Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

July 12, 2014

REDS MADNESS: Phillips shocks Cobra off bat

ASHLAND — Sometimes, it's nice to just escape reality.

That's why we love to invest time in far-fetched movies, riveting fiction reads, and addictive fantasy football leagues.

Our sports staff felt like "Reds Madness" was the perfect way to entertain die-hard baseball fans in the oppressive heat of a dry summer.

By seeding the best Reds of the past 80 seasons and randomly placing them in four regions of a bracket with a March Madness feel, we thought it would spark both conversation and interaction.

While we received a total of just 36 ballots, it was more than enough to come up with who our readers think is the best Reds pitcher, position player and manager since 1935.

And, wow, we had some close calls! Maybe even a couple eye-catching plays at the plate!

Today, we unveil the Sweet Sixteen of the position players' and pitchers' brackets.

We asked you to rank your top 12 in each category. Extra points went to those ranked first, second or third in each ballot — they collected four, three and two points, respectively.

As you'll see when you check out the bracket, the percentages listed beside names denote the portion of total points received by a player in comparison to his "opponent" in each matchup. Opponent is in quotes because you could've voted for both in your dozen!

Basically, the number of total points advances players through each round of the bracket. The points that each player racked up will be revealed when the champion is crowned.

Most matchups played true to the seeding — which means the sports staff did a darn good job of seeding (tooting our own horn) — but there was one upset.

Four-time Gold Glover Brandon Phillips slithered right by Dave "The Cobra" Parker in a stunner!

The slick-fielding Phillips garnered 59 percent of the total votes received by both of those players.

Parker was a two-time All-Star in his four-season stint with the Reds. He came in second in MVP voting in 1985. But it wasn't enough for our readers as Phillips moves on.

Of the 16 position players remaining, Phillips and Joey Votto are the only active Reds.

There are plenty of intriguing Sweet Sixteen matchups. Teammates Barry Larkin and Eric Davis will duke it out, as will Big Red Machine staples Pete Rose and Dave Concepcion.

Tony Perez and Votto tussle in a battle of first baseman.

Could Ken Griffey Jr. pull off a shocking upset over the beloved Johnny Bench? Well, if his Mariners days factored in, it would certainly give him a better chance!

Lower-seeded pitchers had little chance of advancing past the first round.

While there were some tightly fought duels, no one seeded fifth or worse survived. The closest to clawing his way out was Pedro Borbon, who fell to John Franco by a 51-49 percentage margin.

Franco was a three-time All-Star in the late 1980s, piling up an average of 35 saves a year while consistently compiling a tidy earned run average — his best ERA was 1.57 in 1988. Also a reliever, Borbon earned double-digit wins in three different seasons.

The only other loser to get within 20 percent of his opponent was Rob Dibble, who gave Ewell "The Whip" Blackwell a run for his money.

Hometown favorite Don Gullett will square off against Clay "The Hawk" Carroll, a teammate in the '70s, in the round of 16.

Only three of the 64 total players involved received no votes — Dmitri Young, Kal Daniels and Jeff Shaw.

Come back Monday for the uncovering of the Elite Eight!

The Final Four and Championship for each of the three brackets — managers, too — will be unveiled on Tuesday.

AARON SNYDER can be reached at asnyder@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2664. Follow @DindependentQB on Twitter.

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