The Reds now have the same record as every other team in Major League Baseball. So that's a good thing, right?
It is, for every team not named the Cubs. This week, baseball has a clean slate. What happened in the past doesn't matter, unless you use the past for guidance. The Reds can use what's happened in Cleveland as guidance.
Look, every so often, it's OK for those of us in the city of Cincinnati to look at some of the things that go on in the state of Ohio.
The Indians made it to the World Series with a payroll only $7 million more than the Reds' payroll. But they played in the Series, and the Reds finished 35-and-a- half games out of first place because the Indians spent their money wisely.
They also happened to make a lot more smart baseball decisions.
Baseball isn't a complex game to excel at. You make solid, metric driven decisions on draft day, and then you coach and nurture that talent to get it as quickly through your minor league system as possible. Drafting should be the easy part, particularly early in the draft. There are far too many tools available to scouts and front office number-crunches to miss on a first or second round pick.
But the Indians not only 'hit' on theirs, they 'hit' deep in a lot of drafts.
Look at the 2011 MLB draft. Ninety-three losses in 2010 had the Indians picking 8th. OK, so picking eighth overall is hard to whiff. The Indians knocked it out of the park when they took Francisco Lindor. He is the epicenter of the franchise. But dig deeper into that draft, and here's what you'll find.
In round 14 that year they took Pitcher Cody Anderson and pitcher Ryan Merritt. In round 23, the Indians selected pitcher Cody Allen. All played significant roles in the team's AL Championship this season.
2008 was a similar haul. At the end of round one, the Indians rolled the dice and took Lonnie Chisenhall, who'd been caught stealing cash and electronics from a South Carolina coach and player. Much later, they took catcher Roberto Perez in round 33.
The franchise was piecing together a team that would take time to contend, but one that fit its philosophy and payroll. The 2008 draft was the work of former team general manager, Mark Shapiro. But it's current GM Chris Antonetti who gets credit for the work done since his tenure began, in 2010.
The Indians began winning with a lot of that home-grown talent. Therefore, they could hold the cost on payroll. That also freed up money for judicious trades and free agent signings.
Remember that trade that the Reds had to make in 2011, the one that brought Shin Soo Choo here?
The Reds were forced to do that because they had didn't have a center fielder in their system that was ready for the Majors. They were still grooming Billy Hamilton in their minor league system, converting him from infield to outfield. To get Choo, the Reds participated in a three way deal with the Indians and Diamondbacks. The Reds sent infielder DiDi Gregorius to the Diamondbacks (he's now the Yankees starting short stop), wound up with Choo, while the Indians landed Trevor Bauer, Matt Albers, Bryan Shaw and Drew Stubbs. Shaw pitched in 75 innings for the Indians this year; Albers was eventually released and Stubbs has bounced around baseball since the deal.
But Trevor Bauer went 12-8 for the Indians this season, making 28 starts. The Reds had Choo for a grand total of one season.
The Indians, with flexible payroll, were able to pick up 11 players by trades, all of whom were on their playoff roster this season. Andrew Miller, the terrific relief pitcher, was a deadline acquisition this season. So, too, was outfielder Brandon Guyer. They got Coco Crisp in late August. Yan Gomes, Mike Clevinger and Corey Kluber in prior years.
Kluber was part of another three team deal. It cost them Jake Westbrook. Westbrook was over priced and has been out of baseball for three seasons. By the way, Ryan Ludwick was part of that deal, going from the Cardinals to the Padres. That was before he landed in Cincinnati.
The Indians played the sabermetric game long before other teams embraced it, including the Reds. And to be sure, they benefited greatly from having some bad teams, allowing them to pick higher in the MLB draft. But they had a plan. They were disciplined in their payroll. And it paid off this year
The new Reds regime needs to go to school on that.
Ben Roethlisberger was back on the job Sunday, three weeks after some minor knee surgery. But he and the rest of the Steelers looked like they'd had three months off. Now, the Ravens are tied for the AFC North division lead. And the Bengals are just a half-game behind them.
Just when you thought the Colts were about to go away for another winter.
And I think the Raiders, despite some shaky defense this year, are for real. You could ask the Broncos about that. And don't look now, but the Chiefs are 16-2 in their last 18 games.
However, Travis Kelce may be hearing from the commissioner...
I'll say this for University of Cincinnati Athletic Director, Mike Bohn: He's in a tough spot. He can't defend what his coach did Saturday night. He's really in no position to tell his boss (who happens to be planning her exit strategy by interviewing for a similar job at the University of Tennessee) that she should OK paying Tommy Tuberville off and have him go away. That's a $2.4 million dollar dinner that UC can't afford, not when it's trying to scrap together enough money to refurbish Fifth Third Bank Arena.
But UC is in a tough spot. There is a growing crowd that wants Tuberville gone. He hasn't recruited the Greater Cincinnati area well in his four years and the Bearcats schedule for 2017 isn't particularly inspiring. Bohn has to sell tickets, keep alumni and donors happy and deal with all of that. Mix in the Big 12 Conference turning its back on the Bearcats and it's not been a very good year. And the prospects of going forward with Tuberville is even less appealing.
Now, let the good times roll. I want to wish a happy 74th birthday today to the great Johnny Rivers. Born in New York City, he moved with his family at an early age to Baton Rouge, Louisiana (there's some culture shock). He took up the guitar in his teens and was befriended by James Burton, another Louisiana boy who was playing in Ricky Nelson's band. Rivers wrote a song that he thought would be perfect for Nelson and got it to Burton. Burton got it to Nelson, who liked it and recorded it. And the career of Johnny Rivers was off and sailing.
Rivers would move to Los Angeles, get to know a record producer named PF Sloan, who was commissioned to make a theme song for a new CBS Television Network drama about secret agents. He asked Rivers to work on it. He came up with a theme song for the show and, later, added lyrics. So became the hit song "Secret Agent Man"
Rivers went onto start his own record label, "Soul City Records". His biggest client was "The 5th Dimension", with whom he would win two Grammy Awards.
This song, a number one hit, was a remake of an old rock and blues tune written by and recorded by Huey Smith, whose New Orleans band was known as "The Clowns". This is Huey on piano. And this is one of the finest pieces of works by John Henry Ramistella, whom you know as Johnny Rivers, who came onto this earth 74 years ago today.
Have a fantastic rest of this Monday. By the way, Buffalo gets thumped tonight by the Seahawks...