2017 Reds / Baseball Is Life / Reds - General

Baseball Is Life: What’s In the Record?

Unless under extreme circumstances such as attaining the occasional Super Bowl, we don’t welcome New Things very well here in Cincinnati. The tinsel Christmas decorations in downtown Cheviot are exactly the same ones from my childhood and for all I know date back to the first actual Christmas.

This is why, when the Reds rocketed to a first-place start despite expectations of –well, exactly the nightmare we saw on Opening Day—we didn’t trust it at all.  We still don’t. “I’m frightened,” I typed on Facebook over a screenshotted tweet celebrating the fact that the Reds had the best record in all of baseball. (“You are an amateur,” a Cleveland reader commented.) The team chalked up a two-game losing streak over Easter weekend, losing its first series of the season, and the general attitude on social media is that of immense relief: “These are the Reds I thought I knew.”

Winning is rare in these parts, and it’s uncomfortable. Images of the Reds sitting alone atop the Central Division, at one point 1.5 games over the reigning World Series champion Cubs, are not to be trusted. We regard such a thing warily, circling it from a distance. This top-most position will surely lose its balance and fall upon our heads. It will tumble at any moment. It will hurt us.

We’re also accustomed to bitter and instantaneous disappointment. I forget which season it was, as recent Reds history is one giant green blur of bullpen pitchers watching baseballs sail over their heads, but recently they clawed their way to first place just before the All Star break, went home, and proceeded to completely disintegrate over the next 81 games, as though the 96 hours off the field gave them time to reflect upon their proper position somewhere in the Paleolithic ooze of the division.

This is also why riots did not erupt just outside of Mason, Ohio when Kings Island opened this weekend to the giant hype of a new roller coaster, Mystic Timbers.  Much was made of Mystic Timbers and some sort of shed at the end of the ride, which in turn housed some sort of super-amazing secret. This went on for a solid year:  #WhatsInTheShed accompanied much of Kings Island’s social media, and roller coaster enthusiasts from across the world mused long and deeply over the matter. (The next sentence, by the way, spoils what is in fact in the stupid shed, but if you’re a Cincinnatian, you already know:  Disillusionment, anticlimax, and contemplation on the universal emptiness of life.)

And then, when a local television station broadcast what was in the shed, it revealed itself to be… video clips of bats and the central chorus of “Maneater.”  Yes:  What was in the shed was Hall and Oates and a 16-year-old telling you to get off the ride because it was the another person’s turn to sit in butt sweat en route to inevitable disenchantment.

If this is what happens to us at our amusement parks—places literally designed to make people happy—then I beg of you to kindly excuse our timid cheering, our population of four guys and a beer vendor in the park on a rainy Easter Sunday. We’re used to butt sweat, false starts, and chipping frost off the windshield at 5:30 AM.

We’re not at all used to this.

But we could learn, and we’re not exactly ready to leave this ride just yet.

16 thoughts on “Baseball Is Life: What’s In the Record?

  1. It’s true the Reds, and Cincinnati by extension, have become strangers to winning in recent times, but it wasn’t always like this. There used to be a time when the Reds, at the least, could almost always be counted on to be “respectable”. Marge Schott, Carl Lindner, and Leatherpants (as I like to call Jom Bowden) decimated the farm system in their pursuit of “win now”, and we are only just now undoing the harm which led to the “Lost Decade” and the Griffey/Dunn/Kearns years.

    The interesting thing is, though, if you were to look at the Reds’ all time win-loss percentage (.507) and extrapolate it over a full season, the Reds would be 82-80, which sounds quite mediocre, but compared to other franchises, it is darn good. In fact, the Reds have the 9th best all-time record, virtually tied with Detroit, and behind only the Yankees, Giants, Dodgers, Cardinals, Red Sox, Cubs, and Indians.


    So yes, the Reds and their fans have forgotten their proud tradition as winners. But I sincerely hope that Dick Williams represents that first step into a new, brighter future where the Reds can reclaim their spot among the best in the sport, and the team and it’s fans can proudly go into each season knowing and expecting winning baseball.

  2. Yes it is true, there are many of us “older” folk who remember proud winning tradition in Cincinnati, and then the damage done to the farm system, by Schott, Linder and Company. Remember as well that not only did they ransack the farm system, but they decimated the scouting department and caching system. This is why it has taken so long to rebuild. The good news is not so much in better minor leaguers now but in the fact that the new management has been rebuilding the infrastructure. There is hope that the “shed ” will provide joy and not disappointment.

    • Why do ppl seem to forget that this team made the playoffs 3 out of 4 years just four years ago? Ppl act like the Reds haven’t been good since 1990.

      • I think the San Francisco series did it. It was a knife in the heart.

        The Reds are STILL the only professional sports team in history to lose three straight home games while having been one away from clinching the series.

        This is mostly because of the unique 2-3 format of the NLDS, but still… it’s striking.

        Then the Pittsburgh WC loss… “Cueto! Cueto!” they chanted. I remember feeling helpless at home. I’d never seen a baseball crowd continually chant the starting pitcher’s name. The lack of class from those fans physically angered me to the point where I had to walk around the house to avoid doing something rash. Another reason why I feel the entire city of Pittsburgh is a cesspool.

        I think those super sour tastes are why it doesn’t feel like we were actually “good” just a few years ago.

        Oh, and being no hit in the playoffs. That stings a bit. We knew that series was over after game 1.

        • I think that pretty well says it, Patrick. It’s one thing to lose, but to get no-hit? And to lose your composure and drop the ball on the mound in the wild card game? It’s bad to lose, but that way? … And the 2012 series kinda stands on its own failure. If the Reds had found a way to win that series, they would not have had Cueto in the next series so they likely would have been beaten at that point, but the pain of the loss likely wouldn’t be like you describe as the “knife.” … The era seems like a period of missed opportunities, overshadowing regular season success.

        • No, the worst thing about the 2010 playoffs was that the Reds should have escaped Philly with the series even at 1-1. A strong defensive team suddenly forgot how to make basic plays, coughing up a 4-0 lead.

          The phantom Utley run was beyond belief – a non-HBP to take first, to second base on a bad call FC play where Utley was actually out, then he scored on an error but failed to touch 3B. I still don’t understand why the Reds didn’t throw to 3B before the next pitch.

      • they haven’t been good since 1995, when they last one a play off series.
        2010 was okay season, got no hit in game 1, blew a lead in game 2, shut out in game 3- followed up with a losing season in 2011. 2012 was a great season but blew a 2-0 lead, had a decent 2013 but lost last 6 games to get eliminated. Outside of 2 decent months in 2014 it has been pretty dismal thinking 3 or 4 years from being competitive.

        • I distinguish between “good” and “successful.” They were a good team with good players, but didn’t succeed in the playoffs. That happens in baseball–events beyond the control of a player or team, such as bad umpire calls and extraordinary performances by opposing players. Our turn will come again.

  3. I never know what to expect, Mary Beth, but I’m never disappointed!

  4. Change is hard the other way, too. I grew up with the Big Red Machine, and it wasn’t easy to watch what happened to this team in the dawn of the ’80s.

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