We came for the Year. We settled for the Moment.
For five seasons since the magic of Clinchmas, the night Jay Bruce drove a ball beyond the reach of the opposing fielders, each year held the promise it might be the Reds’ time, finally. Each year, events have conspired against the Cincinnati Reds–as if they were the ones who once refused entry to some smelly, old billy goat and his owner–not the Chicago Cubs. If it wasn’t one thing it was another. Johnny Beisbol fell injured at inopportune times. Dusty Baker lost control of his team. The Knee happened. Followed by Left Distal Quad.
2015 seemed like a long shot. But, it was still a shot. Hope springs eternal because, well, Baseball. Then Cincinnati discovered Hip Impingement and Tommy John came calling and Homer Bailey raised his hand and said, “my turn.” The Reds inexplicably turned out to be poorer than they had let on–and that was that.
Last night the city got something in return for all that bad luck and poverty. It’s not nearly what was hoped for, especially for Bob Castellini, who surely once saw last night as a showcase for a team, not just for a city and a player. Two out of three ain’t awful.
It seems Todd Frazier has always had The Knack. He had it in spades last night. It was darn near perfection, if we can use such a word in this lousy year for baseball in Cincinnati. This might be an MLB production, but the city and it’s fans have owned it. Since Sunday, I’ve walked the streets, expecting to see hundreds of fans wearing the colors of 29 other teams, but it’s been overwhelmingly the right color of Red. Yeah, there’s a guy walking around wearing a “Numbah Two” jersey from New York. And the occasional St. Louis jersey will blight the landscape. Still, Cincinnati red is everywhere. For every out-of-town piece of laundry you’ll see, you will also see twenty stitched with names like Bench, Rose, Perez, Morgan, Larkin and especially, Frazier.
He owns this town now, does Todd, not just the shersey racks at Dick’s. He gave the fans something special to remember. Now, he’s ours. I would have been open to trading him, along with Johnny & Aroldis, if the price was right. Power hitters are in short supply these days and he might be obscenely over-valued given the friendly contract and team control.
Now you wonder if Castellini starts looking in the seat cushions for enough money to keep The Toddfather here for a long time. After a late start to his major league career, Todd’s in his prime now. He’ll be close to 32 when free agency comes calling. The Reds need to get younger and cheaper. They can hold onto him, play out the string, and wait to see what the next two seasons bring. Or they could see what kind of haul they might bring in for players whose futures here are limited, at best.
Last night was a night for romance. Reds fans deserved it. The light of day now brings with it a reckoning. Maybe Todd is the player you keep while you wait for reinforcements to return in the form of Devin Mesoraco and Homer Bailey and whatever right stuff the young pitching brings.
The Reds have some tough decisions ahead. The fans had last night. They had the Moment.