WHAT ABOUT DAVID BELL? Ownership has not picked up his option to manage the club in ’22. I half-thought that would happen in August, as the Reds surged to the top of the WC2 heap. It didn’t.
Now, as the team falters, no words of support or encouragement from ownership or GM Nick Krall, though you could argue it’s not the general manager’s place to prop up the manager.
That suggests some things, most prominent being ownership is not sold on its manager. It seems obvious at this late stage that no decision will be made on Bell until after the season. Translation: If the Reds miss the playoffs, Bell’s on thin ice. If they go 0-1 to LA or SF, he’s still on thin ice.
Two thoughts on that: Seems logical. Under Bell, the Reds have lost 16 of their last 25 and eight series in a row, mostly against teams with lesser records. The manager doesn’t get all the blame, obviously. But he is the manager. The club’s urgency seems to come and go.
However. . .
Ownership didn’t make the ’20 team better in ’21. Bell made chicken salad with Heath Hembree and Brad Brach. The Reds lucked out with how well Kyle Farmer has played shortstop. They certainly didn’t expect him to be an everyday guy, or they wouldn’t have started the season with Suarez at short.
There is something to be said for a vote of confidence in the middle of a pennant race. If the check writers don’t have full faith in their manager, why should the players?
Given the sudden departure last week of Kyle Boddy, who was supposed to be the future of the organization’s pitching philosophy, and the musical-chairs nature of the Baseball Side generally, a little stability would be nice. We seem to be asking the same questions a lot:
What’s the plan? What’s the vision? Will anyone have enough patience to see it through? Or will the churn continue?
Meantime, 3 behind St. Louis, 11 to play.
Now, then. . .
ANOTHER DAY IN THE LIFE of Joseph Daniel Votto. Two homers and a tribute to Omar Little, the rogue and highly badass stick-up man played on The Wire by the recently departed Michael K. Williams. There aren’t many athletes in these days of media over-saturation that we never tire of. Joe Burrow is one. And Joey Votto.
I read the news today oh, boy. . .
What would this summer have been like without him?
The interesting thing is, all Votto had to do to be spectacular was allow us to see him more clearly. He let us in. How much, I have no idea. There’s so much happening in Votto’s headspace, maybe we’re just seeing the surface. I’ll take the surface.
Votto the concerned citizen: He came out last winter in support of Black Lives Matter.
Votto the benevolent: Has any player ever been more to his adopted hometown? I’m not talking financially. He’s not writing checks to every service organization in town. (At least I don’t think so.) But he’s always there with the gracious gesture, whether it be to a pediatric cancer patient or the Reds Academy team that won its World Series or that little girl in San Diego. He’s just very aware. Cincinnati is better for his presence.
Votto the TV guy: Ted Lasso, The Wire. I have no idea how many Reds watch TV, or what they watch. I wouldn’t think any less of them if they didn’t watch Omar and did watch Housewives. Well, OK, maybe I would.
And oh yeah, Votto the player: Re-inventing himself on the fly at age 37/38.
You might look at all this and say, “That’s nice. Now, can he please run the bases more smartly? Can he play better defense?’’
Confession: I care about that. But not much. I root for me, and for my purposes, Votto is 24 karats. He’s always been that way. Only now, in the twilight, he has decided to dance a little more in the footlights.
No matter the outcome, this has been an entertaining summer of hardball around here. Not that you should be satisfied with that. Don’t confuse entertainment with success. If the Reds don’t make it to Game 163, you should be ticked off and expect/demand that improvements be made. Too much quality talent having surprisingly good seasons not to make the playoffs.
However, the Reds have been likeable and fun. And they have Votto.
BUT THEY’RE NOT THE CARDINALS, who on Aug. 5 were 53-55 on Aug. 5 and eight games out of the second-wild card spot. And had just “improved’’ their pitching by adding J.A. Happ and Jon Lester, who even their GM admitted were acquired as innings-eaters to save the bullpen.
How ya like ‘em now?
“We’ve been waiting to bust out all year,’’ Cardinals outfielder Tyler O’Neill said. “This is crunch time. September baseball. Here to win. That’s what we do. We’re the Cardinals.’’
