This was originally published in The Athletic.
The people who run the Reds are going to spend this winter attempting to build a team that will play in the postseason a year from now, which is good because that’s what they should be doing. I mean, if the idea behind the moves that transformed the Reds from a really bad team in 2018 to merely a bad one in 2019 wasn’t to use this season as a launching off point for doing better than fourth place in 2020, then what was the point?
So yes, it’s good that Reds President of Baseball Operations Dick Williams told C. Trent Rosecrans this week that he believes they will build a team that qualifies for the playoffs in 2020. After years of the front office speaking in vague terms about some undefined time when the Reds might possibly matter again, the franchise has arrived at a point where the aim unequivocally should be to do more than simply exist. You and I are fed up with waiting after six straight seasons of drastic losing. And even if he sleeps at night with his head resting on pillows stuffed with hundred-dollar bills, I’m sure Bob Castellini himself has exhausted his patience for the Reds to at least be in a position where contention is a real part of the present instead of some abstract possibility for the future.
That the wait may be over if Williams has the offseason he envisions doesn’t make it any less painful it’s lasted this long. The last six baseball seasons in Cincinnati have had their high points, but mostly, they’ve felt like an endless and sometimes pointless slog. As Jason Grilli of the Pirates was nailing down the final outs of the 2013 NL Wild Card Game, most of us suspected that the Reds were due for a couple of down seasons. When club management finally publicly embraced in the summer of 2015 what the rest of us already knew, some lean seasons were expected, but still, the length of time between the last time the Reds were good and their complete return to relevance – whenever that occurs – has been almost unforgivably long.
We shouldn’t be asked to endure a similar such wait again.
We’ve almost become conditioned to believe that in order for a Major League Baseball team to have any kind of success, it first must endure many long years of abject failure. This notion has perhaps been propelled by the way the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs bottomed out in the first half of the decade before turning into recent postseason regulars. There’s also the inherent cyclical nature of sports that we’ve all come to accept, the part that makes winning so much sweeter because success is supposed to be book-ended by failure.
There’s nothing though that says that failure must last forever, which feels like how long we’ve waited for the Reds to matter again.
To read the entire piece, go to The Athletic.