Sports Today: Reds go as Billy Hamilton goes again and again and again


The Reds ended the weekend on a one-game winning streak thanks in no small part to our monthly reminder Billy Hamilton could be an amazing baseball player. 

Ever the showman, Hamilton picked an interesting time to go nuts in the outfield, running down a couple of fly balls and throwing out two runners on the base paths. 

RELATED: Reds snap losing streak to Cardinals

That’s because it came the same day there was talk about whether or not he should be playing (yes) and whether or not he should be switch-hitting (no)

Interim manager Jim Riggleman is correct in saying they pretty much have to have Hamilton out there regularly for his defense. Otherwise a bad defense gets even worse. 

He also opined that when he first saw Hamilton in the minors, his (natural) right-handed swing looked better than his left. 

Hamilton has actually put up better numbers from the left side, but the sample sizes aren’t really comparable. 

I thought Billy’s thoughts on that matter were sort of strange: 

"I know if I just did one and really worked at that one side, I'd be a way better hitter than I am," Hamilton said. "But it's just something that I really haven't talked to them about. I feel like if it keeps going the way it's going, I'm going to have to be a man and tell them that I really want to focus on just one.”

If everyone, including Hamilton, sort of thinks he shouldn’t keep switch-hitting, shouldn’t he stop switch-hitting? 

He’s hitting .193, so he almost literally couldn’t be worse. 

Is this really that hard? 

I guess it’s just another example of how this team has badly mismanaged Hamilton nearly from the start. 

After he became a star in the minors, they rushed him up even though he needed more time to hone his stroke and his batter’s eye. 

There’s no doubt that had a negative effect on his development, but because of various other failures at the big-league and minor-league levels, the Reds had an overwhelming need at the position he plays.  

So they retarded his development by having him learn to switch-hit, then they called him up before he had mastered that challenge. 

It seemed like a big risk then, and, guess what? It hasn’t worked. 

To make matters worse since then, they have failed to put enough good players around him to prevent him from having to be the catalyst he hasn’t proven he can consistently be. 

Good job, guys. 

Fair or not, Hamilton may end up being the face of this era of Reds baseball. 

You’ll probably say that should be Joey Votto, but it’s hard for him to represent the team when he is so good and it is so bad. Besides, he’s more one of the pillars of the previous era when they were, you know. winners.

Hamilton represents this so-far-failed rebuild well because their failures seem to be fairly co-dependent. 

If he were better, the team would be a lot better. 

If the team around him were better, it would be easier to admire his strengths and live with his weaknesses. There would be less pressure on him in that case, too, and I bet that would lead to even more production. 

If Hamilton ever figures it out, will it be too late? 

Or will it be in a new uniform? 

Hamilton’s heroics were enough Sunday because Anthony DeSclafani had a better second start than his first after coming off the disabled list. 

The righty allowed 10 hits in five innings, but he battled through it to keep his team in position to win. 

Then the bullpen turned in its customary strong support, recording four scoreless innings even without Raisel Iglesias… 

The NBA Finals mercifully came to an end Friday night with the Golden State Warriors’ beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 105-85. 

This was the equivalent of the 5 p.m.-Friday news dump, saving the world from as many terrible hot takes as there would have been if the series ended on just about any other night of the week. 

(I’m sure there were plenty of terrible hot takes, but ignoring them is easier on the weekend, too.) 

The bottom line with this series is the Warriors were just too good for the Cavaliers to beat

Cleveland wasn’t the tire fire it was made out to be, but it did not have the horses to keep up with a great team like the Warriors, which won all four games despite only bringing out the Super Mario Bros. invincibility star a couple of times. 

I don’t think that excuses the Cavs for quitting on LeBron James at the end, but again this is where the timing of Game 4 probably helped them skate because most commentators would rather speculate on what’s next for James than examine why his teammates don’t seem to elevate their play around him as much as we’re lead to believe.  

As for LeBron’s future, here’s something to keep in mind about what promises to be a ridiculous summer of speculation regarding what LeBron does next: 

Almost everyone who has anything to say about his future literally cannot imagine why anyone would want to live in Ohio, so their default position is he would rather be anywhere else. 

(That means they will give too much credibility to whatever rumors they hear about him going somewhere else even if they don’t really make sense.) 

I tend to think the opposite is true. Even when he went to Miami, I don’t think that was his first choice. It was the one he made because it was the easiest way to cheat the team-building process and warp forward to potential NBA champion — but only after he couldn’t get anyone else to join him in Cleveland. 

LeBron has his foibles, but he loves Ohio, and he has been great for the community. 

I am certainly not going to guarantee he returns to the Cavaliers next season, but I would give Cleveland the best odds of retaining him because I don’t think a clearly better basketball situation is going to arise anywhere else… 

Regardless of where the world’s best player is suiting up next season, basketball will go on. 

Dayton will be a part of the story (thanks to the First Four), but can the Flyers join the city in the March headlines after a down year? 

Obadiah Toppin might end up being a key factor

He has an intriguing mix of size and athleticism. If he can make shots, he could be a big matchup problem in the Atlantic 10, a great complement to the talented young guards on the perimeter and Josh Cunningham in the post. 

The Flyers women’s team also could get a big boost from a player who sat out last season. 

A four-star recruit when she signed with Syracuse three years ago, Julia Chandler brings an intriguing mix of size and skill along with experience playing for the Orange and the Canadian National Team. 


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