From the change of ownership way back when, I could tell this Reds season was going to be different.
Sure the team was picked to finish last, and they certainly played like a last-place team in 2005, but it didn't feel right. With Bobo's insistence on winning, the Reds and last place were suddenly two tastes that tasted weird together.
And now here we are at the end of the season where the team finished in 3rd place, but was in it until the very end. And not in that not-mathematically-eliminated way. They actually had a shot at the playoffs until the last week of the season.
A quote from Jerry Narron in John Fay's Reds Insider from Sunday, October 1 sums it up best.
“On Sept. 29, we're still alive and players are disappointed that we are not in first place,” Narron said. “I don't think that mind-set has been here the past couple of years.
“Coming out of spring training, where we were picked last, and now to be disappointed we're not in first place shows how far we've come.”
That's very true. It's easy to get down on the Reds because of how they finished the season, but it was the best year the team's had arguably since 1999.
And there's no reason to think it won't get better next year.
The team was filled with players who hadn't played in a pennant race. Now they have. Sure, most of them failed, but now they have a better idea of what it takes. Next time, I don't see Aaron Harang struggling nearly as much down the stretch. Or Adam Dunn and Brandon Phillips, for that matter.
Secondly, Krivsky, for all his crappy moves, will have a whole off-season to prepare for next year. I think that'll make him a tad more cautious.
And of course, Bob Castellini. He's at the top, behind this desire to win. I think it's going to catch on. Already, I'm excited thinking about pitchers and catchers reporting.