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Thread: Failed dynasty: 1990 Reds

  1. #1
    Making sense of it all Matt700wlw's Avatar
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    Failed dynasty: 1990 Reds

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2...es/reds/080226

    1990 Reds: The Nasty Boys

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    By Jonah Keri
    Special to Page 2

    The 1990 World Series shaped up as a classic David vs. Goliath battle. The big, bad A's of Rickey Henderson, Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Dave Stewart and Dennis Eckersley looked primed to build a dynasty by making quick work of the upstart Reds and winning their second straight World Series. Four games later, Cincinnati completed one of the most shocking World Series sweeps in history. Suddenly, an unknown, young Reds team looked like a dynasty in the making.

    This wasn't a star-laden team by any means. But the Reds had no obvious weaknesses. The rotation that year included four above-average starters, including ace Jose Rijo, who went 14-8 with a 2.70 ERA. The offense featured plus players at six of the eight starting positions. Above all, there was the bullpen. If you didn't outscore the Reds in the first six innings, forget about winning. Rob Dibble, Norm Charlton and Randy Myers constituted the deadliest combination of 95-mph (or better) fastballs, swaggering attitude and occasional mullets in the game. So much so that the trio earned a nickname derived from a pre-wardrobe malfunction Janet Jackson: the Nasty Boys.

    "That was a very unified bullpen," Dibble recalled. "We knew how good we were, and it was fun to actually torture hitters on other teams. It was a blast, I never had so much fun. It wasn't just baseball, it was like you were in Little League again."


    Dibble said the team's best quality that season was its unselfishness. Although the roles in the bullpen were defined pretty clearly -- Tim Birtsas and Tim Layana in the middle innings, Charlton and Dibble setting up and Myers closing -- no one begrudged an occasional save going to someone else, just as no one worried about who got the game-winning hit. When the 1990 season was threatened by a lockout, the players convened on the campus of Florida Southern, near the Reds' spring training site, to train on their own. Players who had come up together in the minor leagues -- Dibble, Charlton, Chris Sabo, Barry Larkin, Eric Davis -- worked out together every day while other teams scrambled to get their players in game shape amid another looming work stoppage.


    Aside from off-field warm-and-fuzzies, the common link between many of the Reds' best players was their age. Every significant Reds player -- all eight starting position players, the top four players off the bench, the top four starting pitchers and top five relievers -- were all under 30 on Opening Day. Even the manager was new, with Lou Piniella joining the team after three years with the Yankees.

    Among position players, 28-year-old Davis possessed the most raw talent, using his electrifying skills to put up big numbers when he wasn't fighting injuries. Shortstop Larkin, 26, hit .301 in 1990, still a down year by his standards compared with the performances that ensued the next two seasons. Third baseman Sabo, 28, smacked 25 homers; 27-year-old second baseman Mariano Duncan hit an impressive .306/.354/.476; 25-year-old Hal Morris took over the first-base job by hitting a gaudy .340. Paul O'Neill, 27, was a fixture in right field, hitting .270 with 16 home runs.

    The pitching staff also appeared to have time on its side. Tom Browning tossed 227 2/3 innings of slightly above-average ball. Rijo evolved into the staff's ace with 148 ERA+ (adjusted ERA compared with league average of 100) that ranked second-best in the NL. Jack Armstrong started in the All-Star Game with a monster first half (11-3, 2.28), and Danny Jackson had a 3.61 ERA. Myers, who was 27, saved 31 games and struck out 98 in 86.2 innings, with a 2.08 ERA. Fellow 27-year-old Charlton yielded just a 2.74 ERA in 154 1/3 innings alternating between the rotation and the bullpen. Dibble, 26, was the most impressive pitcher on the staff, striking out 136 batters in 98 innings while sporting a microscopic 1.74 ERA.


    Armed with what looked like a great core of young talent and coming off their impressive World Series win, the Reds entered 1991 feeling optimistic. A month into the season, the team was 13-10 and tied for first place -- right where everyone expected. The Reds struggled through a tough May before bouncing back, sparked by a five-game winning streak in late June. On July 5, Cincinnati was 44-34, within striking distance of the NL West lead. Then everything went south. The Reds dropped 10 in a row.

    Almost everyone shared the blame. Myers, Dibble and Charlton were still very good, though not as dominant as they'd been in 1990. Beyond the Nasty Boys, it was ugly. Davis struggled through more injuries than ever, playing just 89 games and hitting an abysmal .235. Duncan also tanked, posting a .288 OBP and losing his hold on an everyday job. Rijo had a huge year, going 15-6 with a 2.51 ERA and finishing fourth in Cy Young voting. But the rest of the rotation stunk, with incumbents such as Browning (14-14, 4.18) and Armstrong (7-13, 5.48) and newcomers such as Scott Scudder (6-9, 4.35) failing to deliver even league-average performances.

