Eagle-eyed do-gooders turn in Reds for victory cigars

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The Cincinnati Reds had one heckuva celebration after clinching the NL Central title on Tuesday night, dowsing each other with champagne and emerging from the clubhouse to party with fans.

(Watch some great video of it all from C. Trent Rosecrans here)

But apparently their celebration went far beyond the bounds of propriety, as team owner Bob Castellini passed out victory cigars and people proceeded to – gasp! – smoke them.

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer – and Big League Stew – five people called a statewide smoking ban complaint hotline to alert authorities after witnessing the heinous act on television.

Only one problem: the city health department can’t do anything unless an inspector personally witnesses the crime in action. Hmm, that might be a problem. From the Enquirer:

State law requires a health inspector to go out within 30 days at about the same time of day as the alleged violation, Merz said. That means an inspector might be attending one of the playoff games to see if anyone is smoking then.

“We come in unannounced, obviously,” he said.

If the inspector sees someone smoking, the Reds will be sent a letter notifying them of the violation, which the team can appeal. No fine is attached to any initial violation. If another complaint is filed and an inspector responds again to the ballpark and sees someone smoking, the Reds could be fined $100. The fine escalates to $500 after that.

So be aware, Reds criminals, you have been put on notice. If you get caught smoking any victory cigars during the playoffs, you’ll receive a stern letter. And if it happens a second time, someone will have to come up with $100.

God knows the shenanigans you will get into if you win the World Series.

Will you double-dip some chips?

Lie about your knowledge of “Melrose Place?”

Smuggle coffee into the movies?

Whatever you do, I am thankful I can sleep at night knowing there are at least five eagle-eyed, law-abiding citizens out there ready to turn you in.

Do you think I was serious about thinking the Reds are criminals? Then perhaps I’m not for you. Otherwise, feel free to follow me on Twitter. Get all your HBT updates here.

Blue Jays release John Axford

John Axford
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The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.

Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.

Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.

Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.