If you really cared about this team you’d be smiling in the same way that Dr. Peter Venkman smiled when EPA representative Walter Peck was hauled out of the mayor’s office. Here were the vaunted Cincinnati Reds, who had effectively manhandled or otherwise humbled the Giants this season and last, whiffing on an inning-ending fly ball that wound up being the game winner. Their impervious defense pervioused because OF Two First Names sensed he was near brick materials. L. O. L.
It’s a cathartic sort of smirk, but it’s most appropriate.
Seriously, my perception of the Reds has always been that they’re a middle of the road team, though closer to a beer league bomber squad than a pitching and defense sort. And yet, when they play the Giants, they’re flip flapping terrifying. In this series they flashed more leather than exhibitionists with cow fetishes. Todd Frazier robbed Buster Posey of an extra base hit in the first. Miguel Cairo annoyed at first base all day yesterday and again today. Zack Cozart started a gee-whiz double play in the bottom of the seventh to rob All-Star starter Pablo Sandoval of a hit.
The Reds don’t look like pushovers against the Giants. They look dominant. It’s a very strange perception vs. reality, then. Are the Reds much better than we think or do they play better against the Giants? When Chris Heisey lays off Romo’s sliders and seems completely comfortable in the box against him, I think there’s some sort of sorcery afoot.
And then the game got testy and I stopped thinking about the perception thing. Bronson Arroyo throwing up and in on Ryan Vogelsong would perhaps make for a nice Monday morning controversy appetizer if it had happened in New York, but here I hope we can all just forget about it because it was the sort of thing that either confirmed your own bias against Bronson Arroyo (and who could blame you?) or just came off as a tough "baseball play". It’s great to see Vogelsong's face of homicidal rage activated and aimed at the opposition, though. That was fun, and it turned a sort of stiff, flat game into something with a modicum of excitement (until the end, of course).
Perception is surely a relevant topic today, not just because the Reds weren’t quite who we thought they were, but also because several Giants were named All-Star Game starters, which disrupted the universe.
All-Star starter Buster Posey knocked in a pair of runs today after receiving the most votes of any player at any position in National League history. Take *that*, Johnny Bench (I’m kidding. Please don’t Benchhandle me, Mr. Bench). His swoons per plate appearance leads that category in my brain. After Arroyo hit him in the fifth, Duane Kuiper commented on how ticked off Bruce Bochy appeared to be. Krukow said, “You don’t mess with the golden boy”. It’s a very minor miracle that we’re able to talk about Posey like that this year after all the unpleasantness of last May. That he is the leading vote-getter of this year’s All-Star Game is a testament to his talent and (less likely, but still worthy of consideration given that we’re fanatics) aura. There were many in the baseball world who thought Posey was wrong to be so mad about the collision, but it appears that many voters across the country either forgot that happened to him or considered it and thought, “Heck, home plate collisions are dumb”. Those are the only two possibilities. I have spoken.
All-Star starter Melky Cabrera’s decision to bunt for a hit late in the game is a head-scratcher and not very All-Starry. However, he has been a revelation. Talk about perception vs. reality. More than the Reds being average or Giants’ players not being good enough to make the All-Star roster, Melky Cabrera as one of the best outfielders in the national league has to be at the top of some sort of perception vs. reality subject list. I don’t want to keep writing about how amazing I find Melky flip flapping Cabrera’s performance to be. It will sound insulting at this point, and I think he’s performed at a level that hasn’t earned any insults.
All-Star starter Pablo Sandoval seems to be coming around pretty slowly this year after his second hamate bone removal. It’s tough not to read into sluggish return and think about his mild weight gain and the other off the field issue(s), but it’s worth noting that he is steadily improving. He doesn’t appear to be taking any steps backwards, but those steps forward are definitely of the "baby step" variety. I don’t think there’s any question that his numbers don’t stack up against other NL candidates, so, when you read or see pundits and backwards cap-wearing fans of other teams you probably hate, take a deep breath and then slowly, and calmly, let that Dr. Venkman smile out.