Angi: The Cincinnati Reds and the Nasty Boys

From Cee Angi at The National Pastime Museum on August 28, 2016:

When the Reds won the World Series in 1990, it was a strange mix of accident and intention. In part I of this series, we discussed how Marge Schott both hindered and enabled the franchise through a combination of personal meanness and payroll largess. But the way the team architecture came together had little to do with her and more to do with circumstance.

For four straight years, from 1985 through 1988, the Reds couldn’t quite get out of their own way, finishing second in the National League West each season. That streak came to an end in 1989, as manager-legend Pete Rose’s career was consumed by a fireball of his own making. Forced by circumstance, the Reds cleaned house, bringing both new General Manager Bob Quinn and new Manager Lou Piniella over from the Yankees. There was no major overhaul, though, particularly of the starting rotation that had been problematic in 1989. The duo made several moves that tinkered with the roster, adding outfielders Billy Hatcher and (at midseason) Glenn Braggs, and first-base prospect Hal Morris. There was just one core move, and it proved to be nigh historic, the key to the whole season.

The 1990 Reds got off to a hot start, winning their first nine games, a club record. Though they couldn’t keep that up (no team could, though a few have had longer winning streaks to open the season), it was enough to keep them in first place in the NL West the entire season; they were the first team in a 162-game season to go wire to wire. Look at that accomplishment alone and you’d think they were a dominant team. They weren’t. Their hot start was their saving grace as they played .500 baseball most months, a regression to reality for a team whose rotation was weak, particularly in the second half as Jack Armstrong went from unexpected All-Star Game to commencing a permanent fade back to obscurity. There was, however, one area where the 1990 Reds were the indisputable kings of the season, and that was their bullpen’s ability to strike out their opponents.

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Originally published: August 29, 2016. Last Updated: August 29, 2016.