I have to believe there is a lesson in all of this. This futile exercise of a baseball season such as this one has merit. You don’t often see the reference of losing teams, but you believe it’s there. The ballclub trots out the dregs and slumps its shoulders at the results and we’re here watching it all unfold.

Winning is for the fans, it’s the loss that makes the player.

I’m not sure if anyone actually believes that. Anyone who has picked up a ball with any sort of determination knows the fear of losing and the actual loss itself are two very different things. You could argue that the fear of the loss is worse. What you build in your head, scaling an ever mounting pressure wall is the type of stuff that can drive you insane. The loss in itself isn’t as bad. The band-aid has been pulled off, the wound exposed, but at least you can heal.

So is there a point to all this? Does the loss really make the player? I wager most people recall the wins in their life as if drawing together images in faded polaroid’s and grainy canned emotions. But the defeats are presented in full Technicolor on a sixty foot screen. This is in our DNA. A holdover from an evolutionary crutch that reminded our ancestors of such important things like, “Lion bad, lion hurt.” What it’s transcended to now is a catalog of more complex and layered warnings.

Fear and pain stick with us because it’s a survival mechanism. Letting it all go to instinct and we adapt. In that sense you could make the claim that perhaps a loss, humiliation and heart-break are all stepping stones to attainment. The kicker of all this, is that no one wants to go through these pitfalls. Evolution is a tricky thing to overcome, hard wiring your brain yourself and going against what’s innate demands a level of concentration few of us can grasp, but I suppose that’s why there are so few professional athletes in the world. It’s there business to overcome what we mere mortals can’t, both physically and mentally.

But no one is perfect, we all lose at some point. You’re going to crash and it’s going to be embarrassing and all the girls are going to laugh at you. We also know that it’s going to stick in your brain in vivid texture and be recalled at the most inopportune times. But this is all here for a reason and it’s all going to make sense in the end. Our caveman wiring protected us from grizzly bears in the past and now it’s warning us about elevated fastballs out of the zone.

The fans watch the game as an escape. This is entertainment. They don’t make their living on it they watch and cheer because there is a chance they will win. Your boss chews you out, someone scratched your car in the parking lot, you got a speeding ticket on the way home, but hey the Reds won, so I guess it isn’t all bad. Winning is instant gratification for the fan a loss is just a pain we can’t learn from. There are enough things to deal with on a personal level, let alone having to be reminded of defeat when your elective activities haunt you.

But perhaps I’m being too hasty. I’ve watched the Reds my entire life and seen more bad times than good and I’m still a fan. I still choose to make them an active part of my existence. Are there more evolutionary triggers happening to the fan? You could make the point that we’re preparing for the bad times. The real bad times. Like watching a horror movie, the viewer subconsciously is preparing for a disaster. When the Reds blow a five run lead in the eighth inning is our psyche setting the table for something else? These little dings and dents show us that it’s possible to live through loss. We aren’t going to be maimed if we watch our team loses, perhaps it’s good to just be reminded of that.

No hero worth their salt ever existed without defeat. To err is human. Our city and cultural defenders are already knee deep in a rough season, but hope is not lost. The fire is being fanned as each loss burns the organization, but the greats are born from the ashes. As much as we say we want to already forget about this season, lets not. Instead, lets embrace the pain and suffering. Alter your circuitry to be different than the rest. Know that you can’t taste the sweet without the sour and when you think you can’t take anymore, do just that. A tough hide doesn’t develop through coddling and if Cincinnati is anything it’s resilient.

Join the conversation! 17 Comments

  1. Passionate article.

  2. Embrace the pain and suffering? Thank you but no. I remember 1982 and 2001. This year might be worse than those.

  3. “A tough hide doesn’t develop through coddling” Love it
    Thank you for this article Mr Bidwell.

  4. Well said from a fellow Middie.

  5. I’m old enough to remember 1982. This is so much better than 1982 you can’t imagine. We have an owner who cares about winning. We have a stable full of pitching prospects. We have one of the top 30 hitters in the history of the game. We still have the enrertaining Phillips. D powerful Bruce. No one here should feel bad about the teams future.

    No matter how much we may dislike this we have to think we are an average bullpen away from 500.

    And no matter how good the Cubs have it there is no one alive in Chicago who can recall a championship.

    • Caring about winning and delivering a winner are two different things.