    Asked to explain what happened in '91, Dibble just shrugged.

    "I have no idea," he said. "We had a lot of injuries in '91, but we had a lot in 1990, too. We were in the NL West at the time, so we had to play some good teams like the Braves, Dodgers and Padres, with the Braves just starting their run. Maybe we did too much in the offseason. Everyone was doing card shows and charity basketball games and cashing in on newfound fame. We thought our stuff didn't stink."

    Bad luck played a role, too. The Reds scored eight more runs than they allowed in 1991, suggesting the profile of a .500 team -- instead they won just 74 games. Armed with the same core of talent, plus new faces via trades, free agency and the still-productive farm system, the team figured to bounce back in '92.

    That's just what happened. As tantalizing as Davis' talent was, the Reds knew they needed a more reliable option in the outfield; Bip Roberts (acquired for Myers) added a new dimension to the team, hitting .323 with a .392 OBP and 44 steals. Reggie Sanders finished fourth in rookie of the year voting with a .270/.356/.462 performance. Greg Swindell posted a 134 ERA+ in 213 2/3 innings as the team's new No. 2 starter behind Rijo. Dibble and Charlton became the new co-closers with Myers gone, saving 51 games and striking out 200 batters between them. The Reds won 90 games, enough to win the wild card, had it existed at the time, but well behind the 98-win Braves. By '93, Piniella was gone, as were many of the central figures on the 1990 team. That was that.

    Nearly two decades later, it's clear what the Reds' shortfall was: They just weren't all that good. Larkin is a player who deserves a spot in Cooperstown one day, but Davis was the poster boy for those teams, a player with all the talent in the world whose inability to stay healthy eventually sapped his ability. Players such as Duncan, Sabo and Armstrong had career or near-career years in 1990, then soon fell off the map (in Sabo's case after an even better season in '91 that was wasted on a losing team). Rijo was one of the best pitchers of the early '90s, but the team was never able to fill the rotation behind him.

    Expecting a team to become a superpower based largely on a trio of relievers was and is unrealistic. The Nasty Boys produced one championship, a best damn sports dude and a ton of unintentionally hilarious T-shirts. That's a pretty good legacy -- just not a dynasty.

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  3. #2
    Posting in Dynarama M2's Avatar
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    Re: Failed dynasty: 1990 Reds

    Davis' kidney injury threw a big kink into the franchise's ability to build on 1990. He wasn't right again until 1996.

    Yet Keri touches up something that's easy to overlook, if there was a Wild Card backi n the day (and no strike in 1994) Reds history would look a lot different. The team won a World Series in 1990 and made the NLCS in 1995. Add in a wild card in 1992 and a division title in 1994 with what looked to be dangerous playoff teams and suddenly the situation starts to brighten (though the 1990 team gets a wild card instead of a division title and, obviously, we don't know how the team would have fared in a five-game set against the Mets). Who knows, maybe another title could have been had?

    Also, if the current playoff format had existed in the late '80s, the Reds would have won a division title in 1988, a wild card in 1985 and possibly gained a wild card tie with the Phillies in 1986 (dependent on whether the Phils won or lost an unplayed game 162).

    1985-1995 was a fine run for the franchise.
    Baseball isn't a magic trick ... it doesn't get spoiled if you figure out how it works. - gonelong

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    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Failed dynasty: 1990 Reds

    I question his definition of dynasty. To me, a dynasty is when a franchise sustains success across different teams. It's when you've turned over the roster, or large chunks of it, and continue to succeed. It's when the organization, not the specific combination of players you have currently, is what leads to that success.

    A nice run of even 4 or 5 years by the same core of guys is not a dynasty. A failed dynasty is when you have a successful group of guys and you can't sustain the peak -- the late 80's athletics being a prime example. The Reds had brief success and then slipped back, the dyansty card was never in play.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

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    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: Failed dynasty: 1990 Reds

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    I question his definition of dynasty. To me, a dynasty is when a franchise sustains success across different teams. It's when you've turned over the roster, or large chunks of it, and continue to succeed. It's when the organization, not the specific combination of players you have currently, is what leads to that success.

    A nice run of even 4 or 5 years by the same core of guys is not a dynasty. A failed dynasty is when you have a successful group of guys and you can't sustain the peak -- the late 80's athletics being a prime example. The Reds had brief success and then slipped back, the dyansty card was never in play.
    Then define a baseball dynasty without citing the late 30's Yankees or the 49-53 Yankees.

