Our Thanks to the 2010 Reds…and a Few Turkeys

Ah, Thanksgiving Day. A day where we give thanks for loved ones, friends, events. Personal thanks, professional thanks. The lists can be varied and sometimes extended. This post is varied and extended, but we’ve got good reason!

You see, those of us here at BRM are giving our thanks, too. Each of us have listed three things and little sidenotes to each. We hope you enjoy those.

For those feeling even more traditional, we have also included a couple turkeys and added a few notes from our readers to include. There’s no BRM without our readers. Our heartfelt thanks to them.

The traditional Thanksgiving has been one to give thanks for receiving a bountiful harvest. The Reds certainly delivered their own “harvest” in 2010. Each of us here at BRM compiled a short list of our thanks. We’ll start with our newest contributor, John Bell.

1. Getting the pleasure of watching Drew Stubbs develop before our eyes this season. He started out as second fiddle to Chris Dickerson in center, but after a considerable slump, an injury and a grand slam in the bottom of the 8th against the Cubs, Stubbs became the man. Even after that, though, he started slow, hitting only .186 in March and April. He finished the season at .255, but hit .311 in September and October proving that he not only can play the entire season as a youngster (150 out of 162 games), but he can also step up his game when he’s needed most. Tremendous speed, decent power and excellent bunting abilities makes Stubbs a contender for the lead-off spot next season – if only his pitch selection and contact rates improve, look out, he’ll be a force to reckon with for a long time.

2. The “Never Say Die” attitude that has infected the Reds since Dusty came aboard. Not only did the Reds fight continuously for the lead in the Central with the Cardinals, but they also fought every day with every game. The Reds had 45 comeback wins and only 28 blown leads (+17 margin) with the largest comeback at 4 runs and the largest lead lost at 8 runs. They were even at 8 walk-off wins and losses. So what does this tell us? Ok, they had a lot of blown leads, but let’s compare that with the second place Cardinals (God I love typing that). 29 Comeback wins, largest comeback at 4, 26 blown leads with the largest blown lead at 7. 6 Walk-off wins to 10 losses. There’s some positive information there. Not only do the Reds have a better comeback win margin – let’s call it the “man-up margin”, but they also have more blown leads by only 2, not bad for a young team that wasn’t supposed to finish above 4th in the Central Division.

3. The willingness of Dusty to chew on a toothpick so that the rest of us who are obsessed with them have someone to point to when we’re told that we’re weird. Ok, ever since I saw a baseball coach of mine chewing on a toothpick when I was 10 years old, I’ve done it. Thanks Walt. My wife hates it, my kids love to steal it and every time I turn around I’m forgetting that I’ve put it behind my ear and it falls on the ground. Doesn’t that just piss you off? A perfectly good toothpick hitting the ground. Man that’s just a shame. That reminds me, what’s with the toothpicks that keep splitting as soon as you put them in your mouth? This is freaking ridiculous! Listen people – whoever reads this and if you should happen to work at a toothpick factory, fill me in. How hard can it possibly be to make a toothpick out of ONE piece of wood? I keep getting the ones that have been compressed at the middle in a perfectly straight 45 degree angle. Seriously? It’s a freaking toothpick! Anyway, thanks Dusty, there is a little hope for the rest of us.

And to what does contributor Alex Apple give thanks?

1. Joey Votto‘s MVP season and to the writers who voted him MVP. Who would have thought Votto would be this good this quickly. It is great to have such a driven, hard-working leader for the team.

2. Former GM Wayne Krivsky and his staff who laid the foundation to success and made the job much easier on Walt Jocketty. Krivsky acquired most of the guys who were prospects and are now the centerpieces of the Reds. He built up the minor league system and also acquired Bronson Arroyo.

3. The 40,000+ fans that packed Great American Ballpark to watch the Reds play their first playoff game in 15 years. All Reds fans want the Reds to increase payroll. As fans, we need to pack GABP each night next season. Day games, week games, weekends, the team deserves our support and they got it this year down the stretch.

Me? My original list was so long, this column would have easily been at least a three-part piece. I did finally narrow it down to three myself.

1. Jay Bruce‘s homer to clinch the division. Walkoffs are sweet. Teammates jumping around the plate. Teammates celebrating a win. Teammates chasing the guy who stroked that game winning hit. But to see Jay Bruce‘s sweet swing and immediately punch his fist in the air and circle the bases will be a long lasting memory.

