December 2009

Jeff Bailey Talks About His New Team

The Jeff Bailey era is over in Pawtucket.

 


Bailey at Fenway resize.jpg 

(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)

 

After spending parts of the last six years with the PawSox, Jeff Bailey will not be back at McCoy Stadium in 2010.  The 31-year-old outfielder/first baseman agreed to a minor league contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks on December 23rd.

 

Bailey received an invitation to major league spring training camp and hopes to open the season with Arizona instead of its Triple-A team in Reno, NV.

 

“I’ve gotta think it’s a better opportunity to actually make the major league team out of spring training,” Bailey told me from his home in Kelso, WA.  “Obviously last year, I did everything that I could in the spring and I still didn’t make it with Boston.  I figure I’m going to try to do the same thing with Arizona and hope that it’s good enough to make the team and actually stick there.  It could be an up-and-down season just like the last few and that’s fine too.”

 

“I’ve had numerous people tell me that I’m a National League player,” Bailey said.  “I agreed with them the whole time, but I just liked the situation that I was in with Boston.  But in the National League with double-switches and more pinch hitters, it’s going to benefit me, I know that.”

 

Bailey earned promotions to Boston in each of the last three seasons, batting .228 (.340 OBP) with 6 HR in 56 games.  Jeff was the International League’s MVP with Pawtucket in 2008 when he batted .301 with 25 HR and 75 RBI in 109 games (.405 OBP/.562 SLG).  So what was the highlight of his six years in the Red Sox organization?   

 

“I never got to play in a playoff game and that would have been the biggest highlight, but I’d have to say that my first major league call-up would be it.  I wasn’t doing so well that year, and when RJ (manager Ron Johnson) told me the news at a truck stop on the New York State Thruway, I didn’t believe him.  He had to tell me again before I realized he was serious.  That would probably be the number one moment right there.”

 

“The whole six years I really can’t think of any moments that were disappointing for me,” Bailey told me.  “Obviously, on the field I would have liked to play better some of those years, but there’s nothing you can do about that.  Who knows, maybe my time with Boston is not over – maybe after I get done playing, I can coach for them.  I haven’t really given that much thought, but maybe in a few more years I’ll think about that.”

 

Here’s hoping that Jeff spends the next few years in the major leagues.

 

* * * * *  

 

Bailey falls one year short of tying the team record for longest tenure as a player.  There are two players in PawSox history who have spent parts of seven seasons with the team – Dave Koza (1977-1983) and Mike Rochford (1984-1990).

The End of a Memorable Decade For The PawSox

I love the Top 10 lists that come out at the end of every decade.

 

This website even has a list of the Top 10 Top 10 lists for 2000 to 2009.

 

I didn’t start working for the PawSox until 2006, but I still thought I’d take a shot at the “Top 10 Pawtucket Red Sox Moments” of the decade.

 

Here goes:

 

10.  The PawSox advance to the Governor’s Cup finals in 2003.  It was Pawtucket’s first playoff appearance in 6 years, and the PawSox beat Ottawa in the opening round to end a streak of seven straight losses in playoff series dating back to 1986.  Unfortunately, Pawtucket was swept in the finals by Durham.

 

9.  Earl Snyder ties the PawSox single-season home run record by bashing 36 in 2004.

 

8.  In his one season with Pawtucket, Jacoby Ellsbury shatters the franchise record for longest hitting streak by hitting safely in 25 straight games in 2007.  The previous record of 19 straight games was shared by Dave Berg and Dave Stapleton.

 

7.  Big Papi takes over McCoy Stadium in 2008.  David Ortiz spends three days with Pawtucket on rehab and homers in all three games, drawing at least 10,675 fans for each game.

