That is one damn, BIG number. And, it's one with which Reds fans are intimately familiar, even if they don't immediately recognize it, as they have lived and died with that number. Hard as it is to believe, 2,433 is the number of games the Reds have played between the playoff appearances.
Since their unceremonious 1995 postseason exit against the Atlanta Braves, the Reds have played an almost unthinkable 2,433 games! Who could have known that getting swept out of the playoffs by the Braves would mark the beginning of a 15-year playoff drought? Who could have known as we watched in agony as the Braves starting pitchers exposed Reggie Sanders in ways previously unfathomable (10 strikeouts in 16 ABs in the series), that THOSE would be the good old days?
Between postseason appearances, Reds fans have witnessed 1,172 wins, 1,259 losses, and 2 games ending in a tie. They have borne witness to 6 different managers (Ray Knight, Jack McKeon, Bob Boone, Dave Miley, Jerry Narron, and Dusty Baker), 6 different scouting directors (Julian Mock, DeJon Watson, Kasey McKeon, Leland Maddox, Terry Reynolds, and Chris Buckley), 5 different general managers (Jim Bowden, interim tandem Brad Kullman/Leland Maddox, Dan O'Brien, Wayne Krivsky, and Walt Jocketty), 3 different ownership groups (Marge Schott, Carl Lindner, and Robert Castellini), and 2 different ballparks.
Fans have also borne witness to the triumphant return and depressing departure of Eric Davis. They have witnessed the passing of the career of one of the best shortstops in history without a return to the postseason. Ken Griffey Jr. arrived to much fanfare and departed with laments over what might (or even should) have been. Seemingly the entire Boone family has come and gone through the organization since our last taste of postseason glory. Countless careers have begun, while countless others have ended. Fan favorites fought the good fight, but ultimately lost the battle to the march of time before ever reaching the top of the mountain.
During the drought, the organization evolved from an organizational philosophy of spending practically nothing on scouting/player development, choosing instead to plow all the money into the MLB roster, to the more cost effective philosophy of developing homegrown talent through shrewd drafting and aggressive international signings. Maybe the massive future cost that Marge Schott shifted onto the backs of future incarnations of Reds teams with her decision to not invest in scouting has finally been paid in full. Maybe we finally have the right people in the right jobs. Or, maybe the Reds are just benefiting from baseball's version of the Infinite Monkey Theorem, bringing in enough different combinations of players, front office personnel, and owners to finally peck out a baseball masterpiece. Whatever the reason, we have finally emerged from the darkness and into the light.
As the Reds square off with the defending National League champs today, it seems important to be mindful of, and reflect on, the organization's history, if for no other reason than to remind us not to take any of it for granted. I started this blog back in 2007 and after 329 posts, I most definitely hit the wall, which is why I've been on hiatus for the past month or so. Even working through the last prospect write-ups got to be something of a grind, but now I'm back because there's no way I'm missing out on a Red October.
Nothing refreshes the baseball spirit like a postseason season appearance, so hopefully my writer's block is gone. Regardless, I have lived and died with the Reds through the 15-year and 2,433 game drought, as a result I have emerged on the other end a much wiser fan. I now know enough to enjoy it while it lasts, because it isn't guaranteed to come around again anytime soon.
So, wear Red with pride today and lift your voices up in unison to support the hometown nine, but never forget to take time to smell the freshly cut grass.
GO REDS GO!!!!!!!!!!!