Nice work Royals, Orioles

A couple of times before the Reds season ended, including once by Marty Brennaman, I was asked which teams I predicted would reach the World Series.

I replied — Angels vs. Nationals

Well — one team is out and the other is on the verge of being out. It’s amazing how the playoffs have been turned upside down by the underdogs.

On the American League side, it’s awesome that no matter who wins the ALCS between the Royals and Orioles, there is going to be a World Series participant that hasn’t been there since the 1980s. Kansas City’s previous appearance was 1985 while Baltimore’s was in 1983. Considering the Yankees and Red Sox seemed to have a deathgrip on the AL pennant for the past two decades, it’s a refreshing change.

It also shows that having high payrolls don’t mean you can’t be competitive. Heading into the season, the Orioles were 14th in payroll while the Royals were 18th.

Having witnessed the Royals Wild Card Game win over the A’s, it might have been the most exciting/thrilling game I’ve ever covered in 14 seasons. Kauffman Stadium was definitely the loudest outdoor baseball park I’ve ever experienced. What’s amazing about the Royals was when they were down 7-3 in the sixth — all the cheers had turned to boos for manager Ned Yost, who called for a bazillion bunts and made a very questionable pitching change that backfired. Then they came back — twice — and the place was even more electric. Just an awesome night of a baseball that got the postseason off to a great start.

The Royals seem to have “it” right now — the talent, the excitement, momentum and perhaps that overused term of destiny on their side. The Orioles certainly have a strong roster and I would definitely give Buck Showalter the edge over Yost. We saw rather recently how that club beat up the Reds and even without Davis and Machado, it’s a very strong lineup.

*As for something on the Reds, I plan to take a closer look soon at Johnny Cueto, who could be baseball’s best relative bargain next season as he is a year away from free agency after the 2015 season. His club option for 2015 is $10 million, which the Reds would be nuts not to exercise. Now the questions the club faces: Do they try to give him an extension this winter? Should they trade him and his bargain contract this winter to help retool the offense? Do nothing now and trade him during the season if they fall out of contention? Or let him pitch all of next season — especially if they’re contending — and roll the dice that if they can’t re-sign him as a free agent, they would at least get the Draft pick compensation?

And when the Reds are done answering the Cueto question — they can ask three more to themselves about Mat Latos, Mike Leake and Alfredo Simon. Tough tasks indeed. While everyone — including me — is saying that it would be tough to keep all of them — especially Cueto and Latos — I’ll never fully count the Reds ownership out in taking the really big plunge. They’ve shown a willingness to spend and be creative with the contract structuring.

*One non-baseball note: Kudos to the Patriots for their classy act in last night’s game vs. the Bengals. New England cheerleaders wore Devon Still’s No. 75 jersey and the team played a tribute to his daughter, four-year Leah, who has been fighting cancer. Patriots owner Robert Kraft also donated $25,000. It’s just a really neat thing to see how the community inside and outside of Cincinnati has rallied for Still and his daughter.

3 Comments

Mark: Great to hear from you….. Yes the playoffs prove that anything can happen in a short series…… I doubt very serious that the REDS are going to commit the $20 million + per year to Johnnie C….. How they handle the next year with him is anybody’s guess… If Walt, Bob, and Tom can get a boat load of Young talent to “re-stock” then its my guess they will pull the trigger sooner than later….SELL when the stock is at the top…. That’s what successful business exec’s do….

RBI guy, T2

The Still’s story in my humble opinion is probably one of the best sports stories in recent years. How The sports fans and teams in this country have responded to it is beautiful. Having spent time at Children’s Hospital with my special needs granddaughter any money that goes in to that hospital is well spent. Children’s Hospital is truly a jewel in the crown of the Queen City.

Mark, agree about the Royals. This is what I posted the other night after the Oakland game:
“One of the best and most excitingt games I’ve seen in quite awhile. Wasn’t played perfectly by either team, but the execution of the sacrifice bunts, advancing runners, and getting them in reminded me how great baseball is when it is played this way. Made me realize how far the Reds are from this kind of play. Going to take a lot more than a big bopper in LF.”
A big bopper is not going to any good without runners on base. In 2013 the Reds had runners on base and comparatively in 2014 did not. Don’t need 20-30 HRs with a .230BA, need 10-20HRs with a .280-.300BA.

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