Another Borek Morning: Talking Cincinnati Reds Baseball 9/8/2014


How have we gotten to this point? And yes, I mean we. It is not often that fans of a certain team of any sport should ever refer to themselves as “we.” You do not play for the Cincinnati Reds (I mean, unless you do, and you’re reading this, in which case, that’s awesome) and I have no affiliation except an un-dying devotion that kept me watching every second of what was a miserable series against the New York Mets this weekend.

Personally, it feels like it was just March 31 the other day. The season was on the precipice of beginning, we had just recorded out first ever YouTube video for the website, I had predicted Billy Hamilton would hit .300, but also that Johnny Cueto would be the team MVP. One for two ain’t bad.

To be brutally honest, this season never looked promising at any point. From the moment Roger Bernadina was batting leadoff while I parked myself in Pepsi Porch seats at Citi Field the opening weekend of the season, there was an underlying concern that I, and apparently a majority of the fan base had—that this team would not be able to combat injuries.

There are virtually two ways to look at this: either you take logic into account and say that injuries derailed an extremely talented roster, exposing their underbelly and forced them into full-time roles. The other way to look at it is to blame everyone within the organization, including the usher that leads you to your $90 seat.

On the issue of the latter, I’ll reiterate this: no team in Major League Baseball has a good bench. There is a reason said players are on the bench, and not starting for either their current team, or a different one. I said it multiple times throughout the season—I believe Chris Heisey to be one of, if not the best, bench player in baseball. With that being said, does anyone want to see anymore of Heisey on a daily basis? I thought not.

We’re all Reds fans here, so let’s understand this: no team will ever again be the 1975 Redlegs. Sure, my dad was just entering high school when that team tore through the world and I was not even a figment of anyone’s imagination, but the beauty of the 21st Century and this thing called the Internet is that those who did not live through certain things can study what the events were like at the time. It won’t take a chemical engineer to convince you that nothing such as that team is ever going to happen again, if for no other reason than free agency.

Somehow, one of the game’s elite general managers (who was Tony LaRussa’s first choice to literally re-build a team from scratch in Arizona, but was rebuffed due to his commitment to the Reds) was supposed to not only find a left fielder, fifth starter and restock the bullpen this year, but now he had to supposedly supply a reasonable backup for every single position.

Take a moment to think—who were the Reds that were counted on nearly everyday and never missed the opportunity to answer the bell? The list is small, but let’s take a crack at it. Todd Frazier, Billy Hamilton, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake and maybe Alfredo Simon. In conclusion, we have four, maybe five players of the 25-man roster that were consistently healthy, and consistently contributing. If anyone thinks that is a recipe for winning baseball, you’ve been playing far too many fantasy sports.

It’s an impossible position to ever ask fans to put themselves in the shoes of another team. Why? Because well for the same reason no one wants to hear about the Reds—no one gives a shit about “your teams” injuries.

Remember the Texas Rangers? Yeah, those guys who went to back-to-back World Series in 2010 and 2011, then continued to romp people in the American League West. As you may have heard, they inked Shin-Soo Choo for the rest of his life, and traded for booming slugger Prince Fielder. Their record? 54-89. Or, nine games back of the Houston Astros, who are fielding a team the Pensacola Blue Wahoos would take down in a seven-game set. That about tells you all you need to know about that club and their injury situation.

The morale of the tirade is that teams go through injury bugs. Without getting too biblical, injuries are a product of God, not exactly something any human can control. Especially those of us who sit at home and keep score of every game late into September when the team is out of it, like the lonely peasants we are.

Sure, 2014 has sucked. But that doesn’t mean 2015 will. 2009 sucked, 2010 didn’t. 2011 sucked, 2012 didn’t. While it’s not a strategy I’d recommend, it’s reassuring to understand that the Reds have some pretty competent folks at the helm that you may not always agree with, but sure as hell better trust.