I got up out of bed on September 23, 2010 and got ready for work in Springfield, Illinois. That was the day that if the Cincinnati Reds defeated the Houston Astros, they would clinch the National League Central Division.
I had a ton of time off accumulated. Things were going well at work. So I took the day off, got in my Chevy truck and took off for Cincinnati, which was about a 5 ½ hour drive away from President Lincoln’s Tomb, plus losing an hour due to the Eastern Time Zone.
No one went with me. No one else cared. I ordered one ticket on the way to Cincy and got a front row seat down the third base line for the healthy sum of $22. I was set.
I checked into my Northern Kentucky Hotel that afternoon and walked to the park. Had a couple of cold ones in the neighborhood of Great American Ball Park and talked baseball with guys I knew nothing of but they were Reds fans.
When the gates opened, I found my seat and then walked around the park. I loved the atmosphere of the ballpark, got a coney and a beer and basked in the glory of watching my favorite team, my Reds, try to clinch a division championship.
They did just that, thanks to Bruce Almighty and his majestic home run in the bottom of the 9th inning. The crowd went wild. So did I. The Reds went on the field and did a victory lap. I did a fist bump with Bronson Arroyo.
This was my team, the team I loved since 1964. I had a connection with them.
After the game, I walked to Fountain Square with dozens of Reds fans to celebrate. That’s where the 1961 Ragamuffins celebrated. That’s where the Big Red Machine hoisted their trophies. That’s where I went. I was with other Reds fans and we celebrated.
I caught a cab after midnight and went back to the hotel. The Reds were champs.
And now, here we are in 2021.
David Bell is our manager. Nick Krall is our General Manager. I have zero confidence in both of them. I expect nothing. I get nothing. At this point, I just hope they don’t destroy what’s left of the team but that seems to be the mission that they are on.
The 2021 Reds collapsed down the stretch for the playoffs, a second wild card berth, but at least it was something. The Cardinals won 17 straight, breezed past the Reds and made it. They fired their manager. We extended our manager for two years.
Honest to God — what does this say to us?
I’m old enough to remember the bad times as a Reds fan. The trade of Frank Robinson. The firing of Sparky Anderson. Dick Wagner as the GM. Trading Tony Perez for a washed up left-handed pitcher who quit on the team in the middle of the next season. The Bob Boone Era. Trading Johnny Cueto for three left-handed pitchers. Trading Aroldis Chapman for nothing. Trading Jay Bruce for Dilson Herrera.
This off-season, lockout or no lockout, is the same as the last one. A signing of little known players and hoping to catch lightning in a bottle.
Jake Bauers, Kyle Dowdy and Ronnie Dawson? I’ll bet the Reds front office season ticket salespeople are busy. The phones are probably ringing off the hook.
I went to one Reds game last season. It was a Father’s Day present. The Reds actually won that night, defeating the Cardinals when they were mere mortals in August. Joey Votto hit a home run and Luis Castillo pitched a great game.
But a lot had changed since 2010. $16 for a beer? And a cab couldn’t be found after the game since Uber wiped out that industry in Cincinnati. Fortunately, a friend that went with me had their app on his phone but we still needed to give the driver a viable target and it’s tough right after a game.
So now what? Another rebuild? Another horrible bullpen? More mediocrity?
It’s not my nature to be negative but the Reds need to show me something.
Or does this Ownership even care about their fan base?