By Josh Kramer
Welcome to the 17th edition of “Throwback Saturdays.” This is likely the last one at least for the foreseeable future. But let’s go back in time and see just how accurate I was with my insights. What was happening on May 12, 2011? How about on May 12, 2010?
One year ago..
#1 Starter: Please Stand Up
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The Cincinnati Reds are no longer a sub 500 team or a ball club that strives to win as many as they lose. They also are not one of those small market teams that will as they say, ”get them next year.” One of those “teams of the future.” The Reds are a franchise that has developed the “win now” mentality that their ownership, the Castellini Family, and their General Manager, Mr. Walt Jocketty thrive on. And I for one love the direction that this franchise is heading. Who doesn’t love a team with ownership who cares about winning first?
July 31st is the MLB Trade Deadline. If the Reds want to make a deep run come playoff time, they must pick up a top of the rotation starter. A number 1 guy. One of those pitchers that other teams cringe at the thought of facing. Currently the Reds are in a good spot. They are sporting a record of 20-17 and are within one game of the top spot in the NL Central. This team has a dynamic offense, a great fielding percentage, and a winner’s mentality in the locker room. There is only one glaring weakness. And that once again is at the top of the rotation.
Now this team is very good. I do think they are capable of making the playoffs with the squad they have. But there is a difference between making the playoffs and winning in the playoffs. Do the Reds want to take that next step from “good to great?” I think they do. All I do know is Edinson Volquez is not cutting the mustard as a top of rotation starter. And to be blunt, nobody else in the rotation is either (To finish reading this post, click this link).
The Reds did not make a big move for a pitcher before the trade deadline. As most of you are well-aware, they ended up being arguably the most disappointing team in all of baseball. Though it should be known that Johnny Cueto had the look of a number one starter. Unfortunately, the rest of the staff did not catch on. Cincinnati’s pitching staff ranked 12th in the National League in terms of ERA back on May 12, 2011. By the end of the season, they were still ranked 12th.
This year, things have been entirely different, yet they have produced similar results. The Reds are a couple of games over 500. This is thanks in large part to solid pitching. Their hitting has been less than stellar to say the least. Johnny Cueto has stepped up into the number one starter role and thrived. If Cincinnati wants to make a playoff run, the bats will have to wake up. At least a little bit.
Two years ago..
Here is a snippet..
Where is the excitement as I asked a few days ago? I am not quite sure, and just like every other fan in the world, I am hoping that the Celtics vs Cavs goes down to the wire and provides some breathtaking finishes followed by some hopefully very competitive Conference Finals series, and an exciting Finals. Will these things happen? I am honestly not sure. I can say with some confidence though that none of the Conference Finals matchups or the Finals will be decided by a sweep. All four of the teams left will be too good to be swept out of this year’s crop in my eyes.
I am going to sum up these playoffs in a nutshell. Teams have been vastly overmatched in the first couple of rounds. But what is really sticking out? Length is a big time differentiating factor in the League now. Look at the teams that are excelling. The Lakers, the Magic, the Suns. What do they have in common? Extraordinary length. Especially on the Lakers and Magic. In today’s game, there are guys like Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Dirk Nowitzki, Rashard Lewis, and I could go on, that are very long and tall, but possess the skills and athleticism of a guard. It is frightening how athletic and agile these guys have become. Today’s game is far different from the game of the Magic and Bird days and even the mid 90s (To finish reading this post, click this link).
Two years ago, the NBA Playoffs lacked excitement in the opening round. This year has been surprisingly similar. The Conference Semifinals were also extremely lackluster in 2010, with three sweeps. Let’s pray that does not happen this year. Now the NBA Finals were epic pitting two of the NBA’s most historic franchises in a thrilling seven game tussle (Lakers/Celtics). This year, do not count on historic franchises to meet up for the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. Expect Heat versus Thunder. They are head and shoulders above the rest. What do both of these great teams have in common? Phenomenal length at all five positions. Length was a major key in 2010 and that trend has continued into 2012.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.