Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cincinnati Reds Baseball: The Formula to a Dynasty That Continues to Field a Collection of Men Who Wear Baseball Uniforms During Professional Contests

Surprisingly to many, men who once wore Reds uniforms were once professionals who succeeded at their task

The Off-Season Begins, Now.

My favorite sports season has begun: the baseball off-season, the time of year when the Reds have the best chance in baseball at winning the World Series, along with the other teams. Glorious for Reds fans is the fact that our off-season starts much earlier than many of the teams in the Majors. The off-season is a crucial period, especially these early weeks, when the Reds always take advantage of all those suckers still playing baseball in October.

(You see, this off-season the Reds will make all the right moves to bring home the pennant next year; I fall victim every time.)

Seriously, if anyone was serious about winning in future seasons, why wouldn't they tank in the present to give future prospects more playing time and their management more time to prepare for the following season? Even the reckless-as-the-Bush-administration Ryan Freel has grown to know when enough's enough.

And, with all that time spent playing pennant-race and post-season ball, think of all those players risking injury. Who are they to put a championship first, in front of the future of the club? It doesn't make any sense. The end of the regular season is a time to "shut her down," have that corrective surgery, spend a few more minutes in the training room, maybe a little extra time in the whirlpool, but definitely not a time for legging out an infield single. Chances are you pull your groin or a hammy. Then what? Exactly. No golf for at least a week.

Masters of the Off-Season Dynasty: The Cincinnati Reds and the Formula for Continuing to Field a Collection of Men Who Wear Baseball Uniforms

Hope springs eternal nowhere like in the off-season for Cincinnati Reds fans. The Reds, for the past 15 years or so (let us not count the one game playoff against Al Leiter and the New York Mets in 1999 when Barry Larkin could have caught a serious cold in that Wasilla-like weather), have epitomized this brand of smart baseball. In fact you could call them a dynasty. No other team has done as much to assure its fans that next season would be promising like the front office of the Reds, and no other franchise has done its best to assure fans of a respectably humble season finish like the Reds.

Finishing any higher than 4th raises too many eyebrows in the Midwestern, family values-oriented town of Cincinnati. In 2006, when the Reds finished 3rd, many wondered if that were too lofty; some called the Reds management "elitist." Likely as a result, then-Reds manager Jerry Narron was rightly fired by July of the 2007 season. He was replaced by the much-less ambitious Pete MacKanin.

Narron's goals may have been too much, too soon, and in this light perhaps the polar opposite of the Reds' sure-formula for existing for so long as as a franchise who lets men wear real baseball outfits during actual professional contests at large stadiums filled with on-lookers who are not paid to be there.

The Secret Formula as Might Have Been Found next to a Nazi Armband during the Auction of the Schott Estate

The secret sauce is composed of something like this: acquire young players already the recipients of some hype, medium hype, or event a lot of hype, and then apply some home-cooked Skyline Chili-powered ultimate hype pump fans' expectations astronomically. In recent years, this has been the promise of Homer Bailey and Jay Bruce, and, before them, Austin
Kearns and Brandon larson; remember him?

Remember when Todd Coffey was getting some hype and believed to be a better pitcher than mascot Mr. Red?

The formula is genius, especially in a small market town like Cincinnati. It would not work in New York.

So the first part of the formula is the Savior. Promise the Savior to the second part of the formula, a receptive Congregation of fans. Have the Reds' baseball Clergy and media Emmisaries promise fans a Deliverance from baseball Hell through this Savior. Promise them a player so great that he would even Sacrifice his body and actually bleed during games for them (leave out the notion that he would not let fans eat his body and drink his blood). Promise them a player who would deliver a Heavenly World Series championship, and one who would live his life without fallacy, someone like Pete Rose. Promise Faithful fans a God-send who would love the city of Cincinnati and all its inhabitants unconditionally (again, leave something out - that the player was heard praying after being drafted: "Father, why have thou forsaken me?" Also leave out that the player plays for a sinful amount of cash). And promise the Faithful that they would have ample opportunity to adore their hero via tasteful endorsements, `a la Bronson Arroyo and J.T.M. hamburgers. Maybe I meant "tasty" endorsements.

Anyway, let the formula play out so that it's really subtly familiar, hmmm, something a lot like a famous story they've heard before, something that's so familiar they probably do it ever week (or at least at Christmas and Easter), something so routinely familiar that they can't tell the difference between the formula and their routine. Let the formula repeat for generations until the formula is blended in with ritual to the point that it needs little or no guidance, much less victories. At this point the formula is working so well that the fans need Reds baseball to feel that life is whole. They don't need it to be good; they just need it to be.

With guys like Homer Bailey and Brandon Larson promised to deliver Reds fans from the MLB abyss, the formula is destined to succeed.

How the Formula Plays Out

The formula begins each offseason like the sun's rays on a clear morning. Birds are chirping, squirrels are gathering acorns, and maybe drinking from the Hudy Delights you left half-finished on the porch. After shaking off a brief hangover (you can't get that drunk from Hudy, nor can you get that elated from any Reds season with the formula), a few weeks of grumbling, fans renew their faith: "You know, the Reds could be a sleeper next year" turns into "Actually I think they'll win the division if they can pick up a 5th starter." By the commencement of the winter meetings, even your friend who swore them off during the strike declares that he has beer-bonged the Kool-Aid.

The formula delivers it's bread and butter during the orgy of off-season signings and acquisitions. Grown men hide wet dreams from their wives that they had about other grown men, typically starting pitchers with names like Erik Bedard or Joe Blanton. Sometimes the dreams come to fruition and the Reds land that big fish, guys like Eric Milton or Alex Gonzalez.

Finally, the best part of the sports season comes to a close and the actual playing begins. In taking the field, the Reds, game by game, wither grown men's dreams away and by the All-Star break the cycle is complete; only one piece is left: the Savior, the guy who will make next year better.

The Reds Will Win 100 Games Next Year

No one knows the joy of the off-season quite like a Reds fan, who opens mlbtraderumors.com each morning like a kid at Christmas, just wondering what precious free agent gifts await him in his RSS feed.

What's in store for the Reds this off-season? Will Santa bring them again the gift of Corey Patterson, a once-young and rising star who may have reached home more times with Dusty's daughter than at Great American? Or will Cincinnati be graced with a Jeff Conine, or some other golden-oldie who's "a great clubhouse presence?"

Conine struck out here, but his bat and wristband helped him reach second base after the game

No matter what other cubic zirconia is delivered via the formula to our fallen phoenix, one thing is already certain: a new star is slated to rise after a brief stop in the AAAshes. For 2009, its Yonder Alonso.

Bienvenido a Cincinnati, Yonder; there's the on-deck circle and Reds' management and media has already inserted into your helmet the crown of thorns worn by Jay Bruce this past season. Make sure its snug.

Batter up!

1 comment:

Jackie the Nose said...

How true it is. Next year will be different though. They have a lot of talent returning and the pitching should be much better... wait a minute...