices. You still want to get to the game early, though, as long as the number they pass out is lower than stadium capacity. This time, they passed out 30,000, more than enough for those who made it early.
The above bobblehead, like many others, doesnít err on the side of subtlety. The playerís pitching motion is pronounced for all the world to see, with a fire effect showing behind the baseball heís holding. Itís really meant to convey what Chapman stands for from all the way across the room.
The above picture shows that itís a bit daring to attempt fine details in this particular medium. As is often the case, the part of the hand near the ball has some white paint on it. But overall, the effect is pretty good if you arenít scrutinizing it. The picture below shows that the flame effect is attached to the back of his pants leg for stability. It makes it look sort of silly from the back, but hey, this thing is meant to be viewed from the front or, at worst, the side. Itís better to do something like that than have half of them break in shipping.
Like last yearís most-hyped bobble, the Joey Votto Gold Glove, the Reds sold a six-pack with a guarantee that a purchaser of such a package would get their bobblehead, even if they showed up late. This year, in a thumb to the eye of those who get multiples to resell, they reserved the gate closest to the exit exclusively for those who bought the package. Since itís uneconomical for a reseller to buy a multi-pack for one bobblehead, it meant that those single-game ticket holders had to run halfway around the stadium to get each one. If their goal was to turn the venue into a mini-Kentucky Derby with people running around instead of horses, annoying other patrons all the while, they succeeded. If the goal was to prevent me from getting mine, they failed. I just had to run until I darn near keeled over. Most of the people who run for them are younger than me and therefore fared even better.
June 5-Mat Latos Bobblehead
June 5 saw the Reds forced to make an emergency call-up for a starter due to injury, and of course he got pounded pretty hard in the Redsí loss to the Rockies. About 27,000 showed up for the Wednesday night game, meaning there was enough of the nightís giveaway for everyone, even the late arrivals. That item featured Mat Latos, whose excellent work contrasts with what Reds fans witnessed in person the night of the giveaway.
When this giveaway was announced, I wondered if the somewhat cautious Reds promotions department would throw long sleeves over the vast assortment of tattoos the real-life Latos sports. After all, this is the kind of player Marge Schott would have passed on just due to the fact that he looks a bit too non-conformist. But in fact, they took the chance and showed them.
In fact, the tattoos are the defining feature of this one. Otherwise, itís just a pitcher standing there, not too different from the Pete Harnisch and Danny Graves ones made in 2001. Obviously, a contract manufacturer in China isnít going to replicate the minutest details of such a thing, but they pulled the effect off pretty well. Basically, the things were created by etching grooves in the arms, making the coloring of them a little easier for the workers. They also put the Nike Swoosh on his glove.
This one was sponsored by Toyota, which sponsors the well-publicized ďhit the signĒ contest. You know the sign. Itís the one nobody ever hits.
Toyotaís North American operations have offices in Northern Kentucky, and their oldest plant in the US is in Georgetown, Kentucky, about an hourís drive from Cincinnati. Although a Ford plant still exists in Cincinnatiís suburbs, Toyota is more of a local name than any of the Big Three Detroit-based automakers.
July 3-Todd Frazier Bobblehead
July 3 saw the Reds beat the Giants in 11 innings by a score of 3-2. While the win pushed the Giants farther away from a repeat of a championship, I canít say it made up for what the Giants did to the Reds in the 2012 playoffs. But anyway, the house was basically full, as this was the beginning of a four-day weekend for a lot of people. It was essentially like a Friday game.
The first 30,000 fans got this bobblehead to sooth those bad memories of the prior October. The player featured was Todd Frazier, runner-up to Bryce Harper for Rookie of the Year in 2012. Frazier was considered the top rookie most of the year, but Harper got the award either because he finished stronger or because the writers bought into the hype. It depends on who you ask.
This bobblehead featured an open-mouth pose, which is something Iíve never seen before. Itís either a little creepy-looking or a nice innovation. Like the Rookie of the Year debate, it depends on who you ask. The item was sponsored by the Ohio Lottery.
August 6-Joey Votto Bobblehead
The promotions department went to the Votto well once again this year, something theyíve done just about every year since he won the starting job. And who can blame them? Once again, heís among the league leaders in batting and on-base percentage. If his career keeps going this way, he might be featured on 15 different ones before he retires.
This one was sponsored by Formica, a flooring company that sponsored one of last yearís, too. So they seem to be in the rotation of sponsors for now. When somebody has been on so many items as Votto, itís a little tough to do anything new. But I do notice that they have his front heel off the ground, something that mimics the real Vottoís batting stance.
The game is against the Aís. Itís going on as I type this, so I canít say who will win. The crowd will probably be around 30,000, since while the weather is perfect, thatís about the ceiling for a Tuesday game. So even the latecomers should get the bobblehead.
The raised foot really shows on the above view. Iím not sure how many people will display it facing this way, however.
I sign off for the year with this display, which is shown on every Reds broadcast from Miami. The shelves on the display vibrate so the heads bobble. A collection like that could have been assembled over the last decade or so, even by an average Joe spending most of his collectibles budget on bobbleheads. The impressive thing is the display itself, which I believe cost more than the items inside it. I wish the Reds have one of these, but hey, the Reds arenít regularly dumping young stars the way the Marlins always seem to.