The Cincinnati Reds started out this year with a bang and took an early lead in the division. With some really shoddy bullpen work from time to time, though, the Milwaukee Brewers are now just one game back. It wouldn’t matter if the Reds lost first place: the season is long and you don’t get bonus points for going wire-to-wire.
But it did have me thinking about the last time the Reds were in first place right out of the gate, and how long it lasted.
The most recent time the Reds even won their first game of the season (a requirement for this feat, unless every team in the division starts the season out of division and loses concurrently) was 2007, and the very next game they were knocked down to third in the NLC when they lost to the mighty power of Ted Lilly and the Chicago Cubs.
The next most recent time the Reds started off in first was 2005, that badass year when Joe Randa raked and Cincinnati totally owned the Mets through the whole first series. But it was all for naught, when they were out of first on the very next game, just four into the season.
The time before that was 2002, and we’re getting back into the very early days of my fandom here. I probably didn’t even know that there was a pitching rotation at that point (it seems natural to life-long fans, but the notion of a rotation is not obvious to the rest of the world). Again, the Reds had given up first by the fourth game.
And that’s it: the sum total of the times the Reds have even so much as won the first game of the series in the last ten years, and first place in the division was never held on to for longer than a week. No wonder people are so excited this year; this is uncharted territory, baby, and even if they lose it tomorrow (which, I guess they could only really tie for it) the baseball gods can’t jinx that away.