2012 Postseason / 2012 Reds / Reds - General

The five stages of mourning

Ed: Please welcome Chase Howell to the Redleg Nation family. Chase will be posting occasionally here over the next few months (and maybe more), and we’re glad to have him.

It’s taken some time for me to work up the nerve to write this. The past few days I think I’ve gone through all the stages of mourning.

First, denial. It’s not over. 162 regular season games over five and half months, 97 wins through the good times and the bad. It can’t be over, not like this. It went so well, two games, no problem? No. It just…can’t.

Next, anger. Twenty-eight men left on base over the three home games? Catchers letting pitches by for extra bases? Errors? This has been a team with a .985 regular season fielding percentage, sixth best in MLB, and now a bobble when it counts? And why look at that strike, Ryan Hanigan, even if it was close? Swing! You have guys running! Make contact! Dusty, why not pitch Chapman two innings when he’s hot? So many things…makes me…so…mad.

Then came bargaining. If you do this again next year, Reds, I’ll quit being a fan. But, redeem yourselves, win it all, and I’ll forget it ever happened. If you stay out of my head for awhile and let me try to look forward to college basketball, I’ll forget the pain. At least, oh gods of baseball, let Todd Frazier win Rookie of the Year, and I won’t be so upset.

Depression, the worst stage of all, hit next. I was irritable to those around me. In a daze, I was brokenhearted. How could they do this. This was the team, the time, Cincinnati had waited so long. Was it bad luck? No matter what I did, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Brandon Phillips played great. Homer Bailey pitched as if he were Justin Verlander’s long-lost twin. But now, they have to start all over again.

Finally, as I painfully write this, acceptance. 2012, despite the ending, was a great season for the Cincinnati Reds. The city rallied behind the team, and they responded with win after win. Vying for the best record in baseball, stars like Ryan Ludwick and Todd Frazier emerged in the absence of seemingly irreplaceable Joey Votto. Mat Latos demonstrated his worth on the mound, while Aroldis Champan became a national story as a closer. Long-term deals were signed, with Votto and Phillips sticking around for years to come. Bailey finally arrived after years of waiting, and DatDudeBP once again showed that he is one of the most underrated players in the league.

A 2012 National League Central Division Champions pennant now hangs on the wall of my room, with space around it for the seasons to come.

10 thoughts on “The five stages of mourning

  1. After the Reds clinched, my wife asked if I was going to buy the obligatory “Division Champs” t-shirts for the family. I thought about it for a moment and said, “No, that’s just too 2010.” . . . After they won the first two in SF, I told her, “See, this team is going to make some noise.” A few days later, I found myself working my way through the five stages.

    However, my acceptance is limited. I refuse to put a “Division Champs” pennant up next to the pictures of ’75, ’76, and ’90; the pictures of Bench, Morgan, and Pete; the Marty and Joe autographed ball; and other assorted stuff. Was it a great regular season? . . . Sure. . . . Am I a Mariners fan with a 2001 “116 Wins!” pennant on my wall? . . . Hell no.

    By the way, judging from my post, it appears that I am stuck in stage two of the five stages of mourning.

  2. It wouldn’t be so bad if the WLB’s weren’t still in it. 😐 😳 😥 Go Giants! 😈

  3. I think I came to acceptance even before it happened. Given the pitching situation, game three looked like the next thing to a must win to me to begin with. Then when they got arguably the best pitching performance of the series from Bailey yet let the game slip away in the manner they did, I figured it would be an unexpected blessing if they managed to avoid being swept away.

    I will say the Giants made it easier for me to maintain acceptance with the defense they played in the bottom of the 8th of game 5. I felt like they won the series right there as much or more as the Reds lost it anywhere, outside of the passed ball and error. The Reds had every right to think they would have come out of that inning even or perhaps a run up and instead they got nothing. Game, set, and match.

  4. The mourning started for me in the first inning of game one when our 19 game ace went down. But what a surprise when LeCure, Latos, the bullpen, and Arroyo had us leaving S.F. two up and one to go. But only one run in game three with Bailey in control turned the tide. The big need for the Reds this off-season is to get a Tony Perez type RBI man in the lineup so that so many runners in scoring position are not left on base.

  5. @OhioJim: I too felt the Reds almost had to win Game 3. And they could have been won it so easily. They beat themselves with the mistakes we’ve talked so much about (BP’s trying for 3rd, the passed ball, Rolen’s bobble). I’m bothered by another pair of mistakes. With the way Homer, Marshall, and Chapman were pitching, that would have been a 1-0 win without the gift run.

    Homer hits the weak hitting Blanco leading off. I don’t think of a hit batsman as being like a walk, I think of it as being like an error. And without that error, very unlikely that the Giants score a run. To make matters much worse, rather than retire the weak hitters coming up, Homer lets the speedy Blanco on first affect him, and issues his only walk of the game, throwing 4 straight outside pitches to Crawford. The first two were so far outside the broadcasters called them “semi-pitchouts”.

    Why didn’t Hanigan or Price or someone, after the first couple of outside balls, tell him he needs to focus on the batter ? A lack of urgency. Hey, we’ve got a 2-0 lead in the series, lead 1-0 in the middle of this game, Homer’s pitching great, nothing to worry.

  6. I’ve had my stages too. After Game 3 I felt anger, that they’d blown an extraordinay opportunity to sweep the series. The Reds rallying in Game 5 gave me a lift. They forced the Giants to make tough plays to hold their lead, and then in the 9th they really got me going. When Bruce was up, that was as excited as I’ve been as a Reds fan since 1990. As he fouled off pitch after pitch, I was just waiting for the mistake he would hit out of the park for one of the most thrilling wins in Reds history.

    When he flied out instead, I still felt proud of the Reds and was in a sort of denial (my stage 2) about the loss. And I was thrilled about the electric atmosphere at Game 5 and all the things that Steve M. wrote about. Big time baseball was back in Cincy.

    The next day I woke up depressed. The worst had happened, the Reds had been swept at home with a 2-0 series lead. Canceled things, had trouble doing what I needed to do. Right now I’m still in self-therapy for depression (why I’m writing this).

    There are some consolations: despite Game 3, I agree with those who say it was a hard fought, well played series. Every other series I’ve watched has been much sloppier, until the Cardinals-Giants game last nite. My depression will end when the WS is over and I can really turn the page and look to 2013.

  7. I’ve made comments about how the Giants and 2006 Cardinals had to endure years of post-season disappointment before their WS wins. Philly fans were frustrated for years by a consistently winning team that did not win the WS until 2008.

    Another example you don’t think of right away is the 2009 Yankees. The post season frustration they experienced from 2001 thru 2008 might be unparalleled in baseball history. A Mariano Rivera save away from the 2001 WS and they lose it. A 3-0 lead over the Red Sox in the 2004 ALCS and they lose it, making postseason history in a much more major way than the 2012 Reds. They lose in Cleveland thanks to a gnat attack in whatever year that was – Joe Torre had every right to take his team off the field in those dangerous conditions, he was passive.

    The point to all this is that the usual route to a WS win is consistently winning, making it to the postseason often. Looking at the 2012 Reds, who were better than the 2010 Reds in both the regular and post season, and at some of the players coming up in the organization, I have a real good feeling about that.

  8. Great post, Chase. Love the last sentence: “A 2012 National League Central Division Champions pennant now hangs on the wall of my room, with space around it for the seasons to come.”

    The 2012 Reds won 97 games in the regular season, including every game I happened to badly want them to win. The best regular season for the Reds since 1996, a team to remember but also just the beginning.

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