With Red, White and Blue Ash still ringing sweetly in my ears, thoughts turn to a. . . pennant race? Can The Club declare independence from mostly mundane baseball for the first time in eight years?
After sweeping the Cubbies over the weekend, the Reds are playing really good baseball at a really good time. After three games in KC, the Reds get the Brewers seven games in a row, in a showdown broken up by the all-star break. The Crew beat bad teams 11 times in a row before the Pirates shut them out Sunday. The law of averages suggests the Reds will catch the Brewers in a return to reality.
More to the point, the Reds broomed the Cubs while playing the sort of ball successful teams play. Pitching and defense. Weekend aside, no one should be ready to declare the bullpen a strength. Amir Garrett’s “statement’’ proclamation should make you squirmy.
And the Reds caught the Cubs when the Cubs were/are a mess. But you play who’s on the schedule and you need to take advantage of teams that show up slumping. The Reds did.
Wise old head Tucker Barnhart said, “It’s unrealistic to think that the offense is going to be there to score five, six runs a game for long stretches of time. To be able to pitch, play defense and keep yourself in games where you haven’t necessarily got a lot of things going at the plate, I think it’s great."
The Brewers have done well on the strength of young arms Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta. They’ve been stellar, but consider this:
Woodruff has thrown 101 innings so far. He’s never worked more than 121 in his major-league career. Burnes and Peralta already have exceeded their career highs for single-season innings pitched. Craig Counsell, a very good manager, now will also have to learn to juggle.
It’s not unrealistic to expect tired Brewers starters in September, or Brewers starters not working as deep into games.
And their lineup can’t hang with Cincinnati’s. At least not at the moment.
Howevuh. . .
They still have a seven-game lead. Assuming Milwaukee goes just 39-38 the rest of the way, the Reds would have to go 48-31 to overtake them. That’s .600 baseball. Do the Reds have that in them?
That’s why the upcoming seven games are so important. Regardless, it’s nice to be relevant on the 4th of July. When you follow a club that’s a cumulative 132 games under .500 since 2013, July relevance is not to be taken for granted.
A momentous set of games, for a change.
ME! ME! ME! I write somewhere around 150 newspaper columns a year. I like about three of them. This is one. It ran on Sunday. It’s about the Morillo family, fleeing Venezuela last January, for a better life in America. Julio Morillo’s ticket out was baseball; the Reds signed him 12 years ago, when he was 16. His parents and younger brother took a more difficult road.
Julio never made it to The Show, but his work ethic impressed Dick Williams, who gave him a job in the video department and as the team’s translator. For five years, Julio helped heathens such as me understand the thoughts of Luis Castillo, Raisel Iglesias and other Latin players. Julio is a coach now, for the Reds at their Goodyear complex.
In talking to the family, I couldn’t escape the thought that what we’re missing in this country now, among other things, is even the slightest sense of gratitude. What a sight we are, at each other’s throats over what is existentially very little.
It’d be nice and very helpful to take a step back and realize how great we have it and act accordingly. Compared to most of the rest of humanity, we live like kings.
SHA’CARRI RICHARDSON, the electric American sprinter, is out of the Olympics because she smoked dope. Is this right?
Um, ah, well.
The rules are clear and the rules say pot is a banned substance. So, yeah. This is right.
The rules are dated and the evidence that pot is a “performance enhancer’’ is slight. So, no, this isn’t right. NYTimes:
There are not a large number of rigorous studies of marijuana as a performance enhancer, but there is evidence that it can help some athletes relax and focus. On the other hand, it can negatively affect hand-eye coordination, concentration and endurance.
As to risk, WADA (World Anti-Doping Association) said that athletes who smoke cannabis “potentially endanger themselves and others because of increased risk taking, slower reaction times and poor executive function or decision making.”
So which is it? Greater focus or less? Groovy colors or gross negligence?
You’d think an entity that has decided to ban a substance would have a better understanding as to why. Personally, I don’t see how an organic substance that promotes chocolate-chip cookie eating and listening to Phish could be considered a competitive advantage in a 100-meter race. But I still don’t understand how Roy Jones Jr. lost his gold medal boxing match to a South Korean fight at the Seoul, SOUTH KOREA Olympics.
MY NEW FRIEND BRIDGETOWN JERRY is getting rid of his entire album collection and offered it all to me. All I had to do was stop by and pick what I wanted. So I did. Thanks to his generosity, I now have (almost) every Van Morrison LP and a mint-condition copy of the most excellent Quadrophenia.
I have no idea how some vinyl fans can have an album for three decades and it still can look and sound like it just emerged from its shrink-wrap womb. That’s Jerry’s collection. Mine looks like it has spent four decades in milk crates. Mainly because it has.
Thank you, Jer’. You’re officially the original member of the TML Hall of Fame.
GOLF IS. . . COOL?
A NY Times story details the way the game is growing. It’s not because young people think polo shirts and polyesters are great:
Rules are being rewritten around the nation, most especially at the public courses that make up three-fourths of the sport’s inventory. To be sure, not every country club has altered its restrictions, but in many cases, only denim pants and tank tops are prohibited.
“Having to tuck in your shirt or turn your hat forwards, those things have to go away,” said Laura Scrivner, general manager of the Capital Canyon Club in Prescott, Ariz., which is operated by Troon, a worldwide golf management company. “There has to be a lighter touch now.”
There are public courses now where playing loud music is encouraged. Metallica in the backswing? There are 6- and 12-hole courses, which is a great idea. I rarely play 18 because I don’t have 5 hours to donate to chasing bogeys. But I do have two hours. Or an hour-plus for 6 holes. Golf as lunch!
There is Topgolf, which I dislike, but which apparently has helped immensely in getting kids into the game. Times:
While a Topgolf complex resembles a routine golf driving range, albeit one with multiple floors, it is meant to be a social experience. The goal is playful competition at each oversize driving bay, where a wait staff keeps customers plied with food and drink. Players choose from a full set of clubs to aim at targets of varying distances — from 50 to 250 yards — and sensors read a microchip embedded in each golf ball. Points are awarded according to how close the balls come to the targets and are displayed on large touch-screen monitors in each bay.
Yeah, well, whatever.
But as Jordan Spieth said, “Whatever they want to do, they’re playing golf and that’s great. I’ve got friends from high school and college, and they don’t keep their scores. They’re just going out to play music and have a few beers. They love it.”
TUNE O’ THE DAY. . . I’m in a junk-tique shop Sunday in Augusta, K-Y when I hear this guy’s tunes playing on a Bluetooth speaker. I’d never heard of Otis Gibbs. You? I like this. Good, Roots-y stuff.
Did I mention I bought an Andy Griffith Show mug there, for $5?