THE WEEK IN SPORTS VOLUME IV

  • In his first return to Cincinnati since being traded by the Reds to the Atlanta Braves during the off-season, Brandon Phillips received a well-deserved, extended standing ovation from the crowd at Great American Ball Park.  And when Phillips stated prior to the game that despite wearing a Braves uniform he was “still Mr. Cincinnati regardless of what anybody say”, no one disagreed.  Unfortunately, when Phillips, who played for 11 seasons in a Reds uniform, complained, “I still can’t believe that No. 4 is…someone is wearing my number.  I think that’s a slap in the face,” he went from a homecoming hero to a delusional, bitter and petty ex-player.  To think that the Reds should shelve his No. 4 as soon as he left the organization, reeks of an egotism that most fans believed Philips never exhibited.  Granted, Phillips ended his career with Cincinnati as the franchise’s all-time leader in hits (1,774), doubles (311), home runs (191) and runs batted in (851) for a second baseman in addition to being a three-time All-Star, a four-time Gold Glove recipient and a Silver Slugger award winner in 2011.  But for Phillips to believe that the Reds should, in essence, retire his number based on those accomplishments is simply misguided.  Maybe Phillips needs a history lesson to understand why Scooter Gennett is wearing his No. 4 this season.  Joe Morgan, the second baseman with the franchise records Phillips eclipsed wore the No. 8 in his tenure with the Reds.  After Morgan left Cincinnati with all those records, 8 All-Star selections, five Gold Gloves, two National League Most Valuable Player awards and two World Championships, the Reds issued Morgan’s No. 8 to the likes of Rafael Landestoy, Bo Diaz, Terry McGriff, Alex Trevino, Juan Samuel and Damon Berryhill as well has coaches Joey Amalfitano, Joe Sparks, John McClaren and manager Bob Boone.  In fact, the Reds didn’t retire Morgan’s number until 1988, nine years after he last played for Cincinnati.  And he’s in the Baseball Hall of Fame.  So, relax Brandon.  Scooter Gennett wearing No. 4 doesn’t dismiss your contributions to the team or the city during your 11 seasons in Cincinnati.  Just remember, while you may think “you run this piece”, it will take some time before the franchise considers putting your No. 4 on ice.
  • For those of you keeping score at home, the Reds magic number to clinch the National League Central Division, as of June 6, is 110.
  • The Volume III Scoreboard Stumper answer was:  Rod Carew, Julio Franco, Dee Gordon, Jose Altuve and D.J. LeMahieu.  This week’s Scoreboard Stumper asks, Who are the four players to have hit 10 or more home runs in 10 or more seasons while playing for the Cincinnati Reds?
  • On their June 30, 2014 cover, Sports Illustrated boldly proclaimed that the Houston Astros would win the World Series in 2017.  At the time, it seemed like a prediction done solely to sell magazines and to capitalize on the hot trend at the time in baseball, teams using the “Moneyball” approach to building their franchise into a consistent winner.  Now that the 2017 season is one-third complete, the Astros seem hell-bent on permanently dismissing the myth of the SI cover jinx.  Through the first 58 games of the season, Houston is a blistering 42-16, leading the second place LA Angels and the Seattle Mariners by a seemingly insurmountable 14 games in the American League West Division and well on their way to fulfilling SI”s prophecy from three years earlier.  Led by second baseman Jose Altuve (.326/.520/.913), outfielder George Springer (.278/.537/.884), shortstop Carlos Correa (.310/.532/.920) and starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel (9-0, 1.67 ERA), players SI profiled in their 2014 cover story as the foundation for Houston’s championship run, the Astros are primed to make the editors of Sports Illustrated consider getting into the business of forecasting the future of World Series champions.
  • Just when you thought the Baseball Hall of Fame couldn’t lose any more integrity, word comes that the cartoon character, Homer Simpson, was inducted into the Hall of Fame to mark the 25th anniversary of The Simpsons’ “Homer at the Bat” episode.  And yet this same organization refuses to consider the game’s all-time hit leader, Pete Rose, for induction.  It’s time to either drain the swamp in Cooperstown or shut the place down.
  • Tweet of the Week:  Immediately following Scooter Gennett’s four home run game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night, Mo Egger @MoEgger1530 tweeted, “20 years from now, 400,000 people will have attended the Scooter Gennett game.”
  • If you’re NBA commissioner Adam Silver, you can’t be pleased with the current state of your sport.  First, your most popular television analyst, Charles Barkley, appears on the national broadcast of Game 4 of the NHL’s Stanley Cup Final and tells the country, “Our NBA playoffs have not been good.”  Second, your marquee event, the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers, the matchup everyone wanted to see, has been so uneventful that there was more tension at the National Spelling Bee during Game 1 and more excitement on Food Network’s, The Next Food Network Star:  Comeback Kitchen during Game 2.  Finally, you have a president of one of your franchises complaining about the disparity in the league, recently telling a reporter that the Warriors “are the varsity and the rest of us look like the jayvee.”  Given these circumstances, if you’re Adam Silver, you’re probably wondering if David Stern wants his job back.
  • If watching Golden State in this year’s playoffs isn’t impressive enough, then consider that over the last two years, the Warriors are 52-4 when head coach Steve Kerr has not been on the bench due to complications from his back surgery in 2015.
  • The perfect Father’s Day gift is just one click away at the Online Bookstore at iuniverse.com when you order my softcover version of The Legends of the Jungle:  Introducing the Initial Candidates for a Possible Cincinnati Bengals Hall of Fame.  Buy yours today!

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