2017 Reds / Regularly Scheduled Rain Delay

Regularly Scheduled Rain Delay: Players Weekend and Cult Classics

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There’s a theater in St. Louis that all through the summer and up until Halloween screens cult classic films every weekend at midnight. Each weekend brings a different film and a different crowd. There was Office SpaceThe Room, and My Neighbor Totero already this year. The whole event culminates in a two-weekend extravaganza for The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but I love it more for the other films I’d forgotten about.

With Players Weekend starting up, I’ve been thinking about Reds both past and present, imagining what some of the Reds back in the day would’ve put on the back of their jersey. That exercise can only take me so far though, and after watching Spirited Away as part of the film series this past week, I began to wonder: Who is the most cult classic Reds player?

I MISS THE OLD DRAKE

Because I feel the need to stick things in segments whenever I write these posts, we will continue that trend. This week, however, this segment is nothing more than a determination of which Red from my (conscious) lifetime — i.e. 2000 to now — is the most cult classic.

So what are the criteria for a cult classic baseball player? Well the same as a cult classic movie of course:

  • Disliked (or at least ridiculed) on first release
  • Have some quirky characteristic or unique flaw
  • Beloved only in hindsight

Ken Griffey Jr. cannot be a cult classic Red because he was instantly beloved. Same goes for Adam Dunn. Edwin Encarnacion, however, could be a cult classic Red because if I remember right, not many Reds fans liked EE back in the day.

Before getting the the top five cult classic Reds though, here are some things I learned while scrolling through past Reds’ teams Baseball-Reference pages:

  1. Corky Miller first played for the Reds in 2001 (!!!)
  2. Russell Branyan, Cody Ross, and Dioner Navarro all played for the Reds at some point.
  3. I have a very selective memory on which Reds I chose to remember
  4. Micah Owings led the team in batting average in 2008 (four at bats, but still)
  5. Paul Bako was our starting catcher that same year
  6. There was a four year period where the Reds starting left fielder went from Laynce Nix, to Jonny Gomes for two years, to Ryan Ludwick. All praise Adam Duvall.
  7. I still follow Derrick Robinson on Twitter. I had forgotten why he was significant.
  8. Donald Lutz probably cannot be considered a prospect anymore.
  9. The Reds once traded for Sean Marshall

And on that depressing note, here’s the top five cult classic Reds!

5. Aaron Harang

Aaron Harang is the first ace pitcher I ever knew and that is the saddest sentence I have written in 2017. In hindsight, the Aaron Harang days were the best. He was dependable, durable, and non-confrontational. He even led the National League in strikeouts once!

Would I want vintage Aaron Harang on the Reds’ roster next year? Probably not, but he’d definitely be the preferable option to 2017 Bronson Arroyo.

4. Paul Janish

When I first started watching the Reds religiously, Paul Janish was the starting shortstop, which probably explains my fondness for him. I also absolutely hated him when he played for the Reds.

I remembered just enough of Alex Gonzalez that I could never understand why the Reds turned over the reins to a completely inept hitter. But these were the dark years for the Reds, and it truly didn’t matter who played short because it didn’t matter who played anywhere.

Since he’s been gone, Reds’ fans have come around on old Paul (I think), but I think we all still prefer Zack.

3. Norris Hopper

If anyone disliked Norris Hopper back in the day, please kindly leave the building. First of all, you cannot dislike someone with the name Norris — they’ve suffered enough. Second of all, as much as we like to disparage bunt hits, it was never not exciting to watch Norris fly down the line after dropping another bunt single because he knew he had the hitting ability of a guinea pig.

We all disparaged Norris Hopper because really he just wasn’t a Major League caliber player. But imagine if Billy Hamilton could bunt like Norris. The possibilities would be limitless.

2. Jonny Gomes

I’m still unclear as to whether Jonny Gomes was any good, but he was easily the most entertaining Reds player the team has had this millennium (Joey aside).

I mean…

Jonny Gomes sombrero

…just look at him.

1. Eric Milton

Did you really expect to see anyone else at the top of this list? There’s a goat with braces named after him. He’s been transformed from a miserable starting pitcher to a symbol of a miserable outing and somehow is beloved for the latter role? I don’t know but Eric Milton is the definition of a cult classic Red. He’s The Room of Reds.

Goat Braces Milton

Milton was unhappy with Cincinnati’s performance today.

If you have a suggestion for a better cult classic Red, feel free to leave it in the comments. Also, please suggest older cult classics. Can’t say I’ll share your nostalgia, but might as well try.

KANGAROO COURT FEES

Usually I reserve this section for Reds related occurrences, but the Dodgers just let Rich Hill take a no-hitter into the 10th inning because they couldn’t muster one measly run of support, and then Cincinnati’s own Josh Harrison sent a walkoff bomb.

Fine: The Dodgers must forfeit their playoff spot to the Reds. Or, like, buy Rich Hill something nice. But the first option would be preferable.

SCOUTING REPORT

Fantasy Baseball — This stopped being relevant a while ago I don’t know why I still include it every week.

Authorial Views — I’VE BEEN USURPED. But 75 views is manageable. I’ll be back in the driver’s seat soon enough.

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9 thoughts on “Regularly Scheduled Rain Delay: Players Weekend and Cult Classics

  1. From a little bit before the era you focused on, Wesley, I think Dmitri Young and Ryan Freel to the list of Cult Classics. Neither were really appreciated when they first started out with the Reds, but have become kind of beloved and fondly remembered in hindsight.

    Dmitri was known as “Da Meat”, and who could forget watching him round the bases and he struggled to keep his batting helmet from bouncing off his afro. He was actually a pretty decent player, he could hit, get on base, and had more than a little power to boot. His career OPS+ is 114, but for whatever reason he wasn’t fully appreciated during his time in Cincinnati.

    Freel…. Well, we all remember Freel and “Farney”. Freel was the very definition of “grit”, a guy who wasn’t exceptionally talented but hustled his way into becoming an MLB player. It’s truly heartbreaking how it all ended for him, but he is still fondly remembered in Cincinnati.

    Those are my two nominees from recent history.

    • I was at the game where Ron Villone and one or two other relievers one-hit the Randy Johnson and the Diamondbacks. The only D-back hit was when the Big Unit hit a ball to right-center that missed getting out by about two feet.

      A few innings later Da Meat turned around a fastball and hit it into the yellow seats in left at Cinergy. I think that was the only run of the game.

  2. I agree with Ryan Freel! I don’t think he was thought of highly in his day, but; I sure appreciated his hustle each and everyday!! I would love to have him as a utility player on the next good Reds team. Cult film I love, “The Warriors”.

  3. Nice article Wesley.

    Good choices on Da Meat Hook and Freel (RIP).

    Not cultish enough to make the list, but Elmer Dessens is a name that stands out as “he was that good?” in my Reds memory. Produced more than 4 WAR in both 2001 and 2002, then got dealt in the winter of 2002 in a 4 (!!!) team trade.

    (If a 4-team trade happened at this year’s Winter Meetings, FanGraphs’ site would crash).

    Reds either knew they had gotten the best of him, or got lucky. In 2004, he was making $4 million and produced .1 WAR for Arizona. This is proof that America is a great place to live and work, especially if you work in Major League Baseball.

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