Final R H E
St. Louis Cardinals (14-13)
16 23 0
CIncinnati Reds (15-21)
2 8 0
W: Kim (2-0) L: Gray (5-2)
Statcast | Box Score | Game Thread

Gather ’round, Redleg Nation. It’s late, and I have a fire started in the backyard firepit. Allow me to spin a little tale of unrequited love.

If you are a member of this community, chances are very good that you have invested a substantial portion of your life following the Cincinnati Reds. The folks here are people who I would definitely call die-hards. You don’t hang out here for year after year of losing and disappointment unless you feel a very intense attachment to this team. I’ll go so far as to compare it to a relationship, which is defined this way by Google Dictionary;

the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected.

In this case, it’s an object (a sports team) and people (each one of us).

How did this relationship begin? When did it begin? After 47 years of the relationship, I’ve begun recently to explore its origins. In my case, watching sports on TV was a way for me to be close to my father. I didn’t have any interest in sports as a young kid. But as I realized that watching them with dad bridged a bit of an emotional gap we had, I began to develop a passion for sports themselves.

If you’re reading this, your relationship with sports and the Cincinnati Reds may have begun in somewhat similar ways. Maybe you became a Reds fan because your mom or dad or someone else close to you was one. Maybe you developed a passion for the team via other means, and that passion is still burning. This despite the fact that the team’s performance for the last seven seasons has done little to reciprocate this group’s combined emotional investment.

We can’t say they weren’t upfront with us, though. They told us six seasons ago that they were embarking on a rebuilding program, and explained the reasons why they would not field a team of representative major league-caliber pitchers and position players. Two off-seasons ago, we told them that you have to #getthepitching, and they went out and did it. Last off-season, we told them that they needed to go out and #getthehitting, and wow, it sure looked like they did so big-time. They told us that they were now in it to win it, and it sure looked like the pieces were in place. It seemed like they returned the love.

Before this season finally began, my hopes were sky-high. I didn’t truly believe that they would be able to win a World Series, but I sure thought they would be able to win the National League Central Division. Each game would be very important since there would be only 60 in the season. As August unfolded, my presumptive and predicted favorite to win the division found ways to lose in the way we have become accustomed to watching over the past seven seasons. My heart broke a little bit with each setback.

Then Monday night, Anthony DeSclafani was clearly struggling, having allowed three runs in the first three innings to St. Louis. The Reds were still in the game at 3-1 at the time. But despite having a bullpen with approximately one billion arms available, acting Manager Freddy Benavides left DeSclafani in to pitch after St. Louis loaded the bases, and Paul DeJong responded with a grand slam.

That was my moment. The moment in which it became truly clear to me that this will not be the year we all hoped. Benavides hoped and believed DeSclafani would reach back and rise to the occasion. But instead, the worst possible result occurred. The hitters, the pitchers, and the management all have fleeting moments that make you go “ooh,” but they haven’t been able to put it together in a way that produces more wins than losses. As I am writing this, I’m watching a stream of wanna-be relief pitchers try unsuccessfully to shut down a St. Louis Cardinals offense that at the moment resembles the 1927 Yankees Murderer’s Row. (As they say in the movies, any resemblance is completely unintentional.)

Having just written all of that, I WILL be back tomorrow. After nearly a half-century, this is part of my life, and always will be. But the heart that was pounding with the overwhelming hope of a return to the fun and joy of consistent winning has now been shielded from the effects of those blind emotions.

(I just watched the new guy, Brian Goodwin, forget how many outs there were and get doubled off second base on a line drive to right field.)

Remember that unrequited love reference? The experience of being a Reds fan is somewhat like one that maybe some of you can remember — that high school crush who you were head-over-heels for, but who never reciprocated the emotion. Not even close, actually. In our relationship with the Reds, they want to reciprocate, but seemingly don’t know how to do what it takes to do so — win. Things may change, but this team looks dead in the water at the moment.

Many of you are calling for David Bell to be fired. This fireside chat has been about relationships, so think about the position Dick Williams is in: David Bell’s father Buddy is a Reds vice president and senior adviser. Do you think Buddy can advise objectively on this matter? Do you think Williams and Bob Castellini want to alienate the senior Bell?

(I just watched Curt Casali completely miss catching a pitch and have it bounce off his forearm. Thankfully it’s not broken.)

Thank you for joining me for this post-game monologue. It’s been cathartic for me in some ways. Perhaps some of you can identify with the feelings here. I know there are times when you, like me, ask yourselves: Why do I do this? It’s because you’re in a relationship that can be accurately described as intimate: You’ve worn your heart on your sleeve, and spent perhaps tens of thousands of hours involved with the other party.

You don’t give up on your father, your mother, your spouse, or your kids just because things get rough. This is the kind of relationship we are in. We stay in it because we believe better times are ahead. We just don’t know when.

For sure not tonight. Just looked up at the screen and it’s 16-1 St. Louis. It feels like a major change of some sort is needed, but my hunch is that things will be business as usual:

  • “We’ll get ’em tomorrow.”
  • “We were pleased how Bradley looked in his Reds debut.”
  • “We have a terrific team that just hasn’t hit a hot streak yet.”

Time for bed. I’ll put out the fire. See you tomorrow.

Up Next for the Cincinnati Reds

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Cincinnati Reds

Wednesday, September 2, 6:40 pm ET

Johan Oviado (3.60 ERA, 0-1) vs. Tyler Mahle (3.91 ERA, 1-1)