Now that Joey Votto is safely back in the bosom of the Reds lineup, it’s interesting to watch when he vanishes and when he’s there. “I just want to help the team,” he says every time he’s asked about how he’s doing. “I just want to contribute.”

He came in hot, and then he slumped. Then he didn’t. Now we don’t know if he’s going to give us a strikeout or a walk or 5 home runs in a game. Maybe he doesn’t either. Then again, the whole team is rolling on this slam-rutted road. They’re in first place; their closest competition is the Stupid Cubs. Fan attendance has fluctuated accordingly.

The Bounty

These peculiar starts of Votto’s– along with his propensity to vanish in the last third of a game, replaced by a speedy baserunner– have not at all dampened his determination to cement this new dimension of personality of his; the talkative one, the slightly mad one, the one who leaves autographed items for fans to find and keep for themselves… but only if they send him proof of sharing the bounty with someone else.

He does this via videos on Instagram that are only available for 24 hours. Last week he posted a photo of a man walking on the Suspension Bridge, Votto jersey on his back. Votto instructed the fan to identify himself so that he could leave him free tickets. “Thanks for your support,” he said.

Contributing Factors

But is this a goodbye tour, or simply an extension of Votto’s recently revealed wacky side, formerly shown only in the clubhouse? When asked if he would throw in for a contract extension, he responds that he will see how he plays. If he– the man loves this word– “contributes.”

On the whole, he has– even with teammates who were born the year he was drafted. He name-drops Fresca and participates in elaborate celebration rituals with Elly De La Cruz, age 21. He is, after all, young and hip. The grizzled veteran and the call-up sensation are friends, and the entire situation has a full circle finality about it.

No one knows what to expect out of this team on a game-to-game basis, let alone series to series or through the final days of the season. These are men who swept the Diamondbacks and then were pretty much immediately swept by the Nationals. It’s a minute-to-minute existence. I suppose this is what my family endured when the hormones came for me in the middle of 7th grade.

We Just Have to Find It

So maybe Votto is, too, existing minute-to-minute and waiting to discover how his body, by then 40 years old, rests and regenerates over the off-season. We’ve been focusing almost quite a bit on the cringey circumstance that Votto will likely retire without any kind of ring at all. But if he’s going to go out, perhaps it’s fitting that we send him down the road having ridden a careening, runaway horse rather than plodding slowly and silently into a last-place-and-always-last-place the sunset.

I do know he’s been tossing more and more goodies into bushes around Cincinnati; every day he adds another item to the bag. Today was a bobblehead. It was the first one he’d signed this season, he said. You can understand how they’d all blend together.

We don’t know what the next item is. Votto rarely shows his face in these increasingly lengthy hint videos, but the one constant is that he keeps throwing in more and more. He’s giving all he has to give.

9 Responses

  1. LDS

    Sadly, Votto’s ego hasn’t accepted what his body is telling him. It’s time to move on. He should have announced when he came back this year that this was his last hurrah and enjoyed it. Of course, Bob C is a greedy guy and if bringing Votto back gets him a few thousand more attendees, he’ll do it – regardless of the impact on the Reds’ performance.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I think if that’s the case, management is more apt to let Votto go now that the kids have showed up. They’re not without highly marketable athletes if he goes. That wasn’t necessarily the case last year.

  2. Rednat

    after watching this club since the all star break it appears we are still many years away from being competitive. So I hope Joey sticks around. I am not the biggest fan of him as a player but I really have come to appreciate him as a person. I really enjoy his wit and self depreciating humor.

    I mean he still has 13 homers in only 150 or so plate appearances. I know the average is down but do you really want Joey Votto hanging out at first base after a bloop single? I think the all or nothing approach is the best approach for Joey.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      He’s always been focused on just getting his butt on first, and sometimes that’s make a difference. I do agree that it should be all or nothing. He’s playing or he’s not. I was tiny when Johnny Bench retired but I still remembered the weird half-playing, half-not thing going on with him.

  3. Scott C

    Votto has been worth every Penny the Reds gave him on his contract, sadly he is just a shell of himself and although he does “contribute” occasionally and even though I would still come out to watch him play, I believe that he hurts the team on the field more than he helps. I am sure his presence is great around the young guys, and I am sure he helps them but I am hoping that he goes out this year with love and respect. Thanks Joey for all the memories. Too bad the ownership of this team did not put more around you when it mattered.

    • Melvin

      “Votto has been worth every Penny the Reds gave him on his contract”

      I’ll go along with that. The problem has been for most of his contract that Big Bob figures now that he spent all that money on Votto he would be cheap most of the rest of the time.

  4. Mark Moore

    A little while back, I posted that Joey made a promise to the fans and perhaps he should keep it. At that point, I truly thought that would be a better path to October.

    Now, I’m not certain there is a path to October this season. The young guys are beat, the bullpen is over-taxed, and we have 3 more years of our Field Manager doing what he does (or doesn’t) do.

    And we have a 40-year-old Joey Votto. He’s lost more than a couple of steps and really should only be playing as a DH when a RHP is on the mound. I think the opportunity to celebrate him in a spectacular way has passed us by. That’s something we won’t get back without a $7M price tag and the cost of a 26-man spot in 2024. That would be additionally sad since it could cost us next season as well.

    Oh what could have been … but such a great article once again, MBE. The kind of stuff we need as August wanes and September reminds us of 2021.