 

6.  Bronson Arroyo (2003) and Tomo Ohka (2000) toss 9-inning perfect games at McCoy Stadium.

 

5.  PawSox play their first game at Fenway Park.  With a sellout crowd of 33,394 in attendance, Pawtucket beats Rochester 5-4 in the inaugural “Futures at Fenway” doubleheader in 2006.  Carlos Pena’s 2-run HR in the bottom of the 8th inning drives home the winning run.

 

4.  Dustin Pedroia named Rookie of the Year (2007) and American League MVP (2008) after earning International League All-Star honors with the PawSox in 2006.

 

3.  Pawtucket wins a franchise-record 85 games in 2008, before losing in the playoffs to eventual league champion Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

 

2.  Ben Mondor, Joe Morgan, and Jim Rice are inducted into the International League’s Hall of Fame in 2008.

 

1.  Thanks in part to the tireless lobbying efforts of Ben Mondor and the PawSox, Jim Rice joins Wade Boggs, Dennis Eckersley, and Carlton Fisk on the list of former Pawtucket players to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 2009.

 

Did I miss anything? 

 

I’d love to hear from you.  The address is dhoard@pawsox.com.

 

And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

A Christmas List

This is the first year that my 3-year-old son Sam has made out a Christmas list.  His number one wish is for a 540-piece Metallic Earth Puzzleball meant for kids ages 10-and-older.  We’ve tried to trick him into thinking that he doesn’t really want it, but Sam is sure that Santa will come through.

 

I can’t spoil his first Christmas list right?  It looks like I’m going to be spending a bunch of time helping him put together that gigantic puzzle.

 

Red Sox fans who love to follow minor league prospects as they make their way through the system received a list of their own this holiday season as Baseball America released it’s annual list of Boston’s Top 10 minor league prospects on December 23rd.

 

Here’s this year’s Top 10:

 

1.  Ryan Westmoreland, OF

2.  Casey Kelly, RHP

3.  Josh Reddick, OF

4.  Lars Anderson, 1B

5.  Ryan Kalish, OF

6.  Junichi Tazawa, RHP

7.  Reymond Fuentes, OF

8.  Anthony Rizzo, 1B

9.  Jose Iglesias, SS

10.  Derrik Gibson, SS/2B

 

Several of those players figure to spend time at McCoy Stadium this season.

 

Josh Reddick and Junichi Tazawa made it to Pawtucket last year and are almost certain to begin 2010 with the PawSox.

 

22-year-old Lars Anderson – who was ranked number one on the list last year – was expected to make it to Triple-A in 2009, but had a disappointing season at Double-A Portland batting .233 with 9 HR and 51 RBI.  Baseball America still lists Lars as the best power hitting prospect in the Red Sox system, and projects him to be Boston’s starting first baseman in 2012.

 

Ryan Kalish is only 21-years-old, but he played in 103 games in Double-A last year and did quite well posting a .781 OPS.  If he doesn’t start the year with Pawtucket, he’ll be in prime position to earn a promotion if he puts up good numbers with the Portland Sea Dogs.

 

Here’s a link to the Baseball America list.

 

Happy Holidays!

Do The PawSox Have Their Third Baseman?

It looks like the PawSox may have found their third baseman for 2010.

 

After Jorge Jimenez was selected by the Astros from the Red Sox organization in the Rule 5 Draft (and subsequently traded to Florida), there was no obvious candidate to be the opening day third baseman in Pawtucket.

 

Now there is, and his name is Nate Spears.

 


nate_spears re.jpg 

According to Baseball America, the Red Sox have signed the 24-year-old infielder to a minor league contract.

 

Spears was the primary third baseball for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs last year, and batted .253 with 2 HR and 37 RBI.  His career batting average in seven professional seasons is .276.

 

Of course, plenty can happen between now and April, but Spears would certainly appear to be in the mix to start at the hot corner for the PawSox.

 

Baseball America also reports that Boston has signed RHP Stephen Fox out of the Independent Can-Am League.

