Cincinnati Reds Playoff Culture: Embrace Or Not?


After yet another early exit to the season, the Cincinnati Reds are in revamp mode, doing all they can to improve the team. It’s clear to general manager Walt Jocketty that one game playoffs and 1st round exits aren’t’ good enough. That much was clear with the firing of Dusty Baker.

It’s funny, though, the way things have changed in Cincinnati. Just years ago fans would have died to be in this situation. Losing in the first round of the playoffs? I’ll take it! Long gone were the years of the “big red machine.” I didn’t care about the playoffs. I just wanted to be relevant again.

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

 But with success comes expectations, of course. One game playoff? We shouldn’t even be in that situation to begin with! And…It’s pennant or bust! Greed probably isn’t the right word to use in describing fans. It probably isn’t even fair. But I’ll use it anyway. Fans are greedy.

If we won 90 games then it should have been 100. 100? Why not 105? It never stops. That much is prevalent now with the Reds. Going from bottom of the barrel to over 90 wins a year in only a matter of a few years is impressive. But to fans, it’s not enough.

But what if things don’t change with the Cincinnati Reds? What if we continue to be an early exit team? What if our 90+ win seasons are, year in and year out, nothing but a mirage that fades away once post season draws near? Is that good enough for you?

But wait! Don’t answer yet! Close your eyes and think real hard. (Bad advice. Keep them open so you can finish my article.) Remember 150 years ago in 2008 when all seemed wrong with the Reds? Remember how it felt? Johnny Cueto was just another prospect. Joey Votto was just another kid with big league hopes.

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Now think about the progress of the team. Think about how that prospect Cueto developed into an ace and how that kid Votto became MVP and the best player in baseball. Draft picks like Jay Bruce started to become one of the best sluggers in the game. We started to win!

Would you trade away that excitement for a rebuild? If the Cincinnati Reds continue down this path of “one and done” is that okay with you? How many season are you willing to watch until we start over?

I don’t want to be the 2010’s version of the Atlanta Braves, making the post season every year just to falter when things matter most. If getting to the post season is all you care about, then you’re probably feeling okay about it all. But if you want to actually win the world series? That’s different.

If the Reds never take that next step, if they never make it past the first round of the playoffs, I don’t want this team. “Potential” is only a word after so many chances. You can only have so many seasons as a team before your “potential” is meaningless. Nobody cares that you have the “potential” to be a world series team. If you leave the post season early every year, nobody is going to take you seriously. Nobody will care.

It’s all about expectations. How many more years of mediocracy are you willing to accept before you say “blow it up and start from scratch”? Making the playoffs is nice if you’ve been bad for awhile. But after that, it’s a different story. I don’t care about “making the playoffs.” I care about winning it.