2. Jonny Gomes and his hustle…and hair. No question that Gomes was the Reds emotional leader in 2010. His hustle became infectious. That goes back to the deal about taking the extra base. Gomes was eager (too eager on an occasion or two), but his “play all out” attitude was exactly what was needed to tilt the scales to the Reds side in 2010. And his mowawk became the couff of the city.

3. 105.9 MPH!!! I’ve only been a passenger in a car that exceeded that reading once. Once. Scared the life out of me, too. Imagine having a baseball coming at your head going that fast. Saying that’s scary would be more than an understatement. By adding Aroldis Chapman to the Reds bullpen last season, we saw reading on the speed gun never thought imaginable. Plus, it added a much needed spark. Now, can the Reds brass define his role for 2011?

One of the perks of this gig is the ability to build relationships with your readers. Through Twitter (follow us!) and our page on Facebook (“Like us” there!), BRM has been afforded just that. For that, BRM is extremely grateful. Two of BRM’s biggest fans were asked to submit their thanks for the Reds 2010 season, too.

Our first, and arguably our most devoted reader, is Scott Shrewsberry. Now, Scott claims he’s not much of a writer. After I initially read his response to our request, I don’t think his self-examination of his writing skills are true. Maybe it was the Dos Equis, who knows. Needless to say, Scott did just fine.

There are so many things that I am thankful for that happened in the 2010 season. Some are obvious, like the Reds making the playoffs and actually getting to go to my first ever playoff game with my wife; Votto’s MVP season; Dusty getting runner-up in the Manager of the Year race and getting to meet and correspond with great Reds fans on Twitter. However, what I’m probably most proud of and thankful for is the rejuvenation of the City of Cincinnati as a baseball town. I’m not from Cincy, I’m a Kentucky boy, but when I did get to go to the park this year, you could sense the enthusiasm that had been missing in years past. There was a “believe” factor that most fans seemed to have. It was a thrill to see 44,000 at that playoff game. Something I was glad to be a part of and will never forget.

Secondly, I am so thankful that the Reds have such a strong crop of young pitchers and position players that have the potential to do a lot of great things in a Reds uniform. The way Leake came out firing at the beginning of the season, the way Wood picked up the slack after Leake started to tire in August and the way Chapman showed that he has the ability to be a real special player after never even setting foot on a Big League field. Votto, Bruce, Stubbs, the bullpen, roll players, etc. all showed they belong up here with the “big boys”.

Lastly, I am thankful for the Reds veteran leadership. Rolen, Arroyo, O-Cab, BP and Harang. The way Cabrera became a cheerleader during his stint on the DL. Wanting to be around the team so badly that he took up the roll as bat boy for a game or two. BP being the Gold Glove second baseman that he is year in and year out. Arroyo having arguably his best year as a professional and mentoring the young arms, Rolen with the even keel and steady glove at third and finally Harang, who despite his struggles the last couple of seasons, never hung his head and continued to do what was asked of him and never complained. I only wish him the best of luck in his future and will never forget what he did for this franchise during the last few lean years the Redlegs have had.

Then, there’s Jaime Lee Spears. Avid tennis player she is. Being a medalist is nothing to sneeze at. One thing I find a bit peculiar about her is that she’s in Cincy, a big Reds fans, yet, a Ravens fan? Who am I to judge. I have my own little quirks. Anyway, for Jaime and her thanks on the Reds 2010 season…

Three things I am thankful for on the 2010 Reds season….

1. Aroldis Chapman. His major league debut was the start of something special. The “cuban missle” is definitely one of the most anticipated start for the Reds, and even though i wasn’t there that night, i could still feel the excitement all around even into the next day. (hopefully a starter’s spot???)

2. Jay Bruce‘s hot-streak. Jay Bruce has his share of up and down days, but, he knows when to buckle down and start juicing some balls out of the park. I was really thankful that he hit smart when the team really needed it. (like the clincher!)

3. Drew Stubbs speed. A few of the games I have been to, Drew’s speedy ability DEFINITELY saved him and the team so that they could get men on the base and be able to score some much needed runs. Granted, there were some mistakes on his base running, but that’s nothing some off-season work and spring training can’t fix.

