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The Daily Banter: Vote for Joey Votto Today

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First things first. For a moment, I'm going to talk about the Cincinnati Reds. Just a moment. Don't like it, scroll down and blind yourself from this temporary talk about baseball. With 82 games in the books, the Reds, who are 12 games over .500, maintain a two-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals. They destroyed the Cubs in two games of the four-game series over the weekend with both games having at least eight runs scored in a single inning.

But obviously the talk in Cincinnati isn't so much how the Reds are doing. It's how the hell does Joey Votto get snubbed out of this year's All Star game? Not only is the Reds first baseman the National League leader with 21 homeruns, he's also in the top-five of all three Triple Crown categories and he leads Albert Pujols with a 1.017 OPS. Red Reporter makes their case while you can still vote for Votto in the fan vote. By the way, vote for Votto. Now.

+ Dayton Daily News' Carlos Holmes wonders how much Brian Leonard can step up if Cedric Benson is out for any reason this year (uh-hum, suspended).

“I feel like I can do anything,” said Leonard, who reminds some of a young John Riggins, the Hall of Fame back who starred for the Jets and Redskins. “The coaches believe I can do it and feel comfortable with me at any position. My reps have increased, and I’m expected to be more involved in the offense. I’m a team player and will do whatever is asked of me.”

If you were to ask me to choose between Leonard and backup running back Bernard Scott, I would say that Leonard is better built to be a short-term feature back with Scott resuming his scat-back receiving roll out of the backfield.

+ Marc Hardin wonders if this is Andre Caldwell's year to breakout.

+ Former Oakland Raiders quarterback, and a bigger quarterback bust than Akili Smith and David Klingler combined, JaMarcus Russell was "charged with possession of a controlled substance -- codeine syrup -- after being arrested at his home in Alabama on Monday." This makes any comeback attempt particularly hard, wouldn't you say? The Jets now have no interest.

+ It's very possible that the Cincinnati Bengals could be looking at drafting a running back early in the 2011 NFL Draft. Gil Brandt provides an early prospect list of running backs that could be entering the draft next year.

+ Finally. Conan The Barbarian: The Musical