No opt out for Francis

The Reds headed into their day off with an 8-1 loss to the Mariners on Tuesday. It was actually a close game much of the day until Seattle scored three in the eighth and two in the ninth.

“A little tough day today,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “It seemed like we had a lot of balls today. We left a lot of runners on base. We had a lot more chances than to score just one.

*Cincinnati was 1-for-9 RISP, and stranded six.

*The Jeff Francis line: 5 ip, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 1 HR. Francis has yet to walk a batter over 13 innings and has eight strikeouts and a 2.77 ERA in four games.

Francis’ chances of cracking the rotation are not great, barring the unexpected. But he has no plans to opt out of his Minor League deal — which is his right if he’s not on the big league roster by March 28.

“I’m not going to go home. I’ll be pitching,” said Francis, who also noted he wasn’t pursuing big league opportunities elsewhere. “I am not even thinking about it. I’m just trying to get people out.”

*LHP Sean Marshall turned in another scoreless inning with one hit and three strikeouts.

*RHP Andrew Brackman: 1.2 ip, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K

*Brandon Phillips was 2-for-2 with two singles.

*After a Phillips single in the fourth, he scored on a Zack Cozart double down the left field line. Cozart is batting .419 (13-for-31) this spring.

*In a Minor League game vs. the White Sox Triple-A squad, Johnny Cueto gave up four earned runs and five hits over 3 2/3 innings. Cueto walked two and struck out three with two home runs allowed.

*And following up from the earlier post, here is what LHP Bill Bray said about his simulated inning this morning.

“I like that I felt good and didn’t feel anything in my groin,” Bray said. “I got ahead of hitters pretty well. I got a little excited though and tried to throw the nasty pitches. Other than that, I felt great. I was around the plate so I was happy.”

*First pitch temperature: 57 degrees

*Attendance: 4,322


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Well, how we doing? Team all right? Getting ready? Strange s.t. so far: no surprises and no big injuries (knock wood). Meanwhile, you turn on ESPN and you’d never know there’s a baseball season coming up – nothing but NFL coverage!

As America ossifies into the Latter-Day Empire and grows ever more violent and militaristic, Baseball gets left behind as a gentlemanly, pastoral leftover from the nineteenth century.

D R-O, you always explain things so simply and understandably. I’m knd of a gentlemanly leftover from the 19th century myself. (Not pastoral, though).

Not pastoral referring to the clergy but pastoral in the sense of “out in the rural pastures”. But perhaps I’ve managed to miss your point and you got mine all along!

But I’m quite serious about the first part. Our sporting preferences, I would argue, really do serve as a kind of cultural barometer for the coarsening and the inevitable decline of our overextended, worldwide grasp.

I meant to say, the only pastoral I get is mowing the lawn – and I agree with your analysis. However, football is in trouble. It can’t play the game at its best and keep from injuring its players. It will water down the rules to protect the players and fans will first mock and then lose interest. Oh, and its got a commissioner with a God complex. Bud is easy to underrate, but baseball has thrived on his watch.

Gotcha on the pastoral question, and that is a very funny and suburban application! And I see your points about football sowing the seeds of its own destruction, but I don’t see it happening. Even if the game’s version gets “softballed,” the levels of violence remain sufficient to whet the appetite of a public looking for today’s analogous distraction of the “Roman circuses”.

Did you hear Madden’s comments about not letting the QB get hit at all? Said that kickers are exempt so QBs should be, too. Very muddled thinking there. On kicking plays, the defense rushes the ball, not the kicker, so if the kicker gets hit, the defense did it either intentionally or from incompetence, and gets flagged accordingly. On a pass play, the defense is looking to hit the QB and if they’re momentum carries them into him it’s what they’re trying to do (and get paid to do). Imagine pass plays where defensive linemen just stand at the line of scrimmage with their arms straight up and little backs run in at an angle to the play and hope the passer throws the ball right into their bodies (like kicking plays). That ought to kill football. However, baseball can fight back in the meantime: pitch inside, and get some of the old Bob Gibson attitude out there – player B hits one out? Player C gets it in the ribs. And let’s ramp up baseball fights – when the dugouts empty, the players’ job is to form a circle around the two fighters and let them go at it till the third knockdown. Basebal will always be pastoral, – let’s be modern and take the gentleman out of it!

I think both of us know that baseball has always had its rough and tumble, tougher side: from Ty Cobb down to the era of Bob Gibson and Pete Rose. but they were the exceptions by and large talked about precisely because of their inordinate determination and ruthlessness (nothing to do with the Babe!). The game has managed to maintain a mostly bloodless image, at least until Curt Shilling and the bloody sock of 2004!

The contemporary line of thought in football you so masterfully lay out represents the culmination of a decided move in favor of the offense, particularly the passing offense, which caters, apparently, to the taste of the masses. But it offends old-timers like me who preferred the “three yards in a cloud of dust” version of bygone days. Or maybe I’ve become the proverbial old guy bitching about a changing world. Either way, to be consistent with what I mentioned above, I should tuck tail and run from both strategies, for both are the very embodiment of a latter-day militarism run amuck, whether aerial bombardments or infantry-like grinding out of the ground game.

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