Yesterday came news that my beloved Cincinnati Reds had traded Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez (good to see being overrated in basketball didn’t affect his baseball game. Oh, it’s not that Felipe Lopez?) to the Washington Nationals for 5 other players. While I understand this blog’s (Turkey Hunter’s) disdain for baseball, I felt compelled to comment because one of the affected players is, in fact, a Kentuckian.
I have followed Kearns’ career ever since the days that he was the toast of the Bluegrass as a prep baseballer at Lafayette High School in Lexington. In fact, Kearns narrowly beat me out for the 1998 Kentucky Mr. Baseball Award (If you consider his number of votes minus zero to be narrow). Kearns was drafted 7th overall by the Reds in the amateur draft that same year and quickly progressed through the Reds farm system, ultimately getting called up to the Reds in 2002. His career has been one full of promise as he has established himself as an above average player who has a good bat and can drive in runs. By combining this with a very strong throwing arm and sure-handedness from his right field position, Kearns was generally regarded as someone who would eventually make an all-star team and put up 30 homer/100 RBI seasons if he could stay healthy.
Because Kearns was such a good, and young, player for the hapless Reds, it pained me to see him go. Here was a Red I followed closely due to his being from Kentucky, not unlike how Kentucky fans follow the careers of former Wildcats in the pros, and seeing him depart for Washington made me unhappy. I could debate the merits of this trade (although the baseball experts are currently ripping the Reds for getting so little and giving up so much), but I would think it be met with little interest on this blog.
Thus is the paradox of a fan when he becomes attached to certain sports, teams, and/or players: He wants the team to improve in every possible way, but without getting rid of any of his favorite players. In his heart of hearts, Matthew (you’re welcome, Mrs. Blondell) knows that trading Woo to the University of Maryland for a wobbly picnic table would benefit the basketball Cats, but I can guarentee you that he would never pull the trigger on such a deal due to his love for Woo.
Best of luck, Austin. Continue to do the Commonwealth proud, and avoid going to dinner with Livan Hernandez and Chad Cordero, otherwise we will be forced to think of Jared Lorenzen-like baseball names for your rotundity.