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Rumble from the Jungle

Bringing the best in Cincinnati sports as well as debatable sports topics.

Mr. Casual Fan and Why MLB Needs to Rethink All-Star Game Fan Voting

There are a lot of casual baseball fans in America. Casual fans root for their hometown team and will even attend a couple games over the course of a season, but there is a good chance they won't be able to name more than three pitchers in the bullpen. They might not have a clue who the top prospects are down in Triple-A who may be the stars of tomorrow for their favorite team. Heck, they might not even be able to name the Triple-A affiliate for their favorite team. And you know what? That is absolutely fine. Why? People have lives. Jobs, spouses, children, etc. People are busy.

My Dad is a perfect example of Mr. Casual Fan. Picture him if you will. He is in his mid 50's, works hard everyday running his own business. Wakes up early and gets home late. He likes Bud Light (and doesn't get the "fancy craft beer thing") and gets his feathers ruffled when he hears a Katy Perry song (hell, so do I), and goes on a 20 minute rant of the good ol' music days. Every year, as the first Bengals game approaches, he'll make his way up to the store to buy a shirt and proudly support the Bengals. Well, only the last few years, since they are winning now. Are you getting my point yet? He knows Andy Dalton of course, but can't name an offensive lineman. Following a Geno Atkins sack this past year, he excitedly asked where "that guy" came from. "He's going to win rookie of the year! Now, THAT is what we were missing last year!" He had no idea Geno had been with the Bengals for multiple seasons and had established himself as one of the top DT's in the league. 

Mr. Casual fan loves to vote for the players on his team, but has no idea who Paul Goldschmidt is. Sports are mainly just a form of entertainment for most fans. A way to kill a few hours after work or on the weekend. I know more than a few people who refer to NFL games as "an excuse to day drink". Sweet. Pass me one. Pure entertainment for most people.

Again, that is OK. Really. Why? Because he will buy merchandise and go to a game or two a year and do his part to financially support the pro team he is a fan of. He is busy. He doesn't have time to watch every second of every game or read up on the stats of every player. I used to not get it, but now I do. I am a die-hard fan, but I am also 26 now, with a job, wife, and 1-year-old son running around. When I was 14, I knew every player and every stat about those players. I just simply don't have the time these days.

So, getting to my point. These players that we watch invest their entire lives to the game they play. From their childhood they eat, sleep and breathe the game. If you were a professional athlete, would you want something as important as an All-Star appearance left to be decided by Mr./Ms. Casual Fan? All-Star appearances are important to a players legacy. The more appearances, the better their chance of ending up in Cooperstown.

I will use the following example. Judging purely off of performance/numbers, you decide who is the better candidate for an All-Star appearance:

Player 1.) .278, 6 HR's, 39 RBI, .336 OBP

Player 2.) .284, 17 HR's, 45 RBI, .350 OBP

This should be obvious. I hope you selected player #2. Well, player #1 is David Wright and is actually second place in fan voting to start at Third Base in the NL (and was in first place until recently). Player #2 is Cincinnati Reds Third Basemen, Todd Frazier, and he is not even in the top-5 in fan voting. Now, I risk being called a homer for using this as my example, but Frazier is not the only one getting snubbed. See also: LaRoche, Rizzo, Gordon.

Now, David Wright is an exceptional player who has had an outstanding career so far, but in his off years, he benefits from the name he has built for himself and a huge market in New York. Frazier is still relatively unknown (although a fan-favorite in Cincy) and plays for a small-market team. I understand that fans want to see the most popular players in the game during the All-Star game, but is that fair to the players? I feel that the each year, the rosters should be made up from the most deserving players for that year. If David Wright is having an off year, I want to see the guy who's plastering the ball in the ASG, not the guy who is struggling. I don't care what his name is. For example, I voted Paul Goldschmidt for First Base in a town where Joey Votto Plays. Why? Goldschmidt deserves it more. Simple. His name might not be as big as Votto's (yet), but he is the most deserving. If we pick the most popular players every single year for the ASG, how do the talented young players make a name for themselves if we just keep picking the big name guys despite poor seasons?

My point is this: If I am a player who has spent my entire life devoted to baseball, do I really want Mr. or Ms. Casual fan having the power to pick who starts for each league? No. I want the other players, coaches, writers, etc picking. The ones who invest just as much time in the game as I do. Someone who truly understands the game. Until that time comes, go place a vote for the deserving players. And if I've sold you, place a vote for Todd Frazier.

Reds' Chance at Redemption, Chad Johnson, and 25-year-old beer.