 

The 24-year-old pitcher attended Hofstra but didn’t play college baseball.  Fox doesn’t have enough experience to start the year with Pawtucket, but he is an intriguing addition to the organization based on this description on BaseballAmerica.com:

 

As you would expect for a pitcher with no college experience and little coaching, Fox was not a refined product when he arrived in Sussex.  A month into the season he had a 9.72 ERA.  But Skyhawks pitching coach Brooks Carey worked at getting Fox to stop opening up so early in his delivery (which caused him to leave the ball up) and to stop falling off to first base on his follow-through.  Once he got his delivery closed up and started striding towards home plate, Fox didn’t allow an earned run in his final nine innings of work (while striking out nine) and he had a 1.90 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 24 innings over the final two months of the season.

 

Some recent PawSox have reached deals with new organizations:

 

Sean Danielson – minor league deal with Cincinnati.

David Pauley – minor league deal with Seattle.

Matt Ginter, Jon Switzer – minor league deals with Houston.

Marcus McBeth – minor league deal with Oakland.

John Otness – minor league deal with Texas.

Joey Gathright – minor league deal with Toronto.

A Great Idea For Speeding Up Baseball

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig announced this week that he’s formed a special 14-person committee made up of field managers, general managers, owners and team presidents that will discuss ways to improve the game.

 

“The Committee will have the opportunity to review and make recommendations on all aspects of the game on the field, from scheduling, to playoff formats, to umpiring, to pace of game, to instant replay and to whatever other issues the Committee deems appropriate,” Selig said.  “There will be no sacred cows.”

 

If you’re like me, you read that news and let out a giant yawn.  Talk is cheap right?  We’ve grown accustomed to “blue ribbon” panels in all walks of life that sound good but don’t produce meaningful change.

 

But then I read this column by the Washington Post’s great baseball writer Tom Boswell.

 

Boswell is optimistic that Selig’s group will find ways to address the game’s biggest problems, thanks to heavyweight committee members like Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa, John Schuerholz, Frank Robinson, and George Will.

 

“These are baseball’s brand names,” Boswell writes in the Post.  “Any issue on which they offer a consensus proposal will almost certainly be adopted by the sport.  If this sounds like the NFL’s powerful Competition Committee, it should.  And it’s about time.”

 

Boswell came up with 10 suggestions of his own, and there’s one that I find very intriguing:

 

A huge time saver – since every relief pitching change eats about four minutes – would be curtailing the plague of relief specialists who now face only one hitter.  This isn’t “core” to baseball.  It evolved.  Then metastasized.  Change the rules.  A relief pitcher must face two hitters.  The effect: more offense, and better pace of play, in late innings.  

 

In my opinion, that’s a superb idea.  There’s nothing that ruins the pace of play more than a manager making lefty-righty-lefty-righty pitching changes in the late innings.  I can’t imagine that LaRussa will be in favor since he pioneered the use (overuse?) of situational relievers, but that rule change would do wonders for the last few innings of a typical game.

 

I don’t have any suggestions that are that brilliant, but if you’ve listened to PawSox broadcasts over the last few years, you’ve probably heard me say that there are two changes I would make if I were commissioner:

 

1.  Mandatory day games on Sundays at all levels of pro ball.

2.  Players that drive in a run by grounding into a double play should get credited with an RBI.

 

Hopefully, one of the committee members is thinking the same way.

 

I’d love to hear from you.  The address is dhoard@pawsox.com.

 

And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

Have Any Overdue Books?

As faithful “Heard it from Hoard” readers know, this blog is usually about baseball in general and the PawSox in particular, but today I’m venturing off the beaten path after reading about Stanley Dudek in Wednesday’s Boston Globe.

 

Stanley is from Mansfield, MA and made a trip to the New Bedford Public Library this week to return an overdue book.

 

It was overdue by 99 years, 7 months, and 4 days!

 

The book had been in the possession of Stanley’s mother, and he found it while going through her stuff after she passed away.  After reading a story about an Ohio man returning a book that was 60 years overdue, he decided to act.