With the majority of Thanksgiving Day meals is the traditional turkey. Turkey can mean good or bad, depending on your take. While turkey makes a great main course, to be referred to as a turkey isn’t exactly a sparkling endorsement. Read on.

And now, BRM presents our turkeys…

Our biggest turkey has to go to ESPN for a myriad of reasons.

First, Colin Cowherd. From the day people started mentioning the Reds, he quickly dispensed them. If you’re not a major market team, he won’t give you any cred. I hate to bring up that painful playoff sweep, but I will give Colin his due there. He downplayed Votto to the hilt even claiming that he hired Votto to do some yardwork for him.

In fact, ESPN played down Votto’s MVP selection. All his accomplishment could muster on PTI was a mention during the Big Finish. The parting shot was Michael Wilbon stating it was football season. That’s what they want all of us to believe. They broadcast football and that’s all that’s important. Only what they show is important. Am I then to assume that letting Woody Paige on ATH every day is important?

We also noticed throughout the season that SportsCenter displayed the penchant for placing almost any Reds coverage in the second half of their “show”. When Bruce cranked his clinching walkoff and when the Reds and Cards had their little scuffle were the only times they were #1 on the nightly reel.

And why do people still think so little of Dusty Baker? Apparently, Keith Law of (drumroll, please) ESPN does. He totally omitted Baker on his Manager of the Year ballot. Why? Cincy’s own Paul Daugherty got the scoop on that:

* KEITH LAW. Dusty Baker lost by one point to Bud Black for manager of the year. No real complaints here. Baker wasnt robbed. Black did a very good job, with lesser talent, and missed the playoffs on the final weekend, playing in the same division as the world champions. Here’s the rub, though. Here’s another example of why the “experts” really arent. This one from my very good friend at ESPN, Keith Law, via a Mobster:From Keith Law’s Twitter:RT @xxx: Is it also safe to assume that Dusty Baker did not make your NL MoY ballot?Correct. Can’t slag arms and make my ballot.Right, Keith. That would be the same Baker who shut down Mike Leake, yeah? Who watched pitch counts on Travis Wood and Edinson Volquez?What are we talking about here, my man? Wood and Prior? Are we still talking about Wood and Prior?Was the vote for 2010 MOY? Just checking.Look, if you want to vote for Black, fine. Great choice. But if you leave Baker entirely off your ballot for some dated (and to me, specious) reason, that’s just lazy. Of course, Law is the same guy who thinks parity is greater in MLB than the NFL. So there is that.

Simply absurd. And Scott Van Pelt isn’t immune here either. He also questioned Baker on why he was using Chapman so much even saying something to the effect of “that’s what Dusty does”. So much for treating a former cohort with any respect.

While we’re on the subject of Dusty, why do a certain faction of Reds fans continually beat him down despite the team’s success? Baker cannot be perfect on every move, but we here at BRM think he’s done a good job especially this season. Look, you wanted a winner and the Reds won their division. Sure, they fizzled in the playoffs (maybe a minor understatement there), but the excitement Scott referred to hasn’t been present in the Queen City in a decade and a half.

I suppose it’s the “win right away” mentality that is prevalent in all of sports. It could also be a byproduct of already owning three NL MOY awards (should be four). And I know if the Reds had gone all the way in 2010, the majority of those screams would have been reduced to mere whispers. On the flip side, if the Reds had bombed this past season, the vast majority would be hollering for Bob Castellini to ship him out. The world ebbs and flows in weird ways.

That said, simply look at Dusty’s three years in the ‘Nati.

He’s now won the division and improved each season. Next season may be hard (in some people’s eyes) to top, but BRM has faith in “The Toothpick”!

One last note and it is on a different level than what we normally deliver here on BRM. The thanks we wish to send to all of our military personnel at home and abroad. It’s a bit cliche’, but the thanks are legit.

For me, it is personal, too. I have a son-in-law that is in harm’s way. To him, those he is serving with, and the rest of those overseas, do no think for one moment we forget what you are doing for our great nation. Without your dedication, I personally would not have the freedom to write this. To all of you, we send a warm, heartfelt thanks and hope your Thanksgiving is as good as it can be.

From the entire BRM staff, a Happy Thanksgiving to all!