Baseball players have never quite had the reputation of “athletes.” Sure, everyone knows baseball is a sport and superhumans like Bo Jackson and Mike Trout play it, but when Bartolo Colon can jack a dinger at 42 years of age, the overall degree of difficulty just doesn’t seem that high.
Instead, baseball is the thinking man’s game. While it can’t stack up in sheer levels of testosterone to football or basketball or hockey or soccer—okay, maybe not soccer—its players can still outthink everyone else. The gladiatorial violence we’ve come to expect from other sports only manifests against unsuspecting water coolers in this one. Well, until this past Sunday.
You’ve probably seen it already, but let me put it in words: It was the punch that hit harder than any concoction at a SEC frat party. It was a right hook that could’ve stripped the tattoo from Mike Tyson’s eye. It was Canada losing the shred of dignity it gained from Drake becoming the best rapper alive.
When Rougned Odor rocked Jose Bautista’s cranium with a devastating right hook, he dropped the lights on the façade of the thinking man’s game.
So what does any of this have to do with the Reds? Absolutely nothing! That’s the beauty of it. We Reds fans can watch Jose Bautista hit the deck again and again and again and again and again and again and momentarily feel for him but really just experience the most natural joy a person can feel by watching it again.
It does beg the question: Who is the Reds version of Rougned Odor?
Understand the question isn’t asking who is the best fighter on the Reds because that is clearly Homer Bailey (The man killed a lion! With a crossbow!). Rather, the questions asks who—when his teammates need him the most—would step up to the plate and slug a man.
This kind of reckless disregard for one’s own health, safety, job security, dignity requires a special kind of person. A person with a different make-up than the rest of us. A person with:
- Volatility—No one is starting a fight without some sort of spark plug in them.
- Menace—You have to be imposing to be willing to start a melee. Who’s more likely to drop someone cold—Matt Holliday or Zack Cozart?
- Grit—The drive to never give up even with no odds of winning. Good ole’ Skip Schumaker would be proud. We’re getting scrappy up in here.
From these attributes, you find some obvious categories of players. Not everyone is built to live in a world of violence. To use the Matt Holliday example again, that man would do anything and get away with it—he’s in category four. Zack Cozart? Less of a threat, but he’s got some serious grit so let’s say category three.
But for any of this to even happen, there needs to be a believable situation. The Reds don’t have the luxury that the Rangers and Blue Jays do—having competed in the playoffs—so what reason is there for them to become enraged? Playing the Pirates is the obvious answer but the obvious answer is boring.
What if, instead of traditional baseball beef, this one arises from the hapless Reds bullpen facing the hapless Braves lineup for 5+ innings—a.k.a. the Doomsday Scenario.
WHICH RED WOULD SAVE US ALL FROM 5 INNINGS OF THE ABSOLUTE WORST PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL YOU COULD EVER IMAGINE*?
*The Braves, much like in real life, are ineffective pawns in this imaginary scenario.
I. All Bark no Bite
High Volatility, Low Menace, Low Grit
Billy Hamilton – Look, I love Billy Hamilton, but doesn’t he kind of remind you of that annoying lap dog your Aunt Phyllis keeps in her purse? He’ll spout off every once in a while, run around like crazy, generally be a whirling dervish, but nothing ever comes of it. Billy a hundred percent would get in Jose Bautista’s face, and then hightail it to centerfield because ain’t no way he’s landing the first punch.
Brandon Phillips – We already know how this one turns out. DatDude can talk a big game, tap some shin guards, mouth off a bit, but when the fight breaks out, Scott Rolen is the one going full berserk. Every team needs a fuse, and Brandon does that well—he’s just not the dynamite at the other end.
John Lamb – To be honest, John Lamb has not spent enough time with the Reds for me to have an accurate gauge of his personality. But his team picture makes him look a bit like Shaggy and Shaggy is notorious for being super laid-back and running from every fight he’s even thought about, so John Lamb for sure is just here to make sarcastic remarks, eat a ton, and run to the hills.
