Wednesday, February 07, 2007

“They had the California look, and frankly, we didn’t like it” - Rob Dibble

Allen at Over the Monster has a bit on Billy Hatcher, including this great memory:
The story of the 1990 WS is that the Reds swept the Oakland A's. They were the benfactors of a dominant pitching performance by Jose Rijo: 2-0, 0.59 ERA, 15.1 IP, 5 K. They were also the benefactors of a great hitting performance from Billy Hatcher: 12 ABs, 9 H, 6 R, 4 2B, 1 3B. .750/.800/1.250, for a 4 game OPS of 2.050. This was important for Hatcher, who could feel some sense of redemption after the corked bat incident in 1987.
While I don't remember the corked bat incident, I most certainly remember Hatcher's stellar performance during the greatest Reds period of my life. I can remember thinking he would never make an out when he had the 7 consecutive hits, and well, he only made three outs the whole series.

We were in first place during the entire year, the first team to ever go wire to wire. We were led by pitching rather than the big bats - the Nasty Boys, Jose Rijo, Tom Browning, and Jack Armstrong. (What I did not remember is that Charlton started 16 games.) The Reds played small ball with pitching and speed, having 6 players reaching double digits in stolen bases, and two of them, Eric Davis and Billy Hatcher, reaching 30. There were no superstars, only a young Barry Larkin, Chris Sabo, ED, and Paul O'Neill who played as a team.

The excitement of the year still lingers in the hearts of every Reds fan (much as I imagine it does for those who remember the grand years of the Big Red Machine.) After four straight years of coming in second place, it was our time, a time when the magic of baseball filled our spirits and brought plenty of goosebumps and tears of pure joy. The incandescent nights of October belonged to Cincinnati, the birthplace of professional baseball and a city where winning was a tradition.

The signing of Aaron Harang may signal a return to small ball after years of leading the world in offense. But you know, although the offense is fun to watch, winning is much more precious, as those of us who remember 1990 know. We've got one of the top 1-2 punches in baseball, and 3-4 could be worse. We have a strong infield and a Hall of Famer roaming the outfield next to a guy who has absorbed some of the spirit of Charlie Hustle and a guy who hits baseballs to the moon. We have some depth in the pen, some depth on the bench, and a guy named Homer waiting in the wings. I think if the baseball gods look down on the Reds and give Griffey one last hurrah of a season, give Alex Gonzalez 15-20 hits above his average year, and help Bill Bray realize his potential, we have a really good 2007 coming to us.

Let's pray we don't have to have one of those "20 year reunions" that teams have when they haven't won a World Series in a pair of decades.

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