2017 Reds

2001: A Reds Odyssey

With Saturday’s loss in New York, the Reds guaranteed themselves yet another losing season. As of this morning, Cincinnati is 62-82. If they win every single one of their remaining games in 2017, the Reds will finish the season 80-82.

If you read yesterday’s recap, you may have noticed this little nugget:

Remember Y2K? Aaah, the year 2000, when everyone was filled with hope and optimism as to what the new century might bring. Think of all the amazing ways the world has changed in the last couple of decades. Handheld computers that everyone keeps in their pocket? Check. Hover skateboards, just like Marty McFly’s? Check. Baseball on your phone? Check. Flying cars? Not yet!

Back in 2000, Reds fans were incredibly optimistic, and they had good reason to be. During the 1990s, the Reds collected one World Series championship and three division titles (if you count the strike-shortened 1994 season, when the Reds were in first place at season’s end). They were almost always in the race; no last place finishes, as we’ve become accustomed to recently.

That decade ended with the absurdly-fun 1999 season, in which the Reds just kept winning and winning and winning, making it all the way to a one-game Wild Card playoff with the Mets. (Let us never mention Al Leiter here again, okay?)

So, sure, losing that playoff was disappointing, but in the off-season, the Reds acquired all-world center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. in a trade with Seattle. In 2000, the Reds went 85-77 and finished in second place in the NL Central. Junior hit 40 home runs in 145 games and made his 11th consecutive All-Star team. Life was great. The 2000s were going to be awesome, right?

Ummm…yeah, about that. Not so much.

In 2001, the Reds replaced manager Jack McKeon with the immortal Bob Boone, the Reds bumbled to a 66-96 record and a fifth-place finish in the Central division. And the rest is history…

In the seventeen seasons since Boone took over as manager, the Reds have compiled a record of 1293 wins and 1443 losses. Amazingly, that’s only the 24th-worst record in the big leagues during that span. Records as of this morning:

24. Reds 1293-1443
25. Rays 1290-1445
26. Padres 1290-1447
27. Orioles 1274-1459
28. Rockies 1268-1468
29. Pirates 1245-1487
30. Royals 1220-1494

Let’s look at those teams to see if they’ve been as inept as our beloved Cincinnati Reds during this span.

Record Seasons with .500 record Division title Playoffs World Series
Cincinnati 1293-1443 3 2 3 0
Tampa Bay 1290-1445 6 2 4 1 (lost)
Padres 1290-1447 5 2 2 0
Orioles 1274-1459 5 1 3 0
Rockies 1268-1468 4 0 2 1 (lost)
Pirates 1245-1487 3 0 3 0
Royals 1220-1494 5 1 2 1 (won)

I also took a look at the Milwaukee Brewers, who ranked just above the Reds on the W-L list since 2001. Record of 1296-1438, 7 seasons with a .500 record or better, one division title, two playoff appearances, zero World Series appearances.

What can we make of this? I dunno, not much probably. I know that we’ve endured a lot of losing over the years, and I wanted to see if I could quantify exactly how much we’ve endured, and how it compared to the rest of the league.

Have we, as Reds fans, had a worse run than any of these other organizations? Only the Pirates have had as many losing seasons as the Reds, but at least the Reds got a couple of division titles out of their little run from 2010 to 2013. I’d take that over what the Pirates have accomplished. But I think I’d trade with every other organization on that list.

Even the Royals, who have had the worst composite record in the majors over this span, by far. They’ve won 73 fewer games than the Reds, won fewer division titles, made the playoffs fewer times…but they have that big World Series win. If the Reds had been able to win a World Series in, say, 2012, all this losing would be a lot easier to endure.

Since 2001, eighteen different teams have advanced to the World Series. None of them are the Reds.

Since 2001, twenty-six different teams have advanced to their league’s Championship Series. None of them are the Reds. The only teams who haven’t advanced that far? Reds, Pirates, Padres, and Nationals (who are in a good position to break that streak this season).*

*Interestingly, every single franchise in the American League has made it to at least one Championship Series during this span.

And it has been difficult to endure, especially since we’ve been writing about this team almost every single day for thirteen of those seasons. Since Redleg Nation launched in the winter of 2005, the Reds have won 1004 and lost 1084, the 22nd-worst mark in the big leagues.

But we’ll always have 2010 and 2012, right?

Loo, I’m the most optimistic guy on earth when it comes to the Reds. I truly believe they’re close to being competitive again, as soon as 2018, but the last three seasons — all of which will be 90+ loss campaigns — can wear down even the most optimistic of fan. And a 17-year run like this?

