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Sports Today: Sorting out reactions to the Reds’ firing Bryan Price

For the second day in a row, we had some breaking news first thing in the morning. Here is my tribute to Earle Bruce, who passed away this morning after 87 years of filling the world with passion and energy for football and Ohio State. 

Here’s what else is going on… 

Cincinnati Reds general manager Dick Williams said pretty much exactly what I wanted to hear in regards to the firing of Bryan Price. 

“We’re very focused on creating a sense of urgency for these guys to perform now,” Williams said yesterday. “We talk about rebuilding, and there’s things going on away from the field and in the farm system and investments in the franchise that are part of that rebuilding process, but when guys show up to work every day, they need to have a sense of urgency to win that day. They need to take care of the details on the field. They need to play hard. They need to play smart. They need to play it right. That we can control, and we need to get this team playing that way because we know they have the ability to do it. That is the short-team immediate focus.”

Beyond that, I have seen the argument made that firing Price was pointless because the team wasn’t really good enough to win. 

That’s a pretty dumb way to look at it. 

For one thing, it ignores just how terrible the Reds have been since the start of the season. 

It’s not as if we’re talking about a squad that is a few games under .500. 

They have not been below average. 

They have been dreadful — historically bad. 

Cincinnati’s record is 3-15, and there’s no reason to think the Reds should have many, if any, more wins the way they have played… except if like me you think Price botched a handful of chances to win games with head-scratching late-game decisions. 

I’ve also seen it suggested the whole organization is rotten and they need to start over. 

This isn’t completely out of the question, but it’s a pretty big overreaction at this point. 

Yes multiple people — players, managers, management, ownership, etc — had to make mistakes for the team to be in this predicament, but many of them are already gone. 

Walt Jocketty blew the end of the last era of good times with help from Dusty Baker, his scouting department and at least some on the development side. 

Several years of terrible drafts and an inability to find cheap options to fill out the bench and the bullpen at the major-league level were major issues, and Baker’s attempts to maximize a flawed roster were generally inept. 

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Jocketty badly misplayed the start of the rebuild, perhaps because ownership wouldn’t let hims start it as soon as he needed to. 

Whatever the reason, the Reds waited too long to start the rebuild at the major-league level. 

That prevented them from maximizing the return on players like Johnny Cueto, Aroldis Chapman and Jay Bruce and exacerbated the effect of those bad drafts. 

(They were able to sell high on Todd Frazier and got surprisingly good returns on some other players who weren’t as high-profile, like Mike Leake, Alfredo Simon and Dan Straily.) 

More recently, they seem to have figured out a few things in the draft. The past two efforts have been rated very highly. 

Help is on the way, and there are good pieces in place already. 

Health remains an issue, of course. Figuring out if anything can be done about that is not easy. 

Williams has only been in the big chair for about a year and a half, and I’m willing to see how his early moves play out. 

Waiting on young pitchers to develop can be maddening, but it is also pretty clearly their best option given their market and the ballpark. 

They talked about accountability when Baker was fired. 

Price never answered that bell. 

As he was shown the door, a need to create a winning culture was identified. 

Will anything change? 

We’ll see. 

It couldn’t have gotten much worse… 

Meanwhile, the firing of Price yesterday morning obscured a few other noteworthy items. 

Chief among them was Hunter Greene’s second start

Watching this talented young guy develop is already fascinating. 

The South Bend Cubs were clearly sitting on his fastball, and they hit it hard a few times. 

He didn’t hesitate to go to his secondary pitches, working curves and changes to varying degrees of success. 

Having to pitch through a pretty hard rain for 10 minutes or so seemed to frustrate him, but that’s understandable. 

He still hung in there and showed his competitiveness. 

It was less than three innings, but it was encouraging to see his mental makeup and tools despite his inexperience… 

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Dragons pitcher Hunter Greene went 2.1 innings in a rain-delayed second start, a 4-1 defeat of the visiting South Bend Cubs at Fifth Third Field in Dayton on Wed., April 18, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Ohio State held spring exit interviews with its assistant coaches Wednesday, and the most noteworthy local development regarded Josh Myers

Coach Greg Studrawa revealed the Miamisburg product overcame some struggles early in the spring to turn in a strong final two weeks as he learns to play center. 

He might have to settle for the backup job to fifth-year senior Brady Taylor, but that’s not a bad place to be for an offensive lineman still only a year out of high school. 

Defensive line coach Larry Johnson also had great things to say about Wayne grad Robert Landers, a tackle who has shown a lot of growth as a leader...

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Ohio State offensive line coach Greg Studrawa breaks down the competition between Brady Taylor and Miamisburg grad Josh Myers to be the starting center this fall.

Finally we have the Cincinnati Bengals schedule

This slate looks tougher to me than the NFL’s calculation of last year’s winning percentages indicates it should be. 

Maybe that’s just a function of being unsure of how good the Bengals will actually be. 

 

The Browns and Colts are rebuilding, but those AFC West teams and the Dolphins all have the potential to be playoff contenders with the right moves so there is a high potential for variance. 

Of course, last season I was incorrectly optimistic about the Bengals based in large part because I thought their schedule was pretty easy. 

That’s not exactly how it worked out. 

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