Walt Jocketty stays, but it’s time for Dusty Baker to go

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Sure, they’ve dealt with some injuries, but the 2011 Reds have most certainly underachieved.  Playing in what’s arguably baseball’s weakest division, Cincinnati is likely to finish with a sub-.500 record for the third time in four years under Dusty Baker.  Baker is currently 319-323 at the helm of the Reds.  It gives him the same .497 winning percentage he had during his four-year stint with the Cubs.

So, it’s time for Dusty to go, again.  His handling of the Reds’ pitching staff has left much to be desired this year.  His lineups are problematic.  And he’s simply not winning.  The Reds’ have outscored their opponents by 17 runs this year, yet are currently 76-80.

Baker hardly deserves all of the blame.  It’s not his fault that the only Reds pitcher to make 30 starts this year was the extremely disappointing Bronson Arroyo.  It probably wasn’t just his call to stick with Edinson Volquez as long as he did.  Also, Scott Rolen’s injuries and ineffectiveness left the Reds minus a key bat they really had no one to replace.

However, Baker just hasn’t helped.  He kept moving Drew Stubbs out of the leadoff spot because of all of Stubbs’ strikeouts, ignoring the fact that Stubbs kept scoring runs anyway (69 in 94 games, which works out to 110 runs in 150 games).  He overworked setup man Logan Ondrusek, who went down with a strained forearm in August and hasn’t been the same since returning.  He stuck with Jonny Gomes in left field, even though Gomes was far from the team’s best option against right-handers.  He actually turned Paul Janish, whose only asset was his glove, into a utilityman so that Edgar Renteria, whose only asset was his… ummm… leadership, wouldn’t have to play anywhere other than shortstop.

Bringing back GM Walt Jocketty was the right move for the Reds.  I’m not sure I’d say Jocketty has been outstanding since coming over from the Cards, but there’s certainly been more good than bad.

Baker’s positives don’t outweigh the negatives, though.  The Reds have no reason not to make a change after such a disappointing campaign.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.