When the Reds announced that Joey Votto
needed knee surgery and was going to miss a month, most thought the
best-case scenario would be the first-place Reds treading water and
hopefully keeping the Pirates and Cardinals at bay. And even that was
seen as a bit optimistic.
As he sat at a podium in Mason,
Andy Murray wasn’t quite sure where his gold medal was. Murray, a week
removed from winning the Olympic gold medal for singles in men’s tennis,
was in Cincinnati while his prize was far away.
Looking for their first back-to-back
winning seasons and consecutive playoff appearances in 20 years, the
Bengals enter the 2012 season with the swagger of a Pro Bowl
quarterback-receiver tandem that could be the backbone of a winning
foundation for years to come (haven’t we heard that before?).
There are no players left on the team
from Larkin’s playing days, though some, like second baseman Brandon
Phillips, grew up watching him and idolized the longtime Reds shortstop.
Others, like Miguel Cairo and Scott Rolen, played against him. All,
though, have respect for the Cincinnati native.
It took all the way until the first day
of July, nearly a week from the All-Star break, to figure out just what
was off about this baseball season. We’ve had plenty of exciting games still
there was something missing, and I couldn’t put my finger on it until
the National League All-Star rosters were announced. Tony La Russa, we missed you.
Quite honestly, a team Hall of Fame never
seemed like a big deal to me — a nice honor, sure, but nothing like
Cooperstown. It’s something, I always thought, to which those being
inducted paid lip service. That was until I threw out the softball
icebreaker to Sean Casey on Saturday before his induction into the Reds
Hall of Fame.
Joey Votto should be the face of baseball
right now. He should be the biggest name in the game, there should be
cameras following his every move, national TV commercials and the
talking heads on TV saying “Votto” so much that you’d think it was a
Are we living in some kind of strange new
world where down is up, dogs live in harmony with cats and the Bengals
are a well-run organization? Because it appears that the Bengals, long
the butt of jokes not just here in Cincinnati, but nationwide, are
making — gasp — sensible and shrewd decisions.
Does anyone actually enjoy sports anymore? With Twitter, Facebook and message boards, it seems we have more outlets than ever to discuss and learn about sports. Add MLB.tv, NFL Sunday Ticket, ESPN3.com
and other technological advances in streaming video, we’re always
informed and entertained. So we can bitch. And bitch. And bitch. And then bitch some more.
From a fan’s standpoint, what Aroldis
Chapman is doing seems amazing. Through May 27, Chapman hadn’t allowed
an earned run in 21 appearances and 26 innings. He’d only allowed seven
hits, walked eight and struck out 44. But it’s not just those in the
stands that are impressed — so are his teammates.
During a baseball season, 40 games isn’t
enough to tell the whole story, but it should be enough to get an idea
where it’s going. Except when it isn’t — like with this season’s
installment of the Cincinnati Reds.