I was not going to blog today, for a couple of reasons.
A) My on-air schedule is a little hectic this week. Some late nights, some very early mornings, plenty of shows in between, leaving me little time to add much to the internet.
B) My plan today was to make my annual pilgrimage to Louisville for an 11am weekday Bats game, which is one of my favorite springtime baseball pleasures. The routine is that I get to the Against the Grain brewery, which is adjacent to Louisville Slugger Field around 10am, to enjoy a pregame beer, then see the ballgame, and finally hit up a casino that might be along the way back to Cincinnati, all before walking through my front doorway between 5:00 and 6:00.
That routine was disrupted by a massive traffic accident outside of Louisville that essentially shut down I-71, and gave us no shot of getting to the game before 12:30. So we turned around and had breakfast at the always-outstanding Fort Wright Family Restaurant before I arrived at my house well before we would've made it to the ballpark in Louisville.
So instead of enjoying a cold one and watching Nick Senzel do his thing, I've got some time on my hands and a laptop at my disposal. You, the reader, get to be the beneficiary of my ruined morning and afternoon as I plan the same outing for a week from today.
Here's some stuff...
A winning streak! Come on, you knew this was coming....it's Jim Riggleman's pregame pep talk to his players...
Had the Reds lost last night's game after being up 5-0, and then 7-3 in the ninth, it would've been as devastating as a loss that sends a team's record to 4-19 can be. Alas, the Reds didn't lose, mainly because Jared Hughes prevented the Braves from putting across the go-ahead run, and because Scooter Gennett became the rare player to hit two homers in the same game he executed a successful squeeze bunt in, redeeming his ninth inning fielding miscue (that he wasn't charged an error for) with a walkoff bomb in the 12th that sent the 20 or fans that remained at GABP home happy.
Two Riggleman moves I like....The first is that he used Scott Schebler in the leadoff spot on Monday night. Schebler is far from the most ideal leadoff hitter, but the guy who is the more ideal leadoff hitter, Jesse Winker, got the night off. The previous manager probably would've just hit Hamilton at the top of the order by default. The current manager was willing and open to trying something different instead of something that's been proven not to work.
The other is that Amir Garrett was stretched out a little bit last night. No, he didn't finish the game, getting into trouble in the ninth, but using Garrett for two-plus innings is a lot closer to using him to start than barely using him at all is.
(BTW: Dan Hoard wrote a nice piece for The Athletic on Amir Garrett, if you want to read something about Amir Garrett that's actually good.
Tyler Mahle was fantastic last night. At least until the seventh inning, when he surrendered his first hits and runs of the evening. Mahle, who has said on the record that he doesn't want to be one of those pitchers who throws five innings and hits the showers, needs to learn how to get through the lineup for a third time, as does his rotation-mate Sal Romano. But you watch Mahle and Romano, as well as Bailey and Castillo. None of them are great. Each are a work in progress. All give this team and it's new skipper and pitching coach something to work with. And none of them are Scott Feldman, Jason Marquis, Bronson Arroyo, etc.
Finally, the NFL Draft is actually about to begin. The Bengals will be a better team by the end of tomorrow night than they were when they walked off the field in Baltimore on New Year's Eve 2017 because every indication is that they're going to upgrade the offensive line. I'm very on board with this, even as I've lobbied for them to take Lamar Jackson if he's there.
Here's some other draft takes....Cleveland should do what's safest and use the top pick on Sam Darnold instead of overthinking it....Saquon Barkley will probably not be available to them, but the pure football fan in me wants to see him paired with Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton...the two most intriguing teams in the first round will be Buffalo and New England because of their apparent desire for quarterback help...Lamar Jackson would be perfect with the Arizona Cardinals....and I want the Bengals to draft a quarterback on Saturday.
Also, you should join me at Longneck's tomorrow night...
The NBA Playoffs continue to be fantastic, in part because the inevitability of Warriors/Cavs is, well, no longer an inevitability. The 76ers are the best team in the East, and it'd be a blast to watch them play against LeBron and his mostly useless teammates in the conference finals. The problem for Cleveland is they're already in a grueling series with Indiana that I'm betting on going seven (the Pacers should really be up 3-1), and I think Toronto takes them to at least six. What will the Cavs have left in the tank by the time they would play a 76ers team that won their four games against Miami by an average of 16 points? And how do they stop Ben Simmons from getting what he wants, if we get the Philly/Cleveland matchup we deserve?
We're getting a little bit of the old guard v. new guard in these playoffs. I don't believe that the Pelicans can win more than a game against the Warriors, especially if Golden State's defense swarms the way it did against San Antonio last night, but it's great to see Anthony Davis playing deep in the postseason, just as it's been fun to watch Donovan Mitchell's star turn for Utah against OKC. There's still even something new-ish about the Rockets, who are the most entertaining team in the league, even if they're not the most trustworthy.
I'm all in on these playoffs, even if my Knicks are once again on the outside looking in. And frankly, I can't imagine enduring the Reds every single day without some high-end hoops to provide distraction.
Here's some other stuff...
In case you want to know what the Commission on College Basketball recommended this morning, and what they're recommendations mean (I don't think they mean much, for now), then here you go.
Good question, good piece: Will NFL Teams Ever Get Smarter About Drafting Quarterbacks?
Yahoo's 'Old Baseball Cards' series is my favorite web series, and this is one of the best episodes yet, mainly because Edgar Martinez tries gum that's 27 years-old...
I know, I know, lots of lukewarm stuff this morning, but I wasn't supposed to do this today, so there.
Radio Show: Extra Innings tonight after Reds/Braves on 700WLW, then First and Last tomorrow morning starting at 4:00 on ESPN Radio.