[sung to the tune of Warren Zevon’s “Desperados Under the Eaves”]
I was sitting in the GABP Machine Room Grill
I was staring in my empty coffee cup
I was thinking that Marty wasn’t lyin’
All the salty margaritas on the downtown Banks
I’m gonna drink ’em up
And if GABP slides into the Ohio
Like the haters and statistics say it will
I predict this restaurant will be standing until I pay my bill
Zevon’s hymn to lost love and rotten luck couldn’t be more appropriate. The other night, I was sitting in the ballpark when Brandon Phillips went down as if he’d been shot. At a certain point, you just have to laugh, right? Those that have taken the Reds’ early season record personally have insisted “everybody has injuries.”
Well, okay. But, there are injuries—and then there’s the Little Big Horn. This entire team’s walk up music should be “Suicide is Painless.”
The season began with the entire back end of the bullpen—Marshall in the 7th, Broxton in the 8th, and Chapman in the 9th—all wearing hospital white, not Cincinnati red. Last season’s #1 starter—on the shelf with a wobbly knee. The club’s young heir apparent behind the dish on the DL not once, but twice. Homer Bailey on the roster, but clearly suffering from a spring training groin pull that left him unready for the beginning of the season. The team’s #1 slugger, surveying the hospital ward around him and deciding to gut it out and play on a sore knee, before crying uncle and going on the DL himself in May. To add insult to the injuries, even replacement level players Hannahan and Schumaker were nowhere to be found on Opening Day.
Then came LEFT DISTAL QUAD. Now Phillips for 6 to 8 weeks. Even Bailey left the bump wincing again the other day.
Somehow, this team is seven games over .500. Without a doubt, the starting pitching has been the bedrock that has kept this team not just afloat, but now, suddenly surging. Will someone please give a shout out to Bryan Price? I keep hearing how Price has mismanaged his team as he “learns” the nuances of managing in the major leagues.
I’ve heard how he’s mismanaged the bullpen, despite the fact that the few healthy bullpen options he had available to him early on—Hoover, Parra and Ondrusek—failed him at times. Spectacularly. He ruins the lineup on a nightly basis according to some.
More props to Jocketty, too. Dear reader, how many of you wanted a sell off at the end of May? Walt held firm as the masses howled for trades or fire sales. Jocketty & Co. believed in Billy Hamilton and his ability to get up-to-speed against major league pitching when the rest of us were wildly skeptical. C’mon. Admit it. Walt was just dreaming, right? Jocketty believed Brayan Pena was worth having on this team. Turns out he was right there, too. Even the very mock-able Ramon Santiago has proved productive of late. When Price put these guys in the lineup and fans howled, the manager just went about his business, secure in the knowledge that guys at the end of the bench have to play occasionally in order to be ready when they are called upon. That time has come now. And it’s working. So far.
The Reds are far from out of the woods. It’s hard to believe that this offense can continue to thrive missing Votto and Phillips for two months. Work remains to be done. But, right now, the Reds have navigated a minefield of injuries and the bad luck of one-run games. They are seven games over .500. Back in the hunt. Not for a wild card spot. For the division. And the Brewers have fallen back to earth like Skylab, just as our own Jason Linden told you would happen.
Admit it. You were wrong.
Stand up and give them a hand.