In my absolute favorite piece of baseball writing I’ve read so far this year, Craig Calcaterra described the experience of attending a mid-week game between two non-contending teams, specifically last Tuesday’s Reds-Braves matchup. Calcaterra describes how the Braves and Reds are two teams not going anyplace in the sense that neither will be playing past game 162 this year. He also describes how the Braves and Reds are two teams not going anyplace in the more literal sense, meaning that they will be around, all summer long, playing every one of those 162 games. It’s a celebration of the beauty of baseball and how well it goes with summer, and how much pleasure we can take from even completely meaningless games, often because they are so ultimately meaningless. Calcaterra is a much better writer than me, so please, Reds fans, read this article, and think about bookmarking it so you can return to it when the Reds inevitably get frustrating this summer.
Baseball business writer Wayne G. McDonnell Jr weighed in on Homer Bailey’s controversial contract last week for Forbes magazine. McDonnell believes that the Bailey contract was a significant overpay, and while the first two stats he cites to back that claim up are wins and winning percentage, he does make a case that Bailey’s career numbers so far don’t stack up well compared to other pitchers with guaranteed contracts north of a hundred million dollars. Whether or not the Reds’ faith in Bailey is justified is of course open to debate and not off to a great start given that Bailey won’t pitch again for a full calendar year, which of course makes it much easier to criticize the deal in hindsight. But it’s still not fun to see your team described as a "cautionary tale" for other owners.
Ken Rosenthal has some unsolicited advice for the Reds front office: Sell, and do it sooner rather than later. Rosenthal makes the case that a sell off immediately after the All-Star Game (he mentions the usual firesale suspects of Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake and Aroldis Chapman, and even throws in Todd Frazier for fun) would set the Reds up for contention sooner rather than later. I agree 100%, and I probably wouldn’t even wait until after the All-Star game, personally.
In still more unsolicited advice from Fox Sports, Dave Cameron has some for Billy Hamilton: Get better at bunting. Cameron makes the fairly obvious point that Hamilton will have more value if he can get on base more, and that since he hasn’t shown himself to be a great hitter, he should focus more on bunting his way on. Seems easier said than done, but yeah, I’m sure Billy will take that under advisement, Dave. Thanks for the tips.
There was a bit of a kerfuffle the other night when what was alleged to be new caps for this year's All-Star game were supposedly leaked by New Era. They were meant to be old-timey pillbox style caps inspired by the general 1870's vibe the Reds have going on much of the time. With a couple of exceptions, they're ugly as sin, especially the white "home" National League caps. The A's and Red Sox aren't too bad, though. But fear not! Turns out they're fake, perpetrated by a former advertising copywriter who has fooled sports media once before. It says a lot about what fans are conditioned to expect in the way of unnecessary and ugly alternate caps from MLB that so many found it so easy to believe.
One of the fun things for me about this time of year is that there are always a bunch of new baseball books published. The one I’m most looking forward to, Split Season 1981: Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball by Jeff Katz is being released this Tuesday, May 19. Katz sat down with Justin McGuire of the Sporting News to discuss his new book, and of course it touched on the greatest injustice of all time, the Reds getting boned out of a playoff appearance that year.
Finally, for the golf fans among us, the third annual Players Trust All Star Gold Tournament will be held at Cincinnati’s Coldstream Country Club this July 15, and it will be hosted by none other than the Reds own Jay Bruce and Eric Davis. The press release lists several other former players expected to attend, including Tom Browning, Ken Griffey Sr and Bobby Bonilla. Proceeds go to charity, although the press release is vague on what specific charity, but it still sounds like a pretty good time if that’s your thing.