Thursday, October 24, 2013

Reds new field boss and other stuff

by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

I refuse to use the obvious cheeky analogy of the Reds hiring Bryan Price as the next manager. Regardless of the temptation, I’ll never use the phrase “The Price is Right” to describe the newest chapter of the Reds storied history.

I listened to the press conference introducing Price, and in a political sense, he said all the right things. I was impressed by his coaching resume, although he never played in the majors, he has gained valuable experience working with team managers such as Lou Piniella, Mike Hargrove, Bob Melvin, and Dusty Baker.

Price stated he wanted to unify the team to a common goal, and although he never said it out loud, the implication was to get the Reds past the first round of the postseason and play deep into October.

When asked about accountability, Price emphasized he expected the entire coaching staff to hold his team accountable, and wanted the players to hold each other accountable, and most important, to be accountable to the fans, the ones who pay the salaries. He concluded the point by stating he wanted the Reds to play the best baseball that “we’re capable of playing on a daily basis, with energy, and when we see those people that are surrounding the ballpark at the end of the day, when we’re leaving, that are ensconced in Cincinnati Reds gear, we have to feel we’ve given them their money’s worth on the field.”

On a humorous note, when asked about his approach to hitting after being a lifelong pitching coach, Price said he would remind Joey Votto to lineup his knuckles before he hits.

I read the comments Mike Leake made to WLW Radio’s Lance McAllister, and he stated basically what we saw during the 2013 season, the lack of passion, or in a street sense, swagger. Leake said that former manager Dusty Baker didn’t want to offend any of his players and that was never more evident than the tirade Brandon Phillips went on verbally attacking Cincinnati Enquirer writer C. Trent Rosecrans. Baker didn’t intervene which I found shocking. In my humble opinion, Dusty should have taken Phillips aside and said that needed to be handled in an adult manor, not with a profanity laced spoiled brat tantrum.

About Bryan Price being named manager, I don’t like it….I LOVE IT! Price brings what seems a breath of fresh air to the Reds clubhouse. He knows how to handle a pitching staff, admittedly he seems to not know much about hitting, but a good hitting coach will remedy that problem, and he’s learned baseball strategy under some great managers. I expect some big things for Reds Nation for 2014.

What type of success will Bryan Price have in 2014? Will he follow Lou Piniella and lead the Reds to a World Championship in his first season? Will he enjoy the success Sparky Anderson had winning seventy of the first one hundred games in 1970 en route to a World Series appearance? One thing’s for certain, he’ll never duplicate the streak that the Reds first skipper Harry Wright, enjoyed by winning seventy straight games. The official records show the Red Stockings winning fifty seven without a loss in 1869 because Wright only counted games against other National Association clubs.

Useless Trivia; On June 14, 1870 after 130 consecutive games without a loss (81 league games and 49 exhibitions) the Cincinnati Red Stockings suffered their first ever defeat, 8 – 7 against the Brooklyn Atlantics in eleven innings. Brooklyn scored three in the bottom of the eleventh for a streak busting walk off win.

More Useless Trivia; if the founding fathers of American baseball would have examined the financial ledgers of the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, the sport may not have taken hold as early as it did. According to the Baseball Encyclopedia Tenth Revised Edition (1979) baseball’s number one attraction, the Red Stockings showed a net profit of….one dollar and thirty nine cents. That’s $1.39. Cincinnati’s gate receipts amounted to $29,726.26, with salaries and other club expenses totaled $29,724.87, that’s a net profit of $1.39. The popularity of the Red Stockings, despite the lack of financial profit, enabled all the other leading clubs to turn professional thus paving the way to what is now known as Major League Baseball.

Baseball writing icon Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News recently made some disparaging remarks about Brandon Phillips’ clubhouse demeanor. His article reminded me of a certain centerfielder the Reds got in a trade with the Seattle Mariners way back in 2000. I remember vividly the joy I felt when the trade was announced. The Reds, coming off a season when they lost a Wild Card playoff to the Mets, seemed to have all the parts in place to make a strong run for the 2000 pennant. Even Louisville Courier Journal writer Billy Reed predicted, tongue in cheek, that Cincinnati would win the following eight World Series. I think we all know what happened, 2000 was the only winning season during the first decade of the new century, and by the decade’s conclusion the nameless centerfielder returned to the Mariners by way of the Chicago White Sox.

If Phillips is, for lack of a better word, a clubhouse cancer, then the Reds should find a way to remove him. The thought of him being traded to Atlanta for Dan Uggla is an idea. The Reds would get a bona-fide number four hitter but he could be the second coming of Adam Dunn and Drew Stubbs with his penchant for striking out, usually with runners in scoring position. I always said that Adam Dunn would be the only player in baseball history to hit forty home runs and drive in thirty nine runs. With Dunn all things seem possible!

I’m definitely not a fashion expert, but did you happen to see Ken Harrelson’s monochrome sport coat on the set of MLB Network back on October 4th? Just a note to Hawk, color television has been around for a couple of years now so you don’t need to wear a monochrome test pattern. If you need some fashion advice please contact Hockey Night in Canada’s Don Cherry, whose suits are so loud you have to turn the volume down on your television as well as the color settings, just sayin’.

Have a blessed week.

Dan Howard

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