The most self-empowering phrase anyone can utter is "I need your help." I think it's time for Reds owner Bob Castellini to say it.
Come October, it will be four years since the Reds have made the postseason. And today, it's never seemed further away.
In the glory year of 2012, when every Reds starting pitcher made every one of his scheduled starts, the Reds had the look of a team that was not just set for the future, but ready to dominate it. The Reds had defense and solid base running. They had power hitting and timely hitting. They had a solid and, in some cases, spectacular relief pitching. They had our city's attention and heart.
This current group of Cincinnati Reds has all the excitement of those awful teams from the early 2000s, minus the slugging of Adam Dunn and the star power of Ken Griffey Jr. There is buzz no more.
The business side of the Reds gives you plenty of reasons to go to games. In a city that dines on "three-ways," the Reds excel at "two-ways" -- bobbleheads and fireworks. But they also offer much better than average stadium food, post game concerts and reasonable ticket prices. Everything is there, except the core product. That's been a train wreck.
In a who-do-we-blame society, we look for villains. Who do we blame for this mess? Walt Jocketty? Clearly, a first-class general manager before arriving, Jocketty was out of his league when it came time to maintain what we had here in 2012. A major architect of that season (and let's not ever forget the terrific work Wayne Krivsky did before him), Jocketty appeared befuddled when it came time to replenish the farm system. And worse, he employed people in his organization who couldn't produce Major League talent out of drafted personnel.
Scott Rolen fell into his lap. Jocketty also acquired Mat Latos to round out one of the best starting pitching rotations in club history. But he gave up the current starting catcher for the best team in baseball, Yasmani Grandal, a pitcher who's won almost 70 games since leaving here, Edinson Volquez, and a former first-round draft pick who has finally blossomed into a solid ballplayer, Yonder Alonso.
For all of that, the Reds got a rotation anchor in Latos, for all of 81 games and 33 wins. And a whole lot of headaches.
With his minor league system unable to produce a Major League outfielder, Jocketty traded away the current New York Yankees shortstop, Didi Gregorius, for one year of Shin Soo Choo. With Walt, you had to take the good with the bad.
Point the finger at Jocketty. But that wouldn't be totally fair. You can point the finger at his boss. In any business, the buck stops with the guy who owns it. But that wouldn't be totally fair either.
Point it at whomever you want to blame for this team, destined now to lose 96 ballgames this season. But identifying solutions is always better than identifying problems. The Reds know their problems. You know their problems. Anyone who's watched five minutes of this team this season knows what the problems are.
But the solutions? They're coming up short on that. So I'm suggesting that the Reds do what any struggling company should do -- put a fresh pair of eyes on the problem. Make sure those eyes have had no ties -- financial or otherwise -- to the club.
I'm suggesting the Reds ask for help.
There's no weakness in asking for help. It takes a strong person, or in this case a business, to ask for help. Whatever company it is that excels in the business of handling businesses in distress or crisis should be on Bob Castellin's call list.
My guess is, the first thing that company (I'm not a big fan of the word "consultant." You know the qualifications you need to become a consultant? Buy a brief case and step off an airplane. Presto, you're a consultant.) would look at what systemic failures the Reds have had. My guess is, they would dig deeply.
Of the four major sports, baseball is the toughest to build from the ground up. A lot of the talent teams draft are simply young kids with great athletic ability. The business of baseball is staked largely on 17- and 18-year-olds.
Do the Reds draft smartly? Is the problem in the way their minor league coaching staff prepares their "not ready for prime time players"? Is it the physical training that prepares these players before they hit the field? I don't know. All I know is there's a problem and the current collection of baseball minds can't seem to solve it.
Since that 2012 season, the Reds have ripped through 35 different starting pitchers. Think about that number for a moment. They've gone from five starters, making every single scheduled start, to 35 different starting pitchers. In less than five seasons. Since that 2012 season, they've used 78 pitchers, total. Those aren't numbers usually associated with successful franchises.
It's not like the Reds are devoid of talent. Adam Duvall, Eugenio Suarez, Scooter Gennett and the best hitter the Reds have ever had, Joey Votto, make up a solid core. If Billy Hamilton could ever figure out how to get on base (a .297 on base percentage isn't any good for any spot in a batting order, let alone lead off), he could be added to that list. But funny thing about baseball players: they get older and generally more expensive with each passing year.
The Reds need to get better, and quickly. So my solution lies outside of Great American Ball Park. Is there a former baseball general manger who's had success in resurrecting a franchise? Is there someone who has coordinated a struggling minor league organization that's been given talent and hasn't been able to cultivate it? Who's been in this abyss before and has climbed out? Now is a good time for the Reds to find him, or her.
Bob Castellini is a smart guy. Reds General Manager Dick Williams, is a smart guy. My guess is, they've got smart guys working with them in their front office. But sometimes, you simply need help.
Now, for a few other ramblings from a lunatic mind...
I don't know if Cedric Ogbuehi is ever going to be a competent NFL tackle. I watched him "Ole" a block on a running play last Friday night against the Buccaneers and shivered at the thought of that happening on pass protection. My guess is, Andy Dalton did too...
This shows you just how bad things are in Cleveland. Two drafts, no franchise quarterback drafted. If Hue Jackson doesn't get one next spring, will he last to give it a fourth try?...
What's in a number? Pretty good read here on why baseball players (including Madeira's Andrew Benintendi) wear the numbers they do...
So the Falcons' owner, Arthur Blank, agrees to put a Chick-fil-A in his new bazillion dollar stadium and Chick-fil-A won't be able to serve fans on game days? Everybody knows Chick-fil-A's policy of closed Sundays. So who thought this was a good idea?...
Forty years ago yesterday, Elvis left the building. Wednesday was the 40th anniversary of the King of Rock & Roll's death. Anyone alive today who lived through that day has to remember how they heard the news of the King's passing.
Here's how NBC reported the story, about four hours after Presley died. Quaint, considering today, it would have be instant news on Twitter and 24-hour-a-day cable news shows. Back then there were just three network affiliates and mosts cities only had three or four television stations.
Presley's impact on America far extended his chosen profession. Musically, he had stalled for much of his later years. But in the late '50s Presley almost single-handily ushered rock-and-roll into our culture and away from big bands and lounge singers. He was bold and brash. His music was rooted in southern Gospel, rythym and blues and country.
Presley would go onto record top 10 hits like "Suspicious Minds", "In the Ghetto" and "Burning Love" and reinvigorated his career. We know know that his life tumbled out of control, largely because of abusing prescription drugs. He died, 40 years ago yesterday at the age of 42.
Presley is worth more now in death than he ever was in life. In fact, his estate was close to flat broke a few years after his death, when his ex-wife Priscilla convinced the rest of Presley's surviving family to turn his home into a tourist attraction. Until this year, you could participate in the candlelight vigil on the night before the anniversary of his death for free. For some reason, the estate began charging money to walk past his grave this year, close to $30. I went last year. There was a solemnity to it, but it was also a blast. In line, many different languages were spoken and people traveled from around not just the United States but the world to pay respects. I met several people who have returned to this event for over 20 years.
Presley impact extended far greater than vinyl and concerts. This one is one of my all-time favorites. It was written by a man named Walter Earl Brown. And despite objections by Colonel Parker (he wanted Presley to end his 1968 Comeback Special with a Christmas song), Presley insisted on using this song to end the event that re-introduce a divided country to his music.