Homer Bailey is Easy to Like, but Hard to Love

Homer Bailey reminds me of one of those 1st round draft pick quarterbacks in the NFL who the fan base really likes as a person, but is simply playing out the string of their final year in the city. That’s how it is beginning to feel.

Not to say it can’t work out still, because it can. But Bailey missed a golden opportunity last night to make a statement about his 2012 season and he put the Reds in the season hole against the Cardinals by allowing four runs via the home run ball in the first inning of their 7-1 loss to St. Louis.

Looking at things on a higher level, the fan base in Cincinnati seems to genuinely really like Homer Bailey. We really want to see him succeed, maybe above anyone else in the starting rotation currently. There’s a little piece of us that dies with every non-quality start, with every sub-par season that Bailey seems to post.

And it just feels like what some scouts said about Bailey when he was drafted could end up being true–Bailey might end up succeeding in his career, but probably not for the team that drafted him. You don’t want to believe it, but you can’t help it. Things just seem somewhat star-crossed in Cincinnati for the 7th overall pick of the 2004 MLB draft.

Homer is likable. He’s a good old boy. He’s one of ‘us’. Grew up on the farm that Jay Bruce, Drew Stubbs, Paul Janish, and the other Texas contingency did coming up through the minor leagues. By all accounts, he should be part of this nucleus. There’s a little bit of us all in Homer Bailey. We try and fail; try again, and still somehow manage to miss out on succeeding.

He’s bristled with pitching coaches, changed his ways and came back a more mature young man. Several members of the media have remarked on this, with Hal McCoy being one of the main ones.

We all want this guy to succeed so badly because of who he should have been all the way. In his prime at age 26, he should be one of the best pitchers in baseball by now. But he isn’t. And every time we get close to loving him (remember the last two months of 2009, anyone?) he gives us a reason that we can’t in the form of three first inning home runs. Or he walks the 8th hitter and allows a single to the pitcher. Or Pujols hits a grand slam off a reliever to blow Bailey’s win.

We all want to love Homer Bailey, but over six years we haven’t really gotten the chance to know Homer Bailey. He doesn’t really do Redsfest. He doesn’t endorse anything. He’s quiet and he takes the ball every fifth day without any eyebrow raising quotes. Yet there’s still something we really all like about this kid.

The sands of time are running through the hourglass for Bailey in Cincinnati. He’s got to pitch better very soon in order to slow them down. This was supposed to be the year. There’s time left for Bailey to succeed in Cincinnati. But, like some of the wild game that Bailey likes to hunt in the off-season; it’s becoming more endangered by the day.