Truth be told, we knew this day would arrive. Heck, we demanded it. There were disagreements about the timing having to do with television contracts, attendance and selling high. But we had this. More than six months ago, long before last season’s slog came to its merciful end.

Change was needed for the Cincinnati Reds. Big change.

The last step was convincing the club’s ownership. That wasn’t easy. Only a precious few people were in a position to make an effective case to let go of the popular players and familiar decision-makers. Delay in accepting that conclusion surely weakened the trade market. (For the record, stubborn hope isn’t the worst quality for an ownership group. Not nearly.) But then, the Rebuild Whisperers got help. The Reds finished 16-41, losing 14 of their last 15 games. Watching that unfold had to be compelling, if brutal, evidence of the need to alter course.

Change was approved, both for the front office and on the playing field.

The transition is far – miles away – from complete. But new teams are on the way.

When will we feel the change? When Mike Leake shows up in a St. Louis uniform. When the bullpen door opens in the ninth inning and something other than the Cuban Missile rockets through. Withdrawal from our addiction to the highs from those strikeouts and radar gun readings will be rough. Most of all, we’ll know we aren’t in Kansas anymore when we see highlights of Super Todd Frazier hitting majestic home runs and generating enthusiasm on the South Side.

We need to put the wonderful memories of those great Reds in a safe, permanent place. Tuck them away with the controversies surrounding the bumpy off-season. At least for today, let’s put aside the trades that were made as well as the ones that weren’t.

The season we demanded is here. So is the unmatched glory of Opening Day in Cincinnati.

For the record, plenty that we recognize remains. We can still marvel at how Joey Votto hits. At how Billy Hamilton runs and catches. The dazzling double plays by Zack Cozart and Brandon Phillips will shoot us out of our seats. So will the long home runs by Jay Bruce and Devin Mesoraco.

Beyond individual players, we’ll cheer for this team in habitual ways. We’ll appreciate and enjoy every single, hard-earned victory over the Cardinals, Pirates and Cubs. We might even savor them more because the wins will be less frequent than we’re accustomed.

But even more intoxicating than the return of the familiar — the veteran contributions and triumphs over evil-doers — will be falling in love with a different group of young players.

The new kids aren’t all on the block just yet. Even the front office would admit the roster is a mid-transition jumble right now. That’s due in equal parts to unfortunate health, luck and timing. It may call for an Everest-sized mountain of patience to wait for it, but the roster will get better from the standpoint of rebuilding.

Brandon Phillips will turn into Alex Blandino. Zack Cozart into Jose Peraza. Jesse Winker will become a fixture in a corner outfield spot. Time will bring permanent pitching roles for Robert Stephenson, Cody Reed, Michael Lorenzen, John Lamb, Brandon Finnegan and Jon Moscot. Homer Bailey will finally get back to the mound.

Meanwhile, we can enjoy each pitch from Raisel Iglesias and Anthony DeSclafani, because they’re going to be good. We can watch Eugenio Suarez hit and field, knowing he was acquired for a song. Adam Duvall may not make us forget the Home Run Derby, but he will smash his share of upper-deck shots that count.

It’s an obvious cautionary point, but not everyone mentioned above will make it in a major league uniform. There will be false starts, injuries and missteps along the way. But many of those players will turn into big leaguers. They’ll be the next Cincinnati Reds.

We called for this change. Now we must change, too. Our expectations and our affections.

For young fans, the new guys will become role models as surely as did Todd Frazier, Sean Casey before him, and Joe Morgan before him. We grown-ups will have to choose the next toys of our adulthood.

New players will earn their way into our hearts. They always do. That’s the way it works.

Change – needed and inevitable change – will come to Great American Ball Park this year and next. Yes, 2016 will be a different kind of season for us Reds fans. But, in an example of what our English teachers called irony, this year may actually be more about pure baseball than usual. Instead of anxiously watching the out-of-town scoreboard and fretting over the standings we’ll be catching meaningful glimpses of the future — the Cincinnati Reds’ future. That begins anew today, Opening Day.

For everything there is a season. You can cite the Book of Ecclesiastes or Pete Seeger for that axiom, take your pick.

2016 is the Reds time to plant. Enjoy the sowing, the bloom and the growth.

And know that there will soon be a season to reap what is planted.

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

Join the conversation! 35 Comments

  1. A time to laugh, a time to weep. probably a lot of both this year. Let’s go.

  2. All in on the next chapter
    Flying home to Atlanta today. Game on DVR

    Opening day plus men’s national championship. Best day of the year

    Frazier was fun. Hope he hits .230. Chapman. Done. Leake. Done. Cueto done. Sorry

    Have new favorites.

    • You hope Frazier hits .230? To each his/her own but I choose to root for people over uniforms and/or colors. Some people in Indy (not the majority) rooted against Peyton Manning when he left but if it wasn’t for him then the Colts prob wouldn’t even be in Indy today? Not I will admit I don’t have much respect for Chapman. Even if the domestic violence charges were false (?)….he had the chance as a competitor to be a starter and pitch 3x more innings and he refused!

