Well, the Redlegs closed the curtain on another season today. Not the outcome everyone expected or hoped, but that's baseball and not every team plays in October. There's nothing more depressing than listening to the final game and knowing that winter lies ahead. Conversely, there's nothing sweeter sounding than that first spring training game in late February or early March. On a gloomy, cloudy day, it seems only farther away.
Still there's reason for optimism for 2012. At least the "sophomore effect" will be over...let me explain: Look at the great Reds' runs over the recent years...most began with a "great" year (where they snuck up on people) followed by the sophomore effect. In fact, that's why I kinda thought they'd have a bad year this year. In 1970, the first year of the Big Red Machine era, the Reds won the division and went to the World Series. But what happened in 1971? The ended up in 5th place in the NL West with a 79-83 record. The good news is they kept the team largely intact but added some key players like Joe Morgan and, poof, they were back in '72, '73, '75 and '76.
Fast forward to 1990, when the Reds surprised everyone with their wire-to-wire sweep and WS championship. So how'd things turn out in 1991? Once again, 5th place in the NL West with a 74-88 record. Again, they kept the team largely intact and were back on top in 1995.
In 1961, they went all the way to the World Series and in 1962? 3rd Place! (Okay, okay, they were 98-64 in a year when the Dodgers and Giants were dominant--I'm taking a few liberties here) but hung together to nearly win the Pennant in 1964. Let's not talk about the back to back series in 1939-'40 because it doesn't support my theory, which is... the Reds should try and stay largely intact next season. No wholesale changes, just a few tweaks here and there, maybe find a hidden Joe Morgan somewhere. They have the basic pieces that will only continue to jell the more they play alongside each other. I, for one, am optimistic about 2012.
Which brings me to one last number: The span between World Series Reds' appearances during the modern baseball era include 20-years (1919-1939), 21-years (1940-1961), 9-years (1961-1970), 14-years (1976-1990) and 21-years (1990-2011). Clearly, we're overdue.