We focus too much on this team’s ownership. Note the “we”; I very much include myself in this statement, because I suppose I want to hold a rhetorical umbrella for players from the bile oozing from the top. It’s not their fault the boss hates us.

Meanwhile, manager David Bell, if only as an expression of the survival instinct, has turned his gaze to the weight room. He, too, wants to shield the men on the field, and the best way to do that is help them stave off injury.

So the Reds are running and swinging and throwing and running some more, and even if they don’t come out of this more spring training better protected from injury, this is good leadership on Bell’s part if only because it gives everyone something to do. Bell says he wants the team to come into Opening Day in “midseason shape,” which communicates that he thinks the midseason will matter.

And in this team’s situation, that matters. Our most sincere and faithful fans were informed that this team was out for the season by Opening Day, so indicating that the Reds might score something above last place by the Fourth of July is quite the destination planning.

One of the most significant adjustments Bell has instituted is playing more innings, which might not sound like much– you’d think learning how to, I don’t know, HIT THE BALL was a better use of time– but simulating an actual game moves an athlete much closer to at least the headspace of the performance. The closest I’ve come to any of this is watching a whole bunch of figure skating, but I do know that when the first American ice dance team to win a gold medal in the Olympics, they’d committed to ruining their program all the way through every single time they practiced and I don’t see why it can’t work for the Cincinnati Reds.

This might not translate into an improvement over a hundred losses –that is where we are now, considering any performance above one hundred losses a sign of hope–but let’s concentrate on the important part, which is that, out amongst the cacti, the home team is 9 and 10. That’s nine wins. That’s almost six percent (and please don’t check me on this, I asked Google to do the math, and given my relationship with math, I don’t trust it at all) of all the wins this team got all last season. In the Cactus League, the Reds are ahead of the Brewers, Cleveland, and the Padres. And directly ahead of us is… Seattle, and you know what always becomes of them.

Maybe hoping to finish above 60 and 100 is a mere figment, a castle in the sky, but right this second my patio door is open a crack and, fool that I am, I am willing to grant this ball team a whole six percentage points worth of hope.

It’s not a long way up, but it’s not the cellar. It’s the living room. Yes, my friends, I am in the living room of expectations. You can join me here or refuse the invite, but you might miss the sweet possibility of .500 in spring training. And if that’s not quite midseason shape, who knows what this team might accomplish now that they’re skating the whole program.

9 Responses

  1. LDS

    Optimism in baby steps? To quote Don McLean (before your time), “I’m tired of castles in air”. Maybe they’ll be better this year, but right now that four ST winning streak feels like it could be the highlights.

  2. redfanorbust

    Hi Mary Beth,
    Interesting you point out how Bell has increased focus on conditioning to avoid injury. Well MLB has been in business for a long time now. Why this should suddenly become an issue is amazing. These men are paid an enormous amounts of money to play a game. Why they don’t come into camp in the best shape possible and work hard during the season to do the things to help avoid injury is a mystery. It should be a standard clause in every players contract they need to report to ST in top shape barring any injury. Why did the Reds fire all of their medical/training people and hire new ones? Sounds like bad management to me since they are doing the hiring. Anyway I am hopeful Reds can have an improved year over last. I never expected them to compete for a playoff spot but having a significantly better 23 than 22 is what this team really needs for 24. Thanks for your post!!

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      All good questions. The article I linked went into that a bit; they don’t want to peak too early, is what I got out of it, and the Reds have had a notoriously slow start the last few seasons. Plus, they haven’t had a full spring training in a while.

  3. Melvin

    Spring Training, in terms of wins (9-10) and percentage (47%), if carried over into the regular season, would give us around 77 wins (if MY math is correct lol). An optimistic attitude/view is always good. Don’t want to put a damper on spirits but I believe last year’s ST record was 10-7 which at that pace carried over into the season would have given us about 95 wins. Of course the 3-22 start is something we will never forget. If David Bell through better conditioning for his players or whatever is shooting for a faster start then I’m all for it. If that’s truly the case then he might want to consider bringing his best players/hitters with him to Cincinnati to start the year. Just my opinion (silly me)…..and he does have a lot of say in who’s on the roster. I’m very confident of that. That was part of the condition of him becoming manager in the first place. In any case we live in America. How bad can it be? Potential is endless. Another good article Mary Beth. 🙂 Go Reds!

  4. Mark Moore

    Anyone on this forum knows I’m pretty quick to criticize DTBell’s tactics in managing and what, in my opinion, are his less-than-MLB-caliber skills. But any focus on conditioning with an eye to less injuries is appreciated. Last year was a challenge with the shortened Spring Training. We can all recognize that. No such excuse for 2023.

    I’m OK in the living room or even on the back deck, MBE.