A view from the outside
By Hal McCoy | Thursday, August 7, 2008, 09:32 PM
A man I have known a long time, a scout for years and years who has watched the Cincinnati Reds, asked me a question before Thursday’s game:
“Have you ever seen a Reds team so lifeless, so dead, so disinterested?”
I answered honestly: “Never. This team looks like nine mannequins, nine fire hydrants, nine pine trees at Christmas time, nine que-tips in a stand-up box.
It’s the old which comes first, the chicken or the egg? In this case, which comes first, the losing or the lethargy? The lethargy or the losing? When you lose 11 of 13, you not only look bad, you ARE bad.
Actually, these days the Reds play like chickens with egg on their faces.
The long-time observer said, “I saw Homer Bailey three years ago and thought good things about him. Iee him now and there is no fire, no consistency and no sense of confidence. He used to have the hammer - a big, breaking curve. That’s gone. The last time he pitched he threw it for one strike. One.”
Another guy in the know, from out of town, said he couldn’t believe the abuse Adam Dunn gets. He hears it when he sits in the stands.
“Now that Ken Griffey Jr. is gone, if they let him go those same people are going to whine about it,” he said. “They better keep him. They need his power and they need him because they have so many young players.”
And another wrinkled his nose when Brandon Phillips was mentioned.
“Nice talent, but I can’t stand the guy. Don’t like his attitude. He does things to make the other team mad. And I couldn’t believe the stuff he said last week about wanting to be the face of the team, the captain, the leader. Very next game he didn’t run out a ground ball. Some leader.”
And so it goes with the intreprid warriors on the banks of the Ohio.
A defeat Thursday was a given. Roy Oswalt. 20-1 before the night began and 21-1 after. The Reds can’t beat him when he is ordinary, and he is ordinary this year and was very ordinary tonight. The Reds got nine hits off him in seven innings, but one run.
What the heck is it, anyway?
The question of the night: How did he lose the one game?
Asked how one pitcher can be 21-1 against his team, manager Dusty Baker said with a shrug, “A 5-0 lead doesn’t hurt? Psychologically, he knows he can beat us, psychologically his team knows it and, probably, psychologically our team knows it. Plus a lot of great pitching and a lot of luck.
Mostly great pitching, but on this night he was eminently beatable.
It isn’t only Oswalt Syndrome that infects this Reds team — losers in 11 of their last 13, 12 games under .500 and 17 1/2 games behind the Chicago Cubs.
Although rookie Jay Bruce doubled in the sixth, extending his hitting streak to 11 games, he went 1 for 5, dropped a fly ball for an error and inadmisably tried to go from second to third on a ground ball and was thrown out.
“A tough night for Jay,” said Baker. “A tough night once in the field and a tough night once on the bases. Call it youthful exuberance and he was as upset as anybody. He knew he made a mistake and you won’t see him make it any time in the future because he is a smart ballplayer. Sometimes you have to learn the hard way.”
Oswalt usually downplays his mastery over the Reds, perhaps fearing he’ll jinx it, but did issue an indictment with the Reds are often charged.
“I threw a lot of pitches in the first inning, but when we scored a lot of runs it seemed they began swinging early in the count,” he said.
Gee whiz. Where have we heard that one before? Oh, about every night.