Recently, I fell down a fun rabbit hole thinking about versatile players – guys who can play multiple positions competently. In a way, I always think those are the players who are the most fun to watch, and I’ll never stop wishing Ben Zobrist had been a Red.

As I was clicking around and looking at various players, I realized the Cincinnati Reds have two guys right now who are incredibly versatile. I had to go remind myself precisely how versatile they were. Alex Blandino – he of the famed knuckleball – has played every position in the majors except catcher and center field. Kyle Farmer – aka the emergency catcher – has played everywhere except center field and right field.

Now, for four years, I was press at Bats games here in Louisville, and I got to see a lot of cool things. But the absolute coolest thing I saw was when Hernan Iribarren played all nine positions (he’d already played everywhere except catcher) in one game at the end of the season. I have been to more exciting games. I have been to games with more significant playoff implications. But I don’t know if I’ve ever been at a game that was more fun. It was a different spot every inning except that he only pitched to one batter, shifting to pitcher from third and then back to third before leaving to a standing ovation in the ninth.

And here the Reds are with two guys who could conceivably do it. TWO! And look, there, at the end of the season: It’s a series with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Obviously, the Reds will have comfortably clinched the National League Central and the Pirates will have already lost 103 games. Sonny Gray will be getting his last start so he’ll be on regular rest to start game two in the playoffs. A totally meaningless last game of the season, right?

So what are the Reds to do but have some fun with it? My god, we have seven-inning games and runners on second in extras and all manner of other silliness. Why not do something that is certainly a little silly, but also celebrates versatile players and is – inarguably – and enormous amount of fun.

Without further ado, I present to you my plan to get Farmer and Blandino both at every position over the course of a single game.

A couple of notes:

You’ll notice that I rely on the built-in flexibility of the roster a lot. There are a lot of guys on this team who have significant time at multiple positions.

The first six innings are pretty simple. Each guy gets an inning at one spot an then they swap the next inning and so on. it’s innings 7-8-9 that get complicated. I have Farmer pitching to Blandino in the 7th because it’s not like he’ll be firing it in there. I then send a reliever out to the mound to throw to Farmer who is actually a catcher. And we wrap up with Blandino pitching to Stephenson. And of course, if things get out of hand, you can always slide Farmer behind the plate quickly and bring a real reliever in during the 7th before allowing Blandino his turn in the 9th. As you can see, I’ve given this a lot of thought.

Should the Reds do this? Absolutely. I would argue that they are obligated to because it is fun. And they owe us some fun. So do it guys. This game’s supposed to be fun, alright?

15 Responses

  1. Old Big Ed

    Uh, you have Senzel playing 9 innings in October. Are you expecting Hell to freeze over?

  2. Mark Moore

    This is at least fun to consider. A much needed relief after this weekend.

  3. Bred

    This would be fun and may get Blandino a commercial for a Swiss Army knife, but I am sure MLB would object to the team having fun playing baseball and suspend Bell for 10 games. Jason, you have come up with a winning idea.

  4. MK

    So you want Blandino a guy who has comeback from knee reconstruction and has not caught before, to catch? Kind of has the feel of when Canseco pitched for Texas and blew out his elbow. Let Farmer do it but doubt many would buy a ticket just to see it which is why they did it in Louisville.

    • Optimist

      Use the Sanguillen stance to protect the knee.

    • Jason Linden

      They did it in Louisville as a way to honor a player who was extremely versatile and extremely beloved in the organization. And also to have fun. There wasn’t any promotion done around it. The only reason I even knew it was going to happen was because I was in the press box.

  5. JB

    Maybe Castellini could get the circus in town and he could promote that and the clown show he owns and tie in some bobbleheads and fireworks and he could drive around in Redzilla shooting off tshirts.

  6. Rednat

    Davey Concepcion played every position in one game ( i think) towards the end of his career. is there a more underrated, under appreciated player in reds history than #13?

    • Greenfield Red

      Agree on Concepcion. He was a great player.

  7. Andy

    I do this spreadsheet twice a week, trying to make sure 15 eleven-year-olds get playing time, and the ones that give a darn get a chance to play in the infield at least one inning. It does take some work. I find myself overthinking every time. I wish I could count on 5 innings from one pitcher!

    • Greenfield Red

      I coached my son the one year he played (age 6). We had a blast. I had a parents meeting at the beginning of the year. I asked them to show up at practice to help, and they did. Every kid got 1 on 1 time at every practice. I never had even one negative conversation with a parent.

      We emphasized safety, fun, sportsmanship, and learning, before winning. We had a “milkshake” ball. The first kid to catch a ball in the air for an out in a game meant milkshakes for the entire team (from the coach). It took til almost the last game before that catch was made.

      What made me feel good was once that ball was caught, one of the parents said to me, “you’ve done enough” and sprang for the milkshakes before I could do so.

      We had a great year. We went 11-5-1. So, my record is better than that of Sparky Anderson.

      My son is 14 now and has no memory of it. My wife and I sure remember it though.

  8. CFD3000

    Brilliant. I’d come up from Atlanta to see that Jason. It’s a game! Let’s have some fun.