The postseason awaits and, sadly, for another year, the Cincinnati Reds are not involved. I’m a sucker for some baseball, though, and continue to watch the playoffs regardless of the Reds involvement, but I enjoy having a team to root for. So let’s look at the field, in no particular order.
What’s not to love about the Brewers? They went for it this year and, while buying a championship isn’t feng shui, it is admirable that the team wanted to deliver some winning baseball to the fans. Unless you spent the season under a rock, you are aware of Christian Yelich. He’s the guy the Reds didn’t trade for who turned around and hit for the cycle…twice…against them. He’s probably going to be the National League MVP and he’s 26. They’re even built around hitting and relief pitching…kinda like your Cincinnati Reds, except they’ve had at least a little success from their rotation.
The Brewers have even come on strong enough, here lately, that they sit just a half game behind the Cubs for the NL Central division crown. They might just find themselves not having to worry about the one game playoff.
They’ve got UC grad Ian Happ and Thom Brennaman’s favorite player, Kyle Schwarber (also from Middletown) in the everyday lineup, so there’s some local flavor there. Plus they aren’t the Cardinals.
St. Louis Cardinals
They win purely on offense. Their team ERA is only a smidge better than the Reds at 4.37 but they’ve scored 740 runs and have a team batting average of .255. They’ve also committed the least amount of errors (71), among the playoff hopefuls (the Nationals have the least at 63).
Their third baseman, Nolan Arenado, is one of the five best players in the game, today, and is a front runner for MVP. He’s batting .295 with 34 homers and 105 RBI and has a .374 on-base percentage. He, alone, is worth watching the Rockies.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Speaking of spending to win, last year’s runners-up have had a turbulent season. Despite their mammoth payroll they just took over first place in the NL West, but only have a half game lead on the Rockies.
Okay, let’s not pretend like Reds fans are flocking to root for the Dodgers…but they do have Floromania going for them. The former Red has a 1.63 ERA in 29 appearances for LA.
They’re back! After rebuilding for a few years, the former mainstays of the NL East have regained that role as the youngsters outlasted the Phillies, another solid young team, and the Nationals, the preseason favorites. They’re a fun team to watch as their core is very young. Freddie Freeman is accompanied by two of the most promising young stars in baseball, Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna, Jr. They will be fun to watch. They’re the only team who has clinched a playoff berth, in the NL, but they will most likely be the two seed as both the Cubs and Brewers have two games on them. Yeah, let that sink in for a sec, the winner of the Central will be the one seed with the runner up, having the second best record (most likely) in the NL, will be a wildcard team. The Reds have one tough division to rebuild in…
Boston Red Sox
I begin the AL with Brandon Phillips’ team…or at least for now. Not sure if he’ll make the postseason roster, which is what my rooting interests in the Sox will depend on, but for now he’s there. How cool would it be to see Dat Dude get a ring? Dude is the second best second baseman in the history of the Reds, but has not even sniffed the World Series. He may have a shot with Boston.
Of course, should he not make the postseason roster, my interests in Boston disappear.
New York Yankees
The Evil Empire is back to its imperial ways and hating the Yankees, once again, became cool in 2018. They have five games left to hit 10 home runs and break the single season record, so we’ll see if that happens. Other than that, my interest in the Yankees in the playoffs is purely based off of my love of a good villain, and that villain is back.
Terry Francona is one of the most likeable people in baseball and the MLB.com power rankings, for what they’re worth, have the Indians as the lowest ranked AL team. It’s hard to root for the in-state rival, but it’s also hard to root against the team that everyone is counting out. Most knock them for playing in the weakest division, but it’s not like that’s their fault. Their top three pitchers, as we Reds fans well know, will keep them in any series, and Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor are just plain fun to watch. They’ll, most likely, match up with the next team in the first series, so it’s be right into the fire from the get-go.
Everyone loves a repeat…or at least, that’s what network television believes. The poster team for successful, long rebuilds is, once again, in a position to get a ring. This time, they have the experience to go with the talent. Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, and George Springer headline a 1-9 lineup of mashers and smashers while Justin Verlander and impending-free agent, Dallas Keuchel, headline a haul of heavy hurlers. But really, who want’s the same old thing, again? What is this, the NBA Playoffs?
Probably the most interesting team in these playoffs. Well, at least to me, they are. Without looking, name three Oakland players…can’t do it, can you? Ok, so you probably got Jed Lowrie and maybe, even Matt Chapman. But how about Chad Pinder? Khris Davis (spells it with a K so he doesn’t have to say the good Chris Davis)? Or did you know Stephen Piscotty, former Cardinal, is there? Or former Brewer Jonathan Lucroy? I’d wager no. No matter, they’ve hit the most homers in the AL outside of the Yankees and they’ve scored the third most runs, with 790. They also rank in the top six of AL teams in every pitching category, except strikeouts. They’ll probably be one and done in the wildcard game, but then again, you never know in October.
