Last night, I saw what I’ve been waiting to see since June: Joey Votto and Elly De La Cruz running at the same time. Votto batted ahead of him, so he had at least a 90-foot head start.

I was honestly afraid De La Cruz would lap him. I have no idea what the MLB ruling is if and when that happens, but I had visions of De La Cruz jogging with great furor behind Votto, as though he was standing behind him on airport moving walkway and the gate agent just made the final boarding call and Votto was just standing there with his rolly bag.

Slide, Kid

It didn’t come to that, fortunately; Votto beat him to the plate, and immediately turned his attention to the location of the ball. As De La Cruz rounded third, Votto got low, turned his palms to the ground, and waited. Slide, kid.

He did not, of course, have long to wait. De La Cruz’s face skidded to a stop just before Votto’s shoes, and the first baseman bent to meet him, and I have no idea what was said or yelled, but it was probably advisory.

Whether it was about how to conduct a slide at the plate or life in general is beside the point. The point is that Joey Votto is 40 years old and De La Cruz just got legal to enter the Hard Rock Casino a few months ago.


One Bally Sports commentator mentioned that the Reds staff wasn’t entirely sure if De La Cruz was even done physically growing yet, as though he’s going to need a new pair of school shoes before Christmas break. Votto, of course, is done with that phase of life– was done with it long ago– but while his body might occupy the far-range opposite of De La Cruz’s physical circumstances, he is mentally just as thrilled to be playing ball as he was as a Canadian child.

When the time comes, whether in a few weeks or next year at this time, Joey Votto will be done and he must at last truly consider what comes next. He is both a natural commentator and coach, and while I’d love to hear what Joey Votto thinks about life in general on a daily basis all summer long, the lure of remaining physically close to the game, rather than in an air-conditioned booth, likely appears to him more.

Back to Work

The roots of this are in the trajectory of his behavior throughout his career. When Jim Day asked him why he suppressed his natural humor for so many years, only recently willing to state his anticipation for Fresca after a long night in the dugout, Votto answered that when he was coming up as a rookie, the message from his clubhouse elders was to keep his head down, his shirt tucked, and his mouth shut. So he did, and likely received a more complete baseball education in the process.

Given Votto’s work ethic, that rookie is still in there somewhere, and we saw a flash of him as Votto tipped his batting helmet to a standing ovation as he took the field in what could be his last home game. He waved to all corners of the stadium, pounded his chest, and then pointed to the batter’s box. That was, after all, his office,  and he was, after all, on the clock. So: Back to work.

He was receiving just reward for an entire career in the same city, and he could have squeezed every last decibel of applause from the crowd, but his mind was on how he was going to play this AB with no men on and the Reds with a slight lead.

And that is why he was receiving the ovation in the first place.

The Locomotive

Joey Votto could review the numbers of this season, feel the ache in his shoulder, and decide to call it quits.  He might even do so partially because the Reds roster glut means that he is willing to forfeit his own playing time in favor of those scrambling for his place in the lineup.

Or, he takes some Advil, says screw it, and shows up in Arizona on Valentine’s Day.

He must weigh leaving the field with some bangers still in the tank– sparing us the sight of his full decline– against absorbing every single possible second in the sport he so dearly loves.

What we do know is that youth is just behind him, chasing him down, a locomotive he can’t stop. But instead of just wildly attempting to outrun it all, his response is to face it, pass on what he can, and maybe get in an extra run while he’s at it.

24 Responses

  1. Jimbo44CN

    What a great asset to this team and city. Thanks for putting it into words Mary Beth.

  2. wkuchad

    Anyone else having issues with the RLN site. I keep getting this message:

    Warning: Error while sending QUERY packet. PID=58379 in /home/customer/www/ on line 2459
    Error establishing a database connection

    • Jerry Tracey

      To Wkuchad- I Was getting the same thing this morning, but not now. I have no idea what that was about.