  6. #5
    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Failed dynasty: 1990 Reds

    Quote Originally Posted by westofyou View Post
    Then define a baseball dynasty without citing the late 30's Yankees or the 49-53 Yankees.
    It's a fine line. If all that's required is a championship and good prospects for the future, then where are early 90's Blue Jays? The 90's Braves?

    How can you possibly exclude the current Sox? The basis of the whole article is that the Sox aren't a dynasty yet.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

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    Big Red Machine RedsBaron's Avatar
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    Re: Failed dynasty: 1990 Reds

    Quote Originally Posted by westofyou View Post
    Then define a baseball dynasty without citing the late 30's Yankees or the 49-53 Yankees.
    The 1904-24 NY Giants under John McGraw, the 1926-46 St. Louis Cardinals, and the 1941-66 Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers might meet RMR's definition.
    "Hey...Dad. Wanna Have A Catch?" Kevin Costner in "Field Of Dreams."

  8. #7
    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: Failed dynasty: 1990 Reds

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsBaron View Post
    The 1904-24 NY Giants under John McGraw, the 1926-46 St. Louis Cardinals, and the 1941-66 Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers might meet RMR's definition.
    Maybe 1911-1924, but even then they had one 8th place finish.

    Cars ok... and the Dodgers I'll skip the war years.

    Still none won 100 games as much as Weavers O's from 1966-1980



    Code:
    1911  1st     99   54  .647   +7.5   NL CHAMPIONS
    1912  1st    103   48  .682  +10     NL CHAMPIONS
    1913  1st    101   51  .664  +12.5   NL CHAMPIONS
    1914  2nd     84   70  .545   10.5 
    1915  8th     69   83  .454   21   
    1916  4th     86   66  .566    7   
    1917  1st     98   56  .636  +10     NL CHAMPIONS
    1918  2nd     71   53  .573   10.5 
    1919  2nd     87   53  .621    9   
    1920  2nd     86   68  .558    7   
    1921  1st     94   59  .614   +4     WORLD CHAMPIONS
    1922  1st     93   61  .604   +7     WORLD CHAMPIONS
    1923  1st     95   58  .621   +4.5   NL CHAMPIONS
    1924  1st     93   60  .608   +1.5   NL CHAMPIONS

    Code:
    926  1st     89   65  .578   +2     WORLD CHAMPIONS
    1927  2nd     92   61  .601    1.5 
    1928  1st     95   59  .617   +2     NL CHAMPIONS
    1929  4th     78   74  .513   20   
    1930  1st     92   62  .597   +2     NL CHAMPIONS
    1931  1st    101   53  .656  +13     WORLD CHAMPIONS
    1932  T6th    72   82  .468   18   
    1933  5th     82   71  .536    9.5 
    1934  1st     95   58  .621   +2     WORLD CHAMPIONS
    1935  2nd     96   58  .623    4   
    1936  T2nd    87   67  .565    5   
    1937  4th     81   73  .526   15   
    1938  6th     71   80  .470   17.5 
    1939  2nd     92   61  .601    4.5 
    1940  3rd     84   69  .549   16   
    1941  2nd     97   56  .634    2.5 
    1942  1st    106   48  .688   +2     WORLD CHAMPIONS
    1943  1st    105   49  .682  +18     NL CHAMPIONS
    1944  1st    105   49  .682  +14.5   WORLD CHAMPIONS
    1945  2nd     95   59  .617    3   
    1946  1st     98   58  .628   +2     WORLD CHAMPIONS
    Code:
    1947  1st     94   60  .610   +5     NL CHAMPIONS
    1948  3rd     84   70  .545    7.5 
    1949  1st     97   57  .630   +1     NL CHAMPIONS
    1950  2nd     89   65  .578    2   
    1951  2nd     97   60  .618    1   
    1952  1st     96   57  .627   +4.5   NL CHAMPIONS
    1953  1st    105   49  .682  +13     NL CHAMPIONS
    1954  2nd     92   62  .597    5   
    1955  1st     98   55  .641  +13.5   WORLD CHAMPIONS
    1956  1st     93   61  .604   +1     NL CHAMPIONS
    1957  3rd     84   70  .545   11   
    1958  7th     71   83  .461   21   
    1959  1st     88   68  .564   +2     WORLD CHAMPIONS
    1960  4th     82   72  .532   13   
    1961  2nd     89   65  .578    4   
    1962  2nd    102   63  .618    1   
    1963  1st     99   63  .611   +6     WORLD CHAMPIONS
    1964  T6th    80   82  .494   13   
    1965  1st     97   65  .599   +2     WORLD CHAMPIONS
    1966  1st     95   67  .586   +1.5   NL CHAMPIONS
    Code:
    1966  1st     97   63  .606   +9     WORLD CHAMPIONS
    1967  T6th    76   85  .472   15.5 
    1968  2nd     91   71  .562   12   
    1969  1st    109   53  .673  +19     AL CHAMPIONS
    1970  1st    108   54  .667  +15     WORLD CHAMPIONS
    1971  1st    101   57  .639  +12     AL CHAMPIONS
    1972  3rd     80   74  .519    5   
    1973  1st     97   65  .599   +8     AL EAST CHAMPIONS
    1974  1st     91   71  .562   +2     AL EAST CHAMPIONS
    1975  2nd     90   69  .566    4.5 
    1976  2nd     88   74  .543   10   
    1977  T2nd    97   64  .602    2.5 
    1978  4th     90   71  .559    9   
    1979  1st    102   57  .642   +8     AL CHAMPIONS
    1980  2nd    100   62  .617    3

