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Review: The Great American Dream

Discussing the newest podcast about the Reds

Chelsea v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Has everyone had a chance to listen to EP 1 from The Great American Dream yesterday? We’re going to try and discuss each episode over the course of the season starting with yesterday’s. Let us see how this goes – any feedback for your friends at RR is appreciated.

Lisa Long had a dream, or so it seems. Judging from what Trent and Shed tell us, Mrs. Long is not the sort of person to let dreams lie. She’s the chair of the Department of Social Work at Talladega College, the country’s oldest HBCU. Talladega College was founded in 1867 by formerly enslaved men. They were able to secure the foreclosed property of a white school in which to build their black college. Wikipedia, as it does every so often, describes it succinctly.

A building constructed before the war with slave labor for white students became the home of the state's first college dedicated to serving the educational needs of blacks.

Anyway, teaching social work at a historically-Black college is no small thing. Shed Long’s mother, so we can surmise, doesn’t mess around. When she dreamed that her in utero baby Shedric was going to be a Major League Baseball player, she did what she could do to help. So did Big Shed (as Trent refers to Shed Long’s father). And that’s how we start this podcast, with the three members of the Long family driving up together to Cincinnati to watch the Futures game.

Sitting in the back of their parents car is hardly what one imagines as a pro baseball player

Shed had been in Great American Ballpark before. He worked out in the offseason with Billy Hamilton and has a sort of calm-eyed certainty about the future that optimistic folks in High-A can afford to have. ““Geez, I’m gonna be playing here one day,” Shed said.

Still, Shed isn’t quite yet the star of the podcast yet. Joey Votto talks about demotion in the usual lucid Votto tones. Eric Davis has, ah, quite the comparison for Shed Long. Jeff Graupe, the Reds’ director of player development, is probably my favorite.

It’s Graupe’s responsibility to, well, develop players. He needs to put everyone in the position to succeed, from Robert Stephenson down to Layne Somsen. What I find interesting is how he looked at this challenge.

If they get there with someone else, but we put in the work: that’s great.

Graupe is getting paid by the Reds to help the Reds win. That much is clear. But in order to help the Reds win, his job is to make the players better no matter where they end up. Players have to trust him to be supporting them and not the organization.

It made me think of a friend recently who had the talk with his boss. You know the one, the “you’re due for a promotion, but you help the team so much in your current role,” one. It’s a tough talk. Because it’s clear to me – and it’s clear to my friend – that bosses who put the company above employees soon find themselves out of good employees.

Grape, clearly, does not see himself as that sort of boss. Which is probably good for the company, which is good for us because his company is our favorite team.

Stray thoughts

  • What do you think so far? Of the production values? C. Trent’s monologues? Eric Davis’ slow, syrupy talk?
  • I didn’t realize that Long was from the complete other end of Alabama than Phil Ervin. Ervin’s from Leroy, about 4 hours away from Long’s Anniston. But Leroy is only a couple hours from Taylorsville, MS – where Billy Hamilton grew up. I’m starting to realize I know very little about the Gulf South.
  • Never does a minor leaguer’s path through awful towns: Billings, MT! Daytona, FL! not blow my mind. That’s a lot of places I don’t want to spend summers in! Interesting to hear that Long is itching for a call-up – not least of which is that Pensacola is a whole lot closer to home than Daytona.
  • Few stronger names out there than “Big Shed.”