Every day there are three things, here are those three things.
1) Luis Castillo fills me with gid. To be a Reds fan is to be both jaded and weathered, and for good reason. Four years without serious contention is a long enough time to turn even the most optimistic fan into a skeptic. But even the most beaten-down, cynical Reds fan has to be having some fun imagining the possibilities with and for Luis Castillo.
The last five or six weeks have yielded positive results. Not only have the Reds posted a winning record since August 1st (19-16), but we've started to get an sense of what the 2018 rotation could look like. Homer Bailey has made just enough quality starts to provide some optimism. Robert Stephenson has been really good over the last month - a 2.08 ERA in his last six appearances - slowing down the torrent of "move on from this guy" tweets that I was getting back in June and July. Sal Romano has shown glimpses of being a solid middle-to-back of the rotation guy.
And then there's Luis Castillo.
Even when the standings are no longer worth bothering to look at, watching Castillo pitch is deserving of your attention. And once you give it to him, chances are he'll keep it. He is the most fun-to-watch Reds pitcher since Johnny Cueto, with stuff that's more electrifying than what Johnny showed us his first two years.
You can look into his numbers for an illustration as to how good Castillo's rookie season has been (and you should), you can read in-depth pieces like this one that explore in great detail what he does to hitters (you really should), and you can hear the praise heaped on Castillo by Chris Welsh and Jeff Brantley who gush about watching a young Luis Castillo the way I gushed the first time I saw the video for Baby One More Time.
But you really need to watch him to fully get what's going on, and if you do, you'll find yourself filled with the kind of warm giddiness that comes with seeing a young prodigy begin to tap into his potential. (It's worth pointing out that yesterday's start was Castillo's last, but still...)
And your mind will start to dance around, cooking up the possibilities.
I'm being overly dramatic, and even a little creepy, but you get the point. The Reds have something special here, the byproduct of two moves that maybe, just maybe, has ultimately yielded the staff ace of the future - picking up Dan Straily for nothing, getting a very good year out of him, then flipping him for Castillo - and has the outlook for next year's rotation suddenly seeming hopeful, and if the progress of some of Luis, staffmates continues, it might even be bright a bright one.
Luis Castillo has me giddy. When I get giddy, I forget how jaded the Reds can make me. Instead, I get hopeful. Very hopeful.
2) In search of extremes. I had fun on yesterday's radio show (which I'd podcast if the podcasting thingy we use, you know, worked) searching for fans who think that the Bengals will be either really, really good - meaning more than ten wins - or really, really bad - meaning fewer than six.
I did this because I think most preseason guesses - including mine - will have the Bengals somewhere in the six-to-ten win range (which is where most of the NFL will be), and because while I don't think the Bengals will do anything poorly enough to have a truly awful season, I don't think they'll do anything well enough to have a truly great one either.
(I do think their future is bright, however. And I'mm excited to see what 2017 will mean for 2018)
I'm extending the exercise to here. Yesterday, I had a guy tell me that the floor was 11-5, and that 15-1 was a possibility. I had a few 12-4 guesses. One guy said they'll be lucky to go 4-12.
So, if you're where those people are, tell me why the Bengals will either be really good (11+ wins) or really bad (5+ wins). Links to reach me are below.
3) Are you ready for some (gulp) football? The season starts tonight. Few things in sports carry with it the excitement of the opening of the NFL season, and few things feel as good as that first hit of pro football to feed our addiction.
But...last year's product was bad. And my sincere hope for this season - other than to have a better gambling season than I did last year - is to not write any more blog entries like this one from last November.
Radio Show: We are taking the show to the Anthony Munoz Topgolf Tailgate event at the Topgolf in West Chester. We will have a bunch of former Bengals to talk to, and we'll dive into this weekend's games. Join us at 3:05 on ESPN1530.
I'm at the new Longneck's in Northern Kentucky - off the Richwood exit - for tonight's NFL opener. We'll have $10 buckets of those orange Bengals Bud Light aluminum cans, and I'm giving away a Bud Light mini fridge. Go here for more info. See you tonight at 7:00.
Recommended Link Of The Day: Rachel Nichols perfectly explains the hypocrisy in telling athletes to 'stick to sports'