Ugh.

A book could be written as to the reasons why the Reds have been so inept for much of the last two decades. (No one would want to read that book, but still…) I’m not going to address those here, though I’m sure you guys will dig into some of those reasons in the comments below.

The fact that we’re still here — writers and commenters at Redleg Nation alike — is really sorta amazing. Why do we still follow this team? Why do we still love this franchise? There are a thousand different answers to those questions, but it’s a fact: we still love the Reds and obsess over them every single day. I hope Reds management doesn’t take that for granted. But even if they do, we’re probably still going to be obsessing over every little detail.

After all, the next 17 years have to be better, right?

Right?

40 thoughts on “2001: A Reds Odyssey

  1. Why do we still follow this team? Why do we still love this franchise? Nostalgia. Guys like us, in our 40’s, were used to the great things our Reds accomplished. Now we follow them virtually on paper by reading online articles about their struggle with futility, we see it on the television, and if we take the time, we listen to our cynical HoF go on ad naseum. I sincerely love our team, but I won’t be spending my time or $$ going to any games any time soon until they get their act together and decide to compete using modern baseball formulae.

  2. “Open the pod bay doors, HAL.”

    Very nice choice of photo and a great look back at one bizarre (and depressing) journey, Chad.

    • The photo actually looks a bit like Zach Cozart. Maybe he’s about to venture through the doors into the outer space of the off-season?

  3. On Saturday the Reds eclipsed their 3rd highest loss total for 3 consecutive seasons with #274. In 2001-2003, Reds lost 273. Next on the list would be 1982-1984 debacle, when the Reds lost a total of 281 games. Reds need to go 12-6 to avoid claiming at least half of that dubious (dis)honor. From 1930-1934, the Reds lost 478 ballgames (95,96,94,94,& 99 losses). I shudder to think they move into that territory.

  4. I think this tells you everything you need to know.
    Reds Attendance (Per game average) –
    2017 – 22796
    2016 – 23383
    2015 – 29870
    2014 – 30576
    2013 – 31288
    2012 – 28978
    2011 – 27327
    2010 – 25438
    2009 – 21579
    2008 – 25415
    2007 – 25414
    2006 – 26353
    2005 – 23988
    2004 – 28237
    2003 – 29077
    2002 – 23199
    2001 – 23795

    2017 will be the 2nd worst attendance in this century. Only 2009 was worse. It has dropped 4 straight years after peaking in 2013.

    • BC can have as many bobblehead promotions and concerts as he likes, but fans will come out for winning baseball and only winning baseball. BC needs to get some truly qualified people to run the baseball organization then get out of their way and let tjhem do their job. Along with getting those qualified people, he needs to comp-letely jettison the baggage he keeps around as advisors (yes, looking squarely at WJ and ALL of his cronies). There will always be a lag getting fans back in the seats if the team starts winning, so these 1-3 year runs of success accomplish nothing to build fan support. BC’s way of running the organization hasn’t worked, doesn’t work and won’t work and I don’t think he accepts that fact. When everybody he hires fails miserably, then the problem is at the very top of the organization and moving deck chairs around ain’t gonna help.

      • Yes, it is interesting that Mr. Winning Baseball, Bob Castelini has presided over this era as the primary owner. He largely inherited the talent that made up the winning teams of 2010,2012 and 2013. Give WJ some props for a couple of significant trades, drafts and signings. But most of the key players on those teams came out of a Reds farm system that somebody else drafted into and built, during those lean years after 2000, and after Mr. Disaster, Jim Bowden, left.
        I don’t know if following all the advanced metrics, etc. would help the Reds as much as perceived (and then again, it could), but there is a common aspect to all the losing teams above, and that is that they are “small” market teams. Money. And drafting.
        The Reds have made some big contract signings in the past few years, and the ONLY one that has really paid off was Joey Votto.

    • Robert, “attendance will drop for the 4th consecutive year after peaking in 2013″…that’s what rebuilds will do for ya!

  5. I don’t blame anyone who refuses to spend a dollar with the Reds, given what they put their fans through, for the most part, this century.

    However, with every aspect of society seeming to have a political agenda or angle, going to Great American Ball Park is one of the few hobbies/entertainment choices I have where it is going to be what I expect. (Probably a loss on the field, but a great time in every other aspect).

    If I lived closer than Columbus, I would definitely become the third generation in my family to have some sort of season-ticket package. And, most likely, I would give a lot of tickets away to families with kids, including my niece and nephew. That’s how I am a fan today, because older relatives did that for me.

