For the entirety of his nearly 40-year broadcasting career, Christopher Russo has never shied away from saying what he feels about anything happening on the baseball diamond.
Votto, a 17-year veteran with an MVP and Gold Glove on his résumé, boasts one of the biggest personalities in baseball, and is perhaps the perfect active player to serve as a foil for Russo’s boisterous persona.
The interview started harmlessly enough, with Votto exchanging pleasantries with co-host Alanna Rizzo, and answering her question about his time with the Reds with the type of introspective knowledge that we’ve come to expect from Votto.
Then Russo took his turn, and things changed.
For the entirety of Russo’s question about this season’s expectations, Votto treated his fingernails like they were the most important thing in the world before remarking without emotion, “Yup, we’ve got to perform.”
Votto brightened up again when Rizzo followed up with another question, but then put on an air of indifference when Russo spoke again -- until he remarked that Votto was “sharp as a tack,” which set Votto off on a rant that would put any WWE heel to shame.
For nearly a minute, Votto went on a monologue about Russo where Votto (jokingly) lambasted him on everything from his “Fifth Avenue tie” to “tailored suits” and his “perfectly coiffed Broadway hair.”
At the end of the rant, Votto told Russo that “not everyone can be the next Roger Peckinpaugh,” which led to Russo lifting his arms in joy at the mention of an old-timey ballplayer.
After that bit was over, the two shared their respect for one another and their lists of top-five Yankees (they both agreed Aaron Judge, Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams and Babe Ruth should be on the list; Votto said Paul O’Neill was the fifth-best Yankee, Russo said Lou Gehrig) before Russo asked Votto what this incredible season has been like for him and his teammates.
“There’s been so much meaning to [this season],” Votto said. “I’ve played quite a while and the fans have always been so supportive. My experience as a Red has been the best. This August and September should be fun for the fans.”
The Reds, who boast one of the best young cores in all of baseball, entered play on Thursday 1 1/2 games behind the Brewers in the NL Central and are holding onto the NL’s final Wild Card spot.
Votto, who joined social media last year, also spoke about how he feels more empowered to show his personality in today’s game compared to when he entered the league, which has helped him connect with the young stars in his clubhouse.
“The current environment in MLB allows us to be more dramatic on the field and show more of our personal side,” he said. “We’re here to entertain, and the fans want to connect with the players.”
Lastly, Russo and Rizzo asked Votto what he and his teammates need to do down the stretch to pick up a postseason berth. His answer will make any Reds fan want to run through a wall.
“We just need to continue to get better,” Votto said. “What goes unsaid is that every single day our young players get better. Everybody’s going to have their challenges, but I think it’s about how we adjust, adapt and we’ll see how the rest of the division plays.
“We’ve got to run through the finish line.”