By Josh Kramer
It is no secret that there are two very hot teams in baseball at the moment. One resides in the American League (Oakland), while the other plays in the National League (Cincinnati). Today, we focus on the Reds, and more specifically, their highly scrutinized center fielder Drew Stubbs. Heading into play last evening, Cincinnati were winners of ten straight games, their longest winning streak in well over a decade. During the amazing stretch, the Reds had outscored their opponents 54 to 27. Now I am by no means naive. Cincinnati is of course doing this without their star and arguably the best player in all of baseball Joey Votto, but they have not exactly played against top-tier competition. During the stretch in which the Reds have won 17 of 19, four of their six opponents sport under .500 records. I guess that is the beauty of being a member of the National League Central.
I have made it known that I am by no means a fan of Drew Stubbs these days. I cannot remember a player failing to play to their strengths and wasting their talent more than this guy. If one were to look up the word “potential” in the dictionary, the face of Drew Stubbs would appear there. He runs like a gazelle, yet strikes out 1.3 times a game and doesn’t know how to bunt? How can a guy with that kind of speed not know how to bunt? During the Reds ten game winning streak, I have been eating my words (which I am happy about). Stubbs has raised his batting average from .223 to .230, hit three home runs, and drove in ten runs. He also has struck out 12 times. But the key is Drew has come up big in the clutch. As our good friend Paul Daugherty likes to say, Stubbs has been one of many Reds since the All-Star break to demonstrate the “it” factor. In Votto’s absence, Stubbs was batting .333 with 14 RBIs heading into last evening.
I still admit that Stubbs shortcomings and inability to utilize his strengths does and will continue to drive me nuts. Drew Stubbs is going to do what Drew Stubbs is going to do though. That has been made clear over the past 3.5 seasons. Stubbs is not on the field to please me or you. He is out there to help his team win. In the present, that is just what he is doing. The Reds are involved in discussions to fill their leadoff void with the likes of Denard Span, Shane Victorino, or Juan Pierre. I never thought I would say this, but I don’t think they should go after any of these guys.
Stubbs is our center fielder for the moment. He is by no means the perfect fit for the position. But he has proven to be a decent two-hole guy, and we all know that he gets to everything in the field. What would be the point in overspending on Shane Victorino for a few month rental? Victorino, though probably the best player of the three available center fielders, is far to pricey for our current wallets. At least Span is signed, and would not be simply a rental. Yet, would he really be that much of an upgrade? As for Juan Pierre, if speed is what you need, then there is a guy named Billy Hamilton that more than likely will be up with the big team by September or next April. Billy Hamilton is probably the center fielder of the future.
In the present though, Drew Stubbs is the man for the 8 (centerfield) spot. I am finally giving my blessing to Mr. Stubbs.
One of the biggest stories of London 2012 revolves around the budding rivalry between Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps. I am by no means a swimming connoisseur, but one thing was made clear on Day 1: Lochte was prepared and Phelps was not. Lochte has adamantly said over and over that this is “his time.” He has been in Phelps shadow for a good decade now, and is obviously tired of it. Lochte is also well-aware that Phelps is not in nearly the shape that he was back in 2008. This is your age-old hard work versus talent showdown (though Lochte obviously has a lot of talent too). I for one have not been a big fan of Lochte thus far. Sure he has the good looks and the amazing work ethic. But the grill on the podium is a bit to flamboyant for my taste. Then the way he handled the interview with Andrea Kremer following his amazing victory in the 400 IM was a bit over the top as well. Lochte should have taken a more humble approach in his answers (but what do I know). Next, he blew the 4X100 freestyle relay. Then he was given the business for a second consecutive day by Yannick Agnel in the 200 freestyle. Maybe Lochte should have been less concerned with Phelps and more worried about Agnel?
I thought the rivalry was dead?
The best rivalry in baseball and quite possibly all of sport never ceases to amaze. After an ugly massacre on Friday night, Boston not only saved face, but they took two of three against their bitter rivals in the Bronx. I am aware that Boston is still a good distance from contention, but do not sleep on them. I think you all remember what happened last September when Boston was on the other end of the spectrum. Rivalry games tend to juice a team up. Could the huge extra-inning win in the Bronx Sunday evening do just that for the Sox?
Fun for some, not for others
The MLB trade deadline is set to strike at 4PM today. As a fan, you have to love this always exciting time as teams look to gear up for the stretch run in the MLB. As a player, I am not sure I would enjoy it too much. Especially those players who like their current team, have a family, and an established home life. Picking up and moving a family, regardless of how much money people have is never fun. Keep your eye on the clock. Today is sure to be a wild one that will be good for some (most fans), and not so good for others (certain players).
Just some “Food for Thought.”
Let me hear your thoughts though. Please comment below with any questions or insights that you may have or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.