“Racing back to the wall Bourgeois…the Reds, are National Central Division Champions!!!”
Those words were echoed over television sets live and then DVR’ed ever since September 28, 2010. At the heart of those words, was Reds play-by-play man Thom Brennaman, who has created an illustrious career for himself in his own right. This piece is not about Brennaman though, as great as he may be. It’s about the man who ran out of room on the warning track that night and watched Jay Bruce’s home run bang off the centerfield backdrop.
Often, it’s not the flashy moves that have the most impact on a “small market” team, if that’s what the Reds can still be classified as. Bronson Arroyo for Wily Mo Pena was a subtle swap that turned into gold; signing Cesar Izturis seemed a moot point, yet he consistently delivered clutch hits from April to September; Jonny Gomes and Laynce Nix combined to be one above average left fielder for the 2010 season and helped lead the team back to the division crown for the first time in 15 years.
Not to compare the signings, but with Jason Bourgeois now a member of the Reds organization, anything can happen. The lightning quick outfielder has bounced around during his professional career after being drafted by the Texas Rangers in the second round of the 2000 draft. It took Bourgeois over eight years to crack into the bigs, and he finally did with the Chicago White Sox at the end of the 2008 season.
Fast-forward to 2010 and Bourgeois is watching Tim Byrdak’s first pitch of the bottom of the ninth inning sail over his head for a game-winning, division-clinching walk-off home run for the Reds. To him and the rest of the Astros, it was just another mark on the wrong side of the column in what had already been a miserable year.
The following season, Bourgeois swiped a career-high 31 bases as a part-time member of the Astros outfield, showing off the blazing speed that helped him to get to the show in the first place. His 2012 campaign was more than underwhelming both at the major and minor league level, leaving Bourgeois in a precarious position of possibly never making it back to the bigs. He revived his career last year at Triple-A Durham of the Tampa Bay Rays organization by hitting .290 with a respectable on-base percentage of .343, along with swiping 22 bags and driving in 61 runs.
It’s entirely possible we never see a man so connected to Reds history suit up for the Reds this year, but it’s also feasible that he could wind up having a profound impact should injuries (as they always do) arise.