Sunday, September 28, 2014


This was a summer when Reds baseball wasn't my summer. It's not totally the Reds' fault, but it mostly is.

I'm going to say this all started February 10, 2000. That was one of the best days of a Reds fan's life, the day when Junior came home. Who could have imagined the disappointment of the next decade? Is disappointment even the right word? How about devastation?

The next decade, as any real baseball fan knows, was one of utter heartbreak. Few teams have won more pennants than the Reds; no city has had professional baseball for as long as Cincinnati has.* Real baseball fans know this and know that the first decade of this millennium was an aberration. The casual fan looked upon the Reds as they did the Royals, Pirates, or any of another of underperforming teams - with disinterest. The media powers that be ignored Cincinnati completely - there were seasons when they didn't appear on national television once.

A few seasons of mediocrity may not have been a terrible thing, for the losing kind of forced a change in ownership. Bob Castellini's tenure as majority owner has seen baseball in Cincinnati restored; the Reds are respected once again. Of course, going to the post season three of the last five years has helped.

But it hasn't been enough for me. Going to the playoffs was like drinking salt water in the desert. It just makes you thirstier. From getting no hit in our first playoffs in fifteen years to blowing a two games to none lead in the NLDS two years later and then having to settle for a Wild Card death the next year, well, it's almost just a tease. The Reds haven't addressed the obvious holes in all of these years of winning, but no recent season was as bad as this one. The failure to do anything to improve the team was more disappointing than the team's play. I know it sounds ridiculous to say, but it feels like starting the year with eight guys on the DL was enough for Walt and Bob to throw in the towel when the team moved north in April.

What an ugly, ugly season.

How does one think a lineup that features Ryan Ludwick, Zack Cozart, a declining Brandon Phillips, an untested rookie in Billy Hamilton, a first baseman that is prone to lengthy times on the DL (with no backup), and a bench that features the likes of Ramon Santiago and whatever other mediocre roster spot started the season on the team. I don't even remember anymore, because that's how much of an impact they had on the team.

What was good about this season?

Johnny Cueto. The Reds wasted a hell of a year by the most underrated pitcher in baseball. Couldn't even bother to score enough runs for him to win his 20th game. [Update: Thankfully, this didn't come true. Reverse psychology...]

Devin Mesoraco. Now we know why Yasmani Grandel and Ryan Hanigan were let go. A catcher with a .900 OPS playing in Cincy? What is this, 1975?

Billy Hamilton. He could be better, but I think he exceeded our expectations. He can only get better, right?

Todd Frazier. A real power hitting third baseman. I'll take it. Also, it was cool to have a Reds player in the Home Run Derby.

Aroldis Chapman. The most exciting player in the game. It's actually fun to watch him pitch.

That's it. Everything else was really, really shitty.

I can't decide which is the shittiest thing to happen this season - Votto's mysterious injury, Homer's ridiculous contract, Bruce's inability to hit a baseball, the utter stupidity on the basepaths, Hoover continuing to be on the major league roster and being, I know what the shittiest thing was - the complete lack of roster moves that would improve the team, especially when Votto went down and no attempt to get him a backup was made.

I stopped watching. It was sometime in August. I listened to a few games on the radio but I no longer planned my evenings around Reds games, and I rarely bothered to ask the managers at Lou's City Bar to turn a screen to the Reds game. I didn't even make the effort to go to Baltimore when they came to town. No, I'm not a fairweathered fan. Heartbroken is the word. I cut the Reds from my life

Time for a roster purge. Keep Votto, Cueto, Chapman, Frazier, Mesoraco, and Hamilton, and get rid of the rest. That core is good enough, but they need a supporting cast. I hope to god Walt doesn't sit on his hands this year.

One last thought: Don't blame Price for this season. He was hardly given anything to work with.