A reprise of The Afternoon Line today, Mobsters. I wrote a column this AM that’s available online now, about the Club playing 34 games in 35 days. This better late than never AL is a bit thin, but present and accounted for.
‘THERE’S A SENSE OF, ‘HOW THE HELL IS THIS GOING TO WORK’?’’ was the apt reaction from UConn basketball coach Danny Ferry to Yahoo! Sports re the new NIL laws expected to be adopted by several states by July 1.
That’s Name Image Likeness for you fans of pro sports.
“What exactly is going to happen? Am I going to drive by a car dealership seeing one of the players do a signing? What is going on here?” Hurley said.
Beats me. Sounds like another seat-of-pants exercise in keeping the NCAA relevant. So. . .
Do schools and coaches start recruiting local car dealers and pizza shops, asking for their support in landing Blue Chip Billy? Does Mike Castrucci become essential to UC/XU/OSU/UK athletic success?
How DOES this work?
Will there be an NCAA ruling before July 1? Will there be federal guidance? Will it be the patchwork and rudderless mess we’ve come to expect in college sports? Will an eleventh-hour solution give clarity to all parties? Can high school stars profit before enrolling in college?
This is slippery slope territory. Will schools in larger metro areas offer more and better NIL opportunities? Does UCLA have an edge over Gonzaga? Should it?
College coaches already are seeing their vise-grip on their players dwindle. (See: Brannen, John, and Gard, Greg.) What happens when a kid says he can’t come to practice (or a game) because he has a card show to attend?
“Can’t make it tonight, coach. The dealership has me signing autographs in the body shop.’’
This is an eternal debate, because there is no one correct answer.
Should athletes benefit from the wealth they create? Yes.
Do they benefit already? Yes.
Why shouldn’t players earn some spending cash for the time they put in? They should.
Why shouldn’t a free education and free job auditions on TV be proper compensation? They should.
If Player X gets a deal with Huge Giant Car Dealership while Player Y signs with Little Card Shop On The Corner, and Player Y thinks he’s better than Player X, how does that affect their relationship and ability to be good teammates?
These aren’t independent corporations. They’re college kids.
Is this new-found commerce going to be regulated? How? Would Kelsey Chevrolet be a legal sugar daddy for Xavier? How the hell is this going to work?
OHIO GOV. MIKE DEWINE has gotten involved. He’s signing an executive order allowing NIL laws in Ohio. A Senate bill allowing same got sidetracked when one state rep shoved language into the bill that would have banned transgender girls from taking part in girls and women’s sports.
DeWine’s action will allow Ohio’s college sports factories to keep up with other states’ college sports factories. Alabama, Florida and Georgia already have passed NIL laws.
Nothing beats wholesome, amateur sports competition.
Now, then. . .
THIS HASN’T BEEN WRITTEN ABOUT A LOT, BUT… 34 games in 35 days is a lot of hardball. The Reds are in the midst of that stretch. On Sunday, they looked like it. Tired, in all ways. Two singles, one a seeing-eye bloop, no runs, on a sultry, made-for-homers afternoon at the Small Park.
The mental Mt. Everest baseball players climb is severe when they have either Monday or Thursday off every week. Imagine working every day but one for 5 weeks.
They’re not bustin’ bricks, Doc.
Nope, but even ballplayers benefit from a break these guys aren’t getting. This is where a manager can be important and where I believe DBell can be valuable. He has a laid-back style, he played a long time, he understands the demands. He knows seasons aren’t lost in a week or even two weeks.
Knowing when to speed and when to cool it involves knowing your players, and them knowing you respect their needs and moods. I think Bell is good at that. It’s not coincidence that the Reds have survived a couple deep ruts this year.
Resilience, comfort, chemistry – whatever you want to call it – is cultivated by the manager. Can those intangibles cover for a lack of talent? Usually, no. But that’s not the manager’s issue, or his players’ problem.
All that said, this remains an absolutely average ballclub: 31-31 last year including the playoffs, 37-37 this year. The five years of tanking wasn’t supposed to produce two years of mediocrity. It better get better.
WHY DO THE REDS HATE SHOGO? Some of us can’t understand why Heineman (15 Ks in 29 ABs before Sunday) gets PT over Akiyama. Aristides Aquino has made a career out of one great month. He’s more valuable than Shogo?
What am I missing?
Akiyama is a good defender. He’s one of the few Reds who can run fast. He knows how to play the game. With more frequent ABs – certainly more frequent than Heineman and Aquino – he might get his average up to respectability. Regardless, he’s a better baseball player, IMO, than those guys.
MIKE SCHMIDT SPEAKS:
“The decline of hitting today lies directly in the hitters’ inability to hit the high fastball and the lack of accountability for striking out. Learn to hit, or take the high fastball and make contact more often. That would narrow this gap quickly.’’ (AP)
I used to chuckle when Aroldis Chapman worked here. If any Reds pitcher ever had an unhittable high fastball, it was Chapman. And still, no hitter could lay off it. Nothing has changed. Hitters still flail at high heat. Wait ‘til Greene gets here. LaRosa’s all around.
ON THE REDS MUST-DO LIST. . . Richard Rodriguez, Ian Kennedy and Yimi Garcia, relief pitchers
Today’s brand of postseason baseball calls for a heavy dosage of relief pitchers. In Rodriguez (Pirates), Kennedy (Rangers) and Garcia (Marlins), who are all in contract years, teams have their choice of an assortment of right-handers to bolster their bullpens.
Among qualified relief pitchers, Rodriguez has the second lowest walk rate in the NL, music to any manager’s ears. (NY Daily News)
BECAUSE TV IS MY LIFE. . .I’m seeking novel TV enlightenment. We’re outta shows, having just run through Season 2 of Dirty John, which was very good and almost all of The Underground Railroad, which could be dazzling and dull, all in the same episode. In Treatment is OK and we finished the latest season of The Kominsky Method (fabulous).
Whddaya got, Mobsters?
TUNE O’ THE DAY. . . I’ve always liked this tune. I especially liked it in the scene in Diner. Popcorn, movie theatre, Mickey Rourke. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.