Right now the easy and cliche thing to say is that the team had a great year, and that after the pain of this loss goes away, the 2012 season will seem great upon reflection with a clear head. While it is true that the team had a phenomenal regular season, this Reds team broke my heart over the last three days.
I honestly do take solace in the fact that all of the key players on this team are under contract for the next two years, and in some cases beyond. Sure, we might lose a guy like Scott Rolen, but I feel confident with the young guns this team has.
It hurts a lot though. No team in the National League has ever won a best-of-five series after losing the first two games at home, which the Giants did against the Reds. The Reds had not lost three straight games at home all season, until the Division Series against the Giants. The Reds won the first two games in this series, and all they had to do to go to the League Championship Series was win one game at home in three attempts, and they failed; two of the games in spectacular fashion.
I do not think this is coincidence, and points to an even bigger trend with this team. There is just something about this Reds team, and pressure games, and pressure situations, specifically at home. Although this team is not in a major media market such as NYC, Boston, LA, etc., but the Reds dominate the media in this region. The Reds have a massive fan base that went from at one time being widely regarded as a knowledgeable and supportive group of fans, to being a pack of naysayers that act like woebegone Cubs fans, and have an attitude towards the team like Philly fan. Every time there is an important game at home, the stadium fills up, and the Reds go out and lose, almost without fail. Then, this city just rakes the team over the coals. Tell me if any of this sounds familiar:
- Jay Bruce should be sent down to AAA
- Joey Votto should play hurt because he is being paid $20 million a season.
- Trade Drew Stubbs if he keeps striking out, and not bunting.
- The Mat Latos trade was a bust, Votto should have moved to the outfield and Alonso should be at first.
- Why isn't Chapman a starter?
- Bronson is playing the guitar too much.
- Why isn't Todd Frazier playing everyday?
- "Fire Dusty".
I honestly thought the Reds would get to the World Series this year. They should have beat the Giants, and I liked them against either Washington or St. Louis in the NLCS. I honestly thought that the team would probably crumble under the pressure in the World Series, or perhaps even in the NLCS, but I thought that they would at least get that far, and get that taste to make them hungrier. Hopefully, this loss has the same effect, but at this point I am worried that choking away this series will permanently derail this team mentally.
I hope not.
Some people will want to see Dusty Baker gone. I classify people that hate Dusty in two groups. One is the group that is going to bitch about the manager no matter who it is, because they know baseball better than the paid professional. This would be a great place to rip on "fantasy guy" thinking success in his league makes him an expert, but most of these jerks don't have enough patience to play rotisserie baseball.
The other group are what I call "Listens to 'Cubs fan'"; the guy that believes Dusty Baker is a awful manager that feeds his players into a meat grinder, because y'know, Cubs fans are assholes.
Personally, I think that Dusty is a quality manager, albeit perhaps he is a manager that builds a team for the regular season, and not the playoffs. I am not sure how to fix that, without taking a chance on a first-time manager and hope to catch lightning in a bottle. I am not sure that a guy like Chris Spiers or Rick Sweet is the answer to going farther in the post-season. And what experienced manager that has been to the "next level" is out there to take the Reds job? Joe Torre? Tony LaRussa? Riiiiiight....
When it is all said and done, I would have liked the Reds to win the World Series this year, but I did not expect it. I did expect the team to go down swinging. Losing three straight games at home does not indicate that the Reds had the grit and determination in them to get to that next level.
I was there in 1995 when the Reds beat the Dodgers to advance to the ALCS. Seventeen years ago, when I was seventeen years old. At Riverfront Stadium. I do not want to wait seventeen more years for another championship, let alone to get to the second round of the playoffs.
That is why today's season ending loss feels so miserable.