II. All Buff no Brass
Low Volatility, High Menace, Low Grit
Jay Bruce – If you met Jay Bruce at say a holiday party, you would be terrified. Here’s this big Texan with forearms the size of a two-year old and here’s you—scrawny in a pudgy sort of way—so you’re going to be a bit scared for your life. That’s a little thing I like to call the Matt Holliday Effect. That said, unlike Matt Holliday, Jay is a goofball and a teddy bear so no way is he picking a fight to get his team out of the Doomsday Scenario.
Eugenio Suarez – Whenever I think of Eugenio Suarez trying to start a fight, I think of Jim Carrey’s Ace Ventura character pronouncing Suarez’s name in that super annoying, over-the-top way. AY-you-hen-EE-oo. There’s no way everyone in the immediate vicinity does not devolve into hysterics after that bit. How can you fight if you’re laughing so hard you can’t feel the tears running down your face?
Tucker Barnhart – Tucker is a bit like Chipper Jones. For one, he’s named Tucker, which is probably the most Southern thing I can think of outside of the name Chipper. And two, you know he can probably gut you like six different ways all before he’s had his breakfast of ten sausage links and a dozen eggs. But then you look at him and his sparkling blue eyes and all you want to do is pinch his cheeks and rub his tummy. Tucker might finish the fight, but he won’t start it.
III. I Wouldn’t Put It Past Him
Someone who wouldn’t surprise you but isn’t your first guess. An even balance of all three characteristics.
Joey Votto – Joey Votto is liable to do absolutely anything at any moment. This I know for a fact. Joey is the type of guy who seems really mad one minute and then starts laughing and acting like it’s all a joke the next, but you can’t really tell if he’s still mad or if it actually is all a joke, so you just kind of half smile and back away slowly. Joey would totally start a fight, but I have no idea why he would do it.
Homer Bailey – Homer is clearly the most capable fighter on the Reds (again: he killed a lion), hence why he moonlights as Batman.
Homer, true to his bat nature, also never shows any emotion and emotion is a key component of the impromptu KO’ing of a man. Homer is the hero we deserve, but not the one we need.
Brandon Finnegan – My sister is going to TCU next year, otherwise known as Brandon Finnegan’s alma mater. My sister is also the only person I’ve ever known to beat someone twice her size (one of my friends) into submission with the zipper of a hoodie. So by the transitive property, Brandon Finnegan would absolutely pick a fight with someone using whatever was at his disposal.
Adam Duvall – Okay, so this one is a bit of a cop-out, because when writing this, I stared at a picture of Adam Duvall for approximately 15 consecutive minutes. Around minute 7, I thought, “He looks like someone.” At minute 12, I realized, “He looks like Mac from Always Sunny!” I rationalized if there was ever a human personification of the phrase “I wouldn’t put it past him,” it would be Mac from Always Sunny. That dude’s nuts. It took me until minute 14 for me to realize they look nothing alike. At minute 15, I wrote this blurb anyway.
IV. Yeah, He Would Do That
High everything; don’t mess with these guys
Dan Straily – Reasons why Dan Straily would off-the-cuff punch someone: his beard, he’s a 24th round draft pick, his beard, he once told a doctor he wanted to throw 94 mph again and then it happened, and his beard. Reasons why he wouldn’t: he wants to keep his job. Reasons why that doesn’t matter: the Reds don’t have anyone to replace him. Punch away Dan Straily, punch away.
Devin Mesoraco – You may be thinking: But Devin has a bad hip and now a bad shoulder, why on earth would he risk another injury in a brawl? While your thinking is entirely valid, Devin Mesoraco also has nothing to lose. He’s out for six months anyway, why shouldn’t he cold cock someone for the entertainment value? Also, not to be mean, but Devin sort of, kind of looks like a guy who would play a serial killer on Criminal Minds. I think it’s the strong brow. It’s intimidating.
Tony Cingrani – 1) His nickname is Kingpin. 2) This gif:
Yeah, Tony Cingrani would do that.