We have an action in our family, but not necessarily a specific title for it. It is the act of abruptly shutting off a sporting event after the home team gives up a grand slam, throws an interception, enters the penalty box or otherwise behaves in a manner unbecoming our fandom.

It is especially satisfying when performed while driving. “Here’s Bailey, with the bases loaded, and nowhere to put him,” if followed by, “Annnnnnnnd he walked him,” earns a sharp jab to radio presets, classic country taking the place of Marty’s disgust.

It is what happens when we cannot bear the descriptors and images of defeat. It is the reason no one listens to the post game show after losses are posted. It is here when Jim Day and his fellow sportscasters earn the paycheck: You can turn it all off and find a bar. They have to relive this crap, frame by frame, discuss each fist-forming moment in detail, and ask the athletes how they feel about doing their jobs poorly in front of hundreds of thousands of people.

The descriptive verb form of this refusal to participate is “being Clete,” in honor of my late grandfather, the 90something year old Reds fan who perfected the practice. “Okay, Clete,” one family member might say to another in the sudden silence and gathering darkness of extinguished television set.

As a child I was terrified I might have to perform the unthinkable act of grandchild disobedience and protest should he hit the dial in Game 4 of the 1990 World Series: “Well, they’re going to lose it now,” he said, watching A’s run the bases in the early going. (He hung in there. So did the Reds.) Admitting that “I was Clete” is the general term for turning off the game in disgust, of bailing, of trading the potential payoff of an exciting win against the anxiety of getting there. It is an act of caring too much, a preemptive strike against disappointment and pain.

You can be Clete due to sudden or extended negligence, as in characteristically loading the bases in a close match or watching three infielders circle a pop fly that drops between them. You can be Clete because of a thorough beatdown and execute the game as a preemptive guard of your time. Or you can be Clete because the entire enterprise is just too neverwracking: My mother was Clete for the entire second quarter of the 1989 Super Bowl. While the rest of us lay down and died in the family room, she was shut up with the 1945 version of State Fair on the other side of the wall.

Last night, I was Clete. Lingering exhaustion from early-week exertions meant that the following adventure totaled me for any further activity, physical, mental, or emotional:

And so, in the sixth inning of a close game with men on, as third base coach JR House windmilled Jesse Winker into a throw to home that beat him by so much the Cubs catcher had time to make the grab, stand on the basepath, taunt the fans, refinance his mortgage, mow the outfield, and marinate an entire cow, I punished them all. I was Clete. I demonstrated my furor at this hapless, helpless bundle of wasted potential by pointedly pressing SYSTEM OFF, rolled up in a ball to radiate disappointment and disapproval into the gathering twilight, and fell asleep for two hours.

I awoke in a different world, one in which the Reds had not collapsed further, had in fact come back more than once, and rather than stranding one another took the trouble to push teammates across home plate. They mobbed gamewinner Puig before he made it much past first. They congratulated him, each other, and themselves. They turned to lift their arms to the faithful few who remained, those who sat amongst pockets of blue in the ball park and did not become Clete for the partial purpose of making it home in time for a pre-10th inning snack.

Nice as it was to watch all this take place after it happened, it was a pale impression of seeing it slowly unfold, pitch by pitch. Those who did were rewarded with gushes of firsthand dopamine. I am happy for them and grateful for their service. Most nights, I am among them. But sometimes, the heavy lifting falls to the college students and the diehards, the insomniacs and the pressboxers.

The rest of us, every now and then, to sustain the voracious needs of the long season, need to be Clete.

Starting Pitchers

L Castillo (R) P 1.76 0.99 56.1 70 4 1
J Quintana (R) P 3.50 1.25 46.1 46 4 2


Look at those stats.  LOOK AT THEM.

Luis Castillo is terrifying because I’m starting to depend on him, and when he self-detonates, as he did in the infamous 8 run blown lead against the Giants, David Bell all of sudden becomes Dusty Baker and is content leave him in until the end of time, chewing things while the mound burns. It’s like he’s making me believe in love again or something, and I need to run before I’m hurt again.