 

“I have 40 years on that guy,” Dudek told reporters, after bringing the book back.

 

The name of the book is “Facts I Ought to Know About the Government of My Country.”  It was written by William Bartlett and published in 1894.  The book will be placed in the library’s special collections department as a historical artifact.

 

I know what you’re wondering – how much was the fine?  At the time the book was loaned out, the New Bedford Public Library charged a penny a day for overdue books, so the fine came to $363.78.  Fortunately for Mr. Dudek, the library waived the fee.

 

This story has inspired me to come clean.  I’m fairly certain that there’s a copy of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” at my parents’ house in upstate New York that I checked out of the library in approximately 1973.  If our local library waives the fee, I promise to return the book the next time I visit my folks.

 

Shoot, it’s only been 36 years.

 

I’ll get back to baseball on Friday.

 

I’d love to hear from you.  The address is dhoard@pawsox.com.

 

And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

It Looks Like Cabrera Could Be Back in 2010

The PawSox 2010 roster is slowly beginning to take shape.

 

Baseball America ran a list over the weekend of the first wave of minor league free agents who have signed contracts this winter, and it included six players who have inked deals with Boston.

 

PawSox fans will be thrilled to know that the list is headed by closer Fernando Cabrera.

 


Cabrera re.jpg 

(photos courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)

 

Cabrera was Pawtucket’s best pitcher in 2009, as he posted a 1.71 ERA while going 22-for-22 in save situations.  I’m sure he’ll go to spring training with a chance to be part of Boston’s bullpen, but if he doesn’t make the big club, Cabrera would give the PawSox one of the league’s most dominant closers.

 

Gil Velazquez, a member of the PawSox for the last two years, also re-signed with Boston.

 


Gil re.jpg 

Gil is coming off a rough season as he batted .193 in 93 games, but he’s solid defensively at all four infield spots and can also play left field in a pinch.  His defensive versatility has led to big league time with Boston in each of the last two seasons.

 

The list of newcomers who have signed minor league deals with Boston is headed by 31-year-old outfielder Darnell McDonald, a Triple-A All-Star in 2008 while playing for Rochester.  McDonald is a favorite of former Pawtucket manager Ron Johnson, and Darnell hinted to me last year that wanted to play for the PawSox in the future.  He’ll get his wish if he doesn’t stick with Boston as an extra outfielder, and Pawtucket would be McDonald’s seventh International League stop having played previously in Rochester, Ottawa, Durham, Buffalo, Columbus, and Louisville.

 

Angel Sanchez could be Pawtucket’s starting shortstop in 2010.  The former Kansas City Royal is considered to be excellent defensively and had a good year with bat in ’09, hitting .305 with 29 doubles and 6 HR for Triple-A Los Vegas.

 

The Red Sox always sign veteran relief pitchers to help Pawtucket and give the organization experienced arms in case of injury at the big league level.  This year, they’ve signed righties Edwin Moreno and Bob McCrory to minor league deals.

 

Moreno split last year between San Diego and Triple-A Portland of the PCL, while McCrory pitched for Baltimore and Triple-A Norfolk.

 

The Baseball America article also mentioned some members of last year’s team who will not be back with Pawtucket.

 

Enrique Gonzalez, who led the PawSox in wins and strikeouts last year, has signed a minor league deal with Detroit.  Infielder Travis Denker will be headed to the west coast after signing with the Seattle Mariners organization.

 

Additionally, the Red Sox have released outfielder Sean Danielson and catcher John Otness.

 

Boston is likely to sign more minor league free agents and one position the Sox could be targeting is third base.  Jorge Jimenez was projected to be Pawtucket’s starter at that position after hitting .289 with 87 RBI for the Portland Sea Dogs last year, but Jimenez was taken in the Rule 5 draft last week by Houston and then traded to Florida.  Since he was a Rule 5 pick, if Jimenez doesn’t make the Marlins, he could return to the Red Sox organization.

