Author: Cory Juliano – February 24th, 2014
I have been thinking long and hard over who my favorite Red on the current roster is as Spring Training kicked off and players are fine tuning their skills down in AZ. While it would be easy to pick Joey Votto I feel it would be a cop out. It’s easy to root for an perennial MVP caliber player. Don’t get me wrong, he is the guy I would refuse to leave my seat when he is due up. Aroldis Chapman is another player that makes me want to stay glued to the TV on those rare nights I get to watch a game. Admittedly, I will tune into the radio broadcast on my MLB.com radio subscription when a save situation is coming just to listen to Marty call the strikes. But no, Aroldis is not my choice of favorite current Red.
My favorite Red on the roster is still Brandon Phillips, even after the up and down circus he has been the last couple of months. Yes, I know he was rude and offensive to a reporter. He embarrassed himself and his at the time manager in a horrible way by going off the way he did on a guy for simply doing his job. It was hard listening to the bleeped out conversation. Hearing your favorite player act like that hurts. It is like seeing your favorite radio host and being several unimpressed by the way they look. Yes, he complained about ownership and how they were spending money. He should be happy with the contract he signed. Yes, there were numerous trade rumors in the off season saying he would be traded making us fans feel like he was not an important part to this team. Yes, he has shut down the media while at Spring Training. Yes, he has been less than perfect and hard to love as of late. In a lot of ways he has been a turd lately and involved in a lot of negative stuff.
So why is BP my favorite player? For a several reasons. The obvious one is the way he covers the right side of the infield. Watch his highlights if you don’t agree with me. Seriously, go to youtube and check it out. Go. Go now (but please come back). He has the best glove I have ever seen. He gets to balls no one else in the game playing second base can. He is a Golden Glover who brings excitement to the position in a way no one else ever has (or least that I have seen). He is the best defensive 2nd Baseman in the game. He has won 3 of the last 4 Gold Gloves. The fact it is not 4 for 4 is a JOKE. No offense to Darwin Barney but he couldn’t make half of the plays BP did in 2012. Even Cubs fans have to agree on that, right Chad? He is a Web Gem and Top 10 regular. His glove and arm strength easily make him a fan favorite.
Secondly, BP is my favorite because of his versatility at the plate. He hits where ever the team needs him to. Last year after the Reds lost their scheduled clean up hitter for much of the season on opening day it was BP that was called upon to step up and move from the 2 hole in the line up to the 4 hole. Now, I was never a big league hitter but this seems like a tougher transition than one would think. He changed his approach and did what he said he would and drove in 100+ RBIs. He has stepped up and lead off when needed to. His flexibility in the line-up is admired. He can hit with some pop (although he might be losing some of that) and he can choke up, shorten his swing and flick the ball out into right field with seemingly ease at times. And seriously, the grand slam he hit in Milwaukee a couple of years ago is still worth looking back at. Again, go check it out if you haven’t lately. He brought his big boy bat on that one and put it off of the slide in left center. Having seen that slide in person it is VERY far. He has possibly the coolest follow through in baseball when he knows he has hit a long ball too. Okay, so maybe his offensive ability is a stretch but I need to justify my opinion here. That is what a blog is all about after all.
So why else do I have a baseball related man-crush on BP. How about his interactions with the fans. He was one of the first baseball players to use social media to close the gap between us fans and pro athletes. Very similar to what Chad Johnson of the Bengals did before he went dumb and called himself a number. My favorite BP story is when a young kid in St. Louis asked him if he would come to one of his games while on a road trip via Twitter. On the off day in St. Louis BP showed up at a little league ball game to watch the kid play. Seriously awesome. Any pro athlete who would do something like this gets the nod in my book even if he embarrassed a reporter who was questioning his performance at the plate.
There is one more reason that he is my favorite current player on the roster. No, it is not because he puts on an MVP performance against the Indians, the team who traded him to the Reds because they didn’t value him as a prospect. No, it’s not because he names his gloves and treats them like girlfriends and “breaks up” with them if they are not performing up to his standards and then goes back to them when the others fail. No, it’s not because he pulled off one of the funniest plays ever. May we never forget . Most likely the reason he is my favorite is because he assisted me in my hatred of my most detested player in MLB. Yadier Molina. Yes, I vomited in my mouth a bit as I typed that curse word. I HATE Yadier Molina. Maybe it’s because he destroys the Reds. Maybe it’s because after the bench clearing fight he turned around and hit a home run. Maybe it’s because he has that little smirk on his face when he is doing it. Maybe it’s because he kicked Phillips bat away during Phillips’ normal first at bat ritual with every catcher and refused to shut his mouth before the fight. Or maybe it’s just the neck tattoo. Heck, I don’t know, maybe it is simply because he plays for the Cardinals (more vomit in my mouth). Whatever it is, I do not like that guy. Watching him and Phillips square off at home plate made me root for BP even more. So much so that me and my dad went to the next game to see if he would dare tap Molina’s shin guard again. The stupid umpire stepped in between them and didn’t give him the chance. Stupid umpires take away all the fun of baseball.
I like a guy who will stick up for his team and create a little excitement in the sport. To me, that is what BP does for the Reds. He gives a little character to a relatively calm and sometimes boring group of guys (go back and think about the end of last year if you want to call me out for saying this team was calm and boring). He brings excitement. He brings energy. He brings a little something else every ball club needs and that is why I still consider him my favorite Red. He is one of the reasons I excited for March 31. And I sure hope he gives Molina another “tap” for good luck in that first at bat. GO REDS!