Perhaps the Reds can add to their 2014 roster names like Sammy Stewart, Minnie Minoso, or even Eddie Gadelle. After all, the club seems to be more interested in novelty acts than winners.
Stewart was, as aging fans recall, the ambidextrous pitcher who threw both left-handed and right-handed in the same inning. Minoso of course played for the White Sox in his fifties, thus becoming the oldest man to actively appear in major league game. The diminutive Gadelle gained similar notoriety when he was sent in to pinch hit for the Cards, thereby becoming the shortest man to ever bat in the big leagues.
Cincinnati has accumulated two novelty acts, both of which will get the team featured in some ESPN highlights. Neither, though, is likely to lead them to a championship in 2014.
One of these novelty acts is Billy Hamilton, whose speed has drawn comparisons to that of renown runner Usain Bolt. In setting a World Record, Bolt ran 300 meters in 3.78, equating to 90 feet in 3.46 seconds.
Hamilton has been clocked going the 90 feet from home to first in 3.4 seconds on a bunt off of Texas pitcher Yu Darvish on March 10. That time equals, or even beats, that of Bolt.
“When your time matches up with Bolt’s in anything, you’re fast – really fast,” stated beat writer John Fay in the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Hamilton has left the folks in the Reds dugout in shock at times.”
The fact that he has shocking speed will not help the Reds, who are counting on the rookie to fill the shoes of Shin-soo Choo in center field and at leadoff. That is a mammoth task for any rookie, especially for one who has struggled to hit even in the minor leagues.
The new Reds manager makes the comparison of Hamilton’s speed to the other novelty on the Cincinnati roster.
“It’s kind of like when (Aroldis) Chapman first showed up,” Bryan Price said. “And we got a chance to see that fastball, pitching at 100 to 105 virtually every pitch.”
Fans once flocked to Great American Ball Park on the chance of seeing Chapman close out a game, which happened just 38 times. Mathematically, Chapman’s “shocking” fastball was involved in fewer than one fourth of all the Reds games the past two seasons, both ending without advancing in the playoffs.
Hamilton will likely appear in more games than Chapman, but his novelty act will have just as little effect on the win column. He, like Chapman, should have been traded for players who can make the team better. The Reds should concentrate less on acquiring novelty acts, and more on acquiring championships.
Cincinnati Enquirer, 3/16/14