Due to technological issues, Volume III of The Week in Sports was delayed. The original byline of this post was Memorial Day, May 29, 2017
By all accounts, Bronson Arroyo is a nice fellow and a great teammate. So, it’s nothing personal but it is time for the Reds to remove Arroyo from the starting rotation and replace him with a starter from within the organization. Despite a surprising 24-25 record, the Reds are not going to contend for a post-season spot in 2017. Instead, they are using this season to rebuild for the future, identifying those players in their system who can contribute moving forward by giving them significant playing time at the major league level. It’s a formula the Chicago Cubs used a few years back that they parlayed into a World Championship in 2016. If the Reds are truly setting themselves up for a post-season run in two or three years, it makes more sense for them to use a spot in their rotation in 2017 on someone like Asher Wojciechowski or Rob Wooten instead of Arroyo, who through 10 starts has a 3-4 record, a 6.62 ERA and had yielded 18 home runs in 51.2 innings pitched. There’s no doubt Arroyo is a good guy. He just isn’t a good fit for the Reds current rotation or their rebuilding project.
It’s not a stretch to believe that if the Reds could deal with the Milwaukee Brewers, and specifically their right fielder Eric Thames, then they would currently find themselves atop the NL Central Division this Memorial Day. Not only are the Reds 1-6 against the Brewers so far this season but Thames is batting .429 in 28 at-bats against Cincinnati pitching, with 8 home runs, 14 RBI and an OPS of 1.853. Given the fact the Reds are only 2 games behind the first place Brewers, finding a way to get Thames out is the first step in closing the gap between first and fourth place.
For those of you keeping score at home, as of Monday May 29, the Reds magic number to clinch the NL Central Division is 116.
Much has been written and said about baseball’s increasingly slow pace of play. In recent years, many ideas such as pitch clocks, limiting the number of mound visits and pitching changes have been proposed to speed up the game while others, such as timed visits to the pitching mound, a no pitch intentional walk and a 30-second limit for a manager to decide to challenge a play, were implemented for the 2017 MLB season. But despite all of the changes, so far this year, a typical baseball game plods along at an incruciating average rate of 3 hours and 5 minutes for a nine inning game. If MLB wants to return to the glory days of 1976, when the average nine inning game took only 2 hours 24 minutes to complete, or 1990, when an average nine inning game was wrapped up in an economical 2 hours 47 minutes, then they should adopt the proposed change to raise the strike zone, specifically the lower part of the strike zone, to the top of the hitter’s knees, effectively raising it an estimated two inches. Studies show this change to the strike zone will produce more balls in play, more runs, more chances for the defense to make outs and more action. The end result would be a significant decrease in walks and strikeouts, an easy fix to speed up the game and more importantly the entertainment value of the game.
My nephew recently posted on Facebook the greates players, by position, in MLB in his lifetime. With a nod to Mackenzie Powell and his thought provoking post, here is my list of the greatest baseball players, by position, in my lifetime: C–Johnny Bench, 1B–Pete Rose, 2B–Joe Morgan, SS–Cal Ripken Jr., 3B–Mike Schmidt, LF–Barry Bonds, CF–Ken Griffey Jr., RF–Roberto Clemente, RHSP–Tom Seaver, LHSP–Randy Johnson, DH–Edgar Martinez.
The answer to the Volume II Scoreboard Stumper was Gary Nolan, Tom Browning, Anthony DeSclafani and Johhny Cueto. Here is this week’s Scoreboard Stumper: Since 1970, five different second basemen have led their league in batting average. Who are they?
If in fact Game 4 of the Western Conference NBA Finals was the last game for San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili, then the folks at the Basketball Hall of Fame need to start working on his plaque and sizing him for his ring. In his 15-year NBA career, all with the Spurs, Ginobili averaged 13.6 PPG and 3.9 APG during the regular season as a two-time NBA All-Star and the league’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2008. In the post-season, Ginobili helped guide the Spurs to four NBA titles by averaging 14.1 PPG, 3.8 APG and shooting over 35% from three-point range. Aside from his stellar NBA career, Ginobili was a member of the Argentinian national team that won the gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics. And to think 11 players selected ahead of Ginobili in the 1999 NBA Draft never played one minute in the league. Congratulations are in order for Ginobili on a Hall of Fame career.
Sweden won the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championships last week but their victory was overshadowed by a couple of other storylines to come out of the tournament. First, Team USA did their best Washington Capitals impersonation, finishing the championship in fifth place and failing to qualify for the medal round. Their poor showing continues a disturbing trend for Team USA in recent international play, a squad of talent-laden NHL players who fail to have any significant success against the rest of the world. The last time Team USA medaled in an international competition was in 2015 when they earned a bronze at the IIHF World Championships. Since then, they have finished sixth in the 2016 IIHF Championship, lost all their games in group play in the 2016 World Cup and finished fourth in their last Olympic appearance in 2014. With the talent Team USA brings to these competitions, these results are totally unacceptable. Needless to say, there needs to be some serious soul-searching amongst the leaders and decisions makers within the USA organization before the 2018 Winter Olympics. Maybe the NHL’s decision to skip the Olympics is the reset Team USA needs to solve their international tournament malaise. Second, Sweden defeated Canada in the gold medal game, 2-1, in a shoot-out after both teams finished three periods and a 20-minute overtime tied at one goal a piece. Determining the winner of an ice hockey world championship through a shoot-out is a disgrace and makes the entire tournament lose all of its credibility. It’s the equivalent of ending the Super Bowl after a scoreless overtime period with a field goal kicking contest to determine who wins the Vince Lombardi Trophy. The NFL would never consider such an alternative to crown a champion and the IIHF needs to do the same.
The tweet of the week comes from Clay Travis @ Clay Travis: “Pulled up next to business yesterday named, ‘The Toy Box’. 6-year old asks, ‘What kind of toys do they have there?’ It was a strip club.”
Chris Chase of FoxSports.com recently ranked every NFL stadium from best to worst for watching a football game and while it was no surprise he placed Green Bay’s Lambeau Field on the top of the list and Washington’s Fed Ex Field at the bottom, Chase did have some interesting opinions regarding some other NFL venues. Despite its seemingly constant publicity and presence, Chase ranked Dallas’ AT&T Field 30th out of 32, claiming to call Jerry World a football stadium is like calling “Disney World an amusement park”. Chase placed future Super Bowl venue, Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium, 12th, in large part of its cannon-firing fully functional pirate ship in one of the end zones. As for Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Staudim, Chase ranked it 20th, thankfully ahead of Cleveland’s FirstEnergy Stadium. Had Chase read my new book, Legends of the Jungle, prior to releasing his list, he might have placed Paul Brown a little higher considering the great players who called the stadium home. You can decide for yourself by purchasing your own copy of Legends of the Jungle at the Online Bookstore at iuniverse.com and by entering my name in the author field of your Advanced Search.