The reds bring the boast – and a quick start

I’ve often dreamed of a Cincinnati Reds team that actually starts quickly at the start of the season. I dream about it because it is so rare.

We all remember the 3:18 disaster that started the 2018 season. The only silver lining was that Bryan Price was out as manager. Because of this cruel start.

And after the dreary spring training I can remember ended two weeks ago, I feared the same thing in 2021. I wasn’t worried that the Reds had the worst record of any team in Arizona and Florida – it didn’t Matter. But I was concerned about the injuries, the inactivity, the lack of innings being handled by some pitchers, and a general malaise that I thought was due to David Bell.

But after the first inning of hell against the Cardinals on opening day, the Reds were incredible. An offensive blast hot on the heels of one of the worst teams in Cincinnati history and the embarrassing inability to get a single run in the Atlanta playoff loss.

Quick starts aren’t a panacea for winning the division. The Reds started 8-0 in 1980 in a winning streak marked by Frank Pastore’s last-minute start on the opening day, in which he scored a 3-hit shutout. But McNamara’s band calmed down afterwards and eventually lost a close race against the Houston Astros.

After winning the National League Central in 2010, the Reds started 2011 5-0 and ended up under the 500 (79-83) mark in an incredibly disappointing season.

Even the 1999 Reds started slowly; They lost their first three games and were very pedestrian-like 6-10 after 16 games. A win over San Diego finally put them over the 500 mark at 22-21, and they finished 96-67. But that slow start cost them the division and instead forced them to a 1-game playoff against the Mets, in which they lost.

But there have been two outstanding seasons for me in which the Reds got off to a hot start that was crucial for them to win a National League pennant and another that led to a World Cup.


In Sparky Anderson’s first season with the Reds, he did some brave things right after spring training.

He took a 19 year old pitcher with little experience up north with the team and Don Gullett proved he deserved it. Anderson used it from the bullpen, choosing his moments, and Gullett got better and better as the season progressed. He was one of the best Reds pitchers that year in the World Series.

Sparky also put Wayne Simpson on the roster and in the starting rotation. Simpson was 7-13 at Triple-A Indianapolis the previous year, but the Big Warrior dominated the Puerto Rican League that winter, followed by a formidable spring in Tampa, and was 14-3 for the Reds in 1970 before bleeding his shoulder.

Anderson put two newbies in left field – Bernie Carbo and Hal McRae. Both were productive. Tony Perez had a scorching April, hitting 10 home runs. Jim Merritt won on opening day and the Reds were gone and running.

After Simpson beat the Cardinals 12-5 on July 26 – a game in which MVP Johnny Bench ran three home runs in 1970 and knocked Steve Carlton in seven runs – the Reds were 70-30. The NL West race was over .

Injuries to Merritt, Simpson and Jim McGlothlin caught up with the Reds. They finished 32-30 after that blazing start. But they made the World Series.


Lou Piniella’s team started the season 9-0. That rose to 32-12 and their best record this year was 58-32 before cooling off. The Reds’ rotation was solid, Jack Armstrong kicked off the All-Star game for the National League, and Cincinnati went wire-to-wire for the first time. (The 1970s Reds fell to second place one day in early April, but that was it.)

But that quick start was enough to hold the Los Angeles Dodgers off, and after beating Pittsburgh in the playoffs, the Reds and Nasty Boys defeated defending champions Oakland Athletics.

I don’t expect a dominant start like these two teams at the 2021 Reds. But I don’t want a start that would kill the race either. I still lack confidence in David Bell. I just wasn’t impressed. He talks a lot but doesn’t say anything.

I predicted a 76-86 record by the end of spring training. Bell was a factor in that. I was sold by Jonathan India and Tyler Stephenson but wasn’t sure they would play that much.

But I love her demeanor as embodied by Nick Castellanos. Loved that moment against the Cardinals that resulted in a 2 game suspension (which was a farce). Loved the demeanor, the defiance, the emotions.

It reminded me of 1999. A team that was aggressive towards the likes of Greg Vaughn and Sean Casey.

The Big Red Machine had that imagination, a calm confidence. They just went out there and beat you up and knew they’d do it.

But this 1999 team – and maybe this one too – had a boast.

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