I used to kind of root for the Cubs because I felt sorry for them and had a lot of respect for maintaining their ball park whilst the rest of the humanity was bulldozing theirs, and really didn’t expend much energy directing little waves of hate at them from the stands.

And then?  Bartman.

You did it to yourselves, Cubs fans.

Starting Lineups


  1. Nick Senzel (R) CF
  2. Joey Votto (L) 1B
  3. Eugenio Suárez (R) 3B
  4. Yasiel Puig (R) RF
  5. Jose Iglesias (R) SS
  6. Jesse Winker (L) LF
  7. Curt Casali (R) C
  8. Jose Peraza (R) 2B
  9. Luis Castillo (R) P


  1. Kyle Schwarber (L) LF
  2. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
  3. Daniel Descalso (L) 2B
  4. Javier Báez (R) SS
  5. Willson Contreras (R) C
  6. Victor Caratini (S) 1B
  7. Jason Heyward (L) RF
  8. Albert Almora Jr (R) CF
  9. Jose Quintana (R) P

News and Notes

This Votto quote was all the passed-around talk on Twitter today.

-The lingerie and nightgown line at Walmart is called “Secret Treasures.”

86 Responses

  1. Matt WI

    Bet a beer a game on this series with my Cubs fan friend… rubber match to determine the buyer of the suds. Bring it home for me, Castillo!

    • Mary Beth Ellis


  2. Soto

    What a great intro to tonight’s game. I was Clete last night as well, but actually went to the game. Is there an additional name for when you are Clete, and you were wrong, and you actually good have been there? Glad to see Casali in there.

    • jim walker

      My internet connection went bonkers just after the Cubbicles scored in T8 Wednesday ; and after a very half hearted failed effort to recover it, I didn’t think to check the subsequent final result until mid afternoon. Does this qualify me for a Clete award?

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        Sadly no, Jim. To qualify as Clete, you must punish the players yourself by purposely banishing them to the outer darkness.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Good question, Soto. Clete never left a ballgame early. If you paid to get in, YOU STAYED to get your money’s worth.

      My mother tells me that back in the Crosley days, if you paid for one half of a doubleheader, you saw the second game free.
      She and my uncles saw a lot of doubleheaders. #GermanSportingLife

  3. Tom Mitsoff

    Interesting that in some games David Bell has the pitcher batting eighth, and in some games ninth. Haven’t heard any rationale or explanation for that variation.

    • Seat101

      On the third Thursday after the first the first full moon after the vernal equinox, the pitcher has to bat ninth if the game is a night time getaway game AND your ace is starting so there is a slightly higher chance that a pinch hitter is not a consideration quite as early than if he were batting eighth.

      Everyone knows that.

      Or DB flips a coin.

      • rex aultman

        now I get it …..thank you Mr Seat

  4. renbutler

    The storms that just came through here in the Indianapolis area are heading down I-74.

    If it holds together, we will be in for a long delay, or even a postponement. Considering that the Cubs visit town two more times this year, I lean toward the latter, unless the storm complex starts to deteriorate.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I vote for the Cubs deteriorating instead.

    • matthew hendley

      Maybe they will melt. What is the delay looking like?

  5. renbutler

    “…as third base coach JR House windmilled Jesse Winker into a throw to home that beat him by so much the Cubs catcher had time to make the grab, stand on the basepath, taunt the fans, refinance his mortgage, mow the outfield, and marinate an entire cow…”

    Okay, my kid and I got a chuckle out of that. Thanks for bringing levity to an extraordinarily frustrating trend this year of gawdawful Reds base-running/base-coaching.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Thank you ren. Hopefully there will be no need to be Clete tonight.

  6. Old-school

    Great preview. I was at that game and went to buy a hat at the gift shop when things went south. Walk off was priceless.

    Go reds.

    Reviewing ex reds on other teams and it ain’t good. Royals lost 17-1. Yes, Bailey started. Boxberger was worse and Hamilton is awful.

    The Angels may be worse. Zach Cozart may go down as the worst contract ever. Hitting .136 – at least the Donkey is well supported. Matt Harvey and Bailey are in a dogfight. First one to an ERA of 7 wins.

