Every day there are three things, here are those three things.
1) The Reds at the break. They go into the break on the heels of nice 4-3 road trip (that came after a 4-2 homestand), and back-to-back nice starts by Luis Castillo (more on him in a second) and Homer Bailey.
Because I am a glass half-full kinda guy, when I think of the first half of the season, I think about the good outweighing the bad. Among the good: Cozart's offensive surge, Votto being Votto - but with more pop, Duvall doubling down on last year's All-Star first half, Scott Schebler's power surge, Scooter Gennett, Raisel Iglesias turning into one of the best relievers in the sport.
And yet....they're still on a 90-loss pace.
Some will wonder what-if, as in "What if the Reds had decent, reliable, healthy starting pitching?" Would the good outweigh the bad so much so that we'd be spending the All-Star break thinking about possible second half contention?
I prefer to wonder what's next, as in "Will second half results - generated by good, young, starting pitching, make me feel like next season could yield infinitely better results than this season?"
The biggest story of the season so far has been that Robert Stephenson, Cody Reed, Brandon Finnegan, Homer Bailey, and Anthony DeSclafani have combined to make eight starts. Two of them were cut short due to injury, others because of ineffectiveness. Finnegan's season is done. DeSclafani's hasn't yet begun. Reed and Stephenson had seasons that began in Cincinnati, but continue in Louisville.
The Reds have, obviously, other starting pitcher possibilities beyond the aforementioned quintet, but it's hard to imagine them being more relevant next season if those five (ok, four) don't start yielding more encouraging results in the second half.
2) Luis Castillo. I've been listening to Chris Welsh's astute analysis on Reds TV broadcasts for almost 25 years, and I believe that many fans have come to take for granted how good the crafty lefthander is.
I'm always particularly interested in what Chris says about pitching, specifically young Reds starting pitching. He's heaped praise on a number of young arms the Reds have brought up, but I don't think I've heard him sound as excited as he is about Luis Castillo.
Chris didn't have the game on Saturday night, with it moving over to FS1, but I thought of how excited he sounds when Castillo throws as the young Reds right danced circles around a good Arizona team, perhaps offering the best single-game pitching performance by a Red this season.
I was salivating. In part because I'd had a couple of bourbons, but still...it was hard to not get very excited while watching Castillo throw. Somewhere, Chris Welsh was probably drooling too.
3) The Home Run Derby. The 11 year-old in me doesn't want to admit that the Major League Baseball All-Star Game isn't that much of a big deal anymore. The 11 year-old in me also downed postgame FC Cincinnati beers last night while regaling my friends about what it was like to collect and trade baseball cards (Pretty riveting stuff. You should've been there.), which of course, kids don't do anymore.
So I don't say this as to undermine the relevance of the midsummer classic, but the Home Run Derby is a bigger deal.
It's a better TV event.
It's one that more people have opinions on.
It's more laid-back.
I care more about it.
I'll watch tonight because I'm interested.
I'll watch tomorrow because I almost feel obligated. To the 11 year-old me.
Recommended link of the day: Jaramillo is Mr. Positive, despite parents' imprisonment.
Radio Show: A full week of sports-talk radio fun starts at 3:05 on ESPN1530. Topics forthcoming. Listen here: espn1530.com/listen