You can blame/thank the Reds for all the green you see in teams’ uniforms today. It was them — or more specifically, their GM Dick Wagner — who started the tradition in 1978. While it went over pretty well, the initial reactions were fun:
After workouts, the Reds dragged their perspiring bodies off the field
and retreated to the clubhouse — closed, uncharacteristically, to the
media — took a look and then did a double-take at their lockers …
green uniforms hanging in front of each.
“Did we get traded to Oakland?” catcher Johnny Bench asked.
Shortstop Davey Concepcion squinted at his green No. 13 uniform and said, “I’m not wearing that. I’m Venezuelan, not Irish.”
I’m usually opposed to messing with uniforms too much, but I’ve always liked the green-on-St. Patrick’s Day thing. It’s spring training, and spring training is casual. It looks good. And besides, it’s so much nicer than the the more historically-accurate St. Patrick’s Day tradition they used to do at the ballpark: having ushers go through the stands converting all the pagans.
We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.
Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”
Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).
Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.