With the All-Star Game looming, John Eradi of the Cincinnati Enquirer says that the number of Reds representing the National League at the mid-summer classic is just the latest surprise in what has already been a very strange season. Eradi states that the season has been "hands-down, the strangest-feeling season I have experienced in my 40 years since arriving here," and it's important to remember that he wrote that article before Brandon Phillips injured his thumb, Skip Schumaker sustained a concussion, Homer Bailey and Mat Latos were removed from their respective starts due to apparent injury and the Reds came back from behind for an incredibly exciting, improbable win last night. Even still, there are plenty of silver linings and lots to be excited about in Reds country. He mentions not only the breakout performances of Todd Frazier and Devin Mesoraco, but also the continued development of the Reds’ minor league pitching.
I have to agree with Eradi's assessment. I don't think I've been watching the Reds as long as he has, but I can't remember a season like this either. It hasn't always been fun, and it's been often frustrating, but it has rarely been boring.
Another silver lining, of course, has been watching Billy Hamilton develop as a major league player. John Ring of Redleg Nation wonders if he’s on track for a Rookie of the Year award, and looks at three close ROY races involving Reds players.
On the occasion of Bronson Arroyo’s Tommy John surgery, Deadspin’s Tom Ley declared Arroyo the most "Pretty OK, I guess" pitcher in baseball. There’s not much here that would surprise those of us who watched him year in and year out for his time in red, but it’s typical Deadspin fare (by which I mean it’s designed more to display the author’s cleverness than to inform the reader). Also, I wouldn’t have thought it possible to write a retrospective of Arroyo’s career without once mentioning either the word "Cincinnati" or "Reds," but Ley pulls it off.
Have you ever been watching a baseball game and gotten the impression that the umpires were favoring a pitcher because he’s a big name All-Star? Well, it turns out it might not have been in your imagination. The New York Times has the story of a study that found that umpires make more errors in favor of All-Star pitchers, even when other factors are adjusted for. It’s yet another reminder that in spite of expanded replay, there’s still plenty of human error in play in baseball.
Sticking with the Times for a moment, they also have an article about the disappearing screwball. Once a powerful weapon for pitchers around the league, Bruce Schoenfeld reports that hardly anyone throws the screwball anymore. This is an outstanding article and I hope everyone reads it.
Yesterday was the centennial anniversary of Babe Ruth’s Major League debut. Is it my imagination, or have there been an unusual number of high profile anniversaries this season? Anyway, Brian Tuohy of Sports on Earth has a look back on Ruth’s continued importance to baseball, even all these decades later. Ruth remains on the short list of the most famous Americans of all time, and it’s impossible to overstate how important he is to baseball history.
Former Red Dontrelle Willis has signed with the independent Atlantic League Bridgeport Bluefish. You probably didn’t see that signing on MLB Trade Rumors (jokes from two years ago!). Anyway, if that team name sounds familiar, it’s the same team that Pete Rose managed for a game last month. Willis was always one of my favorites to watch, and was always exceptionally easy to root for, so here’s hoping he beats the odds and finds his way back to the majors.
Finally, Kevin Millar and Sean Casey were on Late Night with Seth Meyers the other night. Both were their usual loquacious selves, but Sean Casey told a legitimately funny story about the jersey he wore in the 1999 All-Star Game. Worth a watch.