On Monday night, I went to cover a high school volleyball game between the Knoxville and Lewistown for one of the newspapers I write for here in Illinois.
Knoxville made quick work of the game, winning in two sets over Lewistown by scores of 25-22 and 25-14 and after interviewing a pair of cousins that play for Knoxville (Lexi and Abby Harshbarger) I went to one of those Wing Franchises for supper and to catch the Monday Night Football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants.
I sat at the bar and the game was a quagmire of penalties, poor offensive line play, and Daniel Jones playing quarterback. In other words, it was boring. It was just before halftime and the Cowboys clung to a 6-3 lead.
But out of the corner of my eye, I saw another television set – among the 40 or so in that joint – that had on the Cincinnati Reds playing the Pittsburgh Pirates. Now that caught my attention.
How can that be? Obviously, this was a Clash of the Titans game that couldn’t be missed. The bartender noticed me watching it and kindly offered to get that game on instead of Monday Night Football so it would be easier to watch and I took her up on it.
The score was 2-2 in the 7th inning when I started to watch but I knew it wouldn’t last with the current edition of the Reds bullpen. I was right. The two journeymen relief pitchers the Reds employed (Law and Kuhnel) quickly made the score 7-2 in favor of the Pirates by allowing seven hits and six runs in the two innings of work they shared and the final score was 8-3. It was so pathetic I laughed and ordered another cold one.
But I did see Chuckie Robinson catch. I met Chuckie years ago after he led the Class A Quad City River Bandits to the Midwest League championship in Class A. And I saw David Bell, our esteemed manager, make a trip to the mound to yank Law. That was truly inspirational.
With the sound off, I missed Jeff Brantley’s rant about the Reds being on the path to losing a hundred games this year. And while I didn’t hear it, I agree with The Cowboy. Losing a hundred games is terrible and it’s only happened once in Reds history. I lived through that 1982 season, went to Cincinnati that year and watched a few games and caught a lot of them on WLW.
Was it embarrassing as a fan? Yes. Just six years earlier, the Reds were World Champions and rightly considered one of the best baseball teams of all time. The Great Eight. Sparky Anderson. No platooning. The best catcher ever. Tony Perez. The Hit King. Two-time MVP Joe Morgan. Geronimo roaming centerfield.
But in 1982, Alex Trevino was our catcher. Remember him? Jim Kern was supposed to bolster our bullpen and that didn’t work out. Neither did Paul Householder (.211) in rightfield.
Credit for that season goes to Dick Wagner, the General Manager of the Reds at that time.
And if Frank Robinson was an “old 30” when he was traded in 1965 (he wasn’t), Cesar Cedeno certainly was an old 31 in 1982 when he could only hit 8 home runs, drive in 51 runs, and steal 16 bases. Cedeno was awesome for Houston in 1972. He hit for the cycle against the Reds in a game that season and was dynamic. Not so much in 1982.
Those Reds lost #100 in Game 161 to the Astros by a 4-2 score in that 1982 season Ironically, the Reds best pitcher that season was Mario Soto and he took the loss.
So Monday night was a wash for me. The highlight for me was the Knoxville Blue Bullets winning and interviewing a couple of high school athletes who are playing for the sheer fun of the game. How refreshing is that?
This has been an awful baseball season, one that I’m glad will be over soon. Maybe The Bull can make his priority in fixing the bullpen because the one they have now is just plain pathetic. I naively thought Bell would be fired after their historically bad 3-22 start this season but evidently Reds Ownership believes in this guy for whatever warped reason.
The Reds are a culture of failure right now. Bell and his coaching staff are a part of that. Cut the cord, rebuild the bullpen, and give us hope.
I’ll probably miss it when this crew loses their 100th game. A “wise” man said this past Opening Day that Reds fans didn’t have any other place to go. I’ve seen and read all sorts of incredibly dumb quotes this past year – from politicians, bureaucrats, athletes, and coaches but that one broke the mold.
I’ll make sure I have a place to go on that night, Phil.