    For better or worse, the Reds place in my life transcends wins and losses. That’s why I feel at home at RLN.

  6. In the smalls towns about 50 miles east of Cincinnati where I lived, following the Reds is what most folks did in the summer at the end of the day.

    We sat around in yards or on porches listening to the Reds games into the night often past darkness, multiple generations of family and neighbors as a group. All the conversations going on were not about the game; but, it was always there in the background. When something would transpire with the game it would become the front and center point of focus.

    When we piled into the car on a summer evening to visit the local soft serve ice cream drive up, the Reds would be on the radio as travelled. At the drive up, the game would often be playing over their PA speaker. If it wasn’t, it could generally be heard wafting out of rolled down car windows. It was not unusual to hear cheers (or grumbles) across the parking lot as the game took its turns while folks sat and ate their cones, sundaes, banana splits, and shakes, The experience wasn’t all that different from being a part of the crowd at the game.

    I’ve moved around a bit between Cincy, Indy and the Dayton area. My interests have changed and evolved. I’ve drifted away from the Reds at least a bit at times. However, I guess at least where the Reds are concerned my upbringing “took” because I always end up back with the Reds game playing on a radio or a on TV within ear shot.

    • Pretty neat… Now I go to a local, Cincinnati bar and the game isn’t even on any of the TVs there. It’s happened quite a few places now. Sometimes there may be a baseball game but it’s rarely the Reds game. Makes me sad.

  7. The Reds are the Harlem Globetrotters compared to my other favorite team–Kentucky football. Plus, I bet on slow horses.

    My own theory is that the swoon started in earnest with Marge Schott’s failure to understand the importance of scouting and development. The good news now is that the farm system is in the best shape it’s been in, in my memory. Tons of good arms, tons of good outfielders.

    • Marge’s problem was that she hired and kept Jim Bowden. A lot of things flow from that. Jack McKeon almost fixed all that cluster-foxtrot. And then Bowden realized what was happening and orchestrated his firing.
      Castelini’s problem was that he hired Walt Jockety. I am not sure he is yet far enough away from decision making even now.

  8. The problem was not so much the Schott era as the caretaker mindset of the ownership which followed. There were some good offensive teams in the first 7 years of the 2000’s; but no real imperative to fix the pitching or make a move here or there that might have made a difference particularly ion 2006 when they might have won the division with just a little push.

    I fear that after all the talk at the start of the Castellini/ Williams regime and the good run from 2010-13 that it too has back slided into a more passive approach.

    • Is Reds GM/POBO Dick Williams a better GM/POBO than Walt Jocketty? Yes, absolutely yes.
      Is Dick Williams a better GM than new Cards GM Mike Girsch, Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington, Chicago GM Jed Hoyer, and Milwaukee GM David Stearns? Time will tell.
      The Cards new GM has Jack Mozeliak to fall back on for help. Cubs GM Hoyer has Theo Epstein. New Brewers GM has Doug Melvin.
      Williams has Jocketty and maybe Kevin Towers if he is still around as a “special advisor”. That is a handicap that is hard to overcome.

    • I believe that both you and David are correct. The demise stated with the Schott ownership and her cutting back on scouts and the farm system. She brought in a lot of talent for a few years but she sold the farm (no pun intended) in order to do it. Then the Linder Group came in and had a caretaker attitude. I would like to see Jocketty and his influence gone but at least the Castilinis have spent money on scouts and instructors for the farm system, so if Bob and Walt would just get out of their own way there is a chance for optimism going forward.

  9. All I know is that the Reds had a lousy roster & a thin minor league system. Then came Wayne Krivski. He took chances, he thought outside the box. He improved the talent level throughout the system. Then came Joketty. Just now is the Reds organization returning to the talent level at the time of Krivski’s demise.

    • Amen on Krivsky. He was getting it figured out how to compete on a shoestring when the current regime came in talking like money was no longer an issue. WJ traded away the farm system to complete the job Krivsky had started; they only got a very short window from his efforts; and, now they are trying to rebuild from the farm up.

  10. I was wondering what Wayne Krivsky was up to and whether his fingerprints were on any great moves for his current team, so I looked it up. He has been with the Twins, who are having a big time bounce back year. Turns out that as the Twins have been revamping their front office, they fired Wayne Krivsky last month. Interesting that in an era of expanding front offices, a guy who has some good points on a GM resume never again got an assistant GM nor a Director job, much less another GM position.

