We’re four days into the new Reds season and it feels like there’s been as much to talk about as there was all of last season. Let’s face it, the 2020 Reds had all of the optimism of a contending team with a wide open division, but were not really a fun baseball team. They got off to a slow start, and spent the entire year chomping at the bit to get back in contention. The most notable thing to happen to the Reds in 2020 was the TV announcer dropping a homophobic slur on live television, and that team made the playoffs with a pitcher that won the Cy Young award.
The 2021 Reds are a different animal, though. The lack of an ownership group
willing to spend money with money to spend has cast a lot of doubt on what to expect from this team. As weak as the NL Central was a year ago, it’s been made even weaker this year by some high-profile cuts from the Brewers and the Cubs. The Cardinals took advantage and picked up Nolan Arenado. The Reds did nothing.
The way the season has shaken out so far, the Reds have a lot to prove to a lot of people, and their Opening Day performance didn’t help. For having fans in the stands for the first time in a year and a half, the Reds fell flat on their faces, with their best starting pitcher taking the brunt of the damage. When emotions started to run wild in the second game of the season, the Reds reacted. They reacted in a big way.
Nick Castellanos was the target from the Cardinals’ perspective. After taking exception to a long homer that he hit off of Jack Flaherty on Thursday, the Cardinals appeared to throw at Castellanos in Saturday’s game, which eventually caused a benches-clearing brawl after Castellanos flexed over the pitcher after scoring on a wild pitch. Castellanos was ejected from the game, everyone else involved was permitted to stay in.
Fast forward to today, and MLB handed down a 2-game suspension for Nick Castellanos for his role in the kerfuffle, and a no-game suspension for anyone else. As a Reds fan, this ticks me off of course, but baseball fans and writers reacted the same way, for the most part.
I’m sure David Bell is going to preach to his players to knock all of this off and focus on playing good baseball, and I get that. What if they didn’t knock it off, though? The Reds are playing with a passion that we haven’t seen here in Cincinnati in quite a while. We’ve seen glimpses of it from players here and there, most notably in interactions with the Pirates in 2019, but overall, the Reds have been a pretty blah group of guys going about their business, playing mediocre-to-bad baseball.
The 2021 Reds could be different. The 2021 Reds could be the Reds team that doesn’t take any shit. The team that when a player like that chicken shit on the Cardinals throws at them, they take exception bigger and badder. Suspensions be damned, because you know what? Having that swagger seems to work for the Reds.
I want Nick Castellanos to flex over every pitcher he gets one over on from now until the end of the season. I want to see Jesse Winker running his mouth to every opposing hitter he sees. I want Amir Garrett to strut off of the mound after every swinging K he gets. I want these players to be fired up, because as a fan, I want to be fired up.
It certainly worked for this group over the weekend. After getting embarrassed by the Cardinals, they came back and got mad instead of shying away from the moment. Can you imagine if they played the whole season like that?
It’s no coincidence that the last Reds team that won the World Series is the 1990 Reds. They were known for the bullpen trio of Rob Dibble, Norm Charlton, and Randy Myers, nicknamed the Nasty Boys. They were known for their swagger and braggadocio, too.
We’ve been spending all offseason, and really the better part of the last three decades, trying to figure out what the recipe for the next Reds team to bring home a trophy is. Maybe we didn’t need to change the recipe from the last winning team, and maybe the Reds finally have the ingredients to make it a reality.