Okay, this is everywhere today, so I might as well place this here for posterity. First, go watch what happened:

I know we’ve all been discussing it ad nauseum today, but here’s how I addressed this situation in last night’s Recap:

Joey Votto leaned over into the stands to try to catch a foul ball, and a fellow with a Reds shirt on interfered with him, Bartman-style, causing Votto to miss the ball. In the heat of the moment, Joey grabbed the Reds logo on the guy’s shirt as if to say, “You’re supposed to be one of us!” It wasn’t a good look for Votto.

Joey realized it pretty quickly, and signed a baseball for the guy the next inning, then took some pictures and talked with him as the crowd cheered.

Here’s what that looked like.

Well, Votto had plenty to say after the game, taking full responsibility for his actions and generally admitting that he was in the wrong. Zach Buchanan has more in the Enquirer, and MLB.com has the video. Of course, they’re dumb about allowing videos to be embedded, but you can see Votto’s post-game interview here. Go check it out. Here’s a partial transcript:

“I made a big mistake by crossing the fan-field, or the stands-field boundary. I ended up semi-going into the stands to make a catch and I misplayed it and I took my frustration out on a fan. First of all, I should’ve made the catch regardless. He stayed in the stands, I crossed the boundaries and touched his shirt. I felt really bad about it afterwards.

“Randy is his name, I went up and saw him afterwards. He was generous enough to apologize at the time and afterwards. In retrospect, he’s not the one that should be apologizing. He’s just trying to catch a ball and here I am bullying him. In that instance, I don’t feel a responsibility to be … some sort of example or anything like that, but I do feel like to treat my fellow man with respect and I felt like I was in the wrong completely there so I was certainly regretful. He was forgiving and I would like to think all is good, and the guy ended up striking out, anyway, so it was a zero.”

I’m not sure you’d call his behavior afterward “classy,” but I think we can all agree that Joey Votto is unlike every other professional athlete in almost every way.

I know there have been a million hot takes about this already today, including some breathtakingly dumb ones*, and this post might contribute to all that noise. Sorry about that. This whole episode is just another way for everyone to project their already well-worn opinions about Joey Votto onto another news story.

*I just read a terribly stupid piece, which I refuse to link, and it caused me to put down my thoughts on the matter in print. Don’t blame me for being forced to wade through yet another Votto article today; it’s that other website’s fault.

My opinion: Votto was in the wrong, he realized it almost immediately, and did everything in his power to make amends. He’s human.

Except when he’s in the batter’s box. What Joey Votto does in the batter’s box is beyond the capability of normal humans. But at all other times, he’s human and he’s going to make mistakes. As mistakes go, this was a pretty harmless one, in my opinion. And Votto responded exactly how you’d want the face of your franchise to react after doing something dumb.

He’s still the best player in town. (With the possible exception of Billy Hamilton, of course.)

43 Responses

  1. Steve Mancuso

    I like the fact that Joey is intense and sometimes that gets the better of his decorum in the short-term. I like that about him A LOT.

    • Nick Carrington

      Keyword: short-term. I felt a lot better about it after Votto made amends. As Chad wrote, he’s human. We all have those moments where we treat people in ways we wish we hadn’t. One of Votto’s moments just came on national T.V. (FS1). The incident looked bad. I think he handled the aftermath extremely well.

      • Big56dog

        I bet Randy does too, judging from his reaction in the brief camera time I saw afterwards. Steve Bartman did something very similar and it took a network of Wrigley field personnel to possibly save is life, granted the direct results were a lot more drastic.

    • Hotto4Votto

      I do too. I like that competitive fire. I also like that he can own up to a mistake and make amends. He’s exactly the type of guy you want as the face of your franchise.

    • Tim Neal

      Votto is not a team player, only thinks of Joey. Should of traded him instead of Jay. Jay was a leaders and that what this what this team has needed. You could have played Devan at first now that Barnhart has proved to be a good catcher. But what do I know, hope Jay turns into another Frank Robinson.

      • lwblogger2

        What brings you to this conclusion? What makes you think there is much of a market for Votto? Did you know that Votto has a full no-trade clause? Is it the contract you don’t like or is it the actual player?

        I hope Bruce turns out to play as well as Frank Robinson too but in all fairness, he’s never hit for that kind of average nor has he ever had the plate discipline that Robinson had. I am pulling of him though. He’s my favorite MLB player.

  2. gaffer

    I really thought it was his dry wit that made him point to the Reds logo. I thought it was funny like with the paper airplane stomp. I think he copped out by apologizing. People gotta chill.

