There wasn’t much electricity or excitement at the latest Redfest held at the Duke Convention Center in downtown Cincinnati. There had been no trades or signings. There had been no news at all. I can only imagine the excitement at the annual Cubs Convention.
Just a few days after it was over, the Reds traded two-fifths of their starting rotation (Matt Latos and Alfredo Simon) for four minor leagues. It’s probably a good thing that didn’t happen a few days before Redsfest.
I saw Latos on Sunday at Redsfest being escorted by Reds officials to a signing. As he walked by me, I said Ã¢â‚¬Å“Hey Matt, how ya’ doin?Ã¢â‚¬Â Latos never even looked my way. It seemed sort of, kind of obvious he didn’t even want to be there. It’s a good thing I didn’t bring up Buster Posey’s grand slam home run off him in Game Five of the 2012 playoffs.
But Latos was the rule, not the exception. Most of the Reds players were friendly to a fault with the fans and good to the kids, which is always good to see.
The main reason I go to Redsfest is it gives my brother and me an opportunity to spend some time together and visit. We enjoy seeing older Reds veterans the most. A good example is Jack Billingham, a pitcher for the Big Red Machine. I couldn’t remember how many World Series innings he pitched and he allowed just one earned run. He was virtually unhittable in the four World Series he played in. I thought it was 24 and 2/3 innings. Ã¢â‚¬Å“25 and a third,Ã¢â‚¬Â a smiling Billingham said without hesitation.
Gary Nolan also had a big smile when we talked about Game 4 of the 1976 World Series. It was the only Series game the former Reds righthander won in seven starts. But Nolan had several great seasons for Cincinnati and it was the first time I have seen him personally.
I spent a lot of time with former Reds outfielder Eddie Milner. The only Opening Day I’ve been to happened in 1984 and Milner homered in that game. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I should have had two,Ã¢â‚¬Â Milner said. When I said that Mets outfielder Daryl Strawberry robbed him of a second with a leaping catch, Eddie looked at me and said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“You remember that too?Ã¢â‚¬Â After we chatted about the ’84 Reds, (Ã¢â‚¬Å“We didn’t have much except for Soto,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Milner) Eddie looked at me and asked, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Hey, who was pitching for the Mets that day?Ã¢â‚¬Â Mike Torrez started for the Mets but was knocked out in the second inning. Milner’s drive caught by a leaping Strawberry came off relief pitcher Craig Swan in the 6th inning.
Of the current Reds, I had a limited but nice talk with Jay Bruce during a photo session. I told him I had a front row seat the night he hit THE home run, the one that clinched the Division Title for the Reds in 2010. Before I left, I told him not to get down on himself for the bad 2014 season he had. And that when he plays like the real Jay Bruce, he’s the best rightfielder the Reds have had since Frank Robinson. I meant what I said and have written that in the past, for what it’s worth.
Before all the Reds were introduced on the first day, we were betting on which Red would get the biggest applause. My brother said it would be Brandon Phillips. I bet on Todd Frazier. Phillips was the correct choice.
Crowds at Redsfest reflect the crowd you see at Great American Ballpark. Lots of kids, many families. The price of beer is about the same too — $6 for one at Redsfest (ouch).
The Reds do a good job at putting events like this together. I’m confident they will also do a great job with the All-Star Game next year and all the events surrounding GABP.
Now, if they could just get an outfielder with some pop in his bat.
And fix the bullpen.
And make Aroldis Chapman a starter.
You can always hope can’t you?