Two fun things happened yesterday.
A) The Reds won.
B) People who love to salivate over what Billy Hamilton can do whenever Billy Hamilton does something had to change their shirts from soaking it in drool.
Hamilton was fantastic yesterday. He had a triple and a walk. He advanced an extra base on a wild pitch, pulling off the kind of play that only Billy Hamiton can. He scored twice. He made two leaping catches. And he threw two guys out on the bases.
Occasionally, Billy Hamilton will do things, and when he does them, it's tantalizing. His raw athletic ability enables him to do things on a baseball field that make you dream of the player he could be if his skills were refined, or if he had enough raw baseball talent. He's just entertaining enough that when he does these things, his most ardent defenders point to them as proof that he's not worth giving up on just yet, and that he can be a key Reds (re)building block while the rest of us try to reconcile the player that he isn't with the gimmick and occasional showman that he is.
Billy Hamilton has ha nearly five years worth of nearly-everyday big league experience, and he's accumulated more than 2,400 plate appearances during those five years. He's, by now, well-established both for what he does well and what he does very, very badly.
There's likely no improving on what he does poorly, even though the current fix seems to be to try him batting exclusively from one side of the plate or the other, even though no one seems to know which side he should commit to.
The bigger questions lie with what Billy's future holds. Do the Reds try to trade him at the deadline this summer? What about this offseason? Can they afford to pay him more next season when he's very much a one-way player? Is there a more efficient way of using him, like this one, that the Reds haven't yet tried? And most important, will Billy Hamilton be on this team after the end of next season, when he can be a free agent?
My guess is that he won't be. A player approaching 30 with speed as his primary asset, who can't hit, isn't a good investment. And as much as he helps the Reds prevent runs with his glove he continues to be a drain on the team with his light bat.
He is a capable of days like yesterday, however. Unfortunately, performances like the one we watched in the series finale against the Cardinals no longer make us wonder what Billy Hamilton could be. Instead, they give us a welcome break from complaining about what he isn't.
Here's some stuff...
Alan Koch deserves an immense amount of credit for how focused his team has been this season. What a nice bounceback performance over North Carolina FC on Saturday.
The NBA Finals have ended. My thoughts aren't original enough after three days worth of post-Finals conjecture to devote 12 paragraphs to, so I'll just say that watching the Warriors win three titles in four years has been more a joy.
Forget how they've been constructed, or your angst over superteams. The Dubs play ball that gloriously fun to watch. They're team-oriented offensively and far more efficient defensively than they're given credit for.
And after the normal chaos that is the NBA offseason commences, along with another LeBron James decision, my guess is we'll be talking about another Golden State title next year.
LeBron destinations, in order of preference...
1) Knicks. A guy can dream, can't he?
2) Celtics. Best combo of chance to win a title and drama.
3) Sixers. LeBron off the ball with Simmons would be majestic.
4) Warriors. Just for the takes. I need the takes.
5) Pelicans. LeBron and Anthony Davis. The best two players in the league playing together.
6) Lakers. LeBron playing with Lonzo would be almost as majestic as LeBron and Simmons.
7) Rockets. Meh. James Harden bores me. He shouldn't, but he bores me.
298) Cavs. But not as much as the Cavs bore me.
No "other stuff" links today. A little rushed this morning/afternoon. Check out the radio show at 3:05 on ESPN1530.
One thing, though....
The family of former Red Ryan Freel needs your help...