Nearly a year later, we find ourselves back at the original scene of the crime. We’re still trying to solve the case. The Reds are still trying to win a postseason series under Dusty Baker. It’s been nearly 20 years and the people like me who grew up at Riverfront Stadium are still waiting for the Reds to truly return to glory.
I don’t know what you can say in a post like this. I don’t know how you can state how much it means to you and how much you want something for a group of guys. I don’t know how I can express with words on this canvas how much it means to me that the Reds find a way to win tomorrow in Pittsburgh.
Without a win tomorrow night in the Steel City; they have no chance at a playoff series. There’s no glory, and there’s no story to tell your unborn son about what Joey Votto and Jay Bruce did in the World Series when you were younger.
If the Reds lose tomorrow night, the window closes just a little bit more. This group of guys will never be together again, and the nucleus little by little starts to break up. As the band breaks up, the teams get forgotten. The only teams that will be remembered are the teams that won. By now; 2013, I would have told you we would have been to a World Series with this group and been close to winning one. Instead, we’re still trying to solve the riddle: how do the Reds get out of the first round with guys like Votto, Bruce, Brandon Phillips, Aroldis Chapman, Homer Bailey, Johnny Cueto, and the other solid complimentary pieces around the nice nucleus?
I have no idea what is going to happen tomorrow night – whereas in years past I knew the Reds were getting swept by the Phillies in 2010. I knew the Reds were going to lose game five at home last year. I knew there would be a hangover year in 2011 that saw them miss the playoffs completely. This 2013 is truly capable of anything. They could come out flat tomorrow night and get shutout or they could have five runs on the board before the Pirates get a chance to bat in the home half of the bottom of the first.
I truly just don’t know what to expect. I do know that this team has failed to get hot and keep momentum the entire year despite winning 90 games. I also know they haven’t lost six in a row all year long, and if they lose tomorrow night it will be six in a row. I know that this team has the experience needed to win tomorrow night, and I feel that all the pressure is on the Pittsburgh Pirates. No one expected Pittsburgh to be here, and they haven’t ever been here. They might be at home, but look what the Reds did last year in San Francisco in front of a rabid crowd.
If the Reds don’t win this game tomorrow, if they don’t find a way to at least get to St. Louis with a chance to dance with the Cardinals for all the marbles; then a lot of futures and legacies become even more clouded.
People want to say this team is in good shape to compete for five more years – to that I say I’m not so certain. Guys get expensive, guys get hurt, the Reds will likely have to adapt to a new manager at that time, and players get older. Other teams improve. I’ve been watching this game long enough to know that the only guaranteed window to compete is now. Right now.
I don’t want Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, and Jay Bruce to go down as Reds that never won a playoff series. It was supposed to be so much more than that for them. It was supposed to be completely different. But if the Reds don’t win tomorrow night, I don’t know that these guys ever win a playoff series as Cincinnati Reds. Of course, tomorrow night still doesn’t guarantee them that. But I feel if they can overcome a one-game playoff on the road, they can get through anyone and be more dangerous then they were in 2012 and certainly 2010. A team with nothing to lose that is playing with ‘house money’ is about as dangerous as it gets.
I want it so bad for these guys I would sacrifice almost anything to see it happen. But I can’t do that. I can only sit and watch, helpless. Hoping they make the plays, hoping they work the counts, hoping Dusty pulls the right strings at just the right times to make all those post game 700 WLW AM callers fall back in love with him for just one night. And that’s why my guts will be turned inside out. That’s why they’re already inside out.
I just can’t believe for the life of me that we’ve come all this way for all these years to see it go away one night in Pittsburgh. That’s not really how it’s going to end right now, is it? This team is capable of more. These guys, I believe in them (to a point). I know as a group they have good chemistry. I have to think they want this for the legacy of their manager. It wasn’t meant to go down in history this way. If the Reds were a driver behind the wheel in an accident, they would survive that accident; and their mother would tell them that ‘it’s not their time yet, because they have more left to do’.
One time tomorrow Cincinnati. Do this one time for a fan who has lived for this his entire life. Just one time, over-deliver. You might have an expiration date, but that date isn’t going to be October 1st, 2013. You can’t let it be. I am asking the baseball Gods for this just once; just one time show up and shine on a team that I root for.
I have nothing left to say. I’ve said it the best I could. I’ll check in tomorrow before it all goes down. This is going to be a night and wake up of nerves until first pitch tomorrow night.