Joey Votto caught some serious flak yesterday after trolling Philadelphia Phillies fans mid-game. As The Enquirer's Zach Buchanan noted after hearing Votto's side of the story, it was all meant to be good fun, and unless you're way too emotionally and aggressively invested in something that's merely sport and entertainment, that's exactly what it was.
What, would you prefer a player simply choose not to interact at all with you as a fan? What's more memorable, watching a guy field grounders and throws for 3 hours while completely ignoring you and the other 20,000 folks sitting just a few dozen feet away, or having a bit of fun himself with you and everyone else to break the ice? That's exactly the take friend of the blog Mo Egger reacted with, and I couldn't agree with him more.
In a game between the lowly Reds and lowly Phillies on a May afternoon in a season that's collectively going nowhere, any sort of performance that's going to stick in the fibers of your brain is what you hope to see when you go to the ballpark, and that's exactly what was provided by Votto on Sunday. That it happened in the very same ballpark where the Phillie Phanatic routinely provides the exact same schtick should not be lost in this discussion, since I'd wager it played a large part in Votto's decision to play the heel.
Way back when, Votto ripped the Chicago Cubs, got ripped by many for admitting it, and promptly went on a massive offensive tear. He got snubbed for last year's All Star Game in Cincinnati, and responded by having the greatest second half of his career. Perhaps the silly hoopla of this entire exchange is the latest watershed moment for him, exactly the thing that gets him locked-in for a patented tear that lays waste to the rest of the baseball pitching landscape.
In other news, Jonah Keri's latest The 30 dropped over at SI.com today. Per usual, it's a great refresher on the current lay of the land across MLB, with insights few (if any) who follow the game can provide. If you're reading solely as a Cincinnati fan, at least take some solace in knowing that the Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves currently exist in some deeper, darker level of hell than the Reds at the moment. Wallow in it, if you must.
The Reds signed a minor league pitcher named Braulio last week. Yeah, he's 24 with rate stats that make you excited about Nick Howard, but his name is Braulio. Braulio. Claim small victories where you can.
Adam Duvall had another whale of a game on Sunday, and MLB.com's Mark Sheldon certainly noticed. He spoke with Duvall about some of the tweaks in his swing that have helped him have said success so far this season. His current .286 ISO ranks 13th in all of baseball among the 203 players with at least 110 PA, just ahead of the likes of Robinson Cano, Matt Carpenter, and some guy named Todd Frazier. I'd end this blurb by saying that he's sporting a .369 BABIP that's more than likely way higher than his sustainable level, but that would go against the overall positive tune of the blurb itself. So, I won't.
If you watched the TV broadcasts of the recent 10 game homestand in GABP, you probably noticed that either tens of thousands of folks showed up dressed as red seats, or almost nobody was in the stands at all. Turns out, the Reds have had the single largest attendance drop of any team in baseball year over year, by quite a dang large margin at that. Yes, the weather has largely sucked, school has been in session, and the team can no longer boast hosting the All Star Game, but that overall decline is obviously fueled by much more than just those reasons. At an average of 21,370, the Reds' attendance now sits higher than only Tampa, Oakland, Cleveland, Miami, and (surprisingly) the Chicago White Sox.
Doug Gray took a look at the recent resurgence at the plate from Alex Blandino, as the prized IF prospect continues to improve after a thigh injury cost him the start of the AA season for Pensacola.
Finally, Grimey threw his comprehensive Reds/Indians series preview at us earlier today, and it's got a pile of good info to prep you for the upcoming home & home ties with the Mistake on the Lake. Pair that with friend and former RR colleague JinAZ's stat-fueled preview, and you'll know more about the next four days of Reds baseball than, well, anyone who hasn't read both. Just maybe skip over those ERA- numbers in the Reds bullpen, since you'd surely rather watch the games than curl up and cry until November.