Nice end to first half?

I’m dispensing with the three stars today….

As a writer and reporter covering the Reds, I take things as they come and try to analyze and report without bias. But after Sunday’s 4-2 Reds win over the Padres, I really have to wonder how much the difference is between blog/Twitter perception and actual reality.

*The Reds finished with a 6-5 West Coast road trip, despite losing two of three in Los Angeles and having four games where they scored one run or less. They won one four game series and split another. That’s not easy in any stretch of the schedule.

*Cincinnati is in second place one game behind the Pirates and are nine games over .500. The Pirates, by the way, have won nine of their last 11. While I think they will hang around to the end, does anyone think Pittsburgh will play at that level the entire second half?

*If you read the comments in the recent blog entries and some of the Tweets I get, you’d never know this was a team with a winning record. Almost all of the comments and tweets I received today were very negative. One reporter at the All-Star break in Kansas City noted that he wasn’t paying attention to the Reds today, but thought they were losing the game based on the Tweets he read. That says a lot to me.

*While I think fans have legitimate reason to want Frazier to play more over Rolen, did anyone really live under the delusion that Rolen would never ever play again after sitting out with back spasms? The Red Sox gave up on struggling veteran Kevin Youkilis and shipped him out to Chicago. How is that working out now for Boston? How is Youkilis doing, has anyone noticed? Pretty darn good.

*I hear the tired cliche about Dusty Baker only playing veterans over the kids, yet there are often times when two rookies in the starting lineup and sometimes there are three (Cozart, Frazier, Mesoraco). There are several players in the regular lineup under the age of 30. Four of the five members of the rotation are 26 or younger. How does the only plays veteran perception hold up with that reality?

*I think fans in Milwaukee, San Diego, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Colorado, Seattle, Oakland, Minnesota, Arizona and Toronto would gladly trade places with fans in Cincinnati right now. I’m not saying the Reds are playing great…they definitely have to improve, especially offensively.

So there’s my end of the first half rant. I do want to say that I really do appreciate all of your readership, comments, feedback, Twitter follows and participation. But I hope for your sake, and health, that you can find a way to enjoy the second half of the season. Because my perception is that no one is happy, ever.

I will be taking a full week off and returning on July 16. I look forward to picking up the conversation with you then. Until then, be well.


If I read you correctly you’re saying with the .180 BA Rolen should continue to be dusted off every night game, play 3rd base, and let Frazier fill in day games and pinch hit with his .275 BA. There comes a time when every ballplayer has to decide to hang up his spikes. I think Rolen’s time is near.
One other thing that is stuck in my crawl is Drew Stubbs. If Dusty likes him so much why not drop him down into the 7th hole, move Phillips into 1st or 2nd place with Cozart, Frazier into the 4 hole, Bruce, Heisey, & Stubbs.
Stubbs in the top of the lineup is hurting the production that Votto gets. How many 0 for 30s is it going to take before it’s figured out? Cincy has a very good offensive team…the pieces just need to be put in the right place.

Let’s try some facts, instead of knee jerk reactions. Including today, the Reds are 29-20 with Stubbs batting second. When Stubbs leads off, they are 5-3. Now if Shoey was the manager the Reds would be 24-61. Why? Because the Reds are 2-5 with Stubbs batting 7th as suggested. Clearly Stubbs is not the offensive problem that people think he is.

But never mind the facts or that the manager has been successful in the game for nearly half a century.

Intelligent fans watch the game and observe what’s going on. The rest tweet.

clearly Stubbs position in the order is responsible for the winning and losing.
also if he’s made of wood, then he’s a witch.

Here’s a fact for you…manager Shoey has as many championships as manager Dusty does. DustyBall is a proven loser, yet he keeps doing the same things expecting different results. Such as his tendency to put players with a poor on-base percentage at or near the top of his lineups. Think Neifi Perez, Jose Macias, Juan Pierre, Corey Patterson, Willy Taveras, Jerry Hairston Jr, Orlando Cabrera, and Drew Stubbs (in front of one of the best hitters in the game.) The Reds are just pretenders until they get a REAL manager.

