The Cincinnati Reds fans have been extremely critical of David Bell since his hiring prior to the 2019 season. The Reds finished that season 75-87. Bell still doesn’t have two complete seasons under his belt, but his managerial record is slightly better than Dusty Baker’s during his first two full seasons in the Queen City.
Bell is a players manager, and Reds fans have seen on multiple occasions the Cincinnati skipper come to the defense of his players. Oftentimes, in return, Bell receives the heave-ho from the crew chief and is sent back to the clubhouse. Despite the below .500 record so far in 2021, Bell deserves a ton of credit for what he’s done with patchwork bullpen and an injury-riddled roster.
David Bell is not as bad as some fans throughout Reds Country believe he is.
Cincinnati Reds fans are some of the most passionate in all of baseball. I would venture to guess at least 95% of you could answer with in seconds of being asking the question: “When was the last time the Reds won a World Series?” I myself was still a baby the last time a Commissioners Trophy was hauled back to Cincinnati. As a lifelong fan I have experienced the sorrow and frustration.
I would argue that outside of heading up the Oakland Athletics, being the skipper of the Reds is one of the hardest jobs in all of baseball. The reasons are aplenty; small market, competitive division, front office, and fan pressure. The Reds are one of the most storied franchises in baseball with five World Series titles.
Dusty Baker was able to lead Cincinnati to two National League Central Division crowns during his time, and fans are quick to call Baker the savior of the Reds. Two of the best Reds teams in my lifetime (2010 and 2012), both of whom could’ve won World Series, absolutely fell apart when October baseball made its way back to the Queen City.
Dusty Baker took the Reds to playoffs three times, but failed miserably.
Not only were those teams filled absolute studs like Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Scott Rolen, Brandon Phillips, and Jonny Gomes, they also bolstered a pitching staff that featured names like Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez, Bronson Arroyo, Aaron Harang, and Mat Latos. Oh yeah, there was also the freak of nature, Aroldis Chapman, waiting to close the door in the ninth with 100-plus MPH.
If we’re putting the success or failures of a team on the shoulders of the manager Baker’s shoulders should feel pretty heavy over those two seasons. In 2010, Cincinnati was swept in the NLDS by the Philadelphia Phillies with Roy Halladay having to settle for a no-hitter instead of a perfect game in his first ever postseason start.
The even more powerful Cincinnati team in 2012 nearly won 100 games. Reds fans were already trying to purchase World Series tickets, convinced their squad had what it took to win the whole thing.
After the Reds went up 2-0 against the San Francisco Giants in the NLDS, what ensued after those first two games was pure madness. All the Reds had to do was win one game out of remaining three in Cincinnati, that obviously didn’t happen, and the Reds we’re sent home once again.
Most fans remember the good seasons, but it took Baker two full seasons before he was able to produce a team with a winning record. The 2008 Reds finished 74-88, while the 2009 Reds finished just four games better at 78-84. It wasn’t until 2010 when the ship was finally set straight and in the right direction.
This season has seen the Cincinnati Reds look like world beaters at times, but also like a little league team, especially on the base paths. Cincinnati has been without key contributors like Mike Moustakas, Nick Senzel, Joey Votto, and Michael Lorenzen.
David Bell has also had to deal with Luis Castillo, his Opening Day starter, completely forgetting how to pitch. Couple that with the fact that the bullpen has been absolutely atrocious, and I believe it’s a testament to how good of a manger Bell can be.
With all those contributing factors, Cincinnati just managed to sweep a four-game series in St. Louis for the first time since 1990, and has rallied back to just one game under .500, putting them just four games out of first place in the NL Central. That, in and of itself, is an absolute miracle.
David Bell is still a young manager in terms of age, and he’s bound to make mistakes. But if fans are going to blame Bell for the teams shortcomings, they also need to give the guy some credit for how he’s been able to keep this team together. The destiny for the 2021 Reds is unknown, but when Cincinnati gets back to full strength, watch out!