2019 had, like, five highlights:
1) Yasiel Puig trying to fight the entire Pirates team on his own
2) Derek Dietrich hitting three home runs against the Pirates (trend!)
3) The revelation of Sonny Gray
4) Aristides Aquino, every other at bat or so
5) The throwback uniforms
Seriously, those mothers were well done. And now it’s time for RedReporter to throw its considerable weight around by holding a series of scientific polls to determine which of the throwbacks was best and then getting the Reds to adopt the winning uniform as the new standard. We do have pull with the organization, right?
So: every few days or so, a new matchup of the throwback getups worn throughout the year. Uniforms are “seeded” based on how good the team was in the year represented in the throwback. Let’s vote!
Record: 96-44, finished 1st out of 8 team National League. Won World Series over White Sox in 8 games.
Did this team matter?: Spawned a movie starring Charlie Sheen and John Cusack, so obviously yes. First championship winning team in franchise history. Also, this team forces you to grapple with the power of narrative. The 1919 White Sox were the heavy favorites, so explains the famous movie. And this was perhaps, even probably, true: Gamblers looking to make a crooked buck are going to target the underdogs as a way to maximize winnings. I don’t know how many times out of 100 the Reds would have beaten a straight-up Sox team, but the Reds won eight more regular season games than did Chicago and had a per-game run differential that was quite a bit better. And the White Sox got to inflate their record with 20 games against a historically bad Philadelphia A’s team (17-3 against). Say it ain’t so, Joe.
Performances to remember: In a batting line that forces you to remember that the deadball era was definitely a thing, Heinie Groh hit .310 with 17 doubles and 5 HR…and that worked out to be a 149 OPS+. In fact, his 823 OPS led the league. The third baseman Groh led the team with 79 runs scored.
Wikipedia says: “The team’s accomplishments were overshadowed by the subsequent Black Sox scandal, when it was discovered that their American League opponents, the Chicago White Sox had conspired to throw the series.”
Uniform notes: Appears to be the first time that pinstripes appeared on a Reds uniform.
My fashion-conscious, non-baseball-fan tween of a daughter says: “The stripes are kind of weird. The rest is just normal.”
Record: 68-85, finished 6th out of 8 team National League
Did this team matter?: Not really, although I have a soft spot for bad teams with a disproportionate number of eventual Hall of Famers on them. The 1966 Cubs are a favorite example, in a season that featured five future Cooperstown inductees and 103 losses. The ’35 Reds had an in-his-prime Ernie Lombardi, plus three over the hill stars who were no longer significant contributors (Jim Bottomley, Kiki Cuyler, Chick Hafey).
Performances to remember: Statistically, Ernie Lombardi’s 1935 season was…fun. His batting line in 1935 was .343/.379/.539, for an OPS+ of 148, but where he really pops is in the details: 1) he was on base 133 times, including 38 extra base hits…12 of which were home runs, but only scored 36 runs. Probably a function of him hitting 6th and 7th for a majority of his plate appearances, which is generally where you want your best hitter. 2) Setting the context for the times, Reds pitchers in 1935 struck out 500 batters, which ranked middle of the pack. That works out to be 3.3 strikeouts per 9 innings, so…it was kind of a contact-heavy league to begin with. Only one batter in the NL struck out more than 100 times that year. That’s the context, but I’m not sure it makes Lombardi’s strikeout total of SIX any less impressive. That over 352 plate appearances, brother.
Wikipedia says: “The highlight of the season was the first night game in Major League baseball history when the Reds behind the arm of Paul Derringer prevailed over the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 under the lights at Crosley Field in Cincinnati.”
Uniform notes: The Reds have paradoxical on-again, off-again relationship with the color blue. And while blue had been featured in the uniforms prior to 1935, this season included two firsts: the first time blue had been used on the bill of the cap as a contrast to the hat’s primary color and the first time the Red Stockings wore stirrups that were predominantly blue (apparently for road games only).
My fashion-conscious, non-baseball-fan tween of a daughter says: “Did it turn gray? Why would it be gray? There’s no front thing (ed. note: in this case, no front thing means there’s a lack of a team logo on the front of the jersey).”
So, who wore it better?
This poll is closed