Here’s my rant. Are you a writer or a Dusty/Reds apologists? Your reasoning is as stupid as Dusty’s. What does Youkilis have to do with Rolen? What do fans in other cities have to do with us? Why sit a guy that was 5-11 in a series for a a guy playing like a washed-up has been? Why continue to have our worst .OBP guys in front of our best hitter? Why sit guys that are hot and stick with guys that are ice cold. This will be the last Mark Sheldon piece I read.

Jesus dude. The guy is writing about baseball, not defending the holocaust. Lighten up man.

I’m a happy Reds fan. I appreciate the team. Are they a perfect team, no! But, they are my team. I just wish Dusty would play more small ball and sit players that don’t execute properly. I’m not complaining, just offering Baseball advise.

I follow you on twitter and I read your blog. But I don’t tweet at you and don’t comment. I find it very surprising that you’re treating Twitter as a source for gauging fan temperature about this team. I wonder why you take what people tweet at you so seriously as to even mention it in “print” like this. (Quite frankly, I cringe at the questions you and Fay are asked by people.) I typically don’t read the comments on your blog, and comments are the sole reason I don’t visit Fay’s blog. Both it and Twitter are places where inexplicable negativity and/or 6th grade cafeteria behavior festers. Surely you’ve noticed this. So why are you treating it as a representation of what the fanbase thinks? That’s what your post makes it sound like. I’m pretty sure most fans out there are happy about the winning road trip and where the team is at this point in the season. They just didn’t feel compelled to tell the beat writer about it on Twitter. (Because…why would they? I was so happy we won today I turned off the TV and did some laundry.) Is there room to improve? Sure. I doubt anyone is 100% satisfied with the team. But again, I just wonder why you are giving a megaphone to what reactive and emotional people complain to you about on the internet. It’s like the two kids in a class of 30 who get recess taken away for everyone.

And yes, I realize there is some sense of irony in me responding on a blog when I talk about not reading responses… but I just had to say this.

Keep up the great coverage Mark. I promise there are plenty of rational fans out there who appreciate your work.

I couldn’t agree more Curt. I enjoy Mark’s comments. Sure the Reds have room for improvment but all teams do. Hopefully, our beloved reds will put all the pieces together along with staying healthy and we can continue to read Mark’s Blog well into the post season.

Mark, before you take a well deserved vacation, could you please tell me if a team ever made it to the WS with a rookie SS and rookie 3B as everyday players? Thanks for the blog!

Wow…you had a lot to get of your chest, apparently. I can semi-understand your frustration. Twitter is an ill-fit for baseball, imho, but it’s new media and you’re just being in tune with what fans have felt for years. Twitter is great for venting frustration, and feeling it over the course of a 162-game season definitely frays some nerves. Reds fans are some of the most passionate in baseball, and that means the good as well as the bad. Apathy is a killer in most sports, and that’s why I appreciate a good spirited rant (such as yours), whether I agree or not. At least they’re paying attention.

Enjoy your week off, recharge your batteries, and be ready to handle the stretch run, it’s gonna be a wild one…🙂

Comparing Youkilis to Rolen is pretty humorous. One guy has dropped off from great to merely pretty good, and the other has dropped off the table to a guy who can’t hit over the past 2 years, since July 2010. The idea that if the Reds trade or dump Rolen that he’ll start putting up Youkilis/CHW numbers is embarrassing for a journalist to even put in a blog post. But keep telling us how the fans are irrational.

Rolen should not be starting.That is quite clear.

Doesn’t the Reds fans negativity only reflect what their broadcasters are feeding them everyday? How many times in the first half of the season have we heard Reds broadcasters bemoan the fact that the Reds are horrible W/RISP??? How many times have we heard on a daily basis which player is 1 for his 17. 2 for his last 25. 3 for his last 33. As if these guys are machines that never go into slumps. Jay Bruce in particular seems to be the whipping boy of their venom and he leads the team in HRS and RBIS. So the negativity could be coming from the broadcast teams and not so much from the fans who support this team thru thick and thin. And yes when it is all said and done “This Division will belong to the Reds!!”