So there you have it. As for me, I’m pulling for a re-kindling of an old AL West rivalry in a Brewers/A’s World Series matchup with the Brew Crew hoisting the trophy. Doubt that will happen, but that’s who I’m rooting for. Reds in 2019!
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As the clock hit 6:30 pm, last Saturday, I was ready to go to Great American Ballpark. That’s when my wife reminded me that it was December. Every year the Cincinnati Reds put on a first class party for their fans called Redsfest and they’re pretty good at what they do.
I got to meet Michael Lorenzen, Tyler Mahle, Ibandel Isabel, and Jimmy Herget. I got my copy of “The Big 50” signed by Chad Dotson and Chris Garber, made a video with Mo Egger, and talked shop with Doug Gray. Okay, I get it, enough with the name dropping. Basically, it was fun.
I made it a point to ask some light-hearted questions (or in Lorenzen’s case, make a light-hearted, but factual, statement) to see what their reactions would be.
I first met Lorenzen. I told him that he was the real silver slugger and I am attempting to get that other guy to mail him the trophy he deserves. Lorenzen responded with, “Well, that just gives me motivation to hit twice as many homers next year.” Might have to get me a Lorenzen jersey…
I then got Mahle’s John Hancock (or is it Herbie Hancock?) on a baseball and I asked him if we can expec upwards of three, or more, 20-strikeout games this year. He replied “Let’s hope so. I’ll see what I can do.” Hope you folks in the bleachers with K’s are ready to work, this season.
I then got autographs from Isabel and Herget. Isabel just gave me an awkward smile and a chuckle when I asked if he will focus on inside-the-parkers this year instead of traditional homers, since he’s already hit a lot of those. Herget gave me a classic answer to my simple question of what his favorite pitch was when he said, “A strike.” Well played Jimmy.
The main stage offerings were also enjoyable. The best was at the kids-only press conference. Joey Votto, Amir Garrett, and Eugenio Suarez were on stage for the show, and when asked what their favorite memory of 2018 will be, Joey decided it was “When Amir tried to fight the Cubs.” Suarez bumped in, “Yeah, when he struck out Baez and stared him down. That was awesome, man!” As much as we fans may have liked that moment, it seems to have been even cooler to the team.
Memorabilia-wise, there was a ton of stuff to get. I didn’t go too crazy, this year, but I did end up with a new hat that has a Jackie Robinson 42 patch on it. Definitely my favorite hat, now. All in all, a good weekend.
If you went, let me know how your experience went!
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Live (Sorta) from Redsfest with Mo Egger
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Instant Reaction: Bye, Bye Billy
Wow! It’s the first hour of Redsfest and there are fireworks, already! The world’s fastest man (probably), Billy Hamilton, was non-tendered by the Cincinnati Reds making him a free agent. I have a few instant thoughts on this.
Firstly, I am bummed. I watched his career develop in the minors all the way up til he got the call to the Bigs. He looked like a star in the making in Pensacola, but what we now know is that he was defensively gifted and offensively challenged. He will go down, in my book, as the foremost example of “You can’t steal first.” I hope that his next step (if he doesn’t return, that is, but more on that in a second) he finds that missing piece and becomes a star.
Nextly, where do the Reds go from here? The encouragement is that we know Bob Castellini loved Billy and wanted him to be here forever and ever. That means the front office has definitely, officially been handed the reigns. If that’s the case, maybe we see Nick Senzel brought up and given the CF job, or Jose Peraza move to CF (he has a few minutes of experience there) and Senzel put in at shortstop. Those possibilities excite me. Whatever gets Senzel in the lineup is the right course of action, to me.
Lastly, maybe this is a little Michael Johnson maneuvering? For those who don’t follow the other professional franchise in Cincinnati, the Bengals made a move, right before the season, where they cut one of their longtime veterans only to resign him a few days later. They made the move to get some young guys onto the practice squad, but I digress. What if the Reds and Billy have a little head nod and handshake agreement that they will sign him for a year or two at his current rate, avoiding the arbitration-hike in salary he was about to get? This is purely a hypothetical notion by me, by the way, and I don’t know if they can do that, or if Billy would want it that way. Just a thought from a fan who can never truly be unbiased when it comes to Cool Papa Bill.
Anyway, I am sure there will be more to come from Redsfest!
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