It’s been hard to find time for the Cincinnati Reds this year, especially since the trade deadline. As embarrassing losses continue to pile up, my mind is naturally drawn to different things, like an exciting Bengals team or Rings of Power on Amazon (Screw the haters. This show is fantastic). I’ll always be a Reds fan, but fandom gives way to apathy when a joyless product surrenders share of mind to more entertaining competitors. However, as the Reds 2022 season mercifully comes to a conclusion, they’ve become top of mind for me again, because of a number.
While our fascination with 100 is largely due to us having ten fingers on our hands, there is something magical about this number. As a child, the first time I had saved up $100, I felt like the wealthiest man in the world. While hanging out with my nephew (ironically, on our way to a Reds game!), my nephew bragged about how he had just learned to count to 100. Sports analysts often write about the top 100 players in the sport at the beginning of the season. A perfect score on exams would be a 100%.
100 — or its multiples — can be a number to celebrate, underscored by Albert Pujols’ hitting of (now over) 700 home runs, or the few MLB teams that reached 100 wins this year. 100 can also demonstrate depth of disappointment and failure, exemplified by the 2022 Reds. I had a conversation with a coworker about the growing number of “L”s in the Reds’ column, and we found agreement in this thought:
99 losses is just a run-of-the-mill bad season. 100 losses is completely different.
It’s silly and a bit arbitrary that sliding into triple digits makes such a statement, but such is the state of the human psyche. 100 speaks volumes about this organization.
I’ve been a Reds fan my entire life. I’ve seen truly horrible years. I’ve seen failed rebuilds, soul-crushing playoff losses and a Shakespeare soliloquy worth of failed promises of a competitive team to fans. I’m young enough that I’ve never seen a Reds playoff win but old enough to have my share of bitter sports memories.
I’ve experienced a lot watching this team, but I’ve never experienced a season like this. And 100 has become the cherry on top of a sundae that I don’t want to eat ever again.
This 100 comes after an ownership lockout that delayed start of the season and was a bad look for the sport overall.
This 100 comes after the departures of fan favorite players, like Jesse Winker, Eugenio Suarez, Wade Miley, Sonny Gray, Nick Castellanos and most recently, Luis Castillo.
This 100 comes after we were promised that this wasn’t another rebuild. (David Bell even went so far as to say the team was “Getting better in a really weird way.”)
This 100 comes after Phil Castillini put his foot in his mouth with his now infamous “Where ya gonna go?” rant on Opening Day.
This 100 comes after the Reds started 3-22 to begin the year.
This 100 comes after one of our players slapped someone over a Fantasy Football disagreement.
100 losses is the natural conclusion of this season. This baseball sundae gets zero out of five stars. Would not recommend.
Reds fans are now in a very familiar space: Knowing that tough losing seasons are ahead of us as we desperately look to prospects to save us. This time, instead of names like Shed Long, Taylor Trammell and Nick Senzel being thrown out like carrots on sticks, we’re hearing Elly De La Cruz, Matt McLain and Noelvi Marte. For some reason, I’m not as optimistic this time as I was back in 2017.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
On a personal note, I’m saddened at the growing apathy I’m sensing from the Reds’ fandom. After decades of the Reds failing to deliver on promises, people are simply moving on to other things that are more reliable. As a child, I felt joy in watching Reds game. Today’s fans are looking for that same joy in other places.
There’s always next year. Or the year after that. Or the year after that. Or the year after that. The team will eventually be good again and yours truly will be leading the parade back into the ballpark.
But for right now, we are stuck in a moment perfectly captured by one number: 100.