The year I first contemplated moving to Cincinnati, the Reds had their wire-to-wire season, culminating in a World Series sweep of the Oakland A’s. I moved to town the following year, 1991, and watched the Reds under Lou Pinella and Davey Johnson make serious runs at the post-season. In 1993, I remember being in O’Bryonville, a neighborhood on the East Side, and hearing the roar from Riverfront Stadium (then called Cinergy Field).
But then Davey Johnson left. Marge Schott sold the Reds to Carl Lindner, who sold it to Bob Castellini. Riverfront Stadium gave way to Great American Ball Park. And the post-season?
It almost feels like Cleveland before 1994 here. The 1990 series is a rumor. No one remembers the 1993 run. Junior Griffey came to town in 2000 and spent most of his time injured. The managers since Davey Johnson are mostly forgettable. Mostly.
When Bob Castellini bought the team, he said, “I want to win. Now.” That took a while. The Reds had languished since their final days in Riverfront Stadium.
That takes time, so Castellini brought in some talent, starting with manager Dusty Baker. He grew talent in the minor leagues and made some trades. He’s not the trading wizard General Manager Jim Bowden was, but then he brought in former Cardinals GM Walt Jocketty. The result is one of the best Reds teams in two decades.
Former Red Sox ace Bronson Arroyo now anchors the starting rotation, which features Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez, and home-grown pitcher Homer Bailey. Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, and Scott Rolen provide the bats. And in the bullpen is the Reds future starting ace, Cuban phenom Aroldis Chapman.
So how has it paid off?
I’m writing this on Sunday morning. As of this morning, the magic number – that is, the number of Reds wins and/or Cardinals losses needed to reach the post-season – is 8. The Reds could clinch the NL Central this week.
It’s been a long drought.
More at the My Town Monday blog.