Remember the first week of last September?
Let me help you with that. Our Cincinnati Reds won three of four from the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals and then swept the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers. The finale of those seven games was played on a warm fall evening in front of a national audience. It matched past and future Cy Young winner, Clayton Kershaw, against Homer Bailey. Jay Bruce hit two homers off Kershaw. Ryan Hanigan smashed a double down the left field line to score Zack Cozart with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth.
It was really an amazing, glorious time.
Last baseball season began with such promise. 2013 was the Year of Shin-Soo Choo. It featured another Homer Bailey no-hitter and Tony CingraniÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s awesome snarl. But it came to an all-too sudden end as Dusty BakerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s team lost their final six games and failed to reach a post-season series.
And that was just the start. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a measure of just how bitter this off-season has been for Reds fans when you realize itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s only been six months since that wonderful week in September, since Ryan HaniganÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s line drive. It seems like an eternity ago.
WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve indeed endured a cold, harsh winter. In a literal sense, the past few months have included sustained freezing temperatures and piles of snow, depending on your location.
But regardless of where you live, if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re a Reds fan, the past months also brought the frigid reality of front-office inaction. No offense to Skip Schumaker and Brayan Pena, but their signings did little to warm our hearts. Then throw in the now-ritual and mind-boggling annual decision to waste Aroldis Chapman in the bullpen, and the conditions have been perfect, both literally and metaphorically, for months of discontent.
But as one of the early American colonists wrote, if we had no winter, no taste of adversity, then spring and prosperity would not be so welcome.
Seasons, by definition, change. Mercifully, spring and a new baseball schedule are right around the corner. The early signs are already here. The temperatures outside are gradually rising. March Madness takes us to Opening Day. We can check out the box scores and stories from spring training and read up on the grand marshal for The Findlay Market Parade.
And wow, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m glad itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s all finally here. Albert Camus said that it was in the depth of winter when he finally learned that within him lay an invincible summer.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m all for that — an invincible Reds summer.