Your reasoning is as ridiculous as Mark’s, no wonder you are a fan of his. Bruce sucks with RiSp, therefore his RBIs should be a lot higher, not to mention most of his homers are with the bases empty. Bruce’s criticism is deserved and understood by people that understand the game.

Just don’t let the negativity get you mark…I check your site daily and appreciate the quotes and input from the clubhouse. Your stories are a luxury that shines a slightly more personal light one these red legs. I appreciate that, it makes it more fun than the old days. Nice work this first half.

Cincinnati fans are only happy when they’re miserable. All you have to do is read the comments above or listen to talk radio for 15 minutes. I love the Reds but they have the worst fans in baseball.

You’re not a fan, you’re a casual observer. Fan is short for fanatic, you just sound like a grumpy old fart.

Perfectly said. Enjoy the second half. I will. Most of these posters will not. Some very mean spirited %^&^% on here. Thank you for your efforts Mark.

I’ve decided to take your advice and enjoy the rest of the season, and I will…just as soon as Baker is replaced, Rolen reduced to pinch hitting and Stubbs taken from the 2 hole. I loved your stats on Stubbs today but that is the problem with stats, you can make stats say what you want them to say. Think of how those stats could have been used if you take those stats of wins and loses while Stubbs was in the one and two holes, and add the number and loses when Stubbs is removed from the 1 and 2 hole and better guys who can get on base ahead of Votto are inserted. Votto should have many, many more RBIs with his batting average, had Stubbs already been removed. The Reds should already be ahead of the Pirates and in first place by at least 8 to 10 games. Think of what you do with stat numbers next time before you print something like you did today. Shesh! Do you think we are all idiots? Don’t get angry,, just think about what I’ve said in this post.

It’s not that we are not enjoying the season …. it’s just that we feel we could be doing much better. I think a lot of us are a little over critical at times but Dusty Baker really causes fans to scratch their heads a lot of the time. He is so stuck in his ways. We all love Rolen and want him to do well but it’s obvious he isn’t healthy enough to start more than a 2-3 times a week. He should be the one to keep Frazier fresh not the other way around. Rolen can come in for defense and to pinch hit and help provide the leadership he has already provided in the couple of years he has been here but his body won’t allow him to produce like it did earlier in his career. As for Stubbs … the frustration with him is his inability to adjust. He’s so fast … he needs to utilize his speed more by making more contact and bunting when he is struggling. I don’t understand how someone like him can go through such a long slump and not try to bunt for a hit at least a couple times. Fans take it out on Dusty because Stubbs continues to get to play almost every day without making any adjustments. We understand that Stubbs is the better defensive center fielder but Heisey isn’t that bad that he can’t play there more than he has. I believe fans tend to like Heisey more because he seems to play smarter and harder. By that I mean … he’ll take a bunt hit wihen the defense is giving it to him. He tends to be a heads up player (most of the time) and he dives all over the place which at least gives you (the fans) the feeling that he is always playing all out. Mark, we are enjoying the season … we just think it could even be better and I for one don’t want to settle for pretty good … I want our Reds to win it all and we think with this team it’s possible … but not the way things are right now! Here’s to an awesome second half.. Go Reds!

And Heisey enjoys the game. He smiles and laughs. I suppose if I was in the ‘2-year slump’ that Stubbs seems permanately mired in, I wouldn’t be smiling either. But it appears to me that the entire team seems more upbeat when Stubbs is not in the line up.

BTW … I didn’t mean to imply that Stubbs isn’t trying his hardest. He just runs so smoothly and effortlessly that it appears that Heisey plays harder.

I hear what you’re saying. I don’t question Stubbs effort either. In fact credit Stubbs for not carrying his offensive troubles onto the defensive part. Stubbs plays tremendous defense.

