Reds’ late-season collapse nothing new to fans

Published 7:18 pm Saturday, September 25, 2021

It happens way too often.
The Cincinnati Reds love to tease their fans. They pick a season every so often, play well enough to take over first place or get close, perk fan interest and get large numbers into the ball park, and then make like a cake that falls flat.
In case you didn’t know, one of the reasons a cake falls flat is because it is overbeaten. Hmmm.
Well, the Reds were at it again this season. Not expected to be in the title chase this season, they surprised the baseball world by not only playing well but putting themselves in contention for the Central Division title of the National League.
But, getting swept at home by the first-place Milwaukee Brewers coming out of the All-Star Game break pretty much ended those dreams.
But making the playoffs was well within their grasp and heading into the final month of the season the Reds had the easiest schedule of the other contenders: Padres, Cardinals, Phillies and Mets. And the Cards stepped up with a 12-game winning streak.
Fans were starting to think about ordering playoff tickets. And then reality set in.
Memories of 1964 were coming back. I was 10 and the Reds needed to win just two of their final six games and they were against the Pirates and Phillies at home in friendly, cozy Crosley Field.
The Reds won one game out of five and needed a win in the final game of the season to at least tie the Cardinals for the pennant and force a one-game playoff to be the NL representative to the World Series.
The Cardinals held up their end of the deal with a win and the Reds went against the Phillies who appeared to be in command with a double-digit lead in the standings as late as August before choking so bad not even the Heimlich maneuver could save them.
The odds were in the Reds favor. Final score: Phillies 10, Reds 0.
There have been other examples of the Reds and a late season collapse. Only the 1990 team that was assembled by Pete Rose and managed by Lou Piniella achieved total success with a four-game sweep of the Oakland A’s.
But the Reds are the Reds. Long-time fans are used to this kind of late season swoon. I remember someone stopping me in Bartram’s Grocery to ask about the Reds upcoming season. He was kind of excited but Roger Williams happened to walk by and I yelled at him.
“Roger, he thinks the Reds are going to be good this year. Tell him what’s going to happen.”
Roger grinned and said, “We’re used to the Reds. We know what’s going to happen. We like to watch them, but we aren’t fooled.”
See, it happens way too often and if you take the song “I’ll Cry Instead” by The Beatles and change the lyrics, this season as well as others can be explained in less than two minutes.
Our Fans Will Cry Instead
(Music: Lennon/McCartney)
(Lyrics: Jim Walker)
We had every reason on earth to be glad.
The softest wild card schedule is what we had.
But we began to choke
Our playoff hopes went up in smoke
And our fans will cry instead.

Plenty of hits in our ball bats were still to be swung
But our bullpen could never get the job done.
As the Reds began to slide
David Bell wanted to hide
And our fans will cry instead.

Don’t wanna play when fans can see
That in the clutch I take strike 3
And our pitchers needed to step up
Instead its HRs they served up

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We’ll come back next camp with a much better team
And give our fans some new World Series dreams
But we know how it will go
We’ll start fast and finish slow
And our fans will cry instead.
Jim Walker is the sports editor emeritus of The Ironton Tribune.