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?