(Photo: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Top of the Order:

1.) Oh, my beloved Cincinnati Reds. Last night, around 7:05, I sit comfortably on the couch eager to watch Mat Latos' first home start of the season. Latos is usually a pitcher who has trouble getting help from the offense. The Reds put together an impressive 2nd inning and scored eight runs as they took an 8-0 lead. Now, I love baseball as much as the next guy, but I've also got a lot of things I could do around 7:30 pm on a Friday night (or at least I'd like to think that) when my team takes an 8-0 lead. I figure I can fire up the grill, have a brew, and make some dinner while casually checking on the game. Much to my dismay, Edwin Encarnacion showed back up to GABP with a vengeance. For those who don't remember, Edwin was Traded to the Jays for Scott Rolen a few years back before developing into one of the MLB's best power hitters. Edwin hit a 3 run homer off Latos to make the score 8-3. Hey, good for Edwin, but no big deal. We're still up 8-3. So I go on with grilling and... well, lets just stop it there. It's too painful to go through it a second time. Long story short, Encarnacion hit TWO 3-run home runs and the Reds turned an 8-0 lead into a 14-9 loss. Wow. Well, thankfully, they have the perfect chance at redemption. They again led 8-0 tonight. Lets see if they can learn from their mistakes and finish up business. It is 11-1 at the time of this post.

2.) Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson made his CFL debut for the Montreal Alouettes last night. He had an underwhelming performance posting only one catch for 13 yards. He compared his CFL debut to... losing his virginity.  "It's similar to the feeling before I lost my virginity," he said, via the Montreal Gazette. "There's a certain level of excitement ... anticipation ... not knowing what's going to happen or what I'm going to get." Nice. I, for one, am still rooting for Chad. Go Alouettes.

3.) Finally, "Hu-Dey" beer is a Cincinnati classic. Named after the Bengals' chant "WHO DEY?!", Hu-dey beer was last made in 1988, on the Bengals run to the Super Bowl. What happens when a man tries to chug a 25-year old can of Hu-day? Probably exactly what you'd think... watch here. Mmmm. Smooth.

Houston Texans: Do the Franchise a Favor - Hire Mike Zimmer as Head Coach

First, meet Mike Zimmer. 

After their 11th consecutive loss (and second of the season to the lowly Jags during primetime), the Texans finally had enough. Consequently, the loss led to the decision of firing Head Coach, Gary Kubiak. The 2012 season was arguably the best season for the young Texans' franchise. They piled up a franchise best 12 wins and J.J Watt was named Defensive Player of the Year. They went on to defeat the Bengals in the Wild Card round for the second consecutive year. After such a promising season, what could have possibly led to such a disaster of a season for the Texans? Inconsistency at the Quarterback position? Arian Foster's injury? Whatever the reasons, that is for another article. This article will focus on what the Texans should do to right the ship and get back the momentum the franchise had in 2012. Consider Mike Zimmer. Who? If you haven't heard of Mike Zimmer by now, it is time you find out. Mike Zimmer has seemingly been a head coaching candidate for openings for a few years now. He interviewed for the Dolphins before they eventually decided on Philbin. Take a look at Zimmer's coaching resume: 








University of Missouri
(Defensive Assistant)
Weber State University
(Inside Linebackers Coach)
Weber State University
(Defensive Backs Coach)
Washington State University
(Defensive Coordinator)
Dallas Cowboys
(Defensive Backs Coach)
Dallas Cowboys
(Defensive Coordinator)
Atlanta Falcons
(Defensive Coordinator)
Cincinnati Bengals
(Defensive Coordinator)

Zimmer is a no-nonsense, fiery coach who knows how to get the best out of his players. Mike ZImmer has turned the Bengals' unheralded defense into one of the best defenses in the league since taking the job in 2008. He has taken outcasts such as Adam "Pacman" Jones and Terrence Newman and gave them a shot when nobody else would. He has taken an undrafted Vontaze Burfict and turned him into one of the NFL's best linebackers in only his second season. Burfict currently leads the NFL in tackles and is making a case for Defensive Player of the Year. Geno Atkins was a 4th round pick who is now considered one of the best Defensive Tackles in the League. And guess what? The Bengals lost two of their best defensive players (Geno Atkins and Leon Hall) for the season. Many saw a mid-season collapse coming, but Zimmer runs a "next man in" defense and is still near the top defenses in the league. Zimmer is a tough love coach and his players love playing for him. 

Kubiak was a pretty laid-back coach. Not too many highs or lows. Zimmer is exactly the kind of coach the Texans need to put the fire you know where and get them back to the top. As a Bengals fan, I would hate to lose Zimmer as our DC, but he has not been shy about the fact that he longs for a chance to be a NFL Head Coach, and I would be happy for him. If he could come to Cincy and take a lowly defense and turned them into one the the best in the league, just imagine what he could do with a defense built around J.J Watt. Zimmer deserves his chance, and I would not want to face the team that finally gives him an opportunity.

Also, check out some great behind-the-scenes footage of Zimmer in Hard Knocks here. (Episode 1)

And here. Episode 2.