You’ll be happy to know that I just wasted a solid seven minutes of my life debating internally whether to start this post with Welp or Sigh.
While pondering such an important decision, it occurred to me that if you slam those two pained expressions together, it might well sound something like Why, which is probably a more appropriate way to preface this damn thing.
Why? Why are we still doing this? Why, after an exhaustingly miserable 8-27 start to the season, are we still here, still tuning in for Cincinnati Reds baseball? Why the hell are we doing this to ourselves?
That’s the beauty and the curse of following baseball, really. It’s every damn day, whether the going’s good or the going is whatever the hell 8-27 is. Everyday we tune in with hopes that yesterday’s game was the last godawful one we’ll have to watch for a while, and odds are we’ll go to sleep after tonight’s game hoping that tomorrow will be the start of a rippin’ run of good play. There is no week off, like football, where we can shovel the crap memories to the nether regions of our brain and take two days to watch birds, or spread mulch, or drink until our eyes roll back in our heads.
It’s a senseless non-decision we make on a day to day basis as if there’s just some fiber of our DNA that makes us do so. And, well, it’s exactly what still has us watching, and yelling, and tweeting, and blogging. We’re fallible, messed-up baseball fans, is what we are - and this particular Reds season is pretty much the stress test that’s proving it.
Somewhere along the way, things will ultimately get a bit better. The Reds, sure, they’re going to lose 100 games, and they’re going to get stomped around emphatically a few dozen more times in seemingly robotic fashion. They’re going to do so in front of crowds of 17 people, at times, in a ballpark that at this point is nearly aching to be filled. They’ll do so with Nick Senzel still in AAA Louisville for awhile, too, which will aggravate a portion of us to no end.
But, there’s a reason we all remember Adam Dunn, and Austin Kearns, and Sean Casey. There’s an origin behind our abilities to look at the Reds team ERA and make jokes about Eric Milton, and Kirk Saarloos, and Jon Coutlangus, and Jimmy Haynes. Just as much as we nerdily remember the 1990 team like the back of our hands, the bulk of you fine folks that show up and do the baseball thing with us everyday (still) know exactly what your Joe Oliver Donruss cards looked like, how you felt when the Reds let Mariano Duncan walk in free agency, and which wall of your room had your Eric Davis poster on it.
We’ve been through a lot of Cincinnati Reds baseball in our lives. A lot more than 35 awful games worth, really. And while what we’ve seen on display so far in 2018 has been a miserable, demoralizing attempt at winning baseball, there’s going to be some fun to watch again at some point soon.
For the time being, I’ve been trying to laugh at myself for still being here, and it’s an easy self-deprication to bring to light. I’ve been trying to find the memes on this team, the odd jersey numbers on spot-start call-ups, the perfect amount of time before we can lump Yovani Gallardo into future comparisons the way we have with Kevin Gregg, Jason Marquis, and the inimitable Carlos Marmol. There’s plenty of it in there, just as there is the continued excellence of Joey Votto and Raisel Iglesias, and the budding promise of Tyler Mahle.
Watching the scoreboard this year has probably led to hair loss and liver issues for many of you, but if you squint hard enough there’s still some baseball in your viewing area that you can focus on, instead. There’ll be a time to find the scoreboard again at some point - be it 2020 or 2024 - but there’ll be a lot of baseball you’ll still want to remember by the time those days roll around again.
I’m going to laugh at it. I’m going to whine about it. I’m going to critique it. I’m going to pump a fist and marvel when Eugenio Suarez hits a dinger, and when Luis Castillo pulls the string on a change-up and sends a batter spinning to the dugout. It’s baseball, even if it’s shitty baseball, and even shitty baseball has moments that make what’s left of your hair stand on-end.
I’m still going to watch it.