    • Yippee

      True, but shouldn’t make physical contact with a fan that is not in the course of making a play. It wasn’t a big deal necessarily, but a good move to set things right.

  3. mdhabel

    Knowing that Randy is alright with the situation, I personally love everything about what happened. As Steve said, the fact that Votto shows that kind of emotion during games makes him so much more appealing to me. Pitchers yell at themselves and guys slam bats after strikeouts, but Votto’s emotions are so much more interesting and ultimately adds to his mystique of a underwhelming superstar.

  4. Patrick Jeter

    The people who wanted Votto suspended for not coming out on Opening Day probably want Votto executed over this.

    • lwblogger2

      I still think he had to take a massive poo 😉

    • jazzmanbbfan

      Or at the very least, suspended. On another site there are a number of posters who complain continually about Votto’s lack of emotion and passion. I have no idea what games they’re watching. He’s intense, He’s a bit quirky. That’s often true of the best at their profession Michael Jordan was certainly intense, Ted Williams had quite a reputation for being difficult. I appreciate that it takes a special level of devotion to the craft to be as good as they were, and Votto is.

    • Phil Gasson

      I wish he would have stayed in the dugout.

  5. lwblogger2

    Not that it’s an excuse but something to consider… Jay Bruce is a good friend and long time teammate of Votto’s. They played in MiLB together and were in minor league spring training together. Could some of Votto’s lack of impulse control in that situation have to do with him already being upset about the Bruce trade? It’s clear that Bailey is upset about it. I’m sure others are too. These guys are human beings. I’m upset as a fan about the Bruce trade. As a player how upset would I be? How upset would you be?

    • Theresa L

      I thought exactly the same thing.

  6. Hotto4Votto

    I haven’t been on all the other threads, and this is the first time I’m discussing what happened between Votto and the fan.

    But I can almost guarantee people who are Phillips fans are using this as an example of why Votto is….whatever they want to say he is….and will call back to the incident with Phillips and C. Trent and how Phillips was vilified etc.

    But here’s the difference.

    Votto acted out of competitive fire, he was wrong to do what he did, but he did so in the moment, in the game, as a reaction to not making a baseball play that could have potentially cost the Reds on the field. He almost immediately regretted his decision and in between innings made an effort to make restitution. He also took it upon himself to talk to the media about it, took full ownership of his actions and apologized.

    Phillips acted out of hurt ego. A reporter, doing his job by accurately reporting an area that Phillips struggles in, was verbally accosted when Phillips interrupted his manager’s press conference. It wasn’t in the heat of the moment, it was in a competitive arena, and it didn’t hurt the Reds on the field in any way. It was just someone reporting the facts. But he couldn’t handle that and acted in a completely unprofessional way. To my knowledge, and I may have missed it, Phillips never came back out and apologized to C. Trent, or make a public statement taking responsibility for his actions. In fact, I can’t remember Phillips taking responsibility or apologizing for anything he’s ever done or said against the Reds, media, teammates, fans or even the owner.

    Votto cares deeply about winning and competing. That is why he’ll get a pass for his mistake from most reasonable people. That, and that he manned up and accepted responsibility. Phillips is more likely to get picked off a base for being chatty with the opposing player than he is to get upset about not making a play on a ball because a fan got in the way. He’d probably just tweet about it.

    • Big56dog

      The key thing here is the BP never apologized for it as far as we know, and what he did was a lot more offensive; (if I saw the play live I would have had a similar reaction as Votto – You got a Reds jersey on, c’mon)
      I think BP even took the more drastic approach and quit talking all together with the cruel Cincinnati media- is that still going on

  7. Chuck Schick

    One has to wonder that had every game been broadcast on TV in the 70’s….along with Twitter, blogs, etc. how our perception of the BRM would be different?

    Many people have anecdotes of Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan acting “uncivil” and Rose hanging out with degenerates. How would those things be magnified today? If Johnny Bench yelled at a kid for bothering him at Prime N Wine it would go viral.

    Could you imagine the Facebook status/Twitter updates:
    ” My uncles bookie just introduced me to Pete Rose….what a great day!!!!”

    ” I saw Johnny Bench at Swallens and he punched me in the face for saying hello.”

    • Patrick Jeter

      Good point there, Chuck.

      The advent of the internet and social media has forever changed the way we view and interact with professional athletes.

      If I were a team owner, I think I’d probably ban the use of all social media for my players during the season just to be safe. Usually you see if with football and basketball players, but athletes can sure say some stupid stuff!

    • lwblogger2

      Prime N Wine!! Now you’re talking old-school!