 

By the way, if the Red Sox are looking for any advice as they shop for minor league free agents, I.L. MVP Shelley Duncan is on the market.  I guarantee that Pawtucket pitchers would appreciate not having to face him in 2010.

 

I’d love to hear from you.  The address is dhoard@pawsox.com.

 

And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

This Just In: Bonds Is Finished

The San Francisco Chronicle had some interesting breaking news on Thursday:  45-year-old Barry Bonds is finished playing baseball.

 


Bonds re.jpg 

I know, it’s a shocker. 

 

The source for this blockbuster news was Bonds’ agent.

 

“It’s two years since he played his last game, and if there was any chance he’d be back in a major-league uniform, it would have happened by now,” agent Jeff Borris told The Chronicle.  “When 2008 came around, I couldn’t get him a job.  When 2009 came around, I couldn’t get him a job.  Now, 2010 … I’d say it’s nearly impossible. It’s an unfortunate ending to a storied career.”

 

Bonds hasn’t played since 2007 when he batted .276 with 28 HR and led the National League in walks and OBP (.480).  He was obviously still good enough to help a major league team, but nobody wanted to put up with Barry’s baggage.

 

But a day after the San Francisco paper published the comments from Bonds’ agent, a minor league team issued a news release saying that Barry can continue his playing career in the independent Northern League:

 

JOLIET IL- Unlike the subzero temperatures outside today, the Joliet JackHammers front office is overheating with excitement as General Manager Jamie Toole, begins talks with Barry Bond’s agent, Jeff Borris of the Beverly Hills Sports Council.

 

Just one day after Borris made a statement pronouncing Bond’s baseball career dead, Toole reached out to the former big leaguer representative in hopes to re-erect Bond’s dying career.

 

“It is our understanding that Barry is interested in continuing his playing career” said JackHammers General Manager Jamie Toole.  “With two major league organizations within 35 miles of Joliet, we feel that the JackHammers would be a perfect fit for Bonds at this stage in his career.”

 

I know it was just a ploy by the JackHammers to get a little publicity.  I guess it worked on at least one blog.

 

* * * * *

 

Are you sick of the non-stop coverage of the Tiger Woods scandal?

 

Me too . . . but I must admit that I got a chuckle out of this segment on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

 

* * * * *

 

Kudos to Pawtucket pitcher Michael Bowden and former PawSox Ron Johnson, Manny Delcarmen, and Jed Lowrie for taking part in the Red Sox Holiday Caravan this week.  The guys visited with children at five different hospitals around Boston on Thursday and Friday. 

 

I’d love to hear from you.  The address is dhoard@pawsox.com.

 

And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

Bargain Shopping In The Rule 5 Draft

There’s a pretty good chance that the Boston Red Sox will add a player on Thursday morning. 

 

No, I don’t have the inside scoop on how negotiations with Jason Bay are going.  I’m referring to baseball’s annual Rule 5 draft which gets underway at 9:00 am at the winter meetings in Indianapolis.

 

The Rule 5 draft is baseball’s ultimate bargain bin shopping event.  It was created to prevent teams from stockpiling too many young players on their minor league teams when other clubs would be willing to use them in the majors.

 

Here’s how it works (with a little help from Wikipedia):

 

Players are eligible for the Rule 5 draft who are not on their team’s 40-man roster and:

 

A.  Were signed at age 19 or older and have been in the organization for 4 years or

B.  Were signed at age 18 or younger and have been in the organization for 5 years

 

The order of the draft is based on won/loss record from the previous season.  This year, Washington has the first pick, and the Red Sox will draft 28th.

 

Each draftee costs $50,000.  If he does not stay on the selecting team’s 25-man roster for an entire season, he must be offered back to his original club at half-price.

