July 2013

My time with Homer Bailey

I’ve mentioned this in the past, but it bears repeating with Homer Bailey’s second career no-hitter tonight: One of the best things about my job covering the Minors and the Draft is seeing guys that I’ve covered from high school on up accomplish things at the big league level.

My coverage of Homer Bailey started during our live video coverage of the 2004 Draft. That’s right, long before the Draft was on television, we here at MLB.com did live video coverage of the event. We paved the way to what you see on MLB Network these days. But I digress…

On our broadcast, it was myself, Fred Claire and Darryl Hamilton. And I have to say, we did a solid job providing coverage of the Draft that year. But if you watch the first round (I’ll save you some time… move ahead to about the five-minute mark after you click on the Round 1 link on that Draft landing page), you’ll see the less than stellar work on announcing the No. 7 overall pick of the Draft.

I had done a good amount of research before the Draft, knew all the top names. But I was thrown for a loop when I was told that David Bailey had been taken by the Cincinnati Reds. I eventually was able to put it together and realize it was Homer Bailey, but it wasn’t exactly a stellar start.

I was able to make amends the following season. I drove to Dayton, Ohio in early 2005. I wanted to see the stadium they had in Dayton, sure, but I really wanted to spend time talking with Bailey, who had just made his 2005 debut. It was an interesting interview, not your typical one with a high schooler. Bailey was confident and opinionated, and showed no fear in voicing those opinions. He butted heads early on with the Reds about his workout regimen, though he surprisingly didn’t protest the tandem pitching system the organization had set up at the lower levels. You can read the story that came out of that interview right here.

There is one more layer to that story. Back then, I was doing a regular Around the Minors show on MLB Radio, our internet-only station. I was just getting in the habit of taking my mini-disc player and recording interviews to use for those shows. I got through the entire interview with Bailey that day, only to realize at the end that it hadn’t recorded. And here’s the amazing thing. Bailey allowed a re-do. That’s right, without complaint or even a grumble, we did the entire interview over again, and this time I made sure we were recording.

I’ve covered Bailey on several other occasions, from the 2006 Reds organization preview to the 2006 Futures Game when Bailey came in and hit triple-digits to a stretch when I filled in for Mark Sheldon covering the Reds for a few weeks in Spring Training 2009. He’s always been a slightly different kind of guy. And I mean that in a good way.

He’s also always had absolutely ridiculous pure stuff. The fact that he was still throwing 97 mph in the ninth inning of his second no-no should surprise no one. It was always a question of him putting it together. He really started to last year, particularly in the second half of the season (when his first no-hitter came). He’s been a little up and down this year, but is still very capable of completely throttling an opponent. Just like he did with the Giants. And he’s only 27. So those of you waiting for those high school draftees to pan out in your organization, have some faith. And some patience.

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