    Brandon dixon pitched in the Tigers blowout loss He’s no Blandino.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Yikesssssss. #WinningTheTrades

    • citizen54

      In Baily and Cozart’s defense, Bailey is still an above average pitcher this year, even after today’s performance, if you look at FIP 4.00 and xFIP 4.25.

      Cozart, while not good, has been the victim of some horrendous luck. His actual woba is .088 below his xwoba making him the third unluckiest guy in the league so far. His exit velocity is actually higher this year than in his 5 fWAR year with the Reds. That being said the Reds definitely made the right call with the trades/non tenders.

  7. Roger Garrett

    You can say,and I have,what you want too about this club but Bailey,Harvey and Billy being somewhere else was a great plan by this front office.Cozy had that terrible injury along with his age really took its toll.Dixon was always a bench piece and Boxberger is a reliever who are up and down from year to year and sometimes from game to game.Sad thing is at one time they all had value and we waited and waited and got nothing in return.Lesson learned?I hope so.

  8. matthew hendley

    If the game is played. The reds have taken a hopeless situation and turned it into an opertunity for a reds series win. Hope the weather holds.
    GO Reds

    • renbutler

      Looks like they’re going to start the game, but rain is likely sometime in the early innings. Maybe the third inning if the game proceeds at a normal speed.

  9. Mark Moore

    MBE – you have NO IDEA how much I needed this pre-game from you. There’s a wedding on Saturday (my youngest, first to get married) and tensions are running high all over the joint. Add the build out of an apartment (final/final/final passed today) and the stress is off the charts. I so want to Clete … and I totally get that in your presented context.

    Thanks for this. In just over 48 hours, all the crap will be done and life will still go forward. This much I know.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      That made my week, Mark. Thanks so much for letting me know I somehow helped.

      Brides are the worst. I know. I was one.

      “To Clete” is your right, and justly said.

  10. Indy Red Man

    I really enjoyed Dan Straily’s stint with the Reds, BUT anyone associated with that trade on the Marlins side should be ran out of the game. Thats just insane?

  11. Indy Red Man

    Baez gets a double on a foul ball? Alrighty then?

    • renbutler

      The dugout view was a more useful angle than the left-field view. I think it’s a hit.

  12. renbutler

    The view from the first-base dugout says that’s probably a hit.

    • Indy Red Man

      Except it went down the 3rd base line? It had some spin and hooked foul hard before it got the bag. Stupid pitch anyway? 1-2 on Baez and he’s been chasing sliders? He just chased a slider earlier in the at-bat. Instead LC gives him a change-up down & in??

      • renbutler

        The view from the first-base dugout looks straight down the left-field line. I think that was a convincing look (though not conclusive).

  13. Mark Moore

    And now we just hope for rain that erases the first-inning mess … could be an early Clete for many of us.

    • renbutler

      They used to suspend games even in early innings. Is that only for tie games that have completed five innings now?

      • Mark Moore

        I believe it gets wiped out unless it’s tied at 5+

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      If “to Clete” becomes and actual, usable baseball verb, he would be SO excited.

  14. matthew hendley

    Serious bad luck going on here.

  15. Indy Red Man

    Not a big fan of Joey Peratto? The popups where glove is optional

  16. Indy Red Man

    Joey is better with the glove this year atleast!

  17. renbutler

    Light rain is imminent at GABP, and much heavier stuff is not far behind.

  18. matthew hendley

    I believe that you can add my name to the Casilli starting games against RHP group here. That was a solid swing, nice hit. Obviously useless overall cause peraza was right behind him but still.

  19. Roger Garrett

    Right now as bad as the offense is and with Tucker below 200 it really is a no brainer.

  20. Indy Red Man

    I never have a good feeling when the Reds face a decent lefty. I would try to trade Mahle and maybe Lorenzen or Stephenson, whoever for Trey Mancini (hitting .310 with 13 doubles and 9 hrs). The O’s pitching is historically bad so they might listen. Mancini is 27 and will start demanding some big cash at some point soon? That would give the Reds some cushion if Puig leaves and TM is a better hitter anyway.

