No one does Opening Day like Cincinnati.
As an adult Opening Day is the only day I get to act like a kid again. No matter how good or bad the team is going to be, Opening Day in Cincinnati is always treated the same by the fan base. The one day of every year everyone who lives in the city has there minds on one thing…Cincinnati Reds baseball.
This year in particular is marked with serious celebration. The Cincinnati Reds are celebrating their 150th season since their beginnings in 1869 playing at the Union Ground close to Union Terminal. The annual holiday is also marked by the biggest yearly parade the town has to offer in the Findlay Markey Parade. The parade itself is celebrating it’s 100th anniversary this season. For a kid this is one of the coolest things you can witness as a Reds fan. All kinds of local high schools, kids baseball teams, local celebrities, local charities, veterans, former and even current Reds players participate.
Thanks to the lovely development of the riverbank area we are now able to take place in the most exciting party of the year. The Reds Opening Day Block Party at the Banks is THE event for Reds fan. Which, if you’re a baseball fan, is a guarenteed blast. Even better, the party raises a huge amount of money for the Reds Community Fund. There you can find all your local favorite foods (Skyline, LaRosa’s) lining the Banks with the cheapest alcohol you can find all season that close to the stadium. Live music and plenty of giveaways are passed out among the crowd. If mingling in the streets isn’t your fancy there are plenty of overly crowded restaurants where you can hang out. Most of them provide an exciting atmosphere during the game just like any other packed Reds game.
I personally have many experiences with Opening Day. In 1992, Opening Day also happened to fall upon my younger brother Adam’s arrival to planet Earth. When I arrived at the hospital I had zero interest in the newest addition to our family. I was more concerned about getting home in time to watch Opening Day and the NCAA Finals. At one of the mid 90’s Opening Days I was interviewed by the local news. The interview made me feel like a celebrity at the time. In 1996 I was a infuriated when after just a few pitches the game was cancelled because the umpire keeled over and never got back up. As an adult I feel terrible about that moment because he died from cardiac arrest. In the moment all I cared about was Opening Day.
I remember in 2000 being there to witness Ken Griffey Jr. for the first time in a Reds uniform. The Reds got what seemed to be a dream come true in the best player in the MLB at the time. Junior was the guy whose video game you owned, cleats you bought, and swing you emulated. We were going to be able to see him every night instead of just the highlights on Sportscenter. The team seemed to be on it’s way to becoming a powerhouse of the NL Central for years to come with his addition. The game itself was lackluster. It’s the only recorded tie 3-3 in the teams Opening Day history. Ultimately the hype exceeded reality with Junior’s tenure in Cincinnati. However, when he walked out on the field that day you would have thought the rebirth of the Big Red Machine took place.
I was present for Aaron Boone’s sac fly scoring Larkin in 2002, Joe Randa’s walk off homer in 2005, and Ramon Hernandez’s walk off in 2011. I have awkwardly ran into teachers and ex girlfriends during this holiday. However, my all time favorite Opening Day moment took place last year.
Opening Day 2018 I was interviewed by the local news. My brother was kind enough to take several still shots of my interview. Before I had even seen the footage he was kind enough to post a picture so amazing I want it shown at my funeral. Whenever they interview you on the news it usually will say your name and a short description about you. My description originally read Dave Pemberton: Reds Fan. My brother’s edited version said Dave Pemberton: Local Fat Kid. All of my close friends and family thought it was the funniest thing they’d ever seen. I loved it so much I used it as my fantasy football name. I guess this is payback for not wanting to hang out at the hospital with him when he was born on Opening Day all those years ago.
I hope all of Reds Country is able to participate and attend Opening Day at some point in their lives. Even those fair-weathered fans who have attended Opening Day will probably tell you it’s a must if you live in Cincinnati. For this Local Fat Kid it will always the best holiday of the year.
The Cincinnati Reds and the 20 Pitch Limit
When it comes to quirky early Cactus League season games, there’s a lot to know. One this is the 20-pitch limit a manager can invoke on an inning his guy is getting clobbered in. The Cincinnati Reds have already done this.
This Spring has seen an interesting beginning in that teams have smaller rosters than normal (though still plenty of players to go around) and they can choose to play shorter games. One other added wrinkle of differentness is the ability of a manager to “throw in the towel” whenever his pitcher reaches 20 pitches in an inning.
The Reds have already taken advantage of this twice, both during the beat down at the hands of the Athletics. Sal Romano got the curtain pulled on him in the fourth inning while Shane Carl heard the music in the fifth. These don’t necessarily paint a larger picture, as of yet, but it is interesting to note.
Carle doesn’t factor into the equation that is the Opening Day roster, but Big Sal surely does. He is out of minor league options (meaning he’d have to clear waivers to be assigned a minor league team) and he has shown some flashes of talent in the past. He could be valuable depth for the Reds bullpen, so calling it quits after 20 tosses (which frankly were all a consequence of Nick Senzel misplaying a ball early in the inning) doesn’t mean he’s out, but it is something to watch.
We’ll keep track here on the blog for more 20-pitch tap-outs.
Cincinnati Reds Roster Breakdown: Non Roster Invitees
Let’s take a look at the non-roster invitees trying to make the Cincinnati Reds roster during this Spring Training
WELCOME BAAAAAAACK! The Reds kick off the 2021 season on Sunday with their first spring training game. As I do each spring training, I am going to take a look at the non roster invitees (NRI) and how they could impact the team this season.
