It was so good to have Roger and Sandy Kipp in the bar on Saturday night, especially since it was the eve of the final day of the MLB season–unless there needed to be a one-game playoff to see who got to be in a one-game playoff, but none of that nonsense happened.
Roger and Sandy moved south three years ago, and when Roger left, so did 100% of the people I had in the world to talk Reds baseball with equal enthusiasm and focus. I’ll say this, if you ever find yourself in a position where you need just one good Reds buddy to chew over the season with, you can do a whole lot worse than Roger Kipp.
Transplanted Cincinnatians to the Hanover area, Roger had been a season ticket holder many seasons, and among his claims to fame as a fan is having seen every home game of both the playoffs and the World Series during those two title years of ’75 and ’76. Coincidentally, born in ’66, those were the years when I really became an avid fan. I don’t know how old I was when I began to seek out Joe and Marty on 58 CHS by myself, rather than listen when Dad had the game on, but it was probably about then.
Roger knows the ins and outs of the current team even better than I do; in fact, Roger’s knowledge of the roster inspired me to get to know the players better, back five years or so ago when we took up such talks. It was so inspiring to be in a conversation about a subject I cared about with someone who knew more about it than I did. I’m not trying to be conceited; I learn from people all the time, but I just don’t encounter a lot of people who know more about the topics I am quite well-versed on, like Stanley Kubrick films or Pink Floyd albums or Stephen King books. Like the Reds. There are lots of people out there who know a lot more about these things than I do, but I just don’t encounter them often. Still, I’m always looking.
So Roger and I caught up on where each of us thinks the rebuilding process is, and we’re both optimistic.You love what you own, I guess.
I think 2017 is the first year that Reds Nation can expect to see the fruits of the rebuilding. I can’t go outright and predict they’ll earn a wild card, but I’d say they’ll at least be in contention for one late in the season.
So many things went our way this year. Joey Votto went straight up crazy the second half of the season. He batted .408 and became the first MLB player to hit over .400 for half a season since Ichiro did it in 2004. Brandon Phillips batted .335 after the All Star game; plus, he’ll be in his last year before free agency, so he’s really going to go into the season looking to raise his marketability. Dan Straily went 10-2 after July 8th. The team went from last in the Central Division in batting average at the break to second by year’s end. Jose Peraza, who is only 22, batted .324 and had 78 hits in 72 games–that translates to a 175-hit full season. Billy Hamilton, who they said couldn’t hit, batted .260 and had 58 steals in 119 games, which would be 79 steals in a full season. Adam Duvall had 33 homers and 103 RBI. Young Brandon Finnegan had a sub-4 era and won ten games. Anthony Deshiafani had a 3.28 era and went 9-5. Both Raisel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen had eras in the good part of three runs in considerable innings. Devin Mesoraco will be back and healthy, hopefully.
So many positives to build on, but the negatives are few. Zack Cosart and Eugenio Suarez both need to raise their batting averages, and the bullpen definitely needs to see some moves made. The worst performance of the season, however, by any one player, had to have been turned in by Cody Reed, who appeared in only ten games and pitched poorly in 15 of them.
So, there’s just a bit about the Reds as the season comes to an end, and it was good to see Roger and Sandy.