Got a better explanation than that?
I LOVE THE GO FOR IT REVOLUTION currently gripping the NFL by its Brooks Brothers throat. On Sunday night, game in the balance, Ravens coach John Harbaugh goes for it on 4th and 1 from his 43, with 1:05 to play. And makes it. And Baltimore wins.
A decade ago, that move would have been questioned by every talking head in the country. Now, it’s damned near business as usual. ‘Bout time The League loosened its rep tie and took off its Old Guy winged tips. Yahoo!:
It isn’t just that coaches are adhering to the math; it’s that great offenses, led by great quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson, are changing the math.
Field position has become relatively less important, and possession relatively more important. Compared to two decades ago, it matters less where you have the ball, and more that you simply have it.
Math and football brains alike know that giving the ball back to (Patrick) Mahomes is a horrid idea.
PEYTON AND ELI WERE BETTER THAN THE GAME. . . They’re an acquired taste for fans accustomed to being told what they see right in front of them. Give it time. They’re the antidote to every TV guy stating the obvious or yakking about this stat or that. The Mannings remind us that football is a game, not to be taken all that seriously. USA Today:
The brothers said they reviewed the film of their first broadcast last week and made improvements for Week 2. Peyton’s checklist of items to address:
“Slow down. I talk too fast. Don’t ask two questions, just ask one. Don’t say ‘right’ so much. Don’t cross your legs. And stop having Eli making fun of my forehead,” Peyton said.
As for Eli?
“Basically, a lot of my friends say I need to do more forehead jokes,” he said before rattling off one of his favorites, that Peyton doesn’t have a forehead, he has a five-head.’’
That’s funny. I don’t care who you are.
I DON’T AGREE WITH THIS TAKE. MAYBE YOU DO. USA Today:
The taunting rule was always going to be a massive problem after it emerged from the bowels of NFL owner diamond-cutting uptightness this summer. This rule is what happens when khakis and mayonnaise have a baby.
It is, without question, one of the worst rules the NFL has ever passed. There are few moments when fans and players both agree something is stupid and this is one of those times.
The rule is also something else besides an error in judgement, and offensive to dorks, it's about control. Specifically, and mostly, it's about control of Black bodies.
Control of the player base, which is 70 percent Black, has long been the mantra of NFL ownership and some front office members.
One, I have no idea what the khaki-mayo reference means. Two, does everything have to be about race? Frequent Perusers know I’m not exactly a right-winger, but this seems an overly simplistic explanation of the issue. Owners created the rule because they wanted to “control’’ Black players?
Not likely. Owners are mostly old and white and set in their ways, and they found taunting to be unprofessional. You can agree or disagree (I disagree) but to say it’s about race, well, it diminishes the real issues we have about race.
And three, the coolest athletes will always be those who expect success more than they celebrate it. Act like you’ve been there before. And will be again.
AS FOR NOTRE DAME. . .UC is in South Bend in 12 days. Let the hype begin. ESPN.com:
The No. 12 Fighting Irish are 3-0 after Saturday's 27-13 victory against Purdue, but the early results haven't been too promising. They needed overtime to beat (still winless) Florida State and a late touchdown to sneak past Toledo (which was then manhandled by Colorado State).
Notre Dame's rebuilt offensive line, which had to replace three players selected in this past spring's NFL draft, has already lost its first- and second-team left tackles to injuries. Quarterback Jack Coan, who faces his former team, Wisconsin, at Soldier Field on Saturday, has been steady, but his limited mobility is a liability behind his current protection. The line has also struggled to make room for Notre Dame's talented running backs; the Irish had only 63 yards on 27 carries before Kyren Williams had a 51-yard scoring run late in the fourth quarter against the Boilermakers.
This isn't coach Brian Kelly's most talented team. Given the early struggles and its upcoming schedule (No. 8 Cincinnati, Virginia Tech, USC and North Carolina after the No. 18 Badgers), Notre Dame might be lucky to make a New Year's Six bowl.
TUNE O’ THE DAY. . . This is a great pop tune by one of the great pop bands. It’s also about a hundred years old. That’s OK. So am I.