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macro
04-17-2010, 01:16 AM
Thirty years ago today, April 17, 1980, the Cincinnati Reds did something that few teams in the history of the franchise have ever done. They won their eighth consecutive game to begin the season.

Three of the first four wins were shutouts over the hapless Braves, with the Reds outscoring Atlanta 25-5 in the season-opening series at Riverfront. (Oddly, by the end of the month the Reds would have been shut out three times, themselves.)

Following a streak-ending loss to the Braves in front of 5,600 fans in Atlanta the next night, the team won three more games to run its record to 11-1, and had a 3 game lead over the Houston Astros. The excitement of the fast start turned out to be short-lived, however, for the team lost eight of its next ten games to see its record fall to 13-9, and by May 3, the 3.5 game lead had turned into a 2.5 game deficit to the Astros, who were going 8-1 right about the time the Reds were slumping.

Among the most memorable moments during that fast start were the Reds scoring two runs in the bottom of the ninth in their third game of the season to beat the Braves 5-4, and then two nights later, they entered the bottom of the ninth trailing the Giants 5-1. They scored five runs in the bottom of the ninth to steal a 6-5 victory and run their record to 5-0. The last three runs of that rally came on a three-run triple by Dave Collins. (Big Klu mentioned this game in his lineups thread a couple of days ago, by the way.)

Another memorable game was a complete-game shutout by Charlie Leibrandt in his first major league start, which was sandwiched in-between the two come-from-behind wins. It was an exciting first two weeks of the season, but those three days may have been the most exciting of all.

The Reds owed their 1980 success to the Braves and Padres, going 16-2 against Atlanta and 15-3 against San Diego, a composite 31-5 compared to 58-68 against the rest of the league. The team would finish the season 89-73, a mere three games behind the Astros and Dodgers, who tied for first at 92-70.

It seems to be a season that has quietly faded into franchise history. Not only was that team still living in the shadows of the Big Red Machine, it followed the 1979 NL West Champion team and came right before the 1981 “best-record-in-Major-League-Baseball-but-still-not-invited-to-the-playoffs” team.

The 1970s have been well-documented, 1982-84 were memorable for being so bad (and ’84 for Pete’s return), 1985 brought 4192 and a rookie 20-game winner, 1987 brought Eric Davis’ incredible start in April and May, 1988 brought The Perfect Game, 1989 brought Pete’s ban, 1990 brought The Sweep…

1980, on the other hand, was something of a plain vanilla season, and doesn’t seem to be one that fans reminisce much about. Perhaps the only thing that makes it memorable at all was the 8-0 / 11-1 start, and perhaps there are few who even remember that.

By most accounts, 1980 was a disappointment, but the great start and the excitement that came with it will always hold fond memories. (And isn’t it telling that, given what we’ve experienced here in the past 15 years, that at that time in Reds history, that an 89-73 record is looked back upon as a disappointment?)

A season that had started out with so much promise ended up being the first season since 1971 that the Reds did not finish either first or second in the NL West. But it surely bode well for the new decade, a decade which would surely see more division titles, more World Series games, and hopefully another World Championship or two. Wouldn’t it? Well, maybe not. In fact, not only did the Reds not sniff the playoffs throughout the decade of the 1980s, they have played in the postseason twice…TWICE…in the 30 years dating back to that 1980 season. If someone had sat me down 30 years ago today and told me that about my 8-0 Cincinnati Reds, I would not have believed it for a second.

TRIVIA QUESTION: Who played the most games at second base for the 1980 Reds?

TRIVIA: The Reds had winning seasons in 1970, 1980, 1990, and 2000. The last time the Reds had a losing season in a year ending in zero was 1960.

cincinnati chili
04-17-2010, 04:58 AM
I was 8 years old that season and it was the first year I loyally followed the team and seriously gravitated toward the game. Nevertheless, I got your trivia question wrong by guessing Oester, who actually managed to finish fourth in the rookie of the year voting that year. I won't give the answer away.

Another fun fact about that team - the pitcher with the most innings (Mario Soto) started only 12 games. How often has that happened (that the guy to pitch the most innings was primarily a reliever)? Ever? I love Mario.

George Anderson
04-17-2010, 07:14 AM
TRIVIA QUESTION: Who played the most games at second base for the 1980 Reds?

.

I would guess Ron Oester. Junior Kennedy won the job out of ST but Oester eventually replaced him.

