Once you weed through the normally-abnormal one-game Wild Card playoff we see in run of the mill seasons, there are eight teams that really, truly make the playoffs each season. Despite the twists and turns baseball has ducked, dodged, dipped, dived, and dodged during the pandemic this year, there are now just eight teams remaining in the playoffs, the first real glimmer of normalcy I think we’ve truly reached this season.
The Cincinnati Reds are, again, not one of those eight teams, something that’s been true in each of the last eight years. This year they got closer than usual to being one, at least, and did so with the kind of roller coaster emotions that at least had us on the edge of our seats down the stretch, which was refreshing.
I usually end up having a hard time moving from the collapse of my team to casually enjoying important games being played by other squads. It’s tough to soak in the pinnacle of the sport knowing that, again, my club simply wasn’t good enough. But the truth of the matter is that playoff baseball at this juncture is mostly damn good entertainment, so here are some tips for how to enjoy the rest of the baseball playoffs as a Reds fan.
Boo the Houston Astros
What’s nearly as fun as pulling for your own team in a big spot?
The core of the Houston club that won a World Series while stealing signs and engaging in other general chicanery is making one last run as a full unit, and it would be a shame if you didn’t remind them of their greatest cheatin-ass foibles in the process.
Celebrate the uniform brilliance of the Oakland Athletics
Whilst booing the Astros in the ALDS, you’ll have the chance to see fashion at its finest, too. Oakland has long been the owners of the single best color tandem in the game, the green/yellow on white a blessing in a game where almost every single team is blue or red.
On top of that, there is no team in any sport who looks as fresh, as clean as Oakland does when they sport their white cleats. Rickey knew. Rickey knows.
Play the ‘at least we’re not the’ game
Play it with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
They’re the most fun one to include here.
Talk about how awesome Francisco Lindor would be on the Reds while watching whatever game you’re watching
It’s hard to envision a more perfect addition to the current Reds club than Francisco Lindor. A 26 year old switch-hitting shortstop in his prime, one with Gold Glove caliber defense at the most important position on the diamond and 35 dinger power in his bat.
He plays for a club that clearly is not going to keep him around long term, so it’s inevitable he gets moved out of Cleveland sooner than later. Therein spawn the dreams.
Lob out absurd trade scenarios. Say them out loud as if the world were listening. Jesse Winker, Jonathan India, and Tony Santillan, who hangs up first?! Do everything in your power to ignore reason, predictability, and the fact that he’ll be a Yankee one way or another and keep that alternate, awesome as heck universe alive inside your brain. It’s therapeutic, I’m well aware.
Lindor ain’t going to end up a Cincinnati Red, but that shouldn’t stop you from dreaming about how fun it would be when it’s the 5th inning, it’s 0-0, there have been 24 combined strikeouts and a half-dozen pitching changes, and A-Rod hasn’t stopped talking about bunting.
Nick Senzel, Jose Garcia, and Tyler Mahle!
Winker, Garcia, and Tejay Antone!
Antone, Mahle, Senzel!
Garcia, Tyler Stephenson, Santillan!
Hunter Greene, Jose Garcia!
Jonathan India, Jesse Winker!
India, Nick Lodolo, Mahle!
WHO HANGS UP FIRST?!?!
Make some queso fundido
If you don’t have time or resources around to make it, just try saying it out loud a couple times, instead.
Ah, queso fundido, you beauty you.
Say ‘screw it’ and watch the ‘Wire to Wire’ video about the 1990 Reds instead
Watch in awe as legs destroyed by original astroturf play a brand of baseball we no longer see. Drool at the excellence that was belt-free uniforms. Find out where Quinones is, smile a the gratuitous shots of Eric Davis and Barry Larkin, and relive the glory that was Chris Sabo’s Rec-Specs.
Hell, it’ll be better than watching the Yankees hit pop-fly dingers in their tiny-ass stadium, at least.
Try to name six members of the Tampa Bay Rays
You can play this in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening, during games, or on any day that ends in ‘Y,’ and it’s still as entertaining as ever.
As a heads-up, like all great baseball franchises these days, they have a Nick, a Hunter, an Austin, and a Tyler leading their charge.
Root like hell for the Miami Marlins
While playing the ‘name the Tampa Bay Rays’ game, you’ll eventually find yourself just making up names by throwing two randomly generated names together. Odds are when you do it won’t be an actual Ray, of course, but there’s a good chance whatever combination you put together played for the 2020 Miami Marlins at one juncture.
They fought through a COVID-19 outbreak, in the process acquiring and rolling out any and every player they could claim off the scrap-heaps of other rosters, in the process giving playing time to such notable former Reds as Chad Wallach, Ryan Lavarnway, Josh A. Smith, Josh D. Smith, Brad Boxberger, Charlie Leibrandt’s son Brandon, Justin Shafer, Smith Smith, Ed Doorframe, Potato Kelly, and others.
They beat the Chicago Cubs, which was wonderful.
There’s nothing particularly tremendous about any of them, which is wonderful.
The deeper into October they go, the more it will likely irk Rob Manfred, which is wonderful.
There would be nothing more emblematic of the chaos that we’ve all lived through this year than seeing the Miami Marlins, these Miami Marlins, dumping Budweisers on their heads from a socially distant 6 feet apart as World Series champions, and damn if I’m not 100% dedicated to rooting for chaos at this juncture.