I was just looking at Baseball-Reference's Reds page, taking in the past decade of suck, when I happened to look down at the Big Red Machine years and noticed that the Reds failed to make the playoffs in 1974, despite winning 98 games. If you've ever hated the Wild Card (and I'll admit that's been me on occasion) this kind of season is why the WC needs to exist.
Ok, so things are kind of hard to think about right now with the current team, so here's a historical question: Would the '74 Reds have won it all if the Wild Card had been in effect?
The Reds won 98 games, while the NL East winning Pittsburgh Pirates only managed to win 88 games. This was basically the same team that won it all the next two years, but they didn't even make the playoffs in '74, basically due to some bad luck.
Possibly it all would have been moot anyway, as the division winning Dodgers ended up losing to the A's 4 games to 1, but I thought it was an interesting question. Maybe some of the old timers can chime in, was '74 as heartbreaking as '99?