Last Wednesday, Nick Senzel hit a walk-off home run that finished off a sweep of the first-place Texas Rangers. On the field, immediately after his exuberant run around the bases and raucous celebration at home plate with his teammates, Senzel spoke with Jim Day. Viking helmet on his head, cape draped around his shoulders, you could see the emotion on Senzel’s face and hear it in his voice.
Jim Day: Where does this moment stack up in your major league career right now?
Nick Senzel: This may be number one for me, Jimmy. I mean, I’ve been through a lot. You know, it’s emotional, to have these moments like this and be able to win a game for us. Been a long time coming.
JD: You have been plugging away at the plate, it’s tough to get your timing down, coming back from injury, you’re out for so long. Do you feel like you’re there now?
NS: I’m getting there. I’m getting there, Jim, and we’re working every day. You know me, I won’t stop. I won’t stop until it’s right. You know, it’s a special group of guys, man. I mean, I couldn’t do it without the support that I have here, and…it’s coming. It’s coming.
JD: And you have been, a lot of times, because of injuries, sitting back and watching. To be a part of this, to walk it off with a home run, how’s that feel?
NS: I got no words to describe it. I know last year, I got me one. It was a single but I like the homer a lot better. Yeah, I’m blessed. I’m blessed. I thank God every day for this opportunity. Big win. Big sweep, baby!
My column this week over at the Mother Ship is about Senzel and Jonathan India. While everyone is focused on the prospects working their way to the majors, or the Big Three starting pitchers, I kinda think the most interesting storyline around this year’s Cincinnati Reds revolves around Senzel and India.
I’ve been covering the Reds for Cincinnati Magazine for ten seasons now, and I’ve been writing about baseball for public consumption for much longer than that.* From the beginning, everything I’ve written has been from the perspective of the fan.
*Remember the time I tried to argue at ESPN.com that Homer Bailey had finally developed into an ace?
Listen, there are plenty of outlets that will present you with the straight news about the Reds. The Cincinnati-area beat writers largely do a good job, but they aren’t speaking for fans. In fact, they’ll tell you that they can’t be fans and still do their job properly. How many writers out there speak for Reds fans? There are some great blogs (such as Redleg Nation, Red Reporter, and Reds Content Plus), and Mo Egger has written some good stuff from the fan perspective at The Athletic (though not in a while). But the perspective of the dedicated, hardcore Cincinnati Reds fan is largely absent in the mainstream press.
I have been fortunate that my corporate overlords at Cincinnati Magazine give me the freedom to write about the Reds from the fan’s perspective. (Can you imagine this being published in the Enquirer, for example?) Don’t get me wrong: I’m not trying to claim the mantle of “Voice of the Fan” or anything silly like that. I’m just saying that I advertise my biases openly. I’m a Reds fan. I’m not trying to be objective. I’m trying to tell the truth as I see it, from the fan’s perspective.
And that brings me back to Nick Senzel. The first feature I wrote for the print edition of the Magazine was about Senzel. I poured my heart and soul into that piece, and I was hopeful that it would be my first cover story. I mean, tell me this wouldn’t have made for a glorious cover photo:
The headline of that feature was Nick Senzel has been proving the doubters wrong his entire baseball career. Senzel was gracious enough to spend some time with me, answering my questions and giving me some insight into where he came from, and where he hoped to go.
I’m still very proud of that piece, and if you haven’t read it, I encourage you to do so. It still holds up, I think, and it examines all the hurdles Senzel has had to overcome. Unfortunately, it didn’t make the cover of the Magazine that year because it was 2020, and you will remember that the baseball season was delayed. Oh well. Maybe I’ll get the cover some day.
In the years since, I’ve been an unabashed fan of Senzel. Every time I mention him on my podcast, I tell the truth as I see it…but I also mention that I like the guy and I’m rooting for him. And the truth of Senzel’s MLB career has been ugly, as he’d be the first to admit. Now, after all these years of injury, Senzel has yet another hurdle to overcome. He’s literally fighting for his big league career in 2023.
I’m not going to go overboard here. I’m not going to tell you that SENZEL IS BACK, BABY! It has only been one week of good production…more accurately, it’s been a week of great production (.591/.640/1.046 with a double, three homers, nine runs, and nine RBI in his last six games). But it’s just one week. Remember last summer, when Senzel hit .419/.468/.581 over a two week stretch?
But I will say this: I’m rooting for Senzel to be back, baby! After all the injuries, after all the setbacks, seeing Senzel begin to fulfill some of that awesome potential even for a brief moment has been fun. Wouldn’t it be great to see him work his way back into the Reds plans again?
I know, I know…I’m turning back into the dreamy-eyed fan again. I know the odds are against him. But if you don’t like comeback stories, are you even a sports fan?
This week at Cincinnati Magazine: India and Senzel put the Reds on their backs
There is never a dull moment with the Cincinnati Reds. A week ago, they were on the skids—losers of six games in a row after a four-game sweep at the hands of the Pirates, on pace to lose 106 games over the course of a full season. Certain writers were discussing whether manager David Bell should be on the hot seat.
Then, out of nowhere, the Reds caught fire. The offense, which had scored just six runs in the previous six games, exploded for 19 in a three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers. Cincinnati followed that up by scoring 18 runs as they took two of three in Oakland. Baseball is a strange game, man.
Even stranger, the offensive charge was led by a player who’d hit just .229 over the last three seasons. Read the rest of my weekly column over at Cincinnati Magazine.
What’s Chad Watching?
Caught “Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant” at the theater over the weekend, and really enjoyed it. I’m a sucker for Ritchie’s movies — he’s the Nick Senzel of film for me — but I wasn’t sure what to expect from this one. I won’t spoil much except to say that Jake Gyllenhaal is outstanding, and the film should’ve been entitled “Saving Private Ahmed.” I recommend it.
“Modern Romance” had been on my watchlist for a while. Written and directed by Albert Brooks, it is an emotional rollercoaster about the relationship between Brooks’ character Robert and Kathryn Harrold’s “Mary.” Almost pitch-perfect, and laugh-out-loud funny in places.
I’m not certain how I had gone this long without seeing “Natural Born Killers” but I corrected that oversight this week. Maybe I would have liked it better in 1994. It doesn’t hold up well, in my opinion. I will admit I’m not a fully paid member of the Oliver Stone fan club, however.
Finally, “The Blue Angel,” directed by Josef von Sternberg and starring Marlene Dietrich. It’s the sixth Dietrich movie I’ve seen thus far, and it’s decidedly the worst (though it’s not unwatchable, by any means). The best: “Touch of Evil,” directed by Orson Welles and starring Charlton Heston, Welles, and Janet Leigh.
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