In a lot of ways, winning this pennant trumps your favorite NFL franchise winning the Super Bowl. Trust me, to a baseball fan who has been as starved as we have been over what seems like a lifetime; to win a pennant after battling night in and night out (both the team and the fan base) is about as good as it gets.
In so many ways, the gold is back in title town. You heard me. Cincinnati is a baseball town. Did you see those fans last night? It was incredible. Grown men crying. I had chills about twenty different times.
So at the core of it all, I’ll tell you why it mattered so much.
It’s because at the core of it all, you heart was all that remained. Really, what is a franchise anyway? Ownership groups change. They’ve changed three times since the last time we were in this spot. Players come and go. There’s been over one thousand of them in uniform in these past parts of two decades. Managers shuffle in and out and even the stadiums change. If not a new lot to play in, the sponsorship banners that hang on the wall rarely remain beyond a few seasons.
What remains is you. You and I, and your heart. The memories the we’ve had over the years both good and bad. That’s a franchise. That’s a sports organization. The folks who live for it nightly and bleed, sweat, rejoice and shed tears over the results. Not the guys in suits or the guys under contract. They’re just; well, independent contractors underneath the figurehead or logo.
We’re the organization, and last night I thought back to the little boy who walked on fountain square on October 21st, 1990; the day after the Reds swept the A’s. The little boy who was just then discovering baseball. As cars passed by and drivers lay on their horns all day in downtown Cincinnati, I walked with my family. Many family members who are now gone who didn’t know that would be the last championship they’d see in the Queen City.
That day I was asked by a local news reporter what I thought about the Reds winning the world series. I was so nervous that I was going to be on TV that I continued to stutter my way through ‘Barry Larkin is my favorite because he gets home a lot’ (I was a kid).
So many years ago, and all that remains is you and I and the memories. A new one has been created. One that will withstand the tests of time and circumstances. And no one can ever take it away.