After the sweep of the Brewers on Opening Weekend, I opined that it was the best possible start to the season. The Brewers were the best team they would face for quite some time, and they dispatched them with relative ease. Going forward, the schedule looked favorable for the Reds to build a nice little divisional lead, as they would face projected doormats the Astros, Diamondbacks, Padres, Pirates, and Diamondbacks again. Then it happened, and they went 7-9 against them.
As riverfront76 pointed out earlier this morning, the first 18 games of the Reds' schedule was the weakest such stretch in the NL. Not only would I expect them to have a winning record, but a dominant one. Last season, the Reds won the division by destroying their weak opponents and holding their own against the strong ones. Now, one rough 16-game stretch against the dregs isn't going to send me into the streets, but it does set off some preliminary alarms. 22 of their next 25 are against divisional foes, so this is an even more important opportunity to set themselves apart. First stop - St. Louis.
Jonny Gomes is treating this weekend series against the Cardinals as "just another trip to St. Louis."
Which I assume means he'll turn a few laps around the warning track while shirtless on his four wheeler before skidding to a stop in front of the Cards dugout, then spin the tires so a bunch of dirt is kicked into their faces. He'll then hit play on the tape deck bungee corded to the back of the four wheeler so the Cards can groove to the strains of "Cum On Feel the Noize" as he speeds away. Yep, just another trip to St. Louis.
The Brewers have signed Ryan Braun to a 5-year extension worth $105 mil
and it doesn't even start until 2016. This crystallizes Braun's status as the Face o' the Franchise and all-but guarantees that Prince Fielder will be changing the locale on his Urban Spoon app next season. It also raises questions like "WTF?" and "Are you fer serious?" and "OMGZ?"
Braun is 27 this season and will be 31 when the extension kicks in. The Brewers are basically betting that salary inflation is going to accelerate enough in the interim that $20 mil for an early-30s Braun is going to be a good deal. I don't know. I mean, it's a huge gamble to try to divine the future of a single player, but it's an even bigger gamble to try to anticipate the market. Much like with the Troy Tulowitzki extension a few months ago, my only reaction at this point is "woah".
In the wake of the Braun extension
Mark Polishuk hazards a guess at who will be the next man to sign a deal into his late 30s. Here's what he had to say regarding Joey Votto: "The Reds took the first step towards locking up the reigning NL MVP when they signed Votto to a three-year, $38MM pact that covered the first baseman's arbitration years. Votto is still on pace to hit free agency as a 30-year-old in his prime, and as one agent put it, "the Reds took on all the risk" with this initial deal. Cincinnati has put itself in position to contend over the next few seasons, so that will theoretically take care of the Great American Ballpark's attendance problems and make it possible for the team to get Votto signed to an even longer-term contract."
I fell in love with Emmylou Harris in college when I picked up "Luxury Liner"
While Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn were my much beloved matriarchs of country, they were too much like my grandmother for me to comfortably find them sexy. But Emmylou represented the less straight-laced traditional side of the scene; she was western while Dolly and Lorretta were country. And it turns out she's a baseball fan. SWOON.
"It (her love of baseball) goes back to 1990 when I started a bluegrass band with a fellow named Sam Bush. Sam is a huge baseball fan. He is very passionate, very interesting, funny and loves the Cardinals. Throughout our tour together, it just so happened that every day off we had was in a city with a baseball team, so we started going to baseball games. In fact, we came to call it, "The Stadium Tour." Which was a kicker, because Sam and I were playing all the clubs, and then we'd go to stadiums on our days off. But of course, the real popular acts play the stadiums and hang at the clubs afterward.
The Life: If Sam Bush was a St. Louis fan, who were you rooting for?
Harris: Well, the World Series that year was between the Cincinnati Reds and Oakland. I asked Sam who I should root for and he said, "Well, I don't care about either team, but you gotta go for the National League." So I started rooting for the Reds. Everybody thought that Oakland was gonna sweep, but, of course it turned out that the Reds swept in four games and that was it for me. I said, "I like this game!"
Joe Posnanski always has interesting and insightful things to say
Here he discusses the idea of a "Hall of Not Famous Enough", inspired by one of my all-time favorite players, John Olerud. I always liked him because he seemed the exact opposite of the prototypical baseball slugger. He had no tattoos (none visible, anyway), he didn't wear intimidating facial hair, he didn't chew tobacco, he didn't have huge biceps, and he didn't draw crowds just to see him take batting practice. He was a slender fellow, svelte even, like he would look good in a sweater.
Much like the much-more-acclaimed Greg Maddux, he looked like the kind of guy that you would see in the accounting department than the clubhouse. He wore that safety helmet in the field rather than a regular hat, which made him look like the kid on the playground who has a special assistant teacher assigned to them all day long. He was the kind of baseball player I could identify with. And he had a .398 career OBP. Oh, lawsy mawsen hosses! Anyway, I linked to Poz's article because it's interesting and I like John Olerud.
SI's MLB power rankings have penalized the Reds somethin' fierce for their wretched play over the last week
They dropped 10 spots from #4 to #14. At least Joe Lemire had the decency to talk about Mike Leake's arrest instead of their more embarrassing 2-5 stretch against the Pirates and Diamondbacks.
FanGraphs' Alex Remington has a very provocative rumination on the presence of women in baseball
People like Kim Ng and Eri Yoshida are probably more known for their novelty than for their results, which is an unfortunate but real state of affairs in baseball nowadays. Alex talks to two women clawing at the glass ceiling of the old boy's club, one as an umpire and one as a writer. It's an excellent read, so go check out the full article.
Personally, I doubt if many (if any) women will ever play in a Major League baseball game, but the inherent physical disadvantages that hinder that effort are neutralized in the front office, the press box, or the umpires' blues. The paucity of women employed on the business-side of baseball is disconcerting coincidence at best and out-and-out exclusion and discrimination at worst. I'm sure someday a women will work as a GM or an umpire or (less likely) on a coaching staff, but the fact that it hasn't happened yet is, quite frankly, jarring.
The Red Retweeter, special @DatDudeBP Edition:
My teammates ask me if I knew where some good places 2 eat at in St. Louis! I said, "Yea, come with me 2 the store 2 get some Lunchables!" This is an early favorite for the Tweet o' the Year.
Just landed in St. Louis! Sad face... But these wins will make me happy! On our way 2 the hotel & I hope its not Hilton at the BallPark! Lol You have to love the fact that BeeP is so willing to embrace the role of Antagonista Cardinalia. I'm sure every Cardinal fan hates him with the burning passion of a thousand Ozark tire fires. I don't know if he is consciously trying to mimic the behavioral patterns of Chad Ochocinco, but he's doing a fine job at it.
See!!! That's what I'm talking about... Now we are back to... Duh... #winning! Time to get my @ChickfilA and Milk Drink #OnDeck Lunchables, ChickfilA, and "Milk Drink"? What kind elementary school cafeteria operation are the Reds running here?