I was neither surprised or deeply in mourning when the Cincinnati Reds collapsed in their push to the playoffs in 2023.
The Reds inspired play in June surprised me and I was caught up in the fervor of what those young players were doing along with a make shift pitching staff. I felt alive again as a Reds fan. I was pumped up. The Reds did, in fact, have a pulse.
The Reds mattered in the baseball equation.
I looked at the schedule and thought about making a road trip to catch the Reds in action.
And then came that fateful day, when news came in that stunned us all. Or at least most of us. It wasn’t a bold Bob Howsam-type move made by Nick Krall. It wasn’t yet another injury suffered by the pitching staff. It was…
The Reds extended Manager David Bell for three years.
I wasn’t critical of Krall for not making a trade. Who knows what he was offered? Who else knows what the trade offers were?
But it’s obvious this had been in the works for a while. This is what the Reds front office must have been focused on.
Again, I’ll say this: I have no personal dislike for David Bell. By all accounts, he’s a good guy. But I have genuine issues with his lineup construction, his penchant for playing mediocre veterans over young players and his burning up a bullpen by June.
All that aside, this latest Reds collapse under Bell– I still remember 2021– doesn’t even come close to the heart break Red fans suffered in seasons listed below. Those were hard. Bad. Tough. Some tragic, such as 1964 when Fred Hutchinson passed away from cancer after the season had concluded.
Here are 10 of them in chronological order starting in 1964:
- 1964: Reds lose the pennant on the final day of the season.
- 1973: Mets upset the Reds in NL playoffs during the Pete Rose War.
- 1977: Reds have the second best record in baseball and do not make the playoffs.
- 1981: Strike One: Reds have the best record in baseball and do not make the playoffs.
- 1982: Reds lose 100-plus games for the first time in their history
- 1994: Strike Two: Reds in first place when season-ending work stoppage hits.
- 1999: Reds blow games in Milwaukee on final weekend, lose one-game playoff to Mets
- 2012: Reds blow 2-0 game lead to Giants, lose playoff series with three straight losses.
- 2021: Reds falter in the stretch, losing NL Central to Cardinals
- 2022: Reds lose 100 games for the second time in franchise history
As for 2024, I am optimistic. Cincinnati has good young talent, among the best of any team. Most of them should get better. But, as Jack McKeon said after the Reds traded for Ken Griffey Jr., “Who’s going to pitch?”
And McKeon was a pretty good Reds manager.