This week’s respondents are Jason Linden, Bill Lack, Chris Garber, and Chad Dotson. Our Weekly Reds Obsession: What is your favorite Opening Day memory? Jason Linden: Last year was the first time I actually got to go to Opening Day and it was pretty great. The Reds lost, of course, and that was pretty predictive […]

First, the truth. When Nation editor Steve Mancuso asked for a quick 100-word prediction of the 2016 Cincinnati Reds, I almost wrote: “I hope these Reds aren’t as bad as the team in 1982.” The train wreck in 1982 resulted in a record of 61-101. The Engineer of that debacle was General Manager Dick Wagner. […]

  We asked the writing staff to offer up to 100 words in answer to the question: What would you consider a successful season for the 2016 Cincinnati Reds? They were told they could frame their answers in terms of wins and losses or otherwise. Please add your own answers in the comments section. Here’s […]

I love the Cincinnati Reds. I shouldn’t actually have to say that, since I’ve been writing about the Reds — and demonstrating my obsession with this infernal team — nearly every single day here at Redleg Nation for the last nine seasons. But make no mistake: I love the Cincinnati Reds National League Baseball Club, […]

2013 is looking good so far. Despite injuries to their #1 starter, starting leftfielder and cleanup hitter and catcher, the Reds are thick in the race for the Division as Memorial Day awaits. Their MVP is a Boy Named Choo, Votto is hitting like Votto and Bruce looks like he is in the beginning of […]

December 10, 1982: The Cincinnati Reds, seeking to boost their outfield team, traded prospect pitcher Scott Brown to the Kansas City Royals for injured Royals phenom outfielder, Clint Hurdle. In March, 1978, Clint Hurdle made the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine as baseball’s next phenom (see here). He was one of the most hyped rookie […]

December 7, 1983: The Reds signed their first “major” free agent of the free agency period when they signed Dave Parker to to a three-year contract.

While with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Parker was one of baseball’s biggest superstars of the late 1970’s. Parker won the MVP for the Pirates in 1978 when he hit .334 with 20 homers, 32 doubles, 12 triples, and a 117 rbi. He led the league with a .585 SLP, a .979 OPS, and a 166 OPS+. Parker had finished third in MVP voting in both 1975 and 1977 while receiving MVP votes for five consecutive years from 1975-79. As a right fielder, Parker was known for his powerful arm and won three consecutive Gold Gloves from 1977-79.

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September 5, 1973: For the second day in a row, the Reds explode in extra innings to beat the Houston Astros in Houston. The Reds use the three game series to move into first place in the Western Division, a lead they won’t relinquish for the rest of the season.

The Reds entered the three-game series with the Astros one game behind the division leading Los Angeles Dodgers. Having spent most of the season in third and fourth place, the Reds trailed by as many as 11 games as late as June 30. The Reds moved into a tie for first on the first day (September 3). While the Dodgers were losing 11-8 to the San Francisco Giants, the Reds scored two runs in the eighth inning on a Ken Griffey pinch single to beat the Astros, 4-3.

The Reds scored first on a second inning solo home run by Andy Kosco, but the Astros plated three runs in the fifth to take a 3-1 lead. The Reds got one run back in the sixth inning on a Pete Rose two-out single. The Reds won it in the eighth when Johnny Bench doubled with two outs. Kosco drew a walk, and Ed Armbrister, making his second consecutive start since his recall from AAA, reached on an infield single to load the bases. Ken Griffey, in his seventh game since his recall, then delivered a pinch two-run single giving the Reds their 4-3 lead and eventual margin of victory. Pedro Borbon pitched the final three innings of the game, surrendering no runs despite giving up six singles in those three innings. Former Astro Jack Billingham had started the game for the Reds and had pitched six innings, allowing three unearned runs.

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June 25, 1972: Denis Menke doubles down the left field line with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning to score Tony Perez with the winning run and give the Cincinnati Reds a 5-4 win over the Houston Astros. The Reds move into first place with the win, ahead of the Astros, and never relinquish first place the rest of the season.

The Reds go on to win the National League pennant, but eventually lose to the Oakland Athletics, four games to three, in the 1972 World Series. Six of the seven World Series games are decided by one run, with only Game 6 being a blowout (an 8-1 Reds victory). Despite losing, the Reds outscore the Athletics in the Series, 21-16, with the Reds averaging three runs per game, and the A’s averaging 2.3.

