The morning after the Cincinnati Reds made the playoffs for the first time since 2013, I sent Dave Bristol a text.
As many of you know, Dave Bristol managed the Reds and is now a member of the Reds Hall of Fame. I got to know Dave while doing some historical articles for Redleg Nation. And so I sent him a text and asked how he would have like to have The Big Three (Luis Castillo, Trevor Bauer and Sonny Gray) on his 1969 Reds pitching staff.
Dave didn’t text back, he called. Like me, he was thrilled the Reds are back in the playoffs.
I was as hard on this Reds team as I have been with any other. They drove me crazy. Made me angry. A .212 team batting average? Are you kidding me? Traditionally, the Reds are a good hit/no pitch franchise. Ask Dave Bristol about that. But .212? That’s Darrell Chaney territory.
And when the Cardinals blew them out by a 16-2 score in Cincinnati on September 1, I was fit to be tied. Not at Sonny Gray, who had pitched his heart out for the Reds to that point but at the Reds in general and David Bell specifically. Brad Miller drove in seven runs that night. Akiyama was hitting all of .189.
I, like a few of you, was frustrated by the lack of playing time Aquino got. I was ready for Garcia to be playing weeks before he was brought in. I was hoping Akiyama would at least hit .260 this year.
Look, I wasn’t desperate enough to want Bob Boone back. Or Bryan Price. But I might have taken a second look at Russ Nixon or Vern Rapp.
But, to their credit, the Reds didn’t get buried. They stayed close to the .500 mark. And then by a miracle, they got hot at the perfect time. I’ve seen other teams do that; so have you. This time, it was OUR team that got hot. And they have the Big Three for a playoff series, when pitching is everything.
The Reds have had three stud starters before in the same rotation; it just didn’t happen very often. Like once a decade, or even longer.
There was Purkey/Jay/O’Toole. Cueto/Bailey/Latos. Gullett/Nolan/Billingham (or insert Norman for any of the three).
But this Bauer/Gray/Castillo trio is dynamite. No sane baseball team would want to face a rotation like that. For a Reds fan, it’s an embarrassment of riches. It’s going to Jack Ruby’s instead of a mid-level restaurant. It’s first-class instead of a coach seat. It’s good Kentucky sipping whiskey instead of a Miller Lite.
When Trevor Bauer takes the mound, I have a chip on my battery. Or a battery, like tough-guy Robert Conrad in the EverReady commercials. “Go ahead — knock it off. “
If Trevor Bauer doesn’t win the Cy Young Award, I promise you a scathing article here at the Nation on that injustice. So be ready for that, Doug.
But first business first.
The playoffs and the Big Three. I’m sure Dave Bristol will be watching. When I asked him about Bauer, Castillo and Gray being on his staff in ’69, Dave just laughed.
I’m sure he’s thought about it, too.