  11. Shocking statement alert: I still think the ’10-’13 team could still be competitive today had they been mostly kept together. I understand that there were a few players we couldn’t afford any more but with the “major league ready prospects” we got for them maybe we would’ve got back to winning sooner. Maybe not. Maybe I’m an idiot for thinking this I don’t care. Whatever.

  12. I love the game of baseball and from the time of my first memories the Reds have been front and center thanks to my father and, in the days before the widespread coverage of baseball on TV, listening to Waite Hoyt on the radio. Growing up in Ohio I was also a Cleveland Browns fan before the Bengals came around and I tried to be an Indians fan, but it didn’t work. Retired now in the Tampa Bay area, I’ve tried to be a Rays fan but they interest me only in passing. Regardless of the ups and downs, I’ll always be a Reds fan.

    • Like you my father was a big Reds fan keeping score of the games. What i remember is Adams, McMillan, Temple,Kluzuski, greengrass,Bell,Post,Seminick. Some others I remember McCormick,Goodman,Landrith, Bailey,Neal,Freeze,Blasingame. Not all on great teams but listening to Waite Hoyt was very enjoyable.

  13. I grew up in Madeira (outside Cincinnati) listening to Waite Hoyt do play-by-play of Frank Robinson, Vada Pinson, Jim Maloney, etc. went to a few games at Crosley. Was in high school and college (U.C.) during the Big Red Machine era. What a time!!! Moved away from Cincy in 80s, first to Pittsburgh then DC. But I’ve never left the Reds. Until MLB.TV came along it was hard to get much info re: Reds…just the short paragraph over the box scores in the Sports Section. I remember with pain the slow devolution of the Big Red Machine, but I can’t recall a wholesale rebuild such as the Reds are now going through. Come what may, I’ll be a Red for life.

  14. I think with Dick Williams, we see a plan. There is a clear strategy that focuses on:

    – Talent Scouting
    – Minor League Instruction
    – Data and Metrics
    – Vets for Youth
    – Converting Young Pitchers
    – Votto is the Rock
    – Increase Fan Experience until Winning Returns

    The realities the team faces are that St Louis draws about a million more fans per year in a similarly sized market. So, the Reds have a revenue problem and the market size suggests it’s not going to be an easy solve. It creates a paradox. Keep payroll low to focus on the best moment to win and you lower attendance. Adopt a “win now” attitude and draw fans but lose the future. These are not situations that can be outworked – they must be out-thought. Is Dick Williams the guy to out-think this? I think he might be. The interviews with him are impressive. He strikes me as a person who will maintain steadfast focus on a strategy and use nimble methods to get there (see wavier wire, Gennett claim).

    Brian Price is another part of this puzzle. While I quibble with some in-game decisions and lineups, he has kept the team focused on defense, more offensive patience, and converting young pitching. This last month seems to show the young pitchers are turning a corner. If this is the case, Price did what he was asked and that’s why I assume he’s back. Plus, there doesn’t seem to be drama after datdudeBP headed out of town.

    Do the Reds have enough pieces to compete over the next 3 years? I think so. If this team does make the playoffs or even if it gets lucky with a W/S win, we’ll look back on this strategy as a major driver. The losing will have been for a purpose. But I look at this like putting in Golf. Judging a good or bad putt on if the putt drops isn’t the best measure. The best measure is to ask – “did that putt have a legit chance to go in?” If so, that’s a “good putt,” learn from it, and move forward. I think Dick Williams has put this team in a great position to win over the next 3 years. Getting to watch the turn-around strategy being executed, to me, is the most interesting part… Well, that and watching Joey Votto master sabremetic value creation in the most disciplined of ways.

  15. Why is our record so poor? It’s really simple. Winning starts with a commitment from upper management and the organization must have folks that can recognize talent. They must willing to pay the players as other teams do instead of taking the profits. We’ve provided other teams with some great players. I’ve been a Red’s fan my entire life but it’s tough when you know there’s zero hope and sadly I’m convinced we won’t be any better in 2018.

  16. These are some great stories by some great Reds fans.Wow. For many of us, the reds were the background music of summer. I would watch TWIB every Saturday hoping to see Reds players. It was a big deal to go to a weekend Dodgers game with my dad and a friend and sit in the green seats.

    I hope Bob Castellini doesn’t take RLN …ie., diehard loyal fans……for granted. I think he does. He had you at hello and those 1.7 million tickets sold guaranteed each year. The focus isn’t on winning….it’s marketing to casual fan to grow that 1.7 million realistically and setting the budget accordingly. Demographics are changing and taking this Joey Votto window for granted is a horrible mistake. There’s FC Cincinnati….and golf to be played and tennis to be served. And millennials to replace guys with gray hair….Baseball won’t be the same in 2022.

