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There are reasons to be optimistic about the Reds. Let me count the ways...

Cincinnati Reds' Joey Votto high-fives with Kyle Farmer after hitting a solo home run during the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Kansas City Royals Thursday, March 24, 2022, in Surprise, Ariz.
Charlie Riedel
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AP
Cincinnati Reds' Joey Votto (13) celebrates with Kyle Farmer (17) after hitting a solo home run during the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Kansas City Royals Thursday, March 24, 2022, in Surprise, Ariz.

A lot of people think I am quite insane when it comes to the subject of Cincinnati Reds baseball.

They don't understand why — after the Reds let high-profile players like Miley, Winker, Suarez, Barnhart, and Castellanos walk away in the off-season — I do not have smoke pouring out of my ears, why I'm not spitting mad, why I'm not calling for the head of Bob Castellini on a silver platter. Phil's head, too. And Nick Krall's.

I'm sorry; I can't do it.

I'm not angry.

In fact, I am quite the opposite. I'm delighted with what I have seen in spring training for this new-look Reds team. And I will tell you why.

Because change always comes to baseball. Baseball is like a favorite song — you can re-write the lyrics, but the melody stays the same. It binds together eras and generations. It is meant to change; and it is meant to stay the same. Baseball is a paradox, a real-life mystery.

I saw my first Reds game in person in 1959 at Crosley Field, an afternoon tilt versus Willie Mays and the Giants. I was with my grandparents, and we made the trip from Dayton in Grandpa's Ford. And I remember every minute of it, 63 years later.

A few thousand trips later to Crosley Field, to Riverfront Stadium and to Great American Ball Park; and the game still has a hold on me.

And not just Major League baseball. Any baseball, anywhere, anytime. I played the game as a kid (the Frisch's Big Boy team in Dayton's Jesse Haines Little League); I coached kids in Knothole baseball with my old friend Mark Curnutte in Finneytown; and there is nothing better than going up to Day Air Ballpark to see my hometown Dayton Dragons play.

There have been many times when I have been driving around and see a Knothole or high school game going on and I will stop, get out of the car and watch for a while.

And tonight, I will plant myself in front of the TV for the Reds' first official game of the season, when they play the reigning World Series Champion Atlanta Braves at Atlanta's Truist Park.

Let me tell you what happened in 1990, the last time the Reds opened a season on the road. There are many Reds fans who are too young to remember or who have simply forgot.

That season opener took place on April 9, 1990, at Houston's Astrodome. That season started late, just like this year, and for the same reason — a lockout by the owners.

The game against the Astros that day went into extra innings. The Reds won 8-4, thanks to a bases-loaded triple by Barry Larkin in the 11th inning.

That win, of course, put the Reds in first place in their division; and they stayed in first place every day throughout the regular season. They won the NL championship in a hard-fought playoff series versus the Pirates and then went on to confound the "experts" by sweeping the Oakland A's in a four-game World Series.

Wire-to-wire champions!

Members of Cincinnati Reds celebrate on the field of Oakland Coliseum following their 2-1 win over the Oakland Athletics which clinched the World Series, Saturday, Oct. 20, 1990, Oakland, Calif.
Paul Sakuma
/
AP
Members of Cincinnati Reds celebrate on the field of Oakland Coliseum following their 2-1 win over the Oakland Athletics which clinched the World Series, Saturday, Oct. 20, 1990, Oakland, Calif.

Not going to say that is what will happen this year; I've learned over the years that trying to predict baseball is even harder than forecasting the weather.

But, hey, that is what happened the last time the Reds opened the season on the road. I count that as good karma.

Let's give this young and talented 2022 version of the Reds a chance. If they don't hoist a World Series championship trophy at the end of the season, they will, I am certain, put a good, entertaining brand of baseball on the field.

Who wouldn't want to go see Jonathan India, the 2021 National League Rookie of the Year, play ball? He's only the most exciting new position player to come up through the Reds system in many a year. Worth the price of admission all by himself.

Who wouldn’t want to see Tyler Stephenson, the former first-round draft pick and now the everyday catcher? He is going to be a perennial All Star. His ceiling is very, very high.

Who wouldn't want to see the newly signed free agent outfielder, Tommy Pham? He is itching to play a full season in this ball park. As a Cardinal and a Padre, he hit .366 at Great American Ball Park. Imagine what he might do playing 81 games a year here.

Who wouldn't want to see the tremendous young starting pitchers, developed by the Reds and now ready to shine in The Show — Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, Reiver Sanmartin, Tony Santillan, Vladimir Guttierez, and more to come in the pipeline?

And, last but certainly not least, what baseball fan in his or her right mind would not want to see a resurgent, power-hitting Joey Votto, who will bat in the clean-up spot for the most part. This is a future Hall of Fame player, someone who is headed for Cooperstown, and any baseball fan would want to see him over and over again before JDV is gone for good as a player.

Cincinnati Reds' Joey Votto watches his home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the second inning of a spring training baseball game Sunday, April 3, 2022, in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Ross D. Franklin
/
AP
Cincinnati Reds' Joey Votto watches his home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the second inning of a spring training baseball game Sunday, April 3, 2022, in Scottsdale, Ariz.

All I am asking of my fellow Reds fans — the ones who are disgruntled about what was lost in the off-season — is to look at this glass as half-full (more than half, actually) and not half-empty,

This is going to be a fun team to watch. They are going to score runs in bunches. Just look at the last three spring training games where players who, for the most part, are on the active roster were facing mostly major league pitchers — the Reds scored 37 runs in those three games.

Just give them a chance. You may just like what you see.

Come to the ballpark. I'll save you a seat.

howard wilkinson at great american ball park in 2019.
Courtesy
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The author at Great American Ball Park in 2021.