This was the first season after possibly the most important trade in Reds’ history. The 1970 Reds had been a power hitting juggernaut; a team built for power to play in Crosley Field, a home run hitter’s paradise. However, the Reds moved into Riverfront Stadium midway through 1970 and the Reds found their offensive production dropping. The Reds went from averaging 5.1 runs per game in the first half of 1970 while playing in Crosley Field to a less than league average 3.6 runs per game in 1971 in Riverfront Stadium. Opponents scoring also dropped, but not at the same rate. Opponents averaged 4.0 runs per game against the Reds in the first half of 1970, and had dropped to 3.59 in 1971.

The Reds retooled and they retooled for speed and defense, skills better suited to the artificial turf of Riverfront Stadium. They wanted Houston’s Joe Morgan for his blend of on base skills, power, and speed. According to the book “Making the Big Red Machine: Bob Howsam and the Cincinnati Reds of the 1970’s” by Daryl Raymond Smith, Joe Morgan was on Howsam’s big board of players he wanted and Reds manager Sparky Anderson kept dropping hints about a player he sure would like to have on his team. The Astros needed a first baseman and had been scouting both Lee May and Tony Perez. Howsam also has said that Cesar Geronimo was a key to the deal due to his long stride and ability to cover lots of ground in centerfield. The Reds weren’t happy with Perez’s defense at third base (25, 32, and 35 errors, respectively, from 1968-70), but knew he was a natural first baseman. Both Perez and May were fan and clubhouse favorites. May was one year older than Perez. Perez had a bigger 1970 (.317/40/129, .990 OPS); May had probably been the Reds’ best player in 1971 (.279/39/98, .874 OPS led the Reds).
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May 31–The 1981 season may have been one of the most disappointing seasons in Reds history. Not because of their play on the field; to the contrary, the Reds had baseball’s best record, 66-42, but were left out of the playoffs due to the “split-season” format necessitated by the player strike. The Reds finished second in both the first half and second half and were left out of the post-season championship run.

With free agency still being somewhat new, and the Reds not wanting to participate, they made several off-season moves post-1981. CF Ken Griffey Sr. was traded to the Yankees; LF George Foster was traded to the Mets; RF Dave Collins was granted free agency; 3B Ray Knight was traded to the Astros; C Joe Nolan was traded to the Orioles. SP Paul Moskau was traded to the Orioles in a separate deal, and RP Doug Bair was traded to the Cardinals. In return, we received an aging Cesar Cedeno, 3B Wayne Krenchicki, failed OF prospect Clint Hurdle, C Alex Trevino, RP Jim Kern, and two swing men, Bob Shirley and Greg Harris.
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July 23, 1985: Jeff Russell is sent by the Cincinnati Reds to the Texas Rangers to complete an earlier deal made on July 19, 1985. The Cincinnati Reds sent a player to be named later and Duane Walker to the Texas Rangers for a player to be named later and Buddy Bell. The Cincinnati Reds sent Jeff Russell (July 23, 1985) to the Texas Rangers to complete the trade.

1982 was one of the worst years in Reds’ history with the team losing 101 games. The team replaced John McNamara as manager during the 1982 season and replaced him with Russ Nixon, and the team improved to 74 games in the win column for 1983. Not satisfied with the results, Nixon was fired and the Reds hired Vern Rapp, who didn’t make it through the season. The Reds traded for Pete Rose, who was named player-manager, and the Reds finished with 70 wins. Under Rose’s direction, the team spiked and jumped to win totals of 89, 86, 84, and 87, finished second over the next four seasons before scandal brought down the team’s manager and the team.

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November 29, 1971: Joe Morgan is traded by the Houston Astros with Ed Armbrister, Jack Billingham, Cesar Geronimo and Denis Menke to the Cincinnati Reds for Tommy Helms, Lee May and Jimmy Stewart.

This is the most famous trade in Cincinnati Reds history, bar none, and the one trade that made the biggest impact in Reds major league success.

But, before we analyze this deal, let’s say it’s not the 1971 Reds, but the 2009 Reds. Our favorite team has a losing record, and many of the starters are playing below expectations and some are fan favorites, yet there’s someone who’s playing well. Let’s say Joey Votto is the guy who’s playing well and the guy recognized as a defensive stalwart, say Alex Gonzalez….and the 2009 Reds decide to trade them. And, why not, let’s throw in a part-time fan favorite, a player such as Jerry Hairston, Jr.. Most on this blog would be aghast at trading Votto, and there would be mixed emotions about Gonzalez, but to “Joe Fan” trading both would paramount to treason and team ownership would be questioned about their competency.

Well, that’s what happened in 1971. Continue reading