R.J. Alaniz, Matt Ball, Cam Bedrosian, Jesse Biddle, Shane Carle, Josh Osich, Branden Shipley, Bo Takahashi
You might recognize a couple of these names. Alaniz has been around the organization the past couple of years and pitched 11.2 innings with the Reds in 2019. Biddle was a guy who was around last year, but the others are new. Carle (76.1 in), Osich (206.1 in), Shipley (100 in) have experience in the show with moderate results. Cam Bedrosian is the name to know here. The fact that he was signed on with a minor league deal is surprising. 277.2 innings with a 3.70 ERA has been a solid MLB pitcher. 2019 batters hit .207/.283/.336 and in 2020 they hit .196/.276/.255. His spin rate is gritty darn good honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a minor league deal that really is a promise on the roster. Think Jose Iglesias who was also a NRI a couple years back. This allows the Reds to delay their decision on making a 40 man roster move.
For a team that lost Rasiel Iglesias, Bradley, maybe Antone and Lorenzen to the rotation, Bedrosian will have a chance to really earn a legit role with this team. You don’t have to squint too hard to see a scenario where Shipley or Carle get innings this year.
Bittle and Osich are lefties that would have battled for the other LHP spot in the pen, but the signing of Doolittle bumps them to depth roles.
A 33 year old catcher with 37 at bats and a career .108 avg. Id say that there is not much to see here. Stephenson and Tucker are the one two punch and the offseason addition of Deivy Grullon will provide a younger depth option with a higher upside than Gale.
Cheslor Cuthbert, Dee Strange-Gordon (not listed on Reds roster yet)
Cuthbert isn’t a household name, but he does have over 1,000 at bats in the MLB. He had a decent season in ’16 with the Royals batting .274/.318/.413 and 12 HR, but he hasn’t shown enough to be a full time MLB player. Corner infield depth.
Here’s where I stand on Dee….If he is here to battle for a utility role, that’s fine with me. If he is here to be some variation of an answer at SS, we are in trouble. A 32 year old poor defender (who on the Reds isn’t at this point) who doesn’t have any power and doesn’t get on base. Yeah, he has stolen some bases. We all know speed is one of the first things to go when you age, and he still has some jump, but I don’t think it’s game changing speed at this point, and it’s useless unless he’s on base. I’m not high on Strange Gordan making an impact.
Nicky Delmonico, Tyler Naquin, Dwight Smith
I was worried about the Reds outfield depth. It’s a sneaky need, especially of Aquino doesn’t bounce back. This group of NRI is a group I am excited about. All have MLB experience and have had their moments. Delmonico had a nice (small sample size) rookie year with the White Sox in 2017, but has been worse each year since then. It’s the other two that catch my eye.
Dwight Smith has shown he has some pop in his bat. He is the type of player that you want to have in AAA ready to fill in if needed. Tyler Naquin is a guy I think could actually contribute to this team. We know 2020 was a small sample size, but look at the hard hit and exit velo. And his outfield jump/Outs above avg. fit in well with the team that doesn’t seem to care about defense.
He had a great rookie year in ’16, and has had moments since. .288/.325/.467 10 HR 19 2B in 2019 would be a good bench bat. The question is…is he better than Aquino/Heineman/Payton? Him and Payton are the two leftieis of the group. At the very least, I think he is great organizational depth, and I think his floor is a higher floor than the group listed above (maybe Aquino can make me eat crow there)
This list is different than most years. Not as many players listed, and no prospects. The number of players at Spring Training will be smaller than years past. Overall, I think theres 2-3 guys who could earn a role on the Reds 2021 roster.
Monday Morning Manager: The Snell Effect
David Bell has many things he needs to go right in order to win games and get a contract extension. One thing he can control is a decision-making process that should not be made entirely analytically.
In case you lived under a rock last year (and that might be Truer than in any other year) then you know how the World Series went down with the Rays falling to the Dodgers. You may even know about Blake Snell’s improbable removal from Game Six when he was absolutely on fire. This is something David Bell cannot mess up in 2021.
Ok, so in the grand scheme of things, I’m talking about the correct managing of the bullpen and rotation in pressure situations. Most people will look at the Game Six managing of Kevin Cash and see two things: a man sticking to his system that got him there and a man over-thinking things. Neither thoughts are incorrect.
In this day and age of baseball, most people understand statistical evaluations on pitchers favoring removing a starter before they pitch to the opposing lineup for the third time in a game. Well, maybe, because the numbers are a bit different in 2020, small sample size, and all. In fact, the Reds pitching staff held opponents to a .599 OPS in 253 plate appearances the third time through the order, last year. That may be a smoke screen, though, as the 2019 Reds pitching staff (largely similar to 2020) allowed an OPS of .892 in 799 PA. That’s a bit of a more reliable sample size, which would leave me to believe a starter pitching a third time through the order isn’t the most favorable idea.
Also something David Bell must consider is the overthinking aspect. In this Player’s Tribune post by the man, Blake Snell, himself, he points out the immense effect that simply seeing someone warming up in the bullpen had on him. Now, you can say “Well, that shouldn’t have been an issue, he should have sucked it up and pitched!” The dude is a human being. If you saw the person management was likely to replace you with if you messed something up at your job, are you going to just keep on keeping on with no thought to look over your shoulder? If you are, you might be a Jedi. Most of us mere mortals have problems with worrying about what might happen if things fall apart. Baseball players are not totally immune to this, either.
In order for Bell to garner a contract extension, he will have to adeptly manage a pitching staff that has talent, but also has human egos. Just because the numbers say that a decision should go one way, the human element must also be factored in. Last I checked, theres no button for that on a calculator, which leaves it up to his own decision-making skill.