Sorry, I’m not going to pick through the smoldering debris of yet another close loss to the Cardinals. Leake great. Votto two hits. Chapman MIA (for the series). Skip Schumaker makes final out with Votto on deck because Schumaker was the leadoff hitter.
The name we give to these game recaps at Redleg Nation Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Titanic Struggle Ã¢â‚¬â€œ was lifted from an expression used by Reds announcer Marty Brennaman.
It has always implied a delicious double meaning, both of which have their roots in history. In ancient Greek storytelling, Olympian gods fought the powerful Titans in a righteous battle for order over chaos. And in the early 20th century, the name Titanic became associated with the sinking of a majestic, overconfident boat.
If you have any semblance of wits about you tonight, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re trying to decide if the fact that 150 games remain in this Reds season is comforting or terrifying.
The early sidelining of Devin Mesoraco and Billy Hamilton may have sent you back under the covers to shiver and curse the prognosticators who assured us that the Reds could never suffer through another injury-plagued season like 2014. Or maybe youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve already peeked to see when the college football season begins.
ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s also not to soft-pedal the legitimate reasons to worry, chiefly the ongoing roster absurdities and general mismanagement. ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s plenty of blame to go around.
Bryan PriceÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s leadoff hitter canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get on base. Which is to say the team doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have a leadoff hitter. The #4 hitter in PriceÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lineup doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have an extra base hit and is therefore last in power among all major league players. Meanwhile, the guy on the team who is batting .368/.415/.526 has been batting eighth.
ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just the run production side of the glorious inflexibility that is Bryan PriceÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s devotion to strict player rules. On the run prevention side, the inning number determines who should pitch, not the game situation.
The general manager spent the offseason saying the Reds needed hitters who struck out less and got on base more. Yet he produced a roster with new players Marlon Byrd and Brennan Boesch, who strike out a lot and donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get on base.
It appears the owner allowed the payroll to increase by only $5 million while surely knowing that the contractual and arbitration commitments to his current players had locked in about $30 million in raises. In that case, he deserves to be watching Jason Marquis, Marlon Byrd and the sad Reds play of the past week.
You can point a finger at the players and say the losing skid is ultimately their fault. And thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s right in a simple sense. But that doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t exonerate the collective ineptitude that put Kevin Gregg in the 8thÃ‚Â inning on Opening Day, Byrd in left field and Marquis on the mound every fifth day. Washed up is as washed up does. Hoping those players would be anything other than what their FanGraphs player page said they would be was a big and foreseeable miscalculation.
If the Reds do face a post-All-Star game choice whether or not to dismantle and rebuild, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s worrisome that Bob Castellini is the man who will make that decision. And itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hard to imagine anyone less appropriate to figure out the specific moves than Walt Jocketty.
On the other hand, if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re looking for silver linings, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got a suitcase full.
If you were one of those who agreed with the Reds in-between strategy for 2015, the first four games offered a tantalizing glimpse and a hint of how it might work.
In an age where fictional superheroes inundate every movie theater and Netflix queue, we can Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ marvel Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ at a few real-life action figures. Joey Votto has a healthy left leg and is once again among baseballÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s pantheon of hitters. Aroldis Chapman may remain shackled Ã¢â‚¬â€œ like Prometheus for giving fire to mortals Ã¢â‚¬â€œ by the Closer Rules but he keeps us addicted to the crack of ninth-inning strikeouts. Johnny Cueto, a true ace, baffles opposing hitters. And a promising young pitcher, Anthony DeSclafani, may turn out to be the one thing Walt Jocketty got right in the offseason.
Take solace in the recent lack of correlation between the RedsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ record in their first twelve games and the final standings. The 2010 team started 5-7 and won 91 and the 2012 Reds began 4-8 and won 97. Or check the dismal 2011 unit, who got off to an 8-4 start but finished 79-83. Even the 1975 team stood 6-6. These Reds wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t ever be confused for the Big Red Machine, but no oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s asking they win 108 games, either.
You can find comfort from the notion that all those forecasters who projected the Reds to finish last in the NL Central hadnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t quite comprehended the Milwaukee Brewers. If thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s truth to the adage that itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not who you play but when you play them, the Reds are fortunate to be facing the woeful Brewers seven of the next ten games, without their Votto-slaying star Carlos Gomez.
Mercifully, the Reds wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t face Wainwright, Wacha and Martinez, or Molina, Carpenter and Adams every game. News flash: the Reds arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t as good as the Cardinals. Six of the first 12 games have been against them. Seems like a thousand years ago, but the Reds did sweep the Pirates. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not hard to imagine handling the Cubs. And remember the Brewers.
After a brilliant start to the season, lately Reds games have been more iceberg and less Hercules. This week has been a painful reminder that the first of those two meanings of Titanic was mythology, while the latter was frigid reality.
But for better or worse, as fellow travelers on the bumpy journey that is a major league baseball season, weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve signed up for six or seven months of this. And if our shared experience has taught us anything, the one thing we know for sure about the trip is that we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know anything for sure.
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