The Reds' post-season is only three days old and already it's getting a foul stench about it. If we're all not careful, it'll become a 2011-'12 Red Sox mud-wallow in no time. We already have the manager-firing and the recriminations.
Losing Dusty feels like a necessary step - but also a joyless scapegoating. It's not hard to build a case for why his tactical failings, wrongheaded support of outdated roles, hands-off approach and inability to win the BIg One were a detriment to a team.
But the last week of the season brought out the worst in everyone. Dusty simply became easy-to-remove, rather than possessing a list of managerial shortcomings that were judiciously weighed by the front office. And the front office, for its part, has plenty to answer for - including completely dropping the ball on Marlon Byrd. We'll get to that this offseason.
Despite Tuesday's doomed one-game playoff, I'll have a fond memory of Dusty's dugout motivational with Johnny Cueto. And of Todd Frazier's insane diving catch into a hostile crowd - which reminded me that even though Dusty's teams didn't always take a measured approach ("be aggressive" became a frustrating refrain), it can't be said that they didn't play hard for him. I'll miss him.
What I'm not going to miss is some of the awful ways adult human beings acted this season - which reached a fever pitch this week.
It started out innocently enough. Brandon Phillips made a few off-hand comments in Cincinnati magazine about the process leading to his $72.5M contract being a "slap in the face." It was mostly laughed-off and BP even seemed aware in the article itself that what he was saying was a little ludicrous.
It got truly ugly when Phillips tore into C. Trent - calling him a "fat motherfucker" - in response to a pretty innocuous Tweet about on-base-percentage. We still don't know the full extent of what set off BP, but by all appearances, he grossly overreacted.
Apologies were exchanged between BP and C. Trent, but it started to seem like the clubhouse was an enabler in all this. Todd Frazier went on record saying that the news media essentially needed to fall in line behind the team. This was another off-hand comment that I wouldn't be tempted to read into unless Ryan Ludwick hadn't also gone to the media to complain about the fan support in a season of record-breaking attendance at Great American Ballpark.
With the exception of BP's tirade, these remarks are forgettable. Even the invective from Phillips might be written off as a heated moment during a frustrating stretch from a guy who has done a lot of nice things for a lot of people and been incredibly gracious in defeat - to none less than Yadier Molina.
Together, though, it made the team seem a little entitled and all too eager to throw blame on the media and fans that fuel their livelihood.
Meanwhile, the media wasn't doing itself any favors by trying to make Homer Bailey's no hitter all about them and flogging a non-troversy about how the Reds' best player should have cared more about their favorite column on a baseball card.
Then there were the fans. They've been mindlessly clamoring for Dusty's head during the most successful four-year stretch for the org since the '70s. Some have been apparently sending in racially-charged hate mail. This comes to light shortly after Pirates' fans as a whole crossed over from excited to overzealous during Tuesday's game. They acted like jackasses toward the Reds on the field - which is basically fair game. Far more egregiously, a drunken group allegedly assaulted Mat Latos' wife Dallas.
Even though they're a vocal minority, fans like these serve to make their cities look like third-rate, backwards notches on the Rust Belt. There's always a small contingent in a group of a certain size that are expected to be horrible. They're walking among us and they tend to crop up at the worst of times. And they also tend to get more attention when the tempers of good people are strained. That doesn't make this any prettier.
We all need to look in the mirror. I know I do: every winter from now until the end of my life. And we'll have plenty of time indoors to do it.