The Reds and White Sox played a really fun, entertaining game last night.
You could've driven from Cincinnati to Chicago and then, if you drive like I do, halfway back to Cincinnati in the time it took to play, but it was a fun and entertaining game nonetheless.
Among the highlights...
Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez each hitting two-run dingers in the first inning. Both Scooter and Eugenio deserve to be All-Stars, and I'll bet that both make the NL's squad. Admittedly, I don't get into All-Star voting the way I used to, but Scooter is close enough to winning the vote at second base that I'll use my corner of the internet to ask for you to vote for him.
Vote for Eugenio too. It won't matter, because he's something like 12 trillion votes behind Nolan Arenado, but if you feel passionately about Geno making the All-Star team, spend your Fourth of July voting for him 12 trillion times. I'll be by a pool with a beer and a cigar.
Jim Riggleman yanking Anthony DeSclafani prematurely. Riggles didn't have a good night. To an extent, I can't blame a manager who's armed with a good bullpen for using it, but Disco had only thrown 82 pitches when he was pulled, and despite having a hard time keeping the ball in the park, he'd pitched pretty credibly to that point.
It felt like there were 2837 home runs hit in this game. The ball isn't juiced, guys.
Jim Riggleman asked Jose Peraza to bunt with Billy Hamilton on first base with no one out in the eighth inning.
Billy Hamilton did this, on a play the White Sox handled perfectly. This really is amazing...
Then the game took a really sour turn. First, Avisail Garcia tied the game with the night's 28th 800-foot homer, off of a gassed Raisel Iglesias. Then a Jose Peraza error aided in Chicago scoring four times off of Jackson Stephens, who has two last names.
Brandon Dixon took a home run away, but didn't actually catch the ball.
Jim Riggleman got thrown out. There was a botched intentional walk, I guess. It was a fun manager/ump angry interaction, the kind that won't be as enjoyable when managers charge out of the dugout to yell at umpires.
It was a pretty compelling game, albeit one with an unsatisfactory result. Maybe the thing that stood out the most for me was how into it I was, considering where the Reds are in the standings. Their recent play has given me an injection of enthusiasm. I've started to really like this team, as flawed as it is. I'd like it a lot more right now had it held on to win a game it was once in control of.
Here's some stuff.
Let's talk about super-teams. Now that the Golden State Warriors have added DeMarcus Cousins, who your favorite team could've paid more than Golden State did to add him, there's reignited talk about how much everyone hates super-teams, because super-teams really put a limit on the number of teams that can win the NBA title.
And the NBA used to be so much better! Right?! Like in the 1980s, when a total of five franchises played in the Finals. Or like in the 1960s, another decade in which five franchises - total - made the Finals.
But other sports are better! Like college basketball, with its widely distributed talent spread across a number of different schools. Armed with what's likely to be the top-ranked team in college basketball next season, I don't hear many UK fans complaining about super-teams ruining the college game.
Or maybe like college football, which essentially has the same team win the title every year. Without looking, I bet I can accurately predict eight to ten of the schools that will make up the preseason top ten.
Or, baseball. It's better! Even though we're not at the All-Star break yet, and we already know which American League teams will make the playoffs.
Let's talk about some things we like, though. Like salary caps! We love salary caps! They prevent a handful of teams from outspending franchises that lack similar resources.
And maximum salaries! These rich athletes should have a limit on what they can make!
And players that put a premium on winning over making money! Like it used to be!
The problem is, that the NBA's salary cap, it's maximum salary, and the current NBA culture that emphasizes winning more than anything, since players can get the same max salary anywhere, are things that add up - along with solid drafting, stability, developing a good locker room culture, etc. - to the formation of super-teams like the Warriors.
I'm opposed to things like salary caps and maximum salaries, in all sports. It's a myth that those things create competitiveness and parity. But I've always been in the minority with these things, and I know they're not going away. Fans, and owners, have gotten what they've wished for.
If there were more soccer games like England v. Colombia and Belgium v. Japan, both of which I watched in their entirety, I'd watch 938283 times more soccer. Both were fantastic sporting events that left me wanting more.
NBA summer league games are often pretty brutal, and they're played with goofy rules (some of which, like sudden death second OT and ten fouls before a player is disqualified, I like), but I really enjoyed watching Jacob Evans help the "Warriors" beat the "Kings" last night. He was the best defensive player on the court, and took advantage of a few fast breaks to score 11 points in his pro debut.
Here's some other stuff....
Two outstanding pieces in The Athletic: A good Justin Williams Q&A with Luke Fickell, and Dan Hoard plays Ten Teammates in a Hat with Bronson Arroyo.
Cincinnati leaders continue to sabotage their own city.
Scott Van Pelt is America's best broadcaster.