Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cincinnati Reds Retrospective

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.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Shedding the Crown

I saw an article n the newspaper this week noting the demise of the Ford Crown Victoria automobile.  The "Crown Vic" has not been available to the public for several years now, but it has been produced in limited numbers at a Ford plant in Canada specifically for municipalities and law enforcement as a service vehicle.  The final Vic rolls off the assembly line this week. For the last two decades, the Crown Vic has been, far and above, the most popular model of choice as police cars, including here in Cincinnati and in Hamilton County.  Big, heavy, with a more-than-perky-enough V-8 engine and oversized A/C, the Vic has been a reliable workhorse that is quite popular among cops.  So much so, there are some local governments who are "stocking up" on Vics before they're gone.  Ford reports sales of the Grand Vic are up 65-percent this year.
The replacement for the Vic is the Ford Taurus Interceptor, a smaller, lighter car with a V-6 engine and less guts.  Also, Chevy has returned to the police vehicle business offering a smaller Impala model and several law enforcement agencies have shelled out a little extra for the police version of the sporty Dodge Charger.  Lately, the Indiana Highway Patrol has been using a nifty jet-black Mustang as an unmarked vehicle on I-74. 
Personally, I'll miss the Grand Vic.  After twenty years, I've become pretty good at spotting one a mile or so up the road.  Looking into my rear view mirror, I can instantly spot a Vic coming up from behind.  Since they were also used as taxi cabs and other government vehicles, I've been fooled a few times but I am always better safe than sorry.  Of course, the big chrome spotlight near the driver's side door has assisted my identification skills.  (Not that I speed, mind you...but it never hurts to know whom might be watching, tee hee.).
I understand why the gas guzzling Vics are being retired but I'm still a little sad.  Sad because I know how popular they are among the men and women in blue but also sad because I'll selfishly have to train my eyes to look for something else.   And of course, there's that Mustang!