Aug 31 W/New Nikon
By 1976 we had started to take things for granted, at least I had. As a young lad who played more baseball than watched, The Reds were "The baseball Universe". To Cincinnatians Reds MLB dominated the map, engulfed, and surrounded us: in the local media , radio airwaves, especially through our WLW Radio in the kitchen everyday, we took it for granted. The Reds were on top of the baseball world, the Great 8 were intact at least for a few more years. In 1976 the Machine started to suffer the "dismantling". Tony "Big Dog" Perez was the first to go, for McEnaney and two others (Manager Sparky Anderson and General Manager Bob Howsam later considered this trade the biggest mistake of their careers). But that wasnt the only nail in the coffin that dismantled the Machine, that would come in the form of Free Agency, let me refresh some memories or inform our young Reds fans that may only know the 1990 "Winning Reds":
It was the founding of the MLBPA changed the landscape of professional sports forever, and had a huge influence on small markets like Cincy. Among the many milestones achieved with the MLBPA was the advent of free agency rights. Curt Flood’s unsuccessful challenge of the reserve clause started the ball rolling toward free agency. Funded by his fellow players, Flood sued Major League Baseball privately. Flood eventually lost his case in the U.S. Supreme Court, but the battle educated countless players and millions of Americans about the fundamental inequity of the reserve system, which perpetually renewed a player's contract, essentially binding the player to one club for life, or until that club decided to get rid of the player.
Just three years after Flood vs. Kuhn, players Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally once again challenged the reserve clause. This time, instead of a trial in a court of law, an independent arbitrator heard the case. And in December 1975, the players finally won the right to free agency, when arbitrator Peter Seitz ruled that the reserve clause granted a team only one additional year of service from a player, putting an end to perpetual renewal right the clubs had claimed for so long.
So as Cincy ill fate would have it Free agency came as The Machine (Sans Doggie) could have continued rolling, but not with a players right to boogie out of any town they didnt want to play in. Not to say it wasnt justified for them to do it, but as salarys increased the next 20 years, small market teams like Cincy suffered. It's not necesarily a bad thing, it is just,.... well: It is what it is! Unfortunately Small market dynasty's had virtually ended, 1975/76 being one of the final, so winning baseball in Cincy became scarce. Of course we have our 90 Reds(see how fast I skipped the 80's ? ;) Larkins lead 1995 and 99 squads, then 10 years of being teased, but never in August-Sept until: drum rolllllllllll: the 2010 'Nati Reds !
They are back and so am I! Let me explain, I never really went anywhere, always checking the Reds Box score first, even after a loss, knowing they lost, trying to find a silver lining in the hit category, pitching, or listening closely for someone coming up from Marge's dismantled scouting and farm system. For all Marge did to bolster the Reds by Free agency, she did the opposite to our vaunted pipeline especially in Latin America: aka Concepcion/Perez etc....Living in San Diego (Compliments USN ;) during Tony Gwynns years and now Wa State during Ichiro's and a short return of our Cincy son: Jr to the Pac Northwest, The Pads and M's provided temprarry baseball entertainment, never satisfying my need for championship, "Cincy" style, ball. I will always live during every summer day on the outcome of the latest Reds fortune be it win or lose. So, enter the 2010 Reds!
This season has recaptured my heart and my first love: Baseball, Football has to wait, for the first time in years while I track our New Machines fortunes, day by day. An MVP race, A Triple Crown race, a Veterans comeback year, another gold glove at 2nd, have all reminded me while I love summer with winning baseball. The expectations of cool baseball in October, friends, family and a home town abuzz, its giving me chills as I type!
As I flew back to Ohio two weeks ago, from the Left Coast, the Reds hats and conversation increased as I changed planes, more reds fans boarded as we got closer to Cincy. One lady also clearly suffering from a relapse of Reds fever, was very excited but a little loose on facts, was trying to excitedy and pridefully tell a young man a row in front of me about "Carson Johnson" who was a "reciever" for the Reds. She was on a roll, so I didnt want to correct here. She and others can always jump back on the wagon as long as they "never" jump off! (My #1 Cardinal rule for "wagoners";) (BTW I cant type the word "Cardinal" without my blood pumping slightly faster, kinda like Bengals/Steelers! ;)
Thank you Reds, thank you Cincy: the energy Friday for Bruces "trifecta of swat" was something I had not felt at home since 1990 (BTW, I was home in 75/76/90 but not 95/99, workin on a return in two months ;)
Thank you Reds for returning my first love, well except for this new one:
I look forward for what may come this fall, my expectations were marginal this year, but you've given me something to hold onto again, for no matter what happens, the chills are back!