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Know Your Enemy: Cincinnati Reds

An ancient team, with a terrifying mascot

Milwaukee Brewers v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

At the risk of sounding like Jerry Seinfeld, what’s the deal with Midwest red teams having scary mascots? Is it a rule that we all missed out on, with the exception of the Reds and the Cardinals? Mr. Redlegs looks like he was actually designed in 1890 when the team was founded and stayed the same ever since. I don’t want to fall down some Wikipedia hole of mascot history, so that’s what it’s staying as in my mind.

2020 Cincinnati Reds: 31-29 (third in NL Central)

Cincinnati was one of those teams where the weird 2020 season worked out in its favor for a little bit. The Reds managed to tumble into the playoffs (only to tumble right back out after being unceremoniously stomped on in two games by Atlanta) and got a Cy Young for resident Big Dumb A-Hole Trevor Bauer.

The rotation was probably the only real highlight for the Reds. They had a collective 3.84 ERA and had a Cy Young winner (ugh). They were able to record 615 strikeouts and 213 walks.

The Reds managed to record the lowest number of hits by a team in the modern era (390) and a batting average of .212, which is the lowest since the 1910 White Sox. (It’s always nice when teams break records!) Despite this, the Reds managed to land the first Wild Card spot in the National League so that just goes to show you that 2020 was really just a roll of the dice, and nothing mattered.

Some notable signings for the Reds before the 2020 season included signing Mike Moustakas to a four-year deal, signing Wade Miley to a two-year deal, adding Nick Castellanos for four-years, and signing Shogo Akiyama to a three-year deal that made him the first Japanese-born player to play for the Reds.

Like every season, the Reds had the potential to be good, and just weren’t. The addition of Moustakas should have brought a veteran bat to the lineup but he spent most of the season fighting an injury (he hasn’t hit below .240 since he was on the Royals in 2014). Akiyama struggled to adjust to Stateside pitching, and who knows where Joey Votto was with how up-and-down he was in 2020. Hitting a collective .212 in 60 games is a slow start plus some kind of witch’s curse.

Other highlights of the 2020 Reds season include Thom Brennaman showing his whole ass on a hot mic by referring to somewhere as “one of the f*g capitals of the world.” Before being pulled off the broadcast he gave his infamous awkward apology while also calling a Nick Castellanos home run, now a meme that continues to live on in infamy thanks to Twitter. Don’t worry too much about Brennaman, he’s the play-by-play announcer for the Roberto Clemente League in Puerto Rico nowadays. Seems like a good spot for a bigot.

One other thing was that the University of Cincinnati announced that they were renaming the “Marge Schott Stadium” on their campus. Despite being a noted philanthropist around Cincinnati, she was an enormously racist human. For those who don’t know, Schott was the owner of the Reds from 1984-99, and was a lunatic. She openly used slurs against Black, Jewish, and Japanese people, which led to her being banned for one year from baseball in 1993. She was forced to give up day-to-day control of the Reds until 1998 after she praised Hitler during an ESPN interview.

2021 Manager: David Bell

David Bell is the son of Buddy Bell, who Steve and Jason like to occasionally name drop for various stats on the broadcast. The younger Bell was signed on as Reds manager in 2018 for three years, with a club option for a fourth.

His managerial record with the Reds is currently at a 115-122 (.485) which is not great. In Bell’s defense, the Reds don’t exactly give him a lot to work with.

Notably, Bell has been ejected twice in his managerial career, both times in 2019 against the Pirates. He was involved in both bench-clearing fracases, both times resulting in suspensions.

Most recently when asked about the whole Amir Garrett/Javier Báez shove fest, Bell stated “I really don’t care what another manager thinks about any of our players,” in response to David Ross calling Amir Garrett’s style “garbage.”

2021 So Far

Outside of that wild Reds-Cubs series of last weekend, the Reds have been having an uneven season. Right now they’re third in the NL Central with a 13-14 record (for what it’s worth they’ve been more successful at home, posting a 9-6 record). They managed to take the most recent series against the Cubs and Castellanos is on his way to a 200-hit season. He’s leading the team in hits (35), RBI (20), and home runs (nine). Strangely enough, Jesse Winker is leading in batting average (.365), so stats are basically useless.

The rotation doesn’t really seem to be missing a certain obnoxious Cy Young winner, but with a 4.97 ERA as a group, the relievers need a bit of work. Amir Garrett has a 10.38, Cam Bedrosian has a 11.12, so you get the picture. Wade Miley is leading in wins (three) and ERA (2.67) currently, showing that he may be the ace they need. Tyler Mahle holds the team lead of 41 strikeouts and with a 3.23 ERA is hot on Miley’s heels for that ace tag.

Series Matchup: Three Dudes and Sonny Gray

Today has Dylan Cease facing off against Jeff Hoffman. Cease finally broke his “I can’t get past the fourth inning” hex by throwing a complete game during Thursday’s doubleheader vs. the Tigers. He looked much more confident on the hill and had much-improved control over his previous starts. To show for it, Cease has a 1-0 record with a 2.96 ERA and 29 strikeouts. Meanwhile, Jeff Hoffman is riding a 2-1 record and 3.33 ERA with 19 strikeouts. He’s been better at the Great American Ball Park than he has been away (1.69 ERA at home vs. 6.48 on the road). Hoffman has only seen the White Sox one other time, and that was in 2017 when he was on the Rockies (to give an idea of that game, he pitched against José Quintana).

Wednesday is going to see Dallas Keuchel against Sonny Gray. Keuchel is having a rough season so far, posting a 4.65 ERA and a 1-1 record. He walked a batter an inning on Friday in what can only be described as an unusual control issue for him. Carlos Rodón was supposed to start, but is pushed to Friday for an extra couple days’ of rest. Hopefully Keuchel’s appearance is better than his last start (he does have a 11-7 lifetime record in 27 interleague games, for those who care about such things). Meanwhile, Sonny Gray is without a doubt the most recognized name of the Reds pitching staff. He’s posting a 5.93 ERA and a 0-2 recor,d so he is also struggling (they were his first returns post-back injury).

Why do we hate the Reds?

Twitter sort of hates the Reds. Obviously they’re our least objectionable enemy in Ohio, but still. A lot of people hate Thom Brenneman, which is a sentiment I can get behind. But! In the spirit of joking about teams we don’t actually hate ...