But to me there is more life on the team when Stubbs sits.

The Reds need to be bold. Find the best 3rd baseman or outfielder available by trade and make a deal. If they get a guy to play 3rd, Frazier and Heisey can play LF and CF. If they can find a outfielder, Frazier can play 3rd and Heisey can play LF or CF.

In 1990, they cut loose Griffey. Why should Ludwick, Stubbs or Rolan get more loyalty.

Mark, I liked your rant. I was at a reception on Saturday and saw a fellow I see seldomly. He’s recently retired and all eaten up with the Reds. It really has an unhealthy look to it, when a person has it as bad as him. So, well said, Mark. We all need to relax. It’s shaping up to be a really exciting 3-team race in the Central. What kind of fan can’t enjoy that? Is the team perfect? Certainly not. Is management always right, is the front office always ready? No, again. There’s a saying I like – every man thinks he knows how to do three things: build a fire, run a hotel and manage a baseball team. Okay, so manage along. But you can’t live and die with every loss. It ain’t healthy. And a move you don’t approve of or (dare I say it?) understand, doesn’t make Walt and Dusty co-Antichrists. More than anything, let’s be grateful the Reds are off the west coast and have a slew of DST game starts coming up.

After reading a lot of tweets and online comments, I can see Mark’s point. Too many people allow the success of the team to determine their happiness. Enjoy the effort.

Well my two cents… I think many of the issues are on players as much as Dusty. I dont think Dusty helps the issue with his quirkiness. I don’t like when he sits someone who goes 2-4 with a homer or better just to get another guy playing time. I think one or two players can carry a team for a couple of days with their bat and you have to let them do that. I think many players have caused just as many issue with the poor base running and poor at bats, bad timed errors, and bullpen meltdown. They just seem to happen at the worst times. I agree with Mark that I am enjoying the season but think the starting pitching has done well enough for this team to have the best record in the NL if not baseball. Just really bad inopportune mistakes seem to keep happening. I do think the starting pitching as well as this offense given one more bat will pull a Philly like second half of the season of 2010. Its in them.

With the always dreaded west coast trip and interleague play behind them the Reds should have a good second half. But of coarse Reds fans used to boo Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan back in the 70’s.

One of the reasons I like Marty and Thom Brennaman so much is because they’re not afraid to tell it like it is. They’ve both been called on the carpet for expressing their opinions but IMO that’s what makes them great announcers. Right or wrong there is a negative perception out there that some reporters blur the line between being objective and being a team employee. I think you’re a good writer Mark, and some of your points are well taken. But my guess is that you’re an employee of MLB and you’ve been told not to be critical. So when we fans see you tell us that we should feel foolish for thinking Frazier should be starting ahead of Rolen, or describing Stubbs’ poor hitting as “disappointing” rather than a more appropriate word such as “deplorable” then it causes us to believe you’ve sold your journalistic soul.

I loved the rant Mark. Let loose brother!!!! Haha! My first half in a nutshell. We pitched awesome, played great defense, and flat out hit like $hit as a team. If it were the other way around I would be worried. But this team will hit and while they will be streaky, they will hit! If the pitching keeps doing what it’s doing, well then we are in a good place.

Thank you Mark for some logic. Enjoy your week off. This team can be frustrating but this fanbase is further out on the ledge than any Cubs fan even seems to be. Step back from the ledge and enjoy the second half.

Hey, let’s lists some positives. Here’s two I can see: 1. in a year where the pitching depth is not nonexistent, the five starters haven’t missed a start; and the healing bullpen is forcing some difficult decisions there. 2. JV is having an MVP season – imagine his numbers if you added 50 points to the OBP of the 1 and 2 hitters in the lineup!
Add some positives of your own (Back in March, you didn’t think the Reds were going to run away with the division, did you? Now, be honest! You’ve got to be able to see some good here.)

