‘The Future is Now’ motto for Reds’ players, organizationPublished 12:33am Monday, April 1, 2013
I remember reading about the philosophy of a former NFL head coach named George Allen who was credited with saying, “The future is now.”
Allen took over the Washington Redskins in 1971 and led them to the playoffs, the first time that had happened in more than two decades.
After a series of trades for veteran players, the Redskins reached the Super Bowl only to lose to the unbeaten Miami Dolphins 14-7.
Allen coached the Redskins for seven years. More than half the players on his teams were over the age of 30. They earned the nickname “The Over-the-Hill Gang.”
Listening to Cincinnati Reds’ general manager Walt Jocketty and others gives a person the feeling that Allen might be dead, but not his spirit or philosophy, at least in part.
The Reds were a team that had not had a winning record in nine years, then turned it around by winning more than 90 games in two of the past three seasons and reaching the postseason in 2010 and 2012 when they were the Central Division champions only to blow a 2-0 game lead in the National League Division Series and lose the series to San Francisco.
“We’re a team that’s built for now. We’re built to win now,” said Jocketty.
Unlike Allen and the Redskins, the Reds have only eight players past the age of 30 and the oldest is starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo, who is 36. There is an excellent mixture of youth, age and experience.
It all translates into good starting pitching, a strong bullpen, solid defense, speed and plenty of hitting.
Prior to 2010, the Reds last postseason appearance was in 1995. After getting a taste of winning and making the playoffs, Cincinnati players have taken on a new attitude that they won’t be satisfied with just playing well and entertaining the fans.
“All 25 guys in the locker room want to win,” said pitcher Homer Bailey who won’t be 27 until May 3.
“Back (a few years ago) there were guys who had their own agendas. It’s different when the team’s attitude is ‘we’re here to win.’ We hold ourselves accountable.”
And when Bailey says the players hold each other accountable, he said there is no one immune to the team’s standards including former National League MVP Joey Votto.
“If Joey does something wrong, somebody is going to tell him if he’s done something wrong. Nobody is above it. I’m no different than them. Bronson is no different. As a team, we hold each other accountable.”
The Reds have remained intact this year with a few changes such as the acquisition of Shin-Soo Choo to play centerfield and give the team a true leadoff batter. Choo replaces Drew Stubbs who went to Cleveland in the trade to bring Choo to Cincinnati.
Cincinnati tinkered with making flame-throwing left-hander Aroldis Chapman a starter after a sensational season last year as the team’s closer. But after a few starts in spring training, Chapman requested a return to the bullpen and the Reds were happy to reverse their decision.
It was all in the interest of making this not just a contender for the playoffs, but challengers for the world championship.
“We’re not talking about being competitive. We’re talking about winning. The Castellinis (team owners) have done a good job of that. It’s not just one or two people, it’s the Reds’ organization. Everyone is held accountable,” said Bailey.
If Cincinnati can live up to “the future is now,” maybe they can bring back a piece of the past such as the 1990 world championship.
And just remember Reds’ players. Not only are you holding each other accountable this year, so are the fans.
Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.