  17. MY REDS FANDOM STORY.

    I grew up in Maryland as an avid Orioles fan during the early ’80s. Went to many, many games at the late, great Memorial Stadium–including a game in the ’83 World Series.

    By the early ’90s I stopped paying attention to baseball. Only went to a handful of games during that whole decade, and only half-followed sports.

    In 2003 I moved out to “Reds Country”. In about 2009 or 2010, I was flipping through the channels and discovered a Reds game on Fox Sports Ohio. I started to watch the games with increasing regularity. By 2012 I was going to a Reds game at GABP once or twice a year. Baseball reminds me of my dad, and as he’s elderly and quite ill it’s a way for me to sort of stay connected to him.

    Why didn’t I get back into following the Orioles? I guess because, for me, following a baseball team means knowing them fairly well. And I found that easier to do with the Reds than with the Orioles, given that I could watch them play on F.S.O. Besides, I enjoy going to games at the ballpark and GABP is a LOT closer than Camden Yards.

    I vowed I wouldn’t go to a game this year. Why encourage a failing regime? But I’m going to one this Saturday. (Lured by the chance to see them play the hated Pirates, and to get a cool bobblehead to add to my collection.) I also think it’s important to do my best to support the team (so that they don’t end up moving at some point). There’s also some great talent on the Reds who deserve to be cheered, despite the train wreck the season has entailed.

  18. Behind door #2: Detroit Tigers RHP Michael Fulmer is having non-TJ elbow surgery. Scratch him from the off-season wish list some had for a young controllable SP.
    What is behind door #1 Monte?
    Marcus Stroman!
    The audience: Oooooooooooooooo!

  19. The Reds are frustrating but that doesn’t keep me from following them every day. I played baseball through college and watching the game at the highest level is always a thrill. I literally see something I’ve never seen before every game I watch. And since I was a little catcher in the 70’s and Johnny Bench was the man, I’ve been a Reds fan my whole life. The Big Red Machine locked that down in ’75 and ’76.

    But I’ve never lived anywhere near Cincinnati so I don’t have that community connection to the Reds (for me, that’s RLN). So being a Reds fan for me has always been about rooting for individual players as much as for the team. And the Reds have always had some wonderful players to root for. Bench, Barry Larkin and, before too long, Joey Votto will all be Hall of Famers who played their entire careers for the Reds. Name one other team that can say that about three players in the last fifty years. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Right now, Votto, Suarez, Barnhart, Cozart and Iglesias are an absolute joy to watch. They never give in, they do the little things right (we can argue Votto base running if you like), and they are very good at baseball. And the list of guys who I can say the same about is so long. Almost the whole BRM, Eric Davis, Mario Soto, Chris Sabo, Johnny Cueto, Sean Casey, Brandon Phillips for so long, Tom Browning, and dozens more.

    If winning is all you care about, you’re missing out. Baseball is an amazing game and I’m grateful for the Reds and many of the players who’ve stepped between the lines at Riverfront and GABP. I’m grateful for sabremetrics, for RLN and for Fox Sports Ohio. Do I want to see a winning Reds team? You have no idea how much. But until then Joey Votto is coming up, Tucker Barnhart has a runner to gun down, Billy Hamilton has a ball in the gap to out run, and Raisel Iglesias has a game to win. And I can’t wait to watch them.

  20. Joey Votto leads all of MLB in OBP. By a far amount.
    1. Votto .448.
    2. B. Harper .419.
    3. P. Goldschmidt .418.
    4. J Turner .417.
    18. E. Suarez .379.
    It looks as if 452 PA’s was the cut off to qualify.
    Cozart at .397 in 446 PA’s would have been in 12th place. Just missed out.
    Barnhart at .351 in 372 PA’s would have been tied for 55th spot.
    Gennett at .349 in 439 PA’s would have been tied for 58h spot. Also just missed.
    Four regulars in the top-60 of OBP in all of MLB is not bad and a step in the right direction. And Barnhart would make 5 with enough AB’s.
    Add in Winker at .402 (87 PA’s) and Ervin at .400 (41 PA’s), and there is reason for more optimism with the offense.
    Schebler (.316) and Mesoraco (.321) are hanging out in the middle.
    The laggers in OBP are of course BHam and Peraza at .299 and Duvall at .297. I thought Duvall’s was higher, but his second half funk continues.

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