    • Steve Mancuso

      Loved that Prime N Wine salad bar.

      • lwblogger2

        I don’t really remember Prime N Wine. I think I ate there once or twice but I was pretty young.

        @Chuck – The Swallens reference is also a thing of beauty. I do remember Swallens quite well!

  8. Old-school

    Pete Rose ran over a catcher in an exhibition game that didn’t count. Lou Piniella got in a fight with Rob Dibble and threw a legendary tirade that got his team out of a mini-slump in their world championship year. George Brett went ballistic after they took his home run away because of how far his pine tar went up the handle of his bat. Joey Votto is frustrated at not making a meaningless out on a last place team in a game in August. You want passion or don’t you?
    Joey Votto and Homer Bailey set the tone yesterday in different ways and established themselves as the unquestioned leaders of the Cincinnati Reds. Anyone mailing it in? Joey Votto sure isn’t. Anyone in the front office comfortable with losing and less than 100% committed? Homer says you better not be. Methods could be better but the message is clear. These 2 guys care and have intensity and passion and wont accept losing. I’ll take 23 more.

    • Big56dog

      The issues I had with Homer’s comments seems to undermine Herrera by implying if he does no turn out to be the next Cano, its a dumb trade and that his team is destined lose a 100 games. I also take it he was upset about Jay Bruce not being his teammate any more.

    • VaRedsFan

      Excellent take!! I love the passion too (Votto and Homer)

    • Yippee

      I agree with your take ultimately, but this involved a fan. Pro athlete cannot disrespect a fan, not one that didn’t do anything intentionally wrong, anyway. Tackle the dummy running onto the field, but you can’t initiate contact with a fan in the stands outside of the course of trying to make a play. My .02, anyway…I love what Joey did, signed the ball and took a pic with the fan. Randy will remember that forever and probably made Joey his favorite Reds player after that.

  9. james garrett

    Props to OLD SCHOOL but the front office drives the bus and everybody else just rides on it.Hats off to Homer for saying what we all want to say and I hope the front office gets it.

  10. WVRedlegs

    Joey Votto just didn’t give Randy an autographed baseball, he personalized it to Randy with the apology on the ball. I’m sure that ball will be one of Randy’s most prized possessions now. The photos and videos to go with it. And if Randy is a season ticket holder and is in the stands at that spot in the future, well JV and Randy are now buds. He’ll get to exchange pleasantries with Votto from here on.
    Very rarely do you see other sports’ athletes do something like Votto did. But around baseball you do. And with Votto you do.
    This just adds to the legend that is Joey Votto.
    Kudos to Randy. Super Kudos to Votto.

  11. Dan

    Ballplayers insist to not be touched that is a rule. If a fan grabbed Votto Jersey in disgust what would happen? So now in my opinion Votto has no room to complain if a random fan runs up and grabs him.
    Mo Eggar calls it the stripper rule. Votto broke it by initiating contact. Very glaf Votto apologized but nonetheless for the safety of all major league players Votto should face a small fine and or suspension. Any player of any era that would initiate this form of contact should be penalized.

    • Yippee

      I wouldn’t be surprised if Votto is fined for that. Passion or no, you can’t initiate contact with a fan. Ok, he grabbed his shirt, but you still can’t do that.

      • Patrick Jeter

        So what if he patted the fan on the shoulder? Actually, he did when he came back later. HE INITIATED CONTACT AGAIN!! SUSPEND HIM!

        Context matters.

    • Patrick Jeter

      The fan didn’t care. His overall experience was a positive one.

      This isn’t Ron Artest. This isn’t a kid getting expelled for biting his sandwich into a vaguely gun-shaped object. This isn’t McDonalds getting sued because some idiot spilled coffee on herself.

      The whole world has gone crazy, but context still matters. If Votto gets any fine or suspension I’ll be dumbfounded.

      • wkuchad

        Well, I’m mostly in agreeance with you. And I do think a suspension would be ridiculous. But I wouldn’t be dumbfounded if there’s a fine. You mention context. He grabbed the guys shirt, in anger. Yes, he quickly realized his mistake, but…

        Like I said, I agree with you and believe nothing else will/should come of this. But a fine won’t surprise me.

  12. earmbrister

    Hey Chad. Always appreciate your writings, and this article was no exception.

    On another subject: Unless I missed it, Redleg Nation had a detailed write-up on Max Wotell, but no extensive analysis on Dilson Herrera. Anything on Herrera in the works?

  13. Patrick Jeter

    I think I just read the incredibly stupid piece you mentioned on accident. Wow. And that guy gets paid to write stuff. Unbelievable.