Friday was a glorious day for baseball fans.I watched MLB Network, listened to WLW, watched the 4:00 game,caught the Reds pregame, didn’t give a crap who was kneeling and who wasn’t, got baseball snacks ready, started sending and getting emails and texts from buddies all over the country, then watched the Reds play as complete an Opening Day game as I can remember.Sonny Gray was dominant, our new additions looked great, the team looked loose and close-knit.Instead of last year’s line up of Votto, Suarez and a bunch of easy outs, an opposing pitcher now has to lock down some guys who can rake from top to bottom.Votto decided he’s going to see better pitches as a result, and he went up hacking early and often and put great swings on the ball instead of last year’s tentative taking andchoking up displays. To this day I’m not sure what that was supposed tobe. It wasn’t major league hitting.I’m guessing he was told in no uncertain terms to get in there and take his cuts because there’s plenty of guys who can replace him.To me Votto is the biggest key of this team. He’s the quiet leader, thoughtful, Spanish speaking, not afraid to speak his mind about important non baseball topics.If he can get rolling the entire lineupgets a spark.
The talent level of the Reds is much closer to the game’s elite teams. Our new Japanese star, Sho-Go,broke the ice, got his first MLB hit but even more impressively made an outstanding catch in a left field that was totally new to him.He showed athletic ability and natural instincts, and his teammates’ loud encouragement and cheering brought a wide smile to his face as well as all of Japan’s baseball fans.
I thought manager David Bell’s lineup and thinking was very sound. Take pressure off ShoGo, bring him in to face a righty then leave him in left field. He missed early pressurized at bats against a tough lefty, while Philip Ervin had a chance to take several wicked cuts. In fact, from a batting standpoint the Reds seemed to be taking the Bryson DeChambeau strategy of swinging hard on every pitch. Bombs away!!Baseball analytics seems to back this approach. I wish I could go back and trout-slapthe coaches that tried to turn my power hitting, pull hitting boys into spray hitting, punch-and-Judy hitters.I told you so you dicks!
The Reds are gonna lose some games, as the league’s top pitcherscan lock them down and let them get themselves out. Tape will be watched, weaknesses exploited, and adjustment will have to be made.But long losing streaks seem unlikely with the pitching the Reds can run out on a daily basis.
As for the lone Reds fan, he was out there somewhere in the outfield , but he wasn’t woowooing.Amazingly, I heard some wooinglast night coming froma few Astros fans. Maybe they were just tipping off pitches!