 

Organizations may also draft players from AA or lower to play for their AAA affiliates (for $12,000) and may draft players from A teams or lower to play for their AA affiliates (for $4,000).

 

The draftee also must be active for at least 90 days. This keeps teams from drafting players, then placing them on the disabled list for the majority of the season. For example, if a Rule 5 draftee was only active for 67 days in his first season with his new club, he must be active for an additional 23 games in his second season to satisfy the Rule 5 requirements.

 

Got all of that?

 

The most famous Rule 5 draft pick of all-time was Roberto Clemente who was drafted by the Pirates from the Brooklyn Dodgers.

 

Current major league stars who changed teams in the Rule 5 draft include Johan Santana, Josh Hamilton, and Dan Uggla.

 

The Red Sox have drafted a bunch of players over the years but really haven’t found a diamond in the rough (here’s Boston’s complete Rule 5 draft history courtesy of soxprospects.com).  Recent Rule 5 picks who spent time in Pawtucket include Adam Stern, Lenny DiNardo, and Tony Granadillo.

 

Of course, there’s also a good chance that the Red Sox will lose a player tomorrow.  Several websites have LHP Kris Johnson listed as a possible Rule 5 pick.  He struggled in 2009 going 3-16 between Pawtucket and Portland, but is a 25-year-old lefty with a good arm.

 

I look forward to seeing who comes and who goes on Thursday in the Rule 5 draft.

 

And if the Red Sox finalize a deal with Jason Bay . . . that would be OK too.

New Orleans Here I Come . . . Again

I received the following e-mail from PawSox fan Don Werner over the weekend:

 

Hi Dan,
 
I already thought you had the best job in the world, but it’s just not fair that a guy can get paid for going to Cincy football games like that one.
 
Awesome.
 
Don

 

I responded very simply by saying, “Hard to argue.”

 

In case you’re not aware of it, when I’m not calling PawSox games in the summer, I broadcast University of Cincinnati football and basketball games on the so-called “nation’s station” 700-AM WLW.  This past weekend, Cincinnati concluded a perfect regular season by rallying from a 21-point deficit to beat Pittsburgh 45-44.  The Bearcats are 12-0 and will face Florida on New Year’s Day in the Sugar Bowl.

 

I’m thrilled because New Orleans is the greatest city in the world to attend a big sporting event.

 

Trust me, I speak from experience.

 

For starters, everything is within walking distance – the downtown hotels, Bourbon Street and the French Quarter, the Superdome, live music clubs, tremendous restaurants, and great shopping.  Before the handsome lad was born, it was the number one place that my wife and I loved to go for a short vacation.

 

And it’s ideal for a big sporting event because nearly all of the fans congregate in the French Quarter every day and night wearing their team gear.  You’ll see everybody you know that made the trip, and will undoubtedly run into friends you haven’t seen in years.  Additionally, you’ll see the Florida fans every day and in New Orleans – where the perpetual vibe is to relax and have a good time – the interaction stays friendly.

 

My first taste of The Big Easy was in March of 1987 when I covered the Final Four for the Syracuse radio network and sat almost directly behind Bobby Knight when Keith Smart’s last-second shot gave Indiana a 74-73 win over Syracuse for the National Championship.

 


Hurricane re.jpg 

And speaking of first tastes, the trip marked my introduction to the Hurricane – the unofficial cocktail of New Orleans that is as sweet as Kool-Aid but packs a lethal punch.  Fortunately, I was given valuable advice by a taxi driver on my way into town from the airport.  He said, “A hurricane is like a woman’s bosom . . . one is not enough but three is too many.”  That advice has served me well. 

 

I returned to New Orleans nine months later for the Sugar Bowl between Syracuse and Auburn – a game that ended in controversy as Tigers’ coach Pat Dye played for the tie with one second remaining (before overtime was added in college football).  Syracuse ended the season 11-0-1 and bitter ‘Cuse fans mailed Pat Dye more than 2,000 ties in the week’s that followed.  SU coach Dick MacPherson ripped Dye after the game and even took a classic shot at Auburn fans by saying, “They brought a $20 dollar bill and one pair of underwear on a bowl trip and didn’t change either one.”