      • wkuchad


        I still get the error message whenever I try going to the main RLN site or when I click on the post: “Elly De La Cruz homers twice, Reds win 11-7 in Cleveland”.

      • earmbrister

        Was getting the same message for hours, but it’s fixed now

      • wkuchad

        Seems to be finally working for me too.

      • Doug Gray

        Yeah, I *hopefully* got it fixed.

        We’ve got a system in place for if the site goes down and I get an alert. Today I learned that only alerts me if the site goes down and doesn’t load – not if there’s a database error because technically the site isn’t “down”, it’s just not functioning properly. I had no idea something was up until I woke up this morning.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      me: …the site isn’t working?

  3. LDS

    Great article – I just hope Votto calls it quits. I hate seeing the great ones stay too long and wither in the public eye. Muhammad Ali comes to mind.

    • wkuchad

      LDS, we disagree on a lot, but I’m with you here. Votto has been my favorite Red for a long time. I would love to see him with the Reds in some compacity next year, just not as a player. I just don’t think there’s room. And most of all, I really hope to never see Votto play for another team besides the Reds.

      • SR

        They have plenty of space in their broadcast booth given the current level of most of the announcers of TV games.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      It’s why I respect Jerry Seinfeld for going out on top, and even then that show dragged on at least 3 seasons too long.

      • wkuchad

        Three seasons is a stretch. I’ll give you one or two years too long.

  4. redfanorbust

    IMHO bringing back Joey as a player would be wrong. Much like many other Reds fans he has been my favorite player on the team for a very long time. It is amazing that he decided to spend his entire career (so far) with the Reds signing a long contract and a no trade one at that. I feel that at least once during his career the Reds checked in with him if he would be interested in a trade and he turned them down. It has cost him. Only a couple of playoff appearances that quickly fizzled out. Reds need all the free dollars they can get for next years free agents. The also need all the at bats freed up for the young guys who really need the experience. Not to mention they would probably perform as well or better and for pennies on the dollar compared to what Votto would earn. Some serious spending on free agents next year and much better luck on the injury issues and I am looking forward to a division title and more importantly a real chance to advance from there. Joey IMHO would make an excellent addition to the broadcast team. It’s LONG past time we Reds fans had something serious to cheer about.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I think he really is keeping the young guys in mind as he makes this decision. He’s said all along that he will only stay if he can contribute.

  5. Mark Moore

    For anyone who has ever called out “Walk left; stand right!” that line “as though he was standing behind him on airport moving walkway and the gate agent just made the final boarding call and Votto was just standing there with his rolly bag” is PLATINUM!!!!

    I teared up when Joey took his ovation. Loved him waving to them that he had to go to work. Vintage Employee #19 clocking in. Glad he got a hit as well.

    Whatever comes of it, none of us will forget Joseph Daniel Votto and his contributions. Among the last of a dying breed that sticks with a team for an entire career.

    Nice job on the tribute article, MBE.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      He said he wasn’t crying but idk it sure looked like he was wiping at his face on a non-warm evening…

  6. Rednat

    would Joey come back on a AAA contract? he could be a mentor to the younger upcoming players. he could be called up if he is “still banging”. he wont take up a roster spot at the beginning of the year.

  7. Scott C

    To me it would be a tough decision if I think that Votto should or should not retire, he has been so good to the fans of the Reds, to children wherever he goes and pretty much to anyone he comes into contact with. If he retires I hope he wills his work ethic and his sense of giving back to the fans to all the young guys. If he stays for one more year I hope he gets to the World Series, no player deserves that more than Votto.

  8. Melvin

    Votto never got completely healthy this year and he knows it. The Reds know it too. Don’t be surprised if he comes back next year if he actually does get all of his health back. I can see it if he accepts a lesser role. I’d like to see him be on another playoff team. There’s now way the Reds shouldn’t be in post season play in 2024. David Bell has NO EXCUSES left.