    • matthew hendley

      mahle and Peraza for TM sounds good.

  21. renbutler

    The Reds are doing their part to make sure we finish five innings quickly before the heavy rain starts.

  22. Mary Beth Ellis

    Mary Beth sitting on a not-moving airplane here.

    You perhaps will not be surprised to hear that I was Clete on the drive in.

  23. Chris Holbert

    Aren’t you supposed to swing when it is down the middle?

  24. Roger Garrett

    It would be a shame if those two runs they got hold up but it looks like they will.Just a pitiful offense.

  25. Indy Red Man

    Kyle Farmer is 7-23 with 3 hrs (1.099 ops) vs lefties, but lets sit him out? You have to give Bell some time to figure it out, but a decent part of all these 1-2 run losses have to fall back on him.

  26. Pete

    It would be a shame if the game was rained out……

    • renbutler

      At this point, they’re finishing five no matter what. No lightning in the area, just increasingly steady moderate rain.

    • renbutler

      And Peraza’s bat delivered it.

      How about some thunder now?

      • Pete Blowers

        Suarez might be able to end it right here.

  27. Mary Beth Ellis

    This is, of course, the ONE GAME in which the offense didn’t pile everything on in the first two innings and then go poop.

  28. Indy Red Man

    Peraza and Castillo…..exactly where you knew the O was coming from tonite:)

  29. matthew hendley

    Votto 3 game hitting streak.

  30. Mary Beth Ellis

    Well now of course the plane is moving

    • Pete

      We’ll take it from here, no worries!

  31. matthew hendley

    Castillo with the heads up baserunning.

    • matthew hendley

      and suarez gets in Votto. Pour it on em boys!

  32. Indy Red Man


    Coming into tonite had 6 hrs and a 1.109 ops in May. Thats Mike Trout territory

  33. Pete

    Come backs last night and tonight. Is something afoot?

  34. matthew hendley

    Dodgers original starter for tomorrow Kenta Maeda will be placed on IL.

  35. Indy Red Man

    Lets see how LC looks? You see pitchers run around on the bases all the time and then fall apart on the mound.

    • TR

      Very true. It hardly fails when the pitcher is running around the bases that when he goes to the mound he gets hit up for a least a run or two. With the rain, that probably does it for Castillo.

  36. Indy Red Man

    Thats it boys & girls. I think they’ll call it.

    • renbutler

      I do not. This is not an all-night rain by any stretch.

    • Pete

      Brantley thinks they’ll play it out.

  37. renbutler

    There’s a clear back end to this rain, but it’s at least an hour of rain.

  38. Sliotar

    Cubs announcers speculating that rain delay might mean Castillo is done for the night.

    A sign he has reached “elite” level in the eyes of the rest of the league.

    • renbutler

      That part is probably true. This delay will definitely be long enough to boot Castillo.

    • Rich H

      His pitch count was getting up there anyway, it could be much more inopportune.

  39. CP

    That was a heckuva play by Joey Votto to save a run. I’m not sure how many first basemen dig that throw out of the dirt from Suarez and it saved at least one run.

  40. Wayne nabors

    everyone wants a homerun anymore,detrich was 1-0 and shouldnt have swung again until chatwood could prove he could throw a strike,i really doubt he could throw 3 strikes b4 he could throw 3 balls

  41. matthew hendley

    DOminent showing by Garrett, would feel comfortable with one or two more runs.

    • matthew hendley

      And there is one of them. Reds hitting consistently. Rain delay getting rid of JQ possibly the best move ever.

  42. matthew hendley

    The reds are on a Pizza Streak. Larossa’s is fired up.

  43. WVRedlegs

    Nice series win. The Cubbies hadn’t lost a series in their last 10 series. Big win.

  44. matthew hendley

    Reds defeat Cubs, Reds win series! Gain a game in the Central. 6.5 GB, 4 under .500, 3.5 GBWC. Dominent showing all around. Lets do the same to the Dodgers.

  45. lost11found

    Another win where they cobbled together enough O and D to win. Good start from Luis after a tricky first inning.