Always Red
04-17-2010, 07:19 AM
Wow, I've been watching the Reds all my life (1969 was the first season that I remember) and it's hard to remember now that 89 wins was a disappointment. But it was.

89 wins would cause rejoicing in the streets now. School holidays. Free fruit courtesy of BC.

Nice post, macro!

cumberlandreds
04-17-2010, 11:42 PM
I had totally forgotten they had got off to that good of a start. I still don't remembermuch about it but the Reds were certainly transitioning from the BRM days.

redhawkfish
04-18-2010, 10:51 AM
I think I forgot about the 1980 season because it came in between a playoff season (1979) and the strike shortened 1981 season which the Reds had the best overall record but no playoff berth!:(

WebScorpion
04-19-2010, 12:11 AM
TRIVIA QUESTION: Who played the most games at second base for the 1980 Reds?

TRIVIA: The Reds had winning seasons in 1970, 1980, 1990, and 2000. The last time the Reds had a losing season in a year ending in zero was 1960.

Junior Kennedy - I think he lasted longer than most of us remember, but he lost the job before season's end.

So it looks like this 2010 team is destined to at least win 83... It's hard to see it from the middle of this losing streak. ;)

macro
04-19-2010, 03:22 PM
Junior Kennedy - I think he lasted longer than most of us remember, but he lost the job before season's end.

So it looks like this 2010 team is destined to at least win 83... It's hard to see it from the middle of this losing streak. ;)

Actually, the least wins among 1970, 1980, 1990, and 2000 was the 85 wins posted by the 2000 team. So, given that, they'll have to win at least 85 to avoid being the worst Reds team in a year ending in zero since 1960. (I'm sure the media will be all over this statistic as the season wears on. :laugh: )

And yes, Junior Kennedy started the most games for the 1980 Reds. This caught me off-guard, and I assumed that it would catch other veteran Reds fans off-guard, as well.

Joe Morgan moved on to Houston in 1980 and I think most assume that Oester was the everyday second baseman beginning then. I certainly would have guessed Oester.

1979-81 were transition years for the franchise. Yes, Tony had left after '76, but it still felt like the Big Red Machine in '77 and '78, even though they lost out to the Dodgers.

But when Rose and Sparky left after '78, it never felt like the BRM again. Geronimo and Morgan were gone after '79, then Griffey, Foster, and Bench (the catcher version) were all gone after '81. That exodus left us with Alex Trevino, Duane Walker, Paul Householder, Clint Hurdle, and a 61-101 record in '82 and the almost-equally awful years of '83 and '84.

Big Klu
04-19-2010, 10:04 PM
Actually, the least wins among 1970, 1980, 1990, and 2000 was the 85 wins posted by the 2000 team. So, given that, they'll have to win at least 85 to avoid being the worst Reds team in a year ending in zero since 1960. (I'm sure the media will be all over this statistic as the season wears on. :laugh: )

And yes, Junior Kennedy started the most games for the 1980 Reds. This caught me off-guard, and I assumed that it would catch other veteran Reds fans off-guard, as well.

Joe Morgan moved on to Houston in 1980 and I think most assume that Oester was the everyday second baseman beginning then. I certainly would have guessed Oester.

1979-81 were transition years for the franchise. Yes, Tony had left after '76, but it still felt like the Big Red Machine in '77 and '78, even though they lost out to the Dodgers.

But when Rose and Sparky left after '78, it never felt like the BRM again. Geronimo and Morgan were gone after '79, then Griffey, Foster, and Bench (the catcher version) were all gone after '81. That exodus left us with Alex Trevino, Duane Walker, Paul Householder, Clint Hurdle, and a 61-101 record in '82 and the almost-equally awful years of '83 and '84.

Geronimo was still around in 1980, but he was a backup outfielder.

macro
10-04-2010, 10:36 PM
Actually, the least wins among 1970, 1980, 1990, and 2000 was the 85 wins posted by the 2000 team. So, given that, they'll have to win at least 85 to avoid being the worst Reds team in a year ending in zero since 1960. (I'm sure the media will be all over this statistic as the season wears on. :laugh: )



Well, they did it. They once again exceeded 85 wins in a season ending in zero. Taking it a step further, the franchise seems to almost always be successful in years that are multiples of five:

1965: 89 wins
1970: NL Champs
1975: World Champs
1980: 89 wins
1985: 89 wins
1990: World Champs
1995: NLCS
2000: 85 wins
2005: :redface:
2010: 91 wins