First off, I have a tremendous respect for your franchise. I'm young enough to not remember my favorite team getting bludgeoned by the Big Red Machine, but old enough to remember what it was like to watch Eric Davis with complete awe. I still have a soft spot for Dusty Baker, and Joey Votto seems like a thoughtful fella. I'm not even going to bring up Mat Latos or his face. No, the Reds are a quality organization with a long, storied history. And I respect the heck out of you.
So this isn't easy to write. I love the uncertainty of the playoffs, the surprises. The best part of the postseason is to find out who the Jeff Weaver or Mark Lemke is going to be. The randomness of it all is what keeps the baseball playoffs so danged interesting. I'm looking forward to watching it all develop.
But me and some of the other folks have been talking, and, well, we need you to lose.
Look, it's not you. I'd feel much more comfortable if you were the Braves or Dodgers or Cardinals. I would feel a lot more comfortable asking those teams to lose. I wouldn't have a problem making demands in those cases. Veiled threats, even. But you deserve a little respect. So this is just a friendly request.
I wish I had something to offer. You probably already have a couple of '87 Topps Barry Larkin cards, and that's basically my net worth. And while I wish I could tell you that the baseball gods would be on your side for a decade if you did this -- that the ghost of the other Billy Hamilton would visit your Billy Hamilton and teach him the secret of hitting .340 -- I can't. I think that would happen. All of it. I'd like to believe this is a just and orderly universe. But I couldn't guarantee anything.
No, this is about doing the right thing. I've come up with a three-point explanation for why you should lose to the Pirates on Tuesday, and I'd like to share this with you now.
Point #1: C'mon, seriously.
This is the main point. C'mon, seriously. C'mon, Reds. Really, I'm not going to do this to every team as the Pirates advance. I just want them to have one of those moments. You know the kind. The kind they get to play on the scoreboard for the next four decades. I want just one of those games for the Pirates and their fans, even if it comes in a losing series. One walk-off, one no-hitter, one … something.
But this moment can't come in a game in which they're eliminated from the playoffs. So, really, this isn't me being obnoxious. It's Bud Selig's fault. It's the tyranny of the second Wild Card. The Pirates need one great memory before they shuffle off, and that's impossible if they lose a one-game playoff.
So c'mon, Reds. Seriously.
Point #2: Dude, c'mon. Dude.
Another strong, if obvious, point in favor of this plan. Because, dude. C'mon, dude. The Pirates. The Pirates. I know you've had just one series win since the '90 World Series, Reds, so it's not like you're rolling in recent success, either. But think of the best moment for the Pirates over the last 20 years. It might be the Francisco Cordova/Ricardo Rincon combined no-hitter. Seriously, that might be it.
Wait, no, the comeback against Billy Wagner. That's it. That's the best Pirates moment since Barry Bonds left. Twenty years, and their single best moment is a July comeback more than a dozen years ago. Their best moment comes from a 100-loss season.
The Pirates lost 12-3 the next day. There was a brief respite from the Pirate, followed by a dramatic deluge of Pirate that lasted several years. They marched Tike Redmen onto the ark during the deluge, two by two, but that was sort of the problem in the first place.
It's probably greedy and unrealistic to expect a championship. But it's not greedy to hope for a moment: a single, defining win. That's all I want from the Pirates, and they can't possibly get it when you're winning the one-game playoff, Reds. That's the dilemma.
Dude. Come on. You can understand that, right? Dude.
Point #3: Seriously, though.
Probably the most unimpeachable point on the list. Seriously, though. Seriously. The Pirates were looking pretty good in 2011, and they completely disintegrated. They looked even better in 2012, and that season exploded into pieces of sad-shrapnel they're still picking out of people to this very day.
An Andrew McCutchen walk-off homer.
A Pedro Alvarez homer into the river with two outs to tie the game.
Starling Marte climbing the wall, reaching over the fence, and taking away a game-winning homer.
I'll even settle for a routine Clint Barmes play to end the game.
Seriously, though. Something. There are a million permutations. You don't have to get no-hit by Francisco Liriano. You don't have to give up four errors in the ninth. Just lose. Do it gracefully, sure. Keep your dignity intact. But we've been talking about this, and most of us think this is the best way.
I liked the second Wild Card because it created severe penalties for teams that couldn't win their division. But no one told me it could potentially hose the Pirates. The Marlins rode their Wild Cards to two championships without one division title, and you're telling me there's no room for the Pirates to have a moment?
We'll get you back, Reds. We'll do you a solid in the future. But for now, c'mon. Seriously. Dude, c'mon, duuuude. Seriously, though. Be the bigger franchise. Help those less fortunate than yourselves. We've been talking, and we're kinda hoping you can look deep into your hearts for this one.
Or, Dusty, if you could just bunt 30 times, that'd be ... cool, cool, you're on it.
Baseball-god-fearin' folks everywhere
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