It’s Sunday morning as I type this and the Reds sit with the worst record in baseball.
True, they have been playing some good teams– the Dodgers, the Braves and they were routed by something called the Guardians. And despite 12 or 13 pitchers (I can’t keep track), a thin bench and mysterious injuries, we have Hunter Green’s 100 mile fastball to brag about.
But forgive our current roster of Reds– what is it, 27 or 28? In the past, some other Reds teams have started off miserably too.
One that stands out for me was 50 years ago– the 1972 Reds. After a dismal 1971 (83-79 back then was bad, today it’s a playoff contender) Cincinnati and Sparky Anderson had just consumated the huge trade with the Houston Astros. Bob Howsam traded the right side of his infield (Lee May and Tommy Helms) and utility man Jimmie Stewart for Joe Morgan, Denis Menke, Jack Billingham, Ed Armbrister, and Cesar Geronimo.
But after a 4-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs on May 10, the Reds found themselves with an 8-13 record, were 5 ½ games out of first place in the NL West and just a half game ahead of the Giants for last place. Milt Pappas, of all pitchers, shut them down for the Cubs. Pete Rose was batting just .236, Johnny Bench .220 and Young Don Gullett had an earned run average over 10.
I imagine even Manager Sparky Anderson was a little worried.
But against St. Louis a day later, the Reds came away with a 5-4 win, thanks to the pitching of Ross Grimsley and a two-run homer by Morgan. They went on to win nine straight games, Bench won the NL MVP and Rose batted over .300 again and the Reds captured their second National League pennent in three years.
Yes, we were spoiled back then.
I don’t think we need to think about the 2022 Reds doing something like that, despite having David Bell as their skipper. But slow starts and a tough early schedule can sink a ship quick. And the U.S.S. Bell is bottoming out.
I projected them to win 72 games. I was way too liberal. That 8-13 record Sparky and the Reds had in 1972 looks pretty good, considering where the Reds are today.
Among many mistakes made by the Reds was the extension of Bell’s contract last year. For what? Contending until August and then folding?
Somewhere out there is some sharp, young guy that is savvy enough to mix old school baseball with the new saber mentality. There’s our new GM. Then let him find our Manager of the future, stabilize this team and start the rebuilding process (again).
The Reds are a train wreck. Yes, there’s been injuries. But on that infamous day when the Phil Castellini asked where we, as Reds fans, were going to go it’s been an unmitigated disaster of a season.
The Cincinnati Reds have a loyal, strong fan base. If you’re reading this and follow Redleg Nation, you understand that. We’re being abused and told to shut up and trust the Ownership, The Bull, and David Bell.
I was at a sports pub yesterday to meet a local high school football coach for a chat. The Reds and Cardinals were on TV. I didn’t even care. The Cardinals were leading 1-0 and it didn’t even matter to me.
So the coach came, we got a bucket of beer and where did we go? Outside to the Beer Garden to talk some local football and a reconfiguration of their Conference.
That’s where I went Phil.