Baseball can be viewed through many different prisms, impacted differently by a particular viewer’s attitude or expectations for what “good” and “bad” baseball actually means. For Reds fans, there is no need to look far for the most stark example of that: the play of Joey Votto. Obviously for the lot of us here, watching Votto work the zone and take two, three, or four walks in a game is like watching a piece of art be creative. It’s masterful. Beautiful, even.
Not everyone in the stadium would agree with that assessment, of course. Most notably: the voices that describe Reds baseball to us on the broadcast game-in and game-out. “Expand the zone,” they might say. Multiply the grumbling and groaning by 10 if said walk comes with men on base.
And there are a lot of points to be made about who is “right” and who is “wrong” in these situations (it’s “us” and “them,” respectively, by the way, but that’s not a horse corpse I’m willing to strike today).
Baseball is a game with a standard scoring system and a written set of rules where there is, definitively at the end of the day, one winner and one loser. Hearing the differing opinions of the best way to arrive at one outcome or another varies widely depending on what comment section hell hole you might find yourself in.
All of this is likely to come to life over the next several weeks when “The Writers” start to wax-poetic on the merits of what “Most Valuable Player” means, as the BBWAA finds a new way to snub Mike Trout (also keeping away from that particular point for the time being).
This differing of viewpoints was particularly striking to me today as I started looking around the world wide web at several different takes on the Reds season. As we roll toward October, several writers have began chronicling the MLB season and the Reds (having been eliminated from any type of postseason consideration since, what, April?) come up early and often. What they all agreed on (the Reds stink, Joey Votto is bueno, the pitching is horseshit, etc.) wasn’t particularly shocking. What they disagreed on is what I found interesting.
Everyone here in the Red Reporter family has a blisteringly hot take on the current Reds second baseman, and on several different matters. I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that people who don’t watch Brandon Phillips everyday wouldn’t be able to come to a consensus on his play this season, either.
Over at Yahoo, their Game Over feature from Big League Stew described 2016 as a “great year” for Brandon Phillips. However, at MLB Daily Dish, Mike Bates’s take wasn’t so flattering, stating, “the club never got acceptable performance at either second or third base.” Ian Casselberry at The Comeback is even harsher, calling BP the Reds most disappointing player.
Presumably, all three of these folks (plus a few, as Big League Stew was a group effort) looked at the data and at at least a few Reds games this season to come to these conclusions. They’re all looking at the same thing, but the three opinions hit three different points of the good, middling, bad spectrum. The objective truth about Phillips is certainly something of a blend of the three opinions (he was dreadful in the first half and 2011 BP in the second while playing good-to-acceptable defense even if it isn’t as other worldly as we’re accustomed), but seeing the stark differences in opinion laid right before our very eye is, to me, rather interesting.
Red Reporter can be a bit of an echo chamber at times, save for the bad food takes you guys are blabbering on about on any given day (and hey, that’s the way we like it, damnit). So, I encourage you to take a second and read those three obituaries on the Reds season.
But make sure to comeback and comment on how wrong and stupid they are, yeah?
In other news, Reds instructional league got going last Sunday. 18 of the Reds top 30 prospects (according to MLB Pipeline) are participating out in Arizona, including 2nd overall pick Nick Senzel, fellow 2016 draft picks Chris Okey and Taylor Trammell, and undrafted amateur signee TJ Friedl. Most excitingly, the Reds will get their first stateside look at Cuban signees Alfredo Rodriguez and Vladimir Gutierrez. Jonathan Mayo has the write up at MLB.com, with some fun notes in there about getting the Cuban kids acclimated not only on the field but off of it as well.
I can’t imagine being plucked out of the only culture I know at 20-years-old and plopped down into a new way of life where I was completely unfamiliar with the language, let alone the social norms and customs. The thought of it is nearly crippling to me, actually, so I’m not going to think about it anymore.
I just hope if it ever does happen, I don’t get sent to the Cuban equivalent of Arizona.
Finally, here’s the video where you can listen to Anthrax frontman, and favorite of Thom Brennaman, Joey Belladonna totally slay the National Anthem from the Reds vs. Cubs game at Wrigley earlier this week. I suspect, now that Thom’s baseball responsibilities have ended for the season, he’ll definitely be catching Anthrax, Slayer, and Death Angel on their tour this fall.
And yes, I’m purposefully leaving you with the image of Thom Brennaman at a metal concert.