The Cincinnati Reds won 91 games to capture the Central flag in 2010, besting the St. Louis Cardinals by five games. A big reason the Reds won was Toronto native Joey Votto, who captured the National League's Most Valuable Player award. The Redlegs and Cards were the only two clubs to finish above .500 as the Milwaukee Brewers, Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs finished with 77, 76 and 75 wins respectively. The Pittsburgh Pirates made it 18 straight years without a winning season as they only avoided being the second place team on the scoreboard 57 times. As a point of reference, the 1979 Blue Jays were four games worse so that might give you an indication of how bad things were in Steeltown in 2010. Let's see what baseball's six pack has in store for 2011.
The Cincinnati Reds crack open some cold ones to celebrate their Central Division Championship of a year ago.
It's the biggest division in baseball and it's smack dab in the middle of what learned baseball fans call the senior circuit. Five of the six teams will be looking at former Blue Jays to boost their fortunes in 2010. Guess which team could have the most former Jays on their roster this season? Guess which team doesn't have a former Jay as of now? Which player (not a former Jay!) denied me a free taco five years ago? Who really let the dogs out? And where the hell are my Toronto Star Season Passes already? The answers to most of these questions and more in the Batter's Box 2010 NL Central rundown.
The question is, regarding this two-year gap in Miggy's life ... do you care? Should anyone? And what did you think of the TV spot where Tejada was, as one online columnist put it, baseball's equivalent of "Punk'd"?
"There's a good possibility we may not be as bad as people think we're going to be."-- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa.
So in this fourth annual edition of "The Hunt for a Reds October," let's dig back into the annals of Red Leg lore and "bottom line" it; by comparing the projected 2008 edition of the Reds with their most successful forebears -- the last Reds team to win a title (1990) and the greatest team in franchise history (1975) we can at least more accurately (one would surmise) project whether or not there is a glimmer of hope for the glint of a World Series trophy shining over the Queen City in 2008. Let's see ...
The stars have aligned.
Could this finally be the year?
Ah the Astros. The team that once had the Ryan Express, Mike Scott, Killer-B’s, Terry Puhl (formerly the best hitter Canada produced), Jose Cruz Sr, J.R. Richard, Roger Clemens, Joe Niekro, Billy Wagner, and Joe Morgan. So, where are they today, just 2 full seasons away from their only World Series appearance? Dropping and dropping fast but with some kids in the outfield and catching who give you hope.
Last year, I began my Pirates preview as follows:
In about 2009, the tone of all Pirates previews will have changed. By that time, the tone will either have become noticeably more respectful or will have blown over the fine line between failure and utter despair. The Pirates have not made the playoffs or finished with a .500 record since Barry Bonds played for them.
The Pirates lost 95 games last year, something that they had done only one other time since 1992, when they last made the playoffs under Jim Leyland (and lost the NLCS on Francisco Cabrera's game-winning single in Game 7)...
To say, as many are, that the Pirates look like a team on the way up is not accurate. This is a team still just trying to halt, never mind reverse, terminal blood loss. The way up is the other way.
The 2005 Pirates committed the three cardinal sins of a baseball team. They were bad, colorless and unambitious. But in all three cases, it wasn't as bad as it might seem.
I could write exactly the same phrases this year, and be correct on nearly all accounts. The Pirates lost 95 games, the Pirates were bad, the Pirates were colorless, the Pirates were unambitious. The Pirates are a year closer to (and two years away from breaking) the Phillies' record for most consecutive seasons below .500.
Last season I predicted the Cardinals would cruise to a division title as the NL’s safest bet to qualify for a post-season berth.
They proved to be a tremendous disappointment winning only 83 games.
Playing in baseball’s weakest division, the NL Central, did however allow them to gain entry into the post-season tournament where they managed to win 11 additional games (giving them enough total wins to narrowly miss out on the AL wildcard) and bring home their first World Series title since the Wizard’s first season in St.Louis.
And from the mouths of the sage baseball interpreters, the answer to all of these standards will come: