Hunter Greene had to have imagined that it would go better than this. If his triumphant return to the mound wasn’t a win, then surely he’d at least hold his own. On this team and in this season, older men returned gloriously (Votto, banging) and younger men began their careers in a blaze of stats (De La Cruz, breaking records people didn’t even know existed. Oh wait, there’s another one– as I was typing this, he became “the fastest player in MLB history to get 10 home runs and 20 steals within 64 games. Check my math on that. You were keeping track, right?!)
So why not Hunter Greene? Why not a quality start, a healthy collection of strikeouts, even a blanked Angels order for a few go-rounds?
I don’t know why, and I doubt he does, either. If any of us could fully explain baseball, none of us would be here; we’d have bored ourselves out of the sport decades ago.
Entire Time Zones
But instead of establishing himself as the second wind of a badly doubled-over pitching team, Greene did not distinguish himself as he’d hoped and we’d expected. It was a disaster and entire time zones were Cleting out.
The Blue Jays left with a score in the double digits and the Reds were left in third place– in other words, behind the Stupid Cubs. They are 65-61 on the season, however, and we must continually remind ourselves that we’d have been ecstatic with that kind of winning percentage in April.
I wish I were here to type a lot of lovely words about how Hunter Greene’s return is just what this ballclub needed, that he threw beautifully and his return was exquisitely timed. But I think we know that reality has to creep in at some point. The man lasted three innings and the already-strained bullpen was on the hook again.
Who’s Coming to Rescue Us?
No one is coming to rescue this pitching staff; they are just going to have to continue rescuing everybody else until their arms fall off or the season ends. Both outcomes look to be approaching at an equal pace.
I could say that no one’s coming to rescue the fandom, either, but we can goshdarn well rescue ourselves, can’t we– any of us can go right back to not caring or pushing down a rising sense of being outright offended. I know where I’d rather be, and it’s with my hands in the shrug-emoji position over why Joey Votto’s return to the field was so spectacular while Hunter Green’s was so spectacularly bad.
The Way Forward
Maybe his hip isn’t as healed as everyone thought it was; maybe he underestimated the Cleteing power of Canada. Maybe his hip is fine but his mindset isn’t. Perhaps he spent six innings watching his teammates try to dig themselves out of a 9-run hole and started to figure it all out.
But even if he hasn’t, this is what’s important: I saw the RiverFest tee shirts in Kroger’s this week and the Reds are relevant. We are on the leading edge of September and a lot of people are actually checking in on the Reds. This city spent several years actively trying to forget we even had a team by the time the Opening Day Parade went back in the garage.
It was a collapse, yes. But a collapse with consequences is better than a collapse we aren’t around to even care about.