Scooter Gennett. Let that name sink in a moment. Scooter Gennett.
Of all the the improbable things that have happened in the Reds' improbable start, the most improbable has to be Scooter Gennett.
Ryan Joseph Gennett will be 27 in less than three weeks. That would be about 22 years after he "officially" became Scooter. He liked the Muppets character "Scooter." He wanted everyone to call him Scooter. But, as the story goes, when his mother took him to the local police station for a lecture about why he should always buckle his seat belt while riding in a car, Ryan told the cops to call him Scooter.
It's the stuff on which legends are built.
There is nothing on his resume that would lead you to believe he'd become a legend. But for the last week, that's exactly what he's become.
His last two years in Milwaukee, Scooter hit around .264. Last season, he got on base at a .417 clip and hit 14 home runs. But that's hardly the stuff of which legends are made.
So the Brewers, who haven't had many legends since the early 1980s, decided Scooter wasn't going to be the second coming of Robin Yount. In late March they decided to go in that "other direction." Scooter was a baseball orphan... for all of about a day.
What the Reds saw in Gennett was a second baseman who could play outfield in a pinch. Actually, overloaded at middle infield and with Adam Duvall coming off a career year, the pinch they saw for Gennett was pinch hitting.
But Gennett seized the moment.
Going into Wednesday night's game against the Pirates, Gennett had five hits in 20 plate appearances. Three of those hits are home runs. Three of those five hits came Tuesday night against the Pirates.
Scooter might not be a lasting legend, but in a world of 140 characters and news cycles of 140 minutes, he is legendary now. And he's the face, for the moment, of an improbable start by a baseball team in an improbable place -- first place.
Random thoughts on a random Thursday...
Here's the other reason why the Reds have defied logic through eight games: their bullpen is night and day from last season. Last season, we had the one-two paunch of Jumbo Diaz and J.J. Hoover. This season, the Reds have the one-two punch of Michael Lorenzen and Raisel Iglesias.
Four appearances into last season, Hoover gave up five runs in a third of the inning to the Cubs. That was followed by eight runs allowed in his following two-and-a-third innings of work.
Jumbo gave up four runs in April. We won't even get into what Ross Ohlendorf was.
It's only eight games. But here's what this year's Reds bullpen has given us: 34 innings of work and just five earned runs. If you extract Robert Stephenson's inning and two-thirds of three earned runs, this year's bullpen has worked 32 and two-thirds of an inning and has allowed just two.
Two big reasons why this bullpen is better than last year's are health and talent. Lorenzen and Iglesias weren't healthy until mid-summer. And the starting pitching last season was in flames before the sixth inning in too many early season games. This year, Bronson Arroyo lasted only four innings in his first start. Brandon Finnegan lasted only two innings in his second start. But if a starting pitcher can deliver a game to his bullpen by the seventh inning or later, chances are very good his team's relievers won't be overworked and in good position to deliver a win...
Now, if there's another team that's an early season surprise, it has to the the Arizona Diamondbacks. Maybe this is the reason why...
I'm not sure this will alter the balance in the AFC North, but it was an OK pick up for the Bengals...
So LSU's Leonard Fournette was in town to visit the Bengals Wednesday? That continues the parade of draft-eligible running backs who've been in Cincinnati in the last month. Makes you wonder about the commitment to Jeremy Hill and the condition of Gio Bernard's knee...
Personally, I think the Bengals should trade McCarron. The 49ers, the Texans, the Jets and, yes, even the Browns need a starting quarterback (although I'd think really hard about trading him to a division rival).
But here's the deal: McCarron's ceiling as a quarterback is where Andy Dalton is now. There's no guarantee he'll hit his ceiling. He's also a luxury on a team with core players who've reached their peak and have to win NOW. The Dalton-haters aren't going to get this, but those are the cold hard facts of where McCarron is, at this moment.
The problem last season with the Bengals' passing attack wasn't Dalton. The problem was the inability to protect Dalton as the Bengals gave up 41 sacks. Combined, Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler were responsible for exactly ONE of those sacks (per profootballfocus.com). Guess who's not on the team anymore...
Guess who turns 71 today.
The Reverend Al Green celebrates his 71st birthday today. Ten Top 40 hits, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee, class of 1995.
This is a phenomenal piece of music, co-written by Green and the house drummer at Stax Records in Memphis, Al Jackson Jr. It was cut at Hi Record Studios in Memphis.
Charles Hodges on organ, and the Memphis Horns, led by Wayne Jackson are the real highlights of this song. Jackson keeps the tradition Al Green 4/4 beat on drums.
This is a man who has had a few adventures away from the studios. An ex-girlfriend doused Green with a pot of boiling grits in a rage when he refused to marry her. The fact that she was married at the time apparently wasn't a problem. His girlfriend wound up killing herself. Green eventually turned to religion and became an ordained minister.
Must be something about April 13. Louis Johnson, of the Brothers Johnson, is celebrating his 62nd birthday today. Peabo Bryson turns 66 today as does drummer Max Weinberg from Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band.
The Beatles recorded the song "Help" 52 years ago today. And 46 years ago today, the Rolling Stones released the song "Brown Sugar."
And 71 years ago today, in Forrest City, Arkansas, Albert Leornes Greene came upon this earth. He dropped the 'e' at the end of his last name and became one of the biggest stars in music. You know him, as Al Green.