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Reds Face Second Place; Ode to the Harangatuan

Updated on July 4, 2012

Reds Face Second Place; Ode to the Harangatuan

by Robb Hoff

July 4, 2012

Following a Pittsburgh Pirates afternoon win, the Cincinnati Reds faced second place for the first time in awhile. They were in the driver's seat in the N.L. Central, but the upstart Pirates now look poised to at least make the division race interesting for another month or so more.

Johnny Cueto pitched well enough against the Dodgers Tuesday night to win the game, but the Reds hitters of April and early May showed up, looking largely hapless once again in their feeble attempt to scratch out just a mere run.

The Reds hitters will have to show up again and soon. They sorely need to re-establish some of the momentum that the hot Pirates have stolen from them.

And they will have to get those bats cranked up again against an old friend in Dodgers starter Aaron Harang -- affectionately known as The Harangatuan because of his large size.

Harang was the regular Opening Day starter for the Reds for several years. He was also quite respected for his off-field activity and his overall genuinely gentle presence.

Once while Harang was signing a baseball card for my daughter at a Reds game, I remarked to him that he was even bigger than he appeared on TV. He just smiled, but you got the very real sense in his presence that he is the epitome of a gentle giant and a real role model for what it means to be a decent person.

However, I would be remiss if I didn't hope that the Reds absolutely pound him from the mound tonight on this fourth of July.

His counterpart Mike Leake is a curious contrast to Harang. Leake seems almost weasleish by comparison. He's nowhere the size of Harang and his presence seems shifty or at least mischievous.

I remember Leake tossing a Miller Lite beer can overhead and into the stands as the Reds players ran around the field after the team clinched the 2010 N.L. Central with a Jay Bruce extra inning blast to centerfield.

Leake may not be of the same stature as Harang, or ever anywhere as beloved or actually valuable to communities in Cincinnati, but on this Fourth of July with the Reds facing second place, let the best fireworks of the night be at the expense of the nice guy and may Leo Durocher's famous words ring ever so true tonight:

Nice guys finish last.


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