HARDBALL, ROUNDBALL, AND PUCKS 

Shots in the Darke

1019

After taking a look at high school baseball and softball in last week’s column, let’s catch up on the exploits of Ohio’s two major league teams, the Reds and (excuse me if I mistakenly call them the Indians) the Guardians, painful as it may be. 

David Bell’s boys by the River currently sport a 7-15 record after being swept by the apparently rejuvenated Pirates, Central Division last place finishers the past four seasons. The Bucs are off to a NL best 16-7 mark thus far and playing with confidence and enthusiasm. The Reds on the other hand are struggling both at the plate and on the mound, losers of 8 of the last 10, scoring only six runs in losing six straight, three by shutouts. 

TJ Friedl leads what little offense there is with a .303 batting average for a team that ranks 26th out of 30 teams with an average of .231. Eighteen hurlers have already taken the mound through the first few weeks and that doesn’t include position players Luke Maile and Jason Vosler taking the mound in late innings of three blowout losses. Graham Ashcroft holds a 1.88 ERA while Nick Lodolo has fanned 31 so far for a squad ranking 25th overall in pitching stats. 

Potential superstar Hunter Greene has yet to notch his first win but has pitched well for the most part. The 23-year-old just inked a six-year contract extension worth $53 million, not bad for someone with a 5-13 record in his major league career! What do you think some all-time Reds great pitchers like Jim Maloney and Don Gullett among others would be worth today? 

Fortunately for the Reds, if they can survive a three-game series at Great American with the AL West leading Texas Rangers, they might get some relief, concluding a brief home stand with the truly awful Oakland (soon to be Las Vegas evidently) A’s, possessor of a MLB worst 4-17 mark and a staff ERA of 7.94, bad for even a beer league slo-pitch softball team! 

Meanwhile, up on the Lake, Terry Francona’s Guardians are a mediocre 11-11 after going 2-4 against the Tigers and Marlins, hardly World Series favorites. Fortunately the Tribe (oops!) trails the Twins by only a game in a so-so AL Central. With a .233 team batting average Cleveland is only one spot better than the Reds, ranking 25th. The difference between the two teams? The Guardians (got it right!) pitching staff ranks 12th out of 30. 

Speaking of Cleveland, the Cavs fell behind the Knicks in the first round of the NBA East playoffs and face elimination if they can’t stop the bleeding. The surprises of the playoffs to date are the Bucks trailing Miami’s Heat 2-1 and the Clippers facing rough waters and a 3-1 deficit to the Suns (once again Kawhi Leonard has gone missing in action with a knee sprain and Paul George is out for the series with a similar injury).  

Here’s a trivia question for you—what’s a Kraken?  

Have you had a chance to watch any NHL Stanley Cup playoff games? Some of the most exciting moments in sports take place on the rinks of the pros as playoff hockey is fast, ferocious, and intense. Tune into TNT, TBS, ESPN, ESPN2, and ABC for all of the action—even if you know little about blue lines, offsides, power plays, etc it is great viewing!

 

In a shameless plug, I had the opportunity to interview former Ambassador to Lebanon and career diplomat Jeff Feltman this week for an episode of “Talk of the Town” on MyCountyLink.com. The 1977 Greenville High School graduate has had an interesting career  serving the United States Department of State in various capacities and locations throughout  Eastern Europe and the Near East, most specifically Israel, Tunisia, and Lebanon. We should all be proud of the accomplishments of this Darke County native and his service protecting and promoting US interests around that part of the world. The show will be airing by mid-week as mentioned at MyCountyLink.com. 

Finally, a Kraken is a mythological sea monster said to appear off the coast of Norway. It’s also the team nickname of the Seattle entry in the NHL, a long way from the Norwegian coast! The Kraken currently are down 2-1 to last year’s Stanley Cup champions the Colorado  Avalanche as they ready for tomorrow’s drop of the puck. Have a great week; what happened to those 70-80 degree days?