CINCINNATI -- Joey Votto has nothing to apologize for.
In fact, the Reds organization should be grateful for having an employee say what Votto said recently to Yahoo Sports.
If you missed it, here it is:
"I genuinely hope that we're trending in the right direction, but this is the worst start I've ever seen. If I'm not mistaken, it's been noted in the past that this was historically one of the worst starts for this franchise. There are so many people that are losing interest in our organization and deservedly so. It hasn't been a fun time to be a Cincinnati Reds fan."
What did Votto say that wasn't true? The Reds' start to this season was horrific. How else would you describe a team that won three of its first 21 games? Even with better results over the last three weeks, the team is still dead last in its division by a mile.
Votto had some less-than-generous things to say about baseball in his native Canada and a no-hitter that was thrown that week by fellow Canadian James Paxton of the Seattle Mariners. He said, "I don't care almost at all about Canadian baseball. As far as Toronto and Canadian baseball, and the country of Canada and him (Paxton) being Canadian, I don't care at all."
That warranted an apology. Votto's comments about his team didn't.
He's the team's highest-paid player, he's one bona fide star and one of the best hitters in the game. This is another lost season.
Think about that just from Votto's standpoint. He'll be 34 years old in December, and he's spent the majority of his major league baseball career with a team that's had a pulse for all of three seasons.
Since ascending to major league status in 2007, Votto has been to the playoffs three times. Three playoff series, three wins, nothing past the first round. Other than those three playoff seasons, the teams Votto has played on have finished higher than fourth in their divisions a grand total of twice. This current Reds team is almost a lock to finish dead last in the National League Central Division for the fourth year in a row. Wouldn't you be a little frustrated?
Money doesn't cure that. Think about it. Let's say you go to work every day as the most valued and most skilled employee in your company, but the company chooses to surround you with a collection of mediocre co-workers. For a few years, the company wises up and realizes you deserve better, and its customers deserve better. So they choose (as the Reds did in 2010-13) to hire some really competent people to join you.
But after a while, your company decides the bottom line is suffering. So those competent folks are adios'd and in walks mediocrity again. Would money comfort you then? Would your pride and competitiveness, your motive for speaking up, be silenced by a biweekly trip to the bank? Doubt it.
And for the crowd who wants to chirp that Votto is making too much money and is hurting the team's chances to be competitive, what have you seen that would lead you to believe that if the Reds had the $25 million a year that Votto is costing them, they would spend that money wisely? Don't even try to tell me you would turn down as much as the market, and your boss, would be willing to pay you.
I interact a lot with fans on social media and 700 WLW. There is a constant lament that our teams, both Reds and Bengals, lack leadership.
Joey Votto just gave you a taste of what leadership is. We invest our time, and some of us (a dwindling number) invest money to follow those two franchises. The people who own them should be held accountable. Gently, Votto did just that.
A valuable employee isn't someone who just puts in an honest day's work for an honest day's wages. He or she is someone who also tries to make the company they work for better. I give Joey Votto props for what he did. You should, too. He's not just taking the money and running.
Now on to some random thoughts on this random Thursday
Scooter Gennett did it again Tuesday night, with another grand slam home run and six RBI in the Reds' 7-2 win over the Pirates. And I'd trade him as soon as I could. He's eligible for arbitration after this season and is a free agent after next. Gennett is making more than $5 million this year. Is he a $9 million ballplayer in 2019? Is he worth a four-year, $42 million deal after next season? If I'm the Reds and have options in my minor league system (Nick Senzel and Shed Long), that's the question I'm asking and the math I'm doing.
Mock drafts abound in every sport. With the 2018 MLB draft just days away and with the Reds holding the fifth overall pick, sportingnews.com has its latest mock draft out. And it has the Reds taking Florida high school pitcher Carter Stewart. But the guy the Reds seem to really like is going one pick before them, according to Andrew Lawrence, SN's baseball draft guy. ...
I think the NFL players who kneel during the national anthem may be well intended. But they've failed, woefully, to explain exactly what they're protesting. A large majority of fans either don't want to see it or believe it disrespects the ultimate symbol of our country, the American flag. It does. If the players truly believe in what they're protesting, there is a better path they haven't found yet. But the new policy the NFL owners have adopted isn't a resolution to an issue. It's a temper tantrum. Keeping players inside of the locker room during the anthem is equally lame. Freedom of speech extends only as far as employers will permit. The owners retain that powerful position in this debate. But power should be tempered by common sense. And the NFL owners need to find their own better path. ...
This is a great story about the Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyle Korver and what he has been dealing with off the basketball court. Maybe it's because most sports are consumed through television. Maybe it's because athletes are more distant from you and me because of the money they make. Maybe it's because of social media. But maybe we need to know that, like us, athletes are human as well, subject to the same joys and sorrows and burdens. Might be a good thing to keep in mind next time you want to level a "boo" on one of them.
You may call him Terry, you may call him Tommy, you may call him Bobby, you may call him Zimmy. But today, you can call Bob Dylan birthday boy. He turns 77 today. From his 30th anniversary special back in the early '90s, here's an all-star cast celebrating an all-star talent.
Of course, Dylan is in the Rock & Roll Hall of fame. He also has 12 Grammy Awards, an Academy Award and a Golden Globe. And for the last 10 years, he has turned his creative talents to painting.
You never know where creative talent has its roots. For Dylan, it was more by chance than choice.
Four nights before Buddy Holly died in a plane crash, he played Duluth, Minnesota. In the audience was young Robert Zimmerman, who to this day says that Holly is the singer-songwriter who inspired him to choose his career path. And in that same town of Duluth, 77 years ago today, Robert Allen Zimmerman came upon this earth. You can call him RJ. But you know him as Bob Dylan.