After finishing up the final preseason game with a 16-7 victory over the Rams, Bengals football is just a week away. I can feel the warmth in my recliner already as time in my recliner tuning into NFL Sunday Ticket each week is my happy place. The Bengals playing in a Super Bowl or bust type of year, fantasy football drafts beginning, and feasting on snacks from 1 p.m. until dark — what else could you ask for?
This year feels different than any other year of my lifetime, as I truly feel we have the roster to bring home the Lombardi Trophy. Sept. 11 at 1 p.m. the Bengals host the Steelers at newly named Paycor Stadium. The current line sits at Cincinnati -6.5, and for the first time in a long time, I am glad to not be in the Steelers’ shoes. Pittsburgh has dominated Cincinnati throughout the years, as they historically lead the series 67-38-0. Despite the historical beatdown, Cincinnati looks to beat Pittsburgh for the fourth straight time and to assert themselves as the team to beat in the AFC North. I am more than excited for Joe Burrow and company to “run it back.”
Remember as a kid tuning into wrestling in the evening and watching the Undertaker return from the dead? I imagine Jessie Bates as the Undertaker in this scenario and all of the AFC’s wideouts with fright gleaming in their eyes, as he has officially signed his franchise tag and plans to play in the 2022-2023 NFL Season. I was beginning to think he was seriously going to sit this season out, but Bates has officially signed his $12 million-plus guaranteed contract and intends to join his teammates for another historic run.
While he had a stellar playoff performance, Bates had a mediocre regular season last year as he recorded the least amount of tackles in his career (88), 0 fumbles forced, and only one interception. This season has become a “prove it” season for No. 30, and I believe he is definitely up for the task ahead. The thought of Von Bell, Jessie Bates and Dax Hill leading this safety group is scary for all of this season’s opponents. Enjoy this type of roster while you can Cincinnati fans, as holding onto all of these star athletes is a hard thing to do in today’s game.
T.J. Friedl, the Cincinnati Reds outfielder, has been “Red hot” in the month of August. The John Calipari and Sean Miller relative (how crazy is that?) is batting .433, with a 1.333 OPS in the month of August. Friedl hopes to keep the bat hot in the next week, as the Reds have series against the Cardinals and Rockies. The Reds have currently played 126 games and the nightmare season ends Oct. 5. While the season has been hard for all fans, the end of this season will hopefully provide some “light” for the future of this ball club or at least be a time to evaluate who will be key pieces for this team going forward.
One person who comes to mind over the last quarter of the season is Jose Barrero. Barrero is batting .155 in his last 71 plate appearances and has a whopping 37 strikeouts. The 2021 Reds Minor League Player of the Year has to turn it around quick, as the farm system holds a long list of those who are eager to get their chance at taking his spot. De La Cruz, Marte, Arroyo, McLain, Steer and Acosta are all shortstop-capable players with hopes of being in the big leagues sooner rather than later.
A look at traded players
With the Reds being 20-plus games back in the NL Central, I figured this week would be a great week to take a look at traded players and how they are currently performing:
· Brandon Drury was the Reds best player before trading him away at the deadline and since then he is batting only .198.
· Former Reds pitcher Tyler Mahle has spent his time on the injured list with an injured shoulder.
· Luis Castillo has been phenomenal and has improved his ERA to 2.85 with 129 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.07. The 29-year-old has quickly become a fan favorite in Seattle and he deserves every bit of praise from Mariners fans.
· Since Aug. 12, Tyler Naquin is 2-24 with 14 strikeouts with the Mets and has been a disappointing late add for their team thus far.
· Jesse Winker is batting .227, which ranks at 126th in the majors and only has 13 home runs and 48 RBIs.
· Eugenio Suarez is batting roughly the same, .226 average, but has added 22 homeruns and 72 RBIs.
· Tommy Pham has made quite an impression in Boston, which is a hard thing to accomplish, as he has demolished the baseball since joining their team. He is batting over .300 since joining the Red Sox even while dealing with some back issues at 34 years old.
It is always hard to watch players leave your favorite team and if this past deadline and offseason turns out to be a “fumble” by Krall and ownership, I can’t imagine how long it would take to recover. Until then, we must put our trust in Krall and everything he is doing with our minor league system, as we have put all of our eggs in one basket.
Matthew McAdow is a Peebles resident. He works in human resources in the nuclear industry and has been an avid Cincinnati fan his entire life. He is an Ohio Christian University graduate and has always enjoyed giving an honest opinion on multiple topics regarding Cincinnati sports.