The Reds clinched their 3rd NL Central title in franchise history last night. They've now finished atop the standings in 17 seasons since 1882. Of the three that didn't yield playoff berths, 2 happened in strike shortened years ('94 and the weird/unfair '81) and the other was the Red Stockings' inaugural pennant-winning season during the Chester A. Arthur administration.
This year, you can be sure, the Reds are going the playoffs. Not by the barrel of Jay Bruce's bat (at least not directly), but by the golden arm of Aroldis Chapman and the fluid mechanics of the double-play combo behind him. It was a fitting end to a season which owed much of its success to preventing runs.
There's a little bitter with the sweet. It's not clear what the prognosis is on Dusty Baker, though he's supposed to be back in town today. Some of the members of the Reds' org interviewed in this video spoke in a little gravely. It may be strictly out of respect for him and regret that he missed the pinnacle of the season so far. Acting Reds manager Chris Speier said: "Knowing Northwestern, they just wanted to be thorough."
Knowing Dusty -- well, I don't actually know Dusty. It's tempting to think we know him because we know some of his managerial quirks so well. What I do know is that no one has an unkind word for him. That his teams have played with a rare esrpit de corps and togetherness in his time here. That the more you learn about Dusty, the more you wish you know.
And In my lifetime, I've never witnessed two titles in the space of three years.
Get well soon, Dusty. And enjoy this as much as we have.