 

Attending the Sugar Bowl gives you the chance to ring in the New Year in a city where “last call” doesn’t exist.  I’ve celebrated New Year’s Eve in Times Square, but I think it’s less crazy and more fun in New Orleans. 

 

I vividly remember doing the countdown to midnight in five time zones on Bourbon Street.  Five, four, three, two, one – Happy New Year in New York . . . New Orleans . . . Denver . . . Los Angeles . . . Anchorage . . . Honolulu . . .

 

I was tucked away in bed by the time they got to Auckland.

 

While working for Fox 19 in Cinicnnati, I covered the 1997 Super Bowl in New Orleans between Green Bay and New England.  The Packers’ young quarterback led the franchise to its first Super Bowl win in nearly 30 years.  I wonder what Brett Favre is up to these days?

 

Favre was the big story all week because he was from nearly Kiln, Mississippi.  Like nearly every reporter covering that Super Bowl, Fox 19 photographer Dave Smith and I dutifully made the trip to Kiln to do the “Favre’s hometown” angle.  While there, we ran into a fledgling musician named Stevie T. who had written a tribute song to Favre called “Brett’s on a Quest.”  These priceless lyrics are forever seared into my brain.

 

Daddy was a coach, showed him the way

Train, fight, win . . . that’s the form-u-lay

 

My best New Orleans experience came as a fan, as Peg and I attended the 2003 Final Four to see our Alma mater beat Kansas for the National Championship.  It was like a college reunion set in the Big Easy as most of our closest friends from school showed up unannounced for the weekend.

 

It’s the one and only time that I’ve busted out this hideous orange Hawaiian shirt.

 


Peg and Dan before tip.jpg 

Between business and pleasure, I’ve probably been to New Orleans 15 times.  Here are some of my favorite places to eat, drink, and visit:

 

Hotel:  The International House.  It’s somewhat pricey, but worth it.

 

Restaurants:  K-Paul’s.  If you like stuff “blackened”, nobody does it better.

 

Irene’s Cuisine.  Get the rosemary chicken.

 

NOLA.  It’s an Emeril Lagasse restaurant, but cheaper and easier to get to than Emeril’s.

 

Brennan’s.  The ultimate “gain 5 pounds” brunch – Bananas Foster is a must.

 

Commander’s Palace.  Take the trolley to the Garden District and splurge.

 

Clover Grill.  A dive where you can get a burger cooked under a hub cap after hours.

 

Hanging Out:  Café du Monde.  It’s famous for its coffee and beignets (little powdered donuts) and open 24 hours a day.  I witnessed a powdered sugar fight there at 3 am once.

 

Bars:  Pat O’Brien’s.  It doesn’t get much better than enjoying Hurricanes (remember . . . stop at two!) around the fire fountain in the outdoor courtyard.

 

Napolean House.  Usually not that crowded since it’s not on Bourbon Street, so it’s a good place to meet friends.

Whatever is designated as the “Bearcat” bar.  One of the spots in the French Quarter will cover its walls with UC gear and become the unofficial home of Cincinnati fans.

 

Music:  Maple Leaf Bar.  It’s a short taxi ride and always features great bands.  If the Rebirth Brass Band is playing, it’s a must.

 

Wherever Marva Wright is singing.  She suffered two strokes this year so I don’t know if The Blues Queen of New Orleans is performing again.  If she is, you’ll have a blast. 

 

Aside from the BCS Championship Game, the Sugar Bowl would be my pick for the Bearcats bowl destination every year.

 

I’ll get there on December 31st. 

 

I’d love to hear from you.  The address is dhoard@pawsox.com.

 

And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

 

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