The last seven games the Reds are 4-3. Stubbs batted .115 during that span. I would say we had a winning record in spite of Stubbs batting 2nd – not BECAUSE he batted second.
There is simply no justification for have a a sub-220 hitter – who is also leading the team in Ks even though he was on the DL – bat at the top of the order. None.

My thoughts exactly. I thought Stubbs should’ve been sent to Louisville as early as June 2011. Thet sent Leake down, why not Stubbs.

Well put Mark. Thanks for covering the Reds and sharing. The Reds are far from perfect but are a darn interesting team. Fans (all of us) can’t resist being “back street drivers” in trying to tell the manager what to do.

Rolen needs to be given some slack. He may only be hitting .180, but he only has 129 at bats, most of which he played while being injured. If he can’t get his stats up in a few weeks, then we can replace him with Frazier.

I agree he needs more at bats. But Dusty did not give Frazier or Heisey much of a chance until they gave him no excuse with the limited pinch hits and few starts they saw early. Well they apparently are still trying to get that starting nod. So why do Stubbs and Rolen get such favoritism. I like all four players and would love to see them all start to hit and compete against each other. I especially dont want to see Rolen fade into nothing.

I’m Indians fan and you can add me to list of people who would trade their entire roster straight up for the Reds. the Indians only advantage maybe in Center.and at short and possible a better setup man and closer.

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I AM having fun! I agree with you Mark, always too many negative comments. Sure, there are things that I would have done differently than Dusty and Walt, but unlike some of the “nay”-sayers, I’ll happily admit that usually, the moves I would have made would have been disastrous! I have, over the past months and seasons, thought that we should sent Ludwick packing, traded Homer for anything with a pulse, cut most of the bullpen, kept almost every player that doesn’t play for us anymore (where’s little Daniel Ray Herrera?), and made countless other bad decisions. OF COURSE I wish I was the manager, but that doesn’t keep me from being glad to watch other people do the job.

To all you Angry People: try to stop second guessing. Try to be happy. Enjoy watching the games and rooting for your team, or just stop watching! We’re winning! 6-5 on the West Coast swing! Only one team will win the world series, and I’ve got to tell you, I’ll be happy to watch whether we are that team or not. When we were 10 seasons below .500, I was growing weary, but those days are over and it’s time to be upbeat. Think back to the days when we were more or less out of the race well before the all star break… and SMILE!

If you read carefully most of the comments here are positive. Fans are happy; they are just giving opinions that are fun to provide. Some people take the Dusty bashing a little far but what manager doesnt feel the heat. I think now is the time to talk about fun trade ideas, some crazy and some that make a lot of sense either way if we didnt care we would not be commenting. Mark, cant wait for this weekend and the next story. You are doing a great job…

I definitely think there’s a legitimate case for playing Frazier over Rolen. With that said, we need Rolen the rest of this year for the playoff push. His defense is still valuable and there’s no way he hits .180 the rest of the year if he’s even remotely healthy. He needs to play to stay fresh. The biggest need in my mind is a higher on-base guy at the top of the order. I’m pretty happy with this team otherwise. The pitching has been great, and I think it will hold up the rest of the year.

Unless Scott Rolen has it in his contract somewhere that he has to be in the starting lineup there is no argument who should be starting at third base. The idea is to win games and right now Frazier is the better hitter and more dependable day in and day out.

That does not take anything away from Scott Rolen at all as he has had a great career. He is more beneficial off the bench at this point in time.Nowhere on his baseball card does it say he should be able to hit .285 in his late 30’s with a bad shoulder. Not everyone can be Chipper Jones Dusty

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Mark, the Reds need a Lefty hitter for the bench. A player that could help big time is Russell Branyan. He is playing for the Yankees AAA team and he was hurt the first part of the season. he has 11 homeruns in 110 ABs and his K’s and Walks are almost equal. PLUS when Joey needs a day off, He is a better replacement as he can play 1st/3B/LF and a late game power bat off the bench and you dont loose the power in the lineup if Joey needs a day off. throw his name out there to Walt..

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