With the start of the 2015 regular season just days away, Nick Doran of Redleg Nation takes one last look at 2014, and attempts to place Johnny Cueto’s performance last year in historical context. Doran looks at each season turned in by a Red that resulted in a higher ERA+ than Cueto’s 160 (including Cueto’s own 171 in his injury-marred 2011 campaign), and makes the case that, at worst, he is on the very short list of most productive pitchers in Reds history. It's not just one last appreciative look at Cueto's greatness last year, but also a fun look at some overlooked Reds history.
Mike Axisa of CBS Sports has a list of over/unders for the Reds 2015 season, and most of them seem somewhat pessimistic, although not unreasonably so. I’ll take the over on Joey Votto’s OBP at .3995 and Aroldis Chapman’s strikeouts at 99.5. I’ll have to take the under on number of starting pitchers used at 12.5, because even in 2014 they only used 10. And put me down for the over on wins at 75.5, because it’s springtime and I’m allowed to be hopeful this time of year, dammit.
Forbes magazine has quantitative data (attendance, TV ratings, merchandise sales and social media reach) to determine baseball’s best fans. Not surprisingly, the Cardinals and Red Sox came in at one and two respectively, but the Reds made the list at a respectable fourth place. Forbes only listed the top ten, which is too bad because I really wanted to know who came in last. With the Brewers at fifth and the Pirates at seventh, the National League Central is well represented on the list (Sorry, Cubs, but I have to figure all those weekday afternoon games can’t be good for TV ratings).
With Opening Day fast approaching, the Cincinnati Enquirer brings us an update on the new food and drink options at Great American Ballpark this year. Among these are the new self-serve draft beer stations, which can pour a beer in 19 seconds (but I want it now!). The Reds are proud to point out that GABP has the most of these stations of any pro sports team anywhere, so we’ve got that going for us. Additionally, the Machine Room has a new offering this year: bacon on a stick. I’ll let the Enquirer describe it: "Drenched in Ohio maple syrup and chili pepper, the thick-cut bacon is broiled to crisp, sticky deliciousness." No words. They should have sent a poet.
In honor of WrestleMania 31, which is evidently happening tomorrow, the late Macho Man Randy Savage will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame today. Marc Normandin chronicled his short professional baseball career, mostly in the Cardinals farm system, but with a brief stay with the Reds. Savage – real name Randy Poffo – had the potential to hit for power and could take a walk but was never able to put it together. He was out of baseball after never rising above A ball in four years in the minors. It’s a very humanizing read about a guy who most people remember as being very much larger than life.
Finally, here’s a sentence I never thought I’d write: Former Red Sean Casey was interviewed by Rolling Stone magazine. Casey sat down with your divorced uncle’s favorite music magazine to discuss not only his predictions for the 2015 baseball season but also the musical tastes of several of his old Reds teammates. There’s actually some pretty funny stuff here about some of our favorite former Reds, although none of it is super surprising (Casey loves Pearl Jam, Adam Dunn is a big country music fan). But the fact that the 1999 Reds taught Casey DMX lyrics that he still remembers today is strangely endearing.