Reds’ season a top soap opera
As I was watching the third round of Wimbledon on Saturday, I began to realize…oh, I can’t pull this off with a straight sentence. No one is watching Wimbledon but people whose digital TV channels are frozen except for the ESPN channel with the tennis tournament.
The daily soap opera known as the Cincinnati Reds keeps me riveted to Fox Sports Ohio, unless it’s time for Spongebob, The Simpsons, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Squidbillies or anything with John Wayne, Clint Eastwood or Bruce Willis, i.e. a Die Hard movie or The Last Boyscout.
Sports — unlike scripted television including the reality shows — is drama and entertainment at its best. The Reds have been a source of both as well as euphoria and frustration on a daily basis.
This year’s story has the good guys in first place in the Central Division of the National League despite the plot twists before the season began. Losing closer Ryan Madson to a season-ending elbow injury in spring training was devastating. Other pitchers have been hobbled as well including Bill Bray and Nick Masset.
Okay, the loss of Bray wasn’t major. He’s more like a reoccurring character. I’m hoping that he’s killed off in a future episode.
Mike Leake wore a different JCPenney shirt for each inning as he pitched his first career complete game on Friday. Mat Latos continued to pitch as hot as his wife Dallas looks with a second straight complete game on Saturday, the first time a Reds’ pitcher has pulled off that accomplishment since Aaron Harang in 2006.
However, there are more plot twists.
For instance, third baseman Scott “Tough As Nails” Rolen was injured weeks ago but fill-in Todd Frazier proved to be a pleasant surprise as his replacement. Frazier has played so well there was concern what to do with him when Rolen returned last week.
Rolen hit well for about three games, but he is 0-for-15 since then and found himself on the bench Saturday. Frazier appears to be the heir apparent and it’s apparent that now is his time. Rolen looks like a late-inning defensive replacement and spot starter.
Finding a leadoff hitter has been an ongoing problem since last year’s episodes. Brandon Phillips is the best answer until Billy “It Takes A Thief” Hamilton is ready for the big leagues.
Phillips has hit well in the cleanup spot, but who doesn’t hit well when they’re behind Joey Votto.
Drew Stubbs has been hitting .280 in the second spot, but that could be in part due to hitting in front of Votto. The best contact hitter who would be perfect for the two hole is catcher Ryan Hanigan, but not even Dusty Baker would re-write a script and put a catcher in that spot of the batting order.
Aroldis Chapman has been a soap opera all by himself. He was the most dominant pitcher in baseball, then started dating a con artist, saw his production drop off and even threw one of his fastballs 100 miles an hour and tried to catch up to it with his car.
The car lost, Chapman was arrested and his English/Spanish speaking “girlfriend” was arrested for filing a false police report.
It’s all true. You can’t make this stuff up.
No doubt, the Reds’ season is a great show. Not even pro wrestling can match this kind of script writing.
Well, maybe John Wayne in “Big Jake” could give it a run for the pennant.
—— Sinatra ——
Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.