Reds baseball is back, folks.
Well, maybe not officially. While Spring Training games don’t count on the record, it’s good to see players wearing the wishbone-C on a baseball diamond once again. And after an unusual winter brought multiple high-caliber free agents and not much snow to Cincinnati, our Redlegs are ready to take the field again.
Hope springs eternal.Alexander Pope
People in the Queen City love the phrase, “Hope Springs Eternal”. We may not know the entire poem, “An Essay On Man” penned by Alexander Pope in the 1730s. We know that one line, though. It reminds older Cincinnatians of their excitement in past springs and how they once saw the Reds be successful. It reminds them that a once cold, barren winter will eventually give way to a sun-soaked field, where they’ll see their nine play again on Opening Day. As baseball returns to Cincinnati’s radio airwaves for the first time since September, it will bring back that warm feeling we had when we first listened to the Reds on radio. That feeling may not be the same for some without Marty Brennaman, but Tommy Thrall will be the voice for a brand new generation of Reds baseball.
The real season is still 33 days away. We have four more weeks to debate how the outfield will be structured, what moves David Bell will make with the bullpen and how the rest of the division will fare this year. While the additions have mostly ended, the hype around these new guys has just started to build. Mike Moustakas, Wade Miley, Shogo Akiyama, Nick Castellanos and Pedro Strop signed deals this year because they wanted to be part of this city’s great baseball culture and the burgeoning dynasty that has been building over the past three years.
In this analytical era of baseball, there are no more position battles during spring training. Just like us fans, most front offices use projections from multiple sites to make their roster decisions. Most of the guys that will be on the 26-man roster won’t play longer than four innings in most of these games. They’re in spring training to get live reps before the season starts. They are trying new stances and pitches. They might just throw fastballs to test their velocity. They may want to try and reach that slider they missed last season. The guys that play in the last five innings may never play in the majors. Baseball, like every other sport, is a cruel business. But for now, hope springs eternal.
So I plead to you, fellow Reds fans: don’t worry if Nick Castellanos doesn’t pick up a ton of hits in Arizona. Don’t fret if Trevor Bauer gives up five home runs. Don’t be alarmed if Mike Moustakas doesn’t make a play at second. It’s their time to ramp up for the season and get better. There will be ample time to worry about what these guys aren’t doing when the season starts March 26th. This is a time to celebrate baseball’s return. This is our time to enjoy the game without the negative consequences of a loss in the standings. There’s no Cactus League trophy to be won. The Commissioner’s Trophy is the real prize, no matter if Rob Manfred thinks it’s “just a piece of metal”. We don’t have to worry about that until October. For now, it’s time to love baseball again.
Hope springs eternal.