Unless it costs them a slot in the draft next summer, the Reds' 2-1 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night doesn't mean anything.
But it sure was fun.
Tight. Tense. Tremendous.
Unless you hate pitcher's duels, this one had everything.
An exciting young starter (Luis Castillo) making a strong appearance at an iconic ballpark against the defending World Series champions.
Six sparkling innings from Luis Castillo. ✨ pic.twitter.com/BRHP9EkRHL— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) August 16, 2017
A clutch RBI after a missed opportunity.
An extra run that turned out to be necessary.
There was even a five-out save by Raisel Iglesias and a vintage Joey Votto-taunts-Chicago-fans moment.
Joey won't rest until he sends one into orbit. 🌗🛰 pic.twitter.com/dmHLEymZ1G— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) August 16, 2017
This is easy to forget, but all and all the Reds have the pieces to be a real baseball team.
Meanwhile, I wrote yesterday about the Bengals preview from TheMMQB’s Andy Benoit, who breaks down every film and analyzes strategy and personnel in painstaking detail.
Often the previews from national publications are probably more useful to fans of the other 31 teams than the ones who follow the primary subject because they by necessity can’t get very deep, but this is an exception.
Benoit offered several interesting insights, including a further breakdown of why and how pressure is a bugaboo for Andy Dalton.
Notes: Given the questions along #Bengals OL, it’s crucial Dalton get better playing from muddied pockets.— Andy Benoit (@Andy_Benoit) August 15, 2017
This is interesting because it could be all instinct, or it could be an area where even a veteran can get better with even a subtle adjustment.
We often fall into the trap of feeling like everyone is a finished product once we have seen them a certain amount of times, but that is often not the case.
Last year was an indication Dalton is who we thought he was: A good NFL quarterback but not one who can carry a team like the elite ones often do.
Is that the last word on him? It doesn’t have to be.
Benoit also hit on something I have wondered about in the past.
Notes: Jeremy Hill more comfortable running out of 2-RB sets (Hewitt a great lead-blocker), but #Bengals want to a 3 WR offense (1 RB sets).— Andy Benoit (@Andy_Benoit) August 15, 2017
I believe the Bengals had a hard time balancing whether or not they wanted to be a two-back power team or more of a finesse team last season.
Their personnel is probably going to demand the latter this year, and committing to that and refining what they do well within it could go a long way toward making the offense more effective and dangerous.
It could also result in Dalton again having to shoulder too much responsibility.
Early in his career, he proved to be at his best when he was not asked to do too much and/or he had so many dangerous players around him he just had to distribute the ball and watch the magic happen.
They might be building toward the latter, but I am not sure they’ll get there this year with a lot riding on rookies John Ross and Joe Mixon.
Unless the offensive line surprises (how often does that happen?), all eyes figure to be on Dalton this fall…
Lastly, Scout.com has an update on Alex Reigelsperger.
The Wayne defensive end has been committed to Kentucky for a while, but he is still going to take some official visits this fall.
Why? The better question is, “Why not?”
“Just kind of get around. Not many people get the opportunity to take five officials or four officials or however many,” Reigelsperger said. “Really just take advantage of the opportunities I was blessed with.”
The schools he will likely see: Kentucky, Minnesota, Cincinnati and Rutgers.