This is the end, y’all. The season will wrap up this weekend with the Reds hosting the juggernaut Cubs for a perfunctory last dance. There will be plenty of time for reflection on this season as we drudge through the cold winter, so I’ll do my best to avoid a grandiose epilogue here.
Last week, your winner was The Scream. It was just a JPEG representation of Edvard Munch’s The Scream with the little fella wearing a Reds hat. Apparently, originality isn’t all that important to you. Don’t have a cow! Oh, behave! My wife! Various Three Stooges noises!
Joey Votto Keeps on Truckin’
2014 was basically a lost season for Joey Votto. His nagging knee injury held him out for all but 62 punchless games. I know I was wringing my hands going into 2015. The Reds were clearly not going to contend and their $200 million man was now on the wrong side of 30 and on a shaky foundation.
But while the team has been full-on rebuilding these last two years, Joey has been among the best hitters in baseball. He is second in baseball with a 165 wRC+. He is tops in walk rate and on-base percentage, ninth in slugging, and third in BABIP. He has hit every bit as well as Mike Trout, Josh Donaldson, Bryce Harper, Paul Goldschmidt, Miguel Cabrera, and Kris Bryant.
And all this for a team that he knew full well was not going anywhere. He gets his paycheck whether or not he does well or the team does well, and he still goes out there and works his ass off. It’s a lonely old dirt road he travels, but he keeps on truckin’.
Whiny Birds Get a Gift
You’d be forgiven if you were not awake last night when the Reds/Cardinals game ended, but it was not without controversy. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Yadier Molina roped a line drive into left field with Matt Carpenter at first base. The ball hopped the wall for what should have been a ground-rule double, but the umpires missed it. Carpenter came around to score the winning run, the crowd erupted, the umpires skittered off the field, and the play stood without a review.
Look, I’m not terribly upset the Reds lost a game to the Cardinals. It has happened quite a bit over the years. My problem is with the hopeless and ineffective review system. This play was a really big one, you know. It was, ummm, you could call it a game changer. The Cardinals are in the hunt for a Wild Card and the difference between winning this game, as it is, and possibly losing this game* is huuuuuuuge.
And the Cardinals didn’t win this game because of a missed call, mind you. They won this game because the replay system that was put in place to ensure that plays like this are called correctly is so stupid and byzantine that it was unable to fulfill its most basic of responsibilities.
The idea of replay is to help correct for the human error that is implicit in the officiating of the game. If we collectively reject the apparatus of replay, we are saying we tacitly accept the margin of error of human judgement. When something like this happens, you just have to say, “yeah, the umpires blew it, but that happens sometimes.” But we don’t do that anymore! We say, “NO!! The umpires blew it! Make sure we correct that. Get the replay!” And if you are going to do that, YOU HAVE TO FUCKING DO THAT!!!
So the Cardinals got a gift from the umpires and from MLB. Because of course. Everything always works out for the best for the Cardinals.
*Listen, there was a pretty slim chance the Reds would have pulled this off if the play had been rightfully overturned. The Cardinals would have had runners on second and third with two outs. They would have had a pretty good chance to win the game legitimately right then, if not in extra innings. But it’s the principle that matters here.