      • I agree INDY, to each his own. I can’t imagine rooting against Todd except when/if he is at bat vs. the Reds, or Cueto or Leake for that matter. I particularly liked Leake even if he isn’t the talent that Cueto is. When (I assume when not if) Jay is traded, I will continue to wish him well. From everything I can tell he’s a good guy and a good teammate.

    • Todd’s too good of a guy to root against. I hope Frazier his 40 HR and wins the AL MVP.

      • Here, here.

        • Why would you ever wish ill on a guy who gave his all, loves Cincinnati and most likely would prefer to still be in Cincinnati? Hmm.

  3. to everything there is a season
    a time to build up, a time to break down
    a time to plant, a time to reap

    Its baseball, its what happens, eventually to all teams. We have new Votto’s, new Bruce’s, new Cueto’s, new Frazier’s to watch and cheer and to be disappointed and to be hopeful

    good stuff Steve.

  4. Hopefully Walt, Bob, and co. have seen that indeed you reap what you sow (2013-2015). Time to acknowledge that a new course is needed, and commit to it through the seasons to come.

  5. I’m thinking I’m going to enjoy this year. Zero expectations, so anything remotely positive will be gravy.

  6. Well said, Steve. Thanks. Watching a newly-constructed team take shape (in time-release, of course) brings its own sort of excitement. I’ll be waching, interrupted today by trips to the wood rack for maple splits to feed to the soapstone stove. 12 degrees ands snowing with determination, which is not so different from other opening days up here.

  7. Happy Opening Day!! Let’s go Reds.
    The first 81 games will be a road of trials and tribulations. 35 wins will be a stretch in the first half. But the second 81 games will be a lot of fun to watch. The rotation and bullpen should be settling in for a nice second half run. A +.500 second half and 44-45 wins isn’t out of the question. I think this team can put up 76-78 wins this year. They just have to hold things together in April and May until the calvary rides in.
    My prediction for 2016 though is that Jay Bruce gets off to a good start and the team picks up early the 2017 option on his contract. BHam, not Bruce, gets traded at the July trade deadline.

  8. Could not agree more. Happy Opening Day, everyone!

  9. I’ve always been more interested in the build-up to success because I find the process fascinating, so for me this season will hold a lot of interest. Anything will be better than the zombie forced march of the last two seasons.

    PLAY BALL!

  10. No one asked me, but here’s my prediction. The Reds win 74 games +\- 5%.

    I predict the Cubs win the division. I predict that Pittsburgh and St. Louis will fight down to the wire for second place.

    The last two years I pick the Reds to win 91 games. Just so you know

    When will you guys start your pledge drive?

  11. The Reds may be bad this year if your only measuring stick is wins and losses. But I’m glad to see a different, more optimistic perspective for a change. Some of the current prospects won’t pan out. But there are so many, it’s inevitable that some will thrive, and one or two may become stars. That will be fun to watch, and it bodes well for the future. I hope the Reds win 73 games in 2016. That would be nice. But I hope the Reds win today. This year that’s all I’m rooting for in terms of wins. And I know I’m going to enjoy the development of the next crop of favorites. Go Reds!

  12. Very nicely presented, Steve.

  13. Nice article Steve!!! And here’s a vote for Pete Seeger.

  14. Does anyone know the status of Michael Lorenzen? The last I heard was that he was supposed to take two weeks off and not throw. After that he would be evaluated. I wonder if he has been evaluated and what his pitching timetable is.

  15. Well opening day is here, the lineup is posted and the angst begins.

    1.Cozart, SS
    2.Suarez, 3B
    3.Votto, 1B
    4.Phillips, 2B
    5.Bruce, RF
    6.Mesoraco, C
    7.Duvall, LF
    8.Iglesias, P
    9.Hamilton, CF

    Yep, that’s Cozart leading off, Phillips hitting cleanup and Mesoraco hitting in the #6 hole. No reason to put the players in the best position for the teams success this season…

    • Bailey, Disco, Lamb, Lorensen, Moscot & Y-Rod on the 15-day DL (not the 60-day DL for Bailey as previously speculated).

    • I will choose not to fret. That 2-6 in the lineup has been kinda of clicking since the last week or two of spring, so may as well keep the dice rolling.

  16. Good Golly, I sure hope Stephenson doesn’t end with a 60-day DL stint for the next 3 months on the major league roster due to some freak injury because someone wanted to try and squeeze one start out of him in the 1st week of April. Otherwise, good luck to the kid and we’ll be eatching every pitch with unbriddled enthusiasm and hope for the future.

    • I don’t quite follow? Is he more apt to get injured throwing in the majors vs. minors?

      • Nope, but if he does get injured, his service time accumulates until he comes of the DL and can be optioned back to the minors.

  17. This is my 1st opportunity to see Cozart slap some leather in the field. I’m really looking forward to his return from that horrendous event that ended his season in 2015.

  18. Let’s do this, people!! Almost game time!

  19. Who’s changing? These are the same underwear I was wearing when the season ended.

  20. Change? Spare some change?

    Got any more change?

Comments are closed.

About Steve Mancuso

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

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Opening Day