  9. #8
    Member SMcGavin's Avatar
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    Re: Failed dynasty: 1990 Reds

    Quote Originally Posted by westofyou View Post
    Then define a baseball dynasty without citing the late 30's Yankees or the 49-53 Yankees.
    The current Yankees? Over the past ten years: ten playoff appearances, nine AL East titles, five AL titles, three world titles. I think the roster has turned over enough since '98 for the dynasty term to apply.

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    Maple SERP savafan's Avatar
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    Re: Failed dynasty: 1990 Reds

    I've never understood this talk about Hal Morris being the primary first baseman on the 1990 team. My memories tell me that honor was held by Todd Benzinger.
    My dad got to enjoy 3 Reds World Championships by the time he was my age. So far, I've only gotten to enjoy one. Step it up Redlegs!

  11. #10
    All dyslexics must untie!
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    Re: Failed dynasty: 1990 Reds

    Quote Originally Posted by savafan View Post
    I've never understood this talk about Hal Morris being the primary first baseman on the 1990 team. My memories tell me that honor was held by Todd Benzinger.
    Benzinger by a nose 118G 376AB vs. 107/309 for HalMo

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/CIN/1990.shtml
    Never overlook the obvious

  12. #11
    Posting in Dynarama M2's Avatar
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    Re: Failed dynasty: 1990 Reds

    Quote Originally Posted by savafan View Post
    I've never understood this talk about Hal Morris being the primary first baseman on the 1990 team. My memories tell me that honor was held by Todd Benzinger.
    Morris took the job in July of that year. Benzinger played mostly against LHPs and served as a defensive replacement/PH after that.
    Baseball isn't a magic trick ... it doesn't get spoiled if you figure out how it works. - gonelong

    I'm witchcrafting everybody.

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    Re: Failed dynasty: 1990 Reds

    Quote Originally Posted by M2 View Post
    Also, if the current playoff format had existed in the late '80s, the Reds would have won a division title in 1988, a wild card in 1985 and possibly gained a wild card tie with the Phillies in 1986 (dependent on whether the Phils won or lost an unplayed game 162).

    1985-1995 was a fine run for the franchise.
    Don't forget 1987--if the Pirates had traded Rick Reuschel to the Reds rather than the Giants, the NL West would have been a very different story. (I seem to recall the Pirates were holding out for Jeff Treadway, who was one of the top minor leaguers at the time.)

    That 1987 Reds offense was loaded with talent. And the back end of the bullpen was nearly as good as it was 1990, if not necessarily as dominant.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/CIN/1987.shtml
    Last edited by D-Man; 03-26-2008 at 07:58 PM.

  14. #13
    Maple SERP savafan's Avatar
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    Re: Failed dynasty: 1990 Reds

    The 1987 Reds had horrible OBP skills, and 4 out of 5 starting pitchers with losing records.
    My dad got to enjoy 3 Reds World Championships by the time he was my age. So far, I've only gotten to enjoy one. Step it up Redlegs!

  15. #14
    Posting in Dynarama M2's Avatar
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    Re: Failed dynasty: 1990 Reds

    Quote Originally Posted by savafan View Post
    The 1987 Reds had horrible OBP skills
    They could have been better, and they certainly slumped late in the year, but they did finish 6th in the NL in OB (out of 12). Dave Parker's post All-Star .283 OB was the real crime on that front.
    Baseball isn't a magic trick ... it doesn't get spoiled if you figure out how it works. - gonelong

    I'm witchcrafting everybody.

  16. #15
    THAT'S A FACT JACK!! GAC's Avatar
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    Re: Failed dynasty: 1990 Reds

    Quote Originally Posted by westofyou View Post
    Then define a baseball dynasty without citing the late 30's Yankees or the 49-53 Yankees.
    Couldn't you also add the As of the early 70's?
    "panic" only comes from having real expectations


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