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An emotional final week for the Redlegs
This has been some kinda season
This is far from an original thought, but I’m still amazed at the fact the Reds won their 81st game of the season this week. That victory ensured that the hometown nine would not finish with a losing record, just twelve months after losing 100 games in what was arguably the most disastrous campaign in franchise history. I’m not sure anyone other than Jonathan India thought this was a possibility back in March.*
*I know I didn’t think it was possible. Reds GM Nick Krall certainly didn’t think it was possible.
Alas, the Reds are likely going to finish just shy of making the playoffs, though as I type these words, they are hanging in there, trying to rally against Cleveland in the eighth inning of game 158. (Update: Reds fell just short. Chances are getting slimmer.) As I put it in this week’s column:
The arrival of autumn carries something of a bittersweet tang for hardcore Reds fans who have watched the hometown nine surprise, delight, and maybe, in the end, narrowly betray their heart’s great hope. To me, it’s like watching a beloved novel unfold, every chapter filled with laughter and unforeseen thrills—and quite a few tense moments—only to find oneself, with a mere few pages left, bracing for an ending that might not satisfy.
This summer, the Reds, with an injection of youthful energy, played not just with skill but with an infectious joie de vivre that drew even the cynical back into the fold of fandom. As the final few games approach and the odds lengthen, we can only hope for a baseball miracle in these closing pages. If ever there were a time for the unexpected, for the ball to take a fortunate bounce or for fortune to smile just once more, it would be now. Aren’t Reds fans owed a little good fortune after all these years of misery?
I’ve been pretty frank about my frustration with Reds management, and their steadfast refusal to either (a) put together a legitimate big league pitching staff before the season, or (b) improve the club when they were in first place at the trade deadline. I stand by everything I’ve said on those points, and I think history has proven me correct.
But here we are, still hanging on every pitch in the fourth-to-last game of the season, watching the scoreboard for news of other National League contests. That ain’t nothin’, as they say. Think about it: how many times in your life have the Reds been relevant as the end of September approached? Not many, right?
I’ll do a full season recap at some point before we turn our attentions fully to the Bengals (and a pivotal Reds off-season), but there will be some things I’ll never forget about this year. The incredible performances of a bunch of Reds rookies. The winning streak in June. The aggressive baserunning, making the Reds as entertaining as any team in the league. TJ Friedl’s surprising season (how can you not be happy for that guy?). Elly. A bullpen full of has-beens and never-was’s putting up a pretty cromulent performance. WILL. BENSON.
This month, in particular, has been pretty emotional for me, too. On the personal/professional front, it has been a whirlwind (check out the google machine or text me if you don’t know what I’m talking about). I temporarily ended my Castellini boycott, in hopes of seeing Joey Votto and Elly De La Cruz on the field at the same time. Just my luck: I went to the first two games of the Cardinals series, only to see the Reds lose while Votto was in Louisville on a rehab assignment. He returned on Sunday (when I wasn’t at Great American Ball Park), and the Reds won. Just my luck.
During that same weekend, I got to meet so many of you and hang out, both at The Banks and at The Ballyard. It was a reminder of why I’ve missed GABP so much. And why this shared connection with a dumb baseball team is so meaningful to all of us.
And then there’s the drama over the final home series of the year last weekend, and the question of whether Votto will ever wear a Reds uniform at GABP again. Watching the standing ovation during his first AB in that last home game, seeing him get emotional…that’s a gut punch to those of us who have marveled at Votto’s entire career. A single in his final at-bat, and a curtain call. Then that post-game interview with Jim Day.
I dunno, this season was mostly a reminder that baseball can be fun. It should be fun! And though it isn’t going to end like we had hoped, we’re set up for the most interesting off-season in years. If nothing else, baseball is interesting in the Queen City again.
Now, about those Bengals…
This week at Cincinnati Magazine: It’s an emotional final week for the Reds
The good news is that the Cincinnati Reds enter the final week of the MLB campaign with a fighter’s chance of making the playoffs. After last year’s historic disaster of a season, the fact that I can write those words after the Redlegs have played 156 games continues to be the most preposterous thing I’ve seen in the 10 seasons I’ve been scribbling away here at Cincinnati Magazine.
The bad news? Last weekend’s brutal series against the Pirates was almost the death knell for Cincinnati’s playoff chances. Friday’s 7-5 loss, thanks to uneven defense and shoddy bullpen work, meant that the Reds were officially eliminated from the race for the NL Central division title. That left only the Wild Card, where the Reds were still 1.5 games behind the Cubs (and a half-game behind the Marlins) in the battle for the final playoff spot.
When the Reds took a 9-0 lead after three innings on Saturday, it gave us a moment to dream. After a bullpen meltdown resulted in a stomach-turning 13-12 loss, however, it seemed all hopes for the playoffs were lost. Turn out the lights, the party’s over.
And that’s still probably the case. But the Reds rebounded on Sunday with a 4-2 victory that turned into Joey Votto Fan Appreciation Day. So what does this club need to do to get Joey back to the playoffs for the first time in a decade? Read the rest of this week’s Reds column over at Cincinnati Magazine.
What’s Chad Watching?
Two-plus weeks of movies in that image above. We saw two in the theater, the first time we’ve ventured out since the Barbie/Oppenheimer twin-bill. Pickings have been very slim in the weeks since.
A Haunting in Venice was the third in Kenneth Branagh’s series of Hercule Poirot mysteries, and it was perfectly watchable. The outdoor shots were gorgeous — they were in Venice, after all — and the story was perfectly fine. Sad to say, fellow UVa alum Tina Fey was pretty bad, but the rest of the case was pretty great, including Branagh and Michelle Yeoh. I probably rate this higher than I should because I wish Hollywood made more movies like this. Recommended.
Dumb Money from director Craig Gillespie (I, Tonya) is a take on 2020’s GameStop stock saga. An entertaining take on that bizarre episode; Paul Dano is predictably good, as is America Ferrera, and it’s probably the first time I ever found Pete Davidson entertaining. Surprisingly, it’s also a pretty trenchant take on the power dynamics of the pandemic era. Recommended.
Finally got around to watching “The Flash.” My 3.5 star rating is almost certainly a case of a movie overperforming my very low expectations. After everything I had heard, I expected very little, and that’s exactly what I got for the first 45 minutes or so. But things pick up after that, and if you can ignore the truly garbage CGI, it ends up being pretty entertaining.
And finally, Suspiria. The lovely Mrs. Dotson and I have put together a list of horror movies we want to watch over the next month or so, and Dario Argento’s classic was near the top of the list. Maybe it’s good? I’m still not sure what I watched.
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