The 2021 Reds are now a matter for history. They are now yet another notch in these Between Championships years, a season in which we sift through the squish of collapsing lineups and point hopefully at the gems.
Well, we’ll say, at least crowds were admitted into the ballpark. At least there was baseball. At least the season happened.
This should serve as evidence of just how bad, as an epoch of humanity, 2020 was. “We Existed!!” is now acceptable cake icing fodder.
So how do we fix this? I have a few suggestions, and they might match up with yours:
–THE FIRE SALE: Everything and everybody goes. Bell goes, Bob goes, Gapper goes. So do bookmarked YouTube interviews with David Price, whoever Swiffers the bases between innings, and the person who types the tweets for the Reds media account. Whoever selects the lettuce leaves for the salads in the UDF stands. Joey Votto drives a bus and issues randomly timed, occasionally baffling Instagram stories. The entire franchise goes back to factory settings.
The problem with the factory settings, of course, is that MLB problems are baked into the hardware. There’s no overcoming that without building your own computer. And at the moment we’re too busy screaming at each other about antibodies for that.
So we all agree that disappointing baseball is better than no baseball, and we eat our kettlecorn and pay the stadium tax. And we shrug because, well, that’s what MLB teams do.
-THE TRAUMA AND THE RETURN: The Reds continue to fail to make the playoffs. A lot. The franchise leaves. We do without. We go on a full pro-baseball cleanse for a generation or two. It might sound attractive, from a Stoicism point of view. But I’ll tell you how this ends:
To the sound of much emotional weeping, a yet-unborn hero raised on pixels and a Bluetooth connection in his head opens the bank account he built by creating a program that removes from the user’s vision, hearing, and perception all people with whom he or she has a political disagreement. Our hero issues a limited edition series of bobbleheads that shoots Rozzi fireworks into the troposphere. There’s an Opening Day parade consisting of an aged Joey Votto–still Instagramming– the cryogenically frozen head of a bitter Pete Rose, and inaugural NewReds manager Jaxon Bell III.
Then the team begins to play. And it immediately begins miss out on the playoffs. A lot. Because the Reds are now an expansion team. And that’s what expansion teams do.
-LORD OF THE RINGS CYCLE: The team and its personnel remain relatively untouched. Then there’s a random, one-off championship team that no one saw coming and is impossible to maintain for even an one additional season.
In short: 1990 historically cycles itself back around. Because it’s sports. And that’s what sports teams do.
– A HANDFUL OF COSMETIC CHANGES TAKE PLACE, ALONG WITH A FEW OTHER TINKERINGS, A BARELY-WINNING SEASON IS EKED OUT EVERY NOW AND THEN, AND THE FANBASE IS TAKEN FOR GRANTED SOME MORE: That’s insanity, though.