Angi: Why did the Reds flame out after 1990 World Series?

From Cee Angi at The National Pastime Museum on September 11, 2016:

I often wonder about how the majority of baseball fans would answer this hypothetical: Would you rather your team win a World Series, then miss the postseason for the bulk of the next 25 years, or watch a team that doesn’t win the World Series, but strings together multiple competitive seasons, even postseason appearances, without winning the title?

This hypothetical is poignant when discussing the Cincinnati Reds. In the 1970s, they were a baseball dynasty, the Big Red Machine, reaching the playoffs in six out of 10 seasons, making the World Series four times and winning it twice. In the decade that followed, the Reds never reached the postseason, then suddenly were World Series champions in 1990. In the 25 seasons since, the Reds have just made the postseason four times, haven’t made it back to the World Series, and it seems that the window they had in 2012 and 2013 has been slammed shut.

What’s left is a baseball organization whose one year of success was a sweet aberration couched between periods of disappointment, marred with scandal, and with a front office that could not get out of the way of crazed ownership. Marge Schott had begun damaging the team as soon as she took over in 1984, and she maintained a controlling interest through 1999, a large swath of time for neglect, the lingering repercussions of which were felt long after she was gone. It wasn’t just ineptitude, it was willful chaos—Schott was suspended three times for making racist comments, the team’s doctor resigned in the year that followed the World Series, stating that the budget cuts made it too difficult to provide quality treatment to the players, and front-office employee Tim Sabo was fired, prompting him to sue the Reds for unfair business practices and discrimination and to reveal some of the horrors of working for a miserly, canine-obsessed, corrupt car dealer with Nazi sympathies.

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Originally published: September 12, 2016. Last Updated: September 12, 2016.