I'll just post some things from Roy's greatest hits album There are more, but I really remember writing these.
One of the things I like about baseball and being a Reds fan is that it is a constant companion from April to November. Other sports are big events but baseball is a constant roll of games from early spring through the heat of summer to the chill of fall. Itís integrated into every-day life. Almost every day, it's watching the game on TV, catching bits and pieces on the radio, reading the game stories in the morning paper, and now in the modern era, visiting with all the yahoos here in RedsZone. And each and every one of those games is a fascinating source of stories from the macro of how the season is going to the micro of living and dying with individual pitches. Following the arc of the big stars and the little stories of short callups. Talking and comparing ballplayers from today's teams and reaching back into the history and teams and players I've known about and back even further into what I've read about. Being able to geek out on esoteric numbers or just enjoying the evening in the stadium and watching a game unfold.
Talking about the Reds is a conversation I can have with a 8 yr. old neighborhood kid, my 75 yr. old mother-in-law, some guy in the elevator, the priest at our church, the guys over beers, small-talk chit-chat around a business conference table, or my 17 yr. old niece. I'm often struck by some of the unlikely places you find a Reds fan and the passion we all have for them and the game of baseball1964 was the first season I was a Reds fan. I was 11 yrs old and going into 7th grade. We had just moved to Kettering in a little rented house on Waltham Avenue, I was a geek, had very few friends, and a lot of spare time. So it was Ed Kennedy and Frank McCormick on channel 2 WLW-D on the tube and Waite Hoyt and Claude Sullivan on WHIO 1290 AM on my little white plastic clock/radio. They were my pals all summer long and made a lonely and scary time tolerable.
That season had looked like a cake-walk for the Phillies. In those days, it was a 10 team league with no divisions and no wild cards. You either won the NL to go on to the WS or stayed home. So pennant races tended to be death marches. And I lived and died with every win and loss.
The Phils had a 6.5 game lead with 12 games left. But then they lost 10 straight games and the Reds and Cards snuck back into it.
That last game was on a Sunday and my dad put 2 TVs side-by-side in the family room, one TV on the Reds game and one on the Browns game (the sound was on the Browns game). Tsitouris gave up 3 early runs and got yanked. The killer was the 6th inning. The Reds were down 4-0 but still had a heartbeat. But then Joey Jay gave up a bases-loaded single to Tony Gonzalez to score 2 runs and then an absolute freakin' dagger to the heart 3-run HR to Richie Allen (he wasn't Dick then). 9-zip and that was all she wrote. Phils won 10-0. I was disconsolate and didnít speak for days. I couldnít understand how those kinds of things could happen to MY team. No, no, no.
I still remember seeing that no-sound, black and white, grainy picture bases-loaded single rolling into left field and, without thinking, I said a really bad word out my 11 year old mouth. THE bad word. Normally that would have merited very severe punishment from my father who certainly didnít tolerate such language. But on that day, at that time, he just said "yeah". And that year was the year I caught the Reds bug to which, still to this date in 2006, I haven't gotten the antidote for yet.(after last year's game 5 DS loss)
I suppose. But OK, I have something that's been on my chest for a while now reading this (and other threads) and I have to let it out.
I've raged at the game and the baseball gods for a myriad of offenses to my sensibilities. The aforementioned John Tsitouris who broke my 11 yr. old heart for losing the last game of the 1964 season and dooming me to a lifelong love affair with the Reds, Bill Dewitt for trading Frank Robinson and hiring Don Heffner, Ken Burkhardt completely blowing the call of Carbo out at home, Brooks Robinson putting on a show for the ages, Gene bleeping Tenace and Joe bleeping Rudi, Bud punk-ass Harrelson and the bleeping Mets, Bernie Carbo and Carlton Fisk and I still turn that replay of Fisk waving the ball fair every time it comes on TV to this day, the end of the '76 season when I thought the BRM would go on forever and little did I know it was already over, Bowie Kuhn vetoing the Vida Blue trade because it was "bad for baseball" (what!?!??!), Garvey/Lopes/Russell/Cey, Wagner firing Sparky, 1981 with the best record in baseball and not even MAKING THE PLAYOFFS, being foolish enough to buy 81 game season tickets for the 1981 season and watching the Reds pull an all-time suck for the ages and hence developing a taste for large amounts of Hudepohl, the era of the 2nd place Pete Rose teams and his ultimate public self-destruction, Marge making the city a laughing stock and her dog taking dumps on the field, the 1990 team like a blazing comet that was over almost before it began, the '94 strike and what an ultimate act of stupidity and a dagger to the heart of baseball that was, 1995 and Reggie Sanders single-handedly losing the NLCS (no, wait, Mark Portugal giving up a 3 run bomb to Javy freaking Lopez in the 10th), John Allen, the false spring of 1990 when I thought they had something and Al Leiter and how can a 99 win team *not* deserve to make the playoffs, and then the decade of the 2000's and Griffey squandering his talent and Carl Lindner not giving a crap, and the steroid era cheapening and invalidating a whole set of cherished and hallowed records, Bud saying itís a tie, and yes, wild card teams storming the playoffs and beating the "favorites", Roy Halliday, and the heartbreak of losing a 2-0 game lead at home.
I've had plenty of reasons to hate the game. But it hit me just last week at the heartbreak of a lost game 5 standing in the middle of a berserk group of Reds fans screaming their heads off and blowing their voices out as if by just a collective act of will, they could bring the team back, that its all about the athletes on the field and the fans in the stands and the C on their chest and the game. The competition on the field is all that ultimately matters. All the rest of that crap, well yeah, you can find plenty of places to find fault and dislike the game and get all pissed off and think its unfair and waste a lot of time being bitter. Its all too easy to let all that distract you and take your focus away from the play on the field. But teams win championships (and world championships) on the field with their play, be it the Reds or the Cardinals or whoever. They earn it and there ain't no luck to it.
So, even a bad day at the ballpark beats the snot out of most other good days. I'll take my scorecard and pencil and beer and hot dog and rage at the dips and cheer at the highs, but I'm not ever going to stop loving this game and this team and nobody will ever take that away from me.