      The prospects are bright. But until the organization sorts out the injury problem, the roster management problem, the OBP problem and the bullpen problem, it won’t compete.

      Good point about the Cubs!

    • Top 30 hitters? You can’t be talking about Joey Votto.

      • If he retired today, Joey Votto would be tied for 16th All-Time in wRC+, which is the best stat to measure total offense.

        So, yes, by that measure Joey Votto is one of the 30 best hitters ever to live.

        Right below Joey on the list are a few guys you may have heard of… Mays, Aaron, DiMaggio…

        Disclaimer: Yes, Joey hasn’t had his full decline years yet, so if he plays until he’s 40, that wRC+ will likely be down in the 140s, putting him somewhere between 30th and 50th most likely.

    • Like it

    • Hey do not talk about 1982 like it was so bad going in, You had Bench and Conception along with a solid Driessen. Soto was one of the best pitchers in that era. Berenyi, Pastore , and Shirley all had pretty solid years. You would think with Tom Seaver you had a solid rotation already to go with what I recall a solid bullpen.
      But Seaver was horrible, Householder, Cedeno, and Trevino were all busts- they had a plan to contend that year it just did not work out (like 2014); it took them 2 more poor seasons to put together a winning team. 4 winning seasons in a row followed- I seriously doubt we can expect any consecutive winning seasons for awhile much less next year. This is feeling like 2001

  6. I can find the joy of losing if I know there is a reasonable vision/plan for the future. I think the Reds have one, but I’m skeptical of the ability of the FO to execute it. The recent “championship window” has officially closed (R.I.P. 2010-2013) and the longer it stays closed the more difficult it becomes for fans to get by on seasons that promise glimpses of prospect talent getting called up mid and late season, Star Wars nights, fireworks, caravans, and bobbleheads. Do we trust this team to get the proper return on trades for players like Bruce and Cozart? Are they scouting the right talent? How do we know they are? If Theo Epstein was at the helm of this ship, I wouldn’t have any reservations, but who has been brought in with the verifiable credentials to do the work of turning this team into the next Cubs, Mets, or Royals?

    • Baby steps man….baby steps! I get as impatient as anyone but here’s a few for you!

      Suarez for Simon
      Duvall as a throw-in for Leake
      Reed, Lamb, and Finnegan for Cueto

      Now the haul for Frazier looks a little light and they should’ve moved Chapman last year before the domestic charges, etc. but Rome wasn’t built in a day. Problem is Jocketty really put very little into our farm system before last years trades? It seems like Williams gets it and hopefully Jocketty has no real input. Jocketty did pick up Rolen, Choo, and Latos and gave us a much better shot at the time but he’s obv not the guy for a rebuild.

  7. I heard a rumor Reds are preparing a mega roster move, with all Bailey, Disco, Iglesias, Lorenzen, Reed, Stephenson, Winker and Peraza coming up, plus Bruce being dealt to Toronto and Cozart to the White Sox.

    • Bailey is apparently not even close. He’s gone all the way back to playing long toss and they aren’t rushing him. I’d say, just based on that one nugget of information, the rumor is most likely false.

  8. Perhaps not a popular opinion around here but seasons like this cement my belief that the monetary structure of baseball needs to change. Win or lose, I know the Bengals have the same pool of money to work with that Patriots do. If they fail it is because of bad drafting, bad coaching, and/or bad execution by the players.

    I’m tried of the Reds only getting a small window to put together a team because any identifiable star will invariably go to the Yankees or the Dodgers because they have money. Yes I know that money in and of itself doesn’t guarantee a championship. But the MLB playing field is not at all level and I, for one, am tired of it.

    I posted a while back that I’m taking a step back this season. I still check this site because your collective coverage and dedication is awesome. However I’m only checking it once a week or so and noticing “oh heh, the Reds went 4-3 this week, not bad.” As a lifelong Reds fan it hurt at first but I can say the lack of stress over the wins and losses has been great.

    • You are Soooo Correct about the monetary structure .. It HAS to change .. But it will not anytime soon .. Is it killing the game ? Probably not .. but no one will make me believe the game today is stronger because of the end of the reserve clause in 1976 .. The smaller market teams have to wait for a ” small window” no matter how well they are run . If you are more than a casual fan and pay attention .. it does indeed get old. . I love the game and want it to exceed , but greed rules for sure.

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