July 26, 2007

Why do you continue to pay attention to the 2007 Reds?

As I write this diary, the current poll on the front page asks that question - “Why do you continue to pay attention to the 2007 Reds?”

Back in 1967, as a young boy, I attended a minor-league doubleheader here in Buffalo and saw a Triple-A rookie catcher hit a mammoth homer to win the nightcap for the home team. Some guy named Johnny. He's now in the Hall of Fame.

The next year, 1968, I flipped on a TV set early in the season and there was that same guy on TV, having been promoted to the majors and now catching for the team that was the Buffalo Bisons' parent club back then.

So, I sat down and watched the game. The first Reds player that I saw bat drew a walk, but he didn't actually walk. He ran, and he didn't stop at first, he kept running all the way to second. Some guy named Pete. I was ten years old and delighted.

There would be plenty of times after that when I was far from being delighted. Like later that year when they traded the shortstop, Chico Cardenas (better known as Leo) to the Twins who turned around and won the AL West a year later. Or when they fired the manager, Dave Bristol, at the end of 1969 and hired “Who the hell is this Sparky Anderson guy?” to replace him.

I guess winning the NL pennant in 1970 delighted me. Losing the World Series didn't, and neither did falling to below .500 the following year. But then in '72 they won another NL pennant. Delighted. Lost the World Series again. Not so delighted.

In '73 they won the division again. Delighted. But Dave Concepcion busted his ankle and missed the NLCS, and the rotten Mets won the series 3-2 with Darrel Chaney going 0-for-9 at shortstop. Not so delighted, but I will always believe that with Davey the Reds would have made it to the World Series that year too - and it was great to see Pete kick Bud Harrelson's ass.

The second-place finish in 1974…four NL All-Stars including three starters and they can't even beat out the lousy Dodgers? Grrr! But at least the Dodgers didn't win the World Series either.

Then came the back-to-back world championships in '75 and '76. Yep, absolutely delighted. Maybe this Sparky guy's not so bad after all.

Screwed out of postseason play in 1981 because of the stupid split season playoff format during the strike year. Not so delighted. In fact, I'm still furious about that one…and about going 61-101 the following year.

Bunch of second-place finishes under some guy named Pete. Four years in a row as the bridesmaids in the NL West. If it were anybody but Pete…

1989, so long, Pete. Thanks for the memories. But…Lou Piniella? A former Yankee is going to manage the Reds? Sacrilege!

World Championship in 1990. OK, maybe Lou's not so bad after all. I had my broom ready, but after the series, I couldn't find any Oakland fans to hand it to. Before game one they were everywhere, but they all vanished like if you shined a Q-Beam on a thousand cockroaches.

Some defense of the title. 74-88 in 1991. Second place in '92, if only Sabo had stayed healthy…if only we still had Myers…and then they go and pull the second-dumbest trade in Reds history (after F. Robby) and let Paul O'Neill go to the Yankees! Definitely not delighted.

Surprise division title under Davey Johnson in '95. Delighted. Until the smartass Braves fan I worked with at the time walked up the morning after the NLCS and handed me a broom. Grrrrr! I still hate Wohlers. What's he doing in a Reds' uniform in 2000 and 2001? Not delighted.

Twelve years since the last playoff appearance for the Reds. Not delighted, but still here. I am not and never have been a fair-weather fan.

And now, 12-8 under Pete McCanWin. There's light at the end of the tunnel once again. Hopefully it's not the headlamp on the locomotive that's been bringing us the horrible eighth-inning trainwrecks.

Why do I continue to pay attention to the 2007 Reds? Two reasons:

1. Because I have way too much time and emotion invested in this franchise to ever give up on it.

2. Because it still beats the hell out of being a Cubs fan.


3 comments to “Why do you continue to pay attention to the 2007 Reds?”

  1. BillyLou says:

    Back in 1967 as a kid in Niagara Falls, I too saw the guy named Johnny. This day a friend and I had climed the fence beind the 3rd base line stands in what was then Hyde Park Stadium to see Johnny hit 4 home runs, each the center field fence. We both knew he was headed for MLB.

  2. Red Hot Mama says:

    Welcome, BillyLou. Always a pleasure to greet a new commenter. 🙂

  3. KC2HMZ says:

    Yes, welcome, BillyLou.

    I was still a bit too young to be sneaking into stadiums in 1967, my dad took me to that game. The Bench dinger I saw was at the Old Rockpile, I never saw the Bisons at Hyde Park/Sal Maglie but I did catch the Niagara Falls Pirates there a few times in later years when they were associated with the White Sox and Tigers.

    In case anyone’s wondering – from 1967-69 the team split its home games between the two facilities because of civil unrest on Buffalo’s east side where War Memorial Stadium (a.k.a. The Old Rockpile) was located.

    “Civil Unrest” is defined as retreating to your clubhouse at the end of a game to discover that said clubhouse is under the control of knife-wielding thugs. :angry:

    This actually happened to the Bisons once after a game. It was not one of the greatest moments in Buffalo sports history.