I’ll take some hot sauce to go along with this crow, please.
A few months ago I blogged about how I grew up as a Cincinnati Reds fan, but finally hopped off the bandwagon after years of fan frustration (Cubs fans are shaking their heads right now). I went on to call the contemporary Reds a glorified AAA team.
This team of also-rans clinched the NL Central division title Tuesday night in dramatic fashion on a walk-off home run by Jay Bruce. It set off a celebration the likes of which hasn’t been seen in Cincinnati since 1995. It was a sight to behold, even if you were only watching on television.
Veterans knew what to expect and donned their goggles. Rookies didn’t care. Sportswriters and television announcers had their dry cleaning bills increased dramatically. Long-suffering team personnel were as happy, if not happier, than the players themselves. Guys who had obviously never tried a cigar suddenly found themselves on the business end of one.
One by one, players were interviewed to get their thoughts on the accomplishment. Much maligned manager Dusty Baker summed it up best. He said no one gave them a chance all year, not even when they were leading the division in August. Everyone thought they would stumble, falter and fade away. He called this group, this team, “special”. Untested rookies effectively combined with seasoned veterans and utility players that might be on their last roster to break a string of ten straight losing seasons and a fifteen year playoff drought. Even when outsiders had their doubts, the team didn’t stop believing in themselves and were able to accomplish more as a team than the sum of their parts.
That is about the highest compliment that you can pay to any team. They are greater than the sum of their parts. They make each other better. Enthusiasm, attitude and success are all contagious.
The raw emotion was palpable and the camaraderie was genuine. This group really was a team. No whining divas, no pampered superstars, and no one likely to leave early if they weren’t playing in the last game of the season (Larkin and Griffey, I’m looking at you).
As I said, it was quite a sight to behold. I was watching with my wife and son, who was 2 years old the last time the Reds made the postseason. It was something I’ll add to my list of baseball memories and keep forever. No matter what happens during the upcoming playoffs, this team made a city, even a region, believe again.
Originally, I had embedded a YouTube video showing the walkoff home run. Apparently, the MLB copyright police forced that video to be taken down.
No worries, there are many, many more posted on YouTube. You can find them here.