Yesterday marked the summer solstice. As the first day of summer, it’s also the longest day of the year in terms of sunshine.
In cruel irony, Major League Baseball’s schedule-makers gave the Reds and their fans an off day, leaving us way too much daylight with nothing to do but contemplate the first half of the 2016 baseball season. Whatever the state of the planet’s rotational axis may imply, the word sunny doesn’t really fit. When it comes to the Reds record, best advised not to look directly at it. Staring at 27-43 could jeopardize one’s health.
It has been a long, painful three months bearing witness to horrifying baseball – the historically awful bullpen, the no-name starting rotation, the inconsistent swing-and-miss offense, the sketchy base running and porous-at-times defense. On top of that, Reds fans have been treated to an exquisite torture administered by service time rules.
These have been dark days. Filled with enough despair to make you lose faith in the Rebuild Binder; to make you wonder if its promise would prove as out of reach as tickets to Hamilton.
Stewing over the last three months sure made yesterday feel like the longest day.
But after yesterday’s sun finally set, we were treated to a spectacular full moon – the first time one has fallen on the summer solstice since 1948. And if you tilted your head just right … and squinted a little … you could see in its reflected light a ray of hope illuminating what might be a brighter future for the Reds.
Relief for our misery will arrive in equal parts recovery and reboot.
Key players are returning to health. Anthony DeSclafani is back in the rotation. Michael Lorenzen and Raisel Iglesias will join the club as relievers this weekend. Still to come: Homer Bailey and next year, Devin Mesoraco.
The first wave of rebuilding has landed. The trio of left-handed starters that faced the Houston Astros last weekend is the product of it. As is the surprising Adam Duvall, who leads the National League in hitting for power.
Soon, Robert Stephenson will join the rotation. The Reds will have regular playing time for Jose Peraza after they trade Zack Cozart. When Jesse Winker’s wrist allows, he’ll play the outfield every night once the Reds move Jay Bruce.
To be sure, even after all those players arrive, serious deficiencies and playing time issues remain. Not every player will develop or age as we hope. Crucial decisions and moves are yet to be made. The front office’s slideshow should be about half over.
But unlike times when following rebuilding teams becomes a dreadful slog – 2015, anyone? – this solstice season should prove enjoyable. The Reds won’t be as good after they trade Cozart and Bruce, but they’ll be riveting. Instead of being unbearable to watch, it will be hard to look away as the young pitchers develop and new position players fit together and gain experience.
These boys of summer will be fascinating.
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.