Good morning, I hope this finds you well. The Cincinnati Reds found themselves getting the day off (kind of) on Friday. Mother Nature agreed with those of us who balked at a nighttime getaway game and decided they should play all four of their remaining games with the Cardinals over two days. It’s interesting to see the varying successes and failures the Reds have conjured against their division rivals, recently. Do we Reds fans even consider the team from St. Louis the pariah we once likened them to? Got some thoughts on these for your Saturday coffee.
Reds and Doubleheaders
This is one of those things about baseball that has changed dramatically over the years. As most baseball fans who grew up back in the Big Red Machine Era or earlier will tell you, doubleheaders used to be scheduled affairs. While there are still some, there aren’t nearly as many now.
The last time the Reds were involved in a double dip was May 27 of this year against the Pirates. They split the two-parter with both teams combining to score 22 runs. Splitting a doubleheader seems to be very on-brand for the Reds as they’ve split eight of the last 11 doubleheaders they’ve been a part of for the last 10 years. In those two non-split series, the Reds were swept by the Pirates (September 17, 2016), they swept the Cubs (July 8, 2014), and were swept by the Rockies (August 17, 2014).
It’s ironic that we will see the Reds in back-to-back doubleheaders against the Cardinals as the two teams have not had a doubleheader against one another since 2002. You may have guessed it, but they split those two games.
Reds and Cardinals
The Reds are 6-9 against the Cardinals in 2019. There have been a handful of times I have talked with the host of the Locked On Cardinals podcast and he holds to the thought that the Reds are a thorn in the Cardinals side. It’s funny, because I think we Reds fans tend to believe the opposite. Let’s see what we can see.
We’ll limit it to the 10 years leading up to this one (2009-2018) as both of these teams have been around for a long time and have played each other for just about as long. In that timeframe, the Reds are 77-101 against the Cardinals. The only year the Reds won the season series was 2011 (9-6). Cincinnati is 31-55 in St. Louis and has not had a winning record there in the 10-year period we’re looking at.
This may not surprise you to know that Yadier Molina has been a force against the Reds. There is no other team he has more career hits (214), doubles (46), or RBI (108) against and he has 23 homers, to boot.
The good news is the Reds have Joey Votto. In his career against the Cardinals, Joey has 196 hits (.314 average) and has scored 103 times. He’s got 27 dingers and a .525 slugging percentage while doing the Joey Votto thing and walking more times (135) than he’s struck out (130). He even likes Busch Stadium as he slashed .319/.435/.526 in his 86 games played there.
This all has me thinking, though…
Reds Fans and the Cardinals
Now please understand me, I am not talking about Cardinals fans. Most teams have enough brutes in their fanbase to turn anyone away, so it’s easy to dislike a fanbase. I mean the team. The players, the manager, and what happens on the field. Are the Cardinals the Reds most hated rival still?
It’s a no for me. The Pirates have taken that torch and ran with it. A lot has to do with who the skipper is. I have no thoughts about Mike Shildt. In fact, given what he had to work with last year after replacing Mike Mattheny, I’d say he’s a decent manager. He’s not Tony LaRussa. I saw the Cardinals former manager on some interview show on MLB Network and old feelings of disdain crept up in me. I really don’t like that dude. He doesn’t manage the Cardinals anymore, though, so it’s easier to not hate them.
Some of you might say “but Yadier Molina is still there!” and you would be right, he is. This is where time comes into play. It’s been awhile since his spat with Brandon Phillips and I have a question for you that, if you answer honestly, may dull whatever ultimate disdain you have for Molina. If he was a Red, would you root for him? Again, answer that honestly because I would undoubtedly say yes. The thing is, I seriously doubt we will ever test that answer out because he will be a Cardinal until he retires.
One last thing
My one last thing is one last question for you, the reader. I have given you a few today and this is the final one. You are told you can pick one newcomer’s (new to the Reds this year) jersey out at the Reds team shop. You are picking a jersey today and not in the offseason. What jersey do you choose? I’m picking that No. 54.
Here’s to hoping the Reds can be successful spoilers over the next two days.
I have family in Illinois who are all big Cardinals fans so I’ve never been a Redbirds hater as a team, but certain players including Carpenter but, oddly, not Molina, have been on my “I really don’t like that guy” list. I have no problem with them now, but like every other team I like when they lose to the Reds. Most disliked teams for me have been the Cubs and Brewers for many years. The Pirates are pathetic and I feel sorry for their fan.
If I were in jersey shopping mode I’d be sporting a Gray or a VanMeter model, but perhaps my favorite young Red is the seldom seen Cody Reed. I just find him very easy to root for and hope he gets back to full health and finds real success in 2020. That could be a big boost to the bullpen or rotation too.
Finally, I wouldn’t want to do it often, but two weekend double headers sounds like a fantastic major league immersion opportunity. Makes me wish I was closer to St. Louis. I’ll be watching from Atlanta. 3 out of 4, right? Go Reds!
I thought Molina made a class move by stepping away from the plate and leaving Pujols by himself when he returned to St. Louis, letting the crowd have the opportunity to show their love.
Tony LaRussa was a winning manager but, as a fan, I didn’t care for his attitude, although now he has a no-kill animal shelter in Arizona and for that I give him a lot of credit. In the old days I always enjoyed Cardinals/Reds games when Stan Musial was their big star. Season after season, St. Louis usually has competitive teams.
I remember seeing a report a few years ago saying that the mood Cardinal clubhouse changed fir the better after Chris carpenter left.
I’m also under the impression that Molina and Phillips buried the hatchet between them a few years ago.