>> Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Another interview I participated in, which was posted while I was off teaching and traveling in Japan: The Happy Nappy Bookseller's fantastic series of questions for me and eight other authors of baseball books for kids. Here's my answer to the question, "What playoff loss make your stomach churn the most?"
In 1999 I was living in Cincinnati, and had been following the Reds pretty religiously, getting down to the ballpark whenever I could. They were really great that season. Not a great team like 1927 Yankees great, just a lot of fun, with really terrific chemistry and a knack for coming back late in games and never giving up. Jack McKeon was the manager that year, a crusty old veteran who knew how to get the most out of limited talent, and the team had great years from Mike Cameron, Pokey Reese, Sean Casey, Barry Larkin, Aaron Boone, Dmitri Young, Scott Williamson, and Danny Graves. Not superstars, most of them, but guys with a lot of heart and big hits and pitches at the right moments.
At the end of that season, they finished in a tie with the New York Mets for the Wild Card spot in the playoffs, and there was a one-game tie-breaker played at Riverfront in Cincinnati. After a season of heroics and all-out play, the Reds just didn't have anything left in the tank, losing 5-0 to the Mets at home. It was devastating, but there was the hope that next year, the team might really be something special. Then, in the off-season, the Reds traded half their team to the Seattle Mariners to get Ken Griffey, Jr., and while it was always exciting to see Ken Griffey, Jr. play after that, it felt like the team lost all its chemistry from the year before. Griffey got hurt early and often, the team lost it's heart, and that was really the beginning of the end of Cincinnati's competitiveness for the last decade. But it was that playoff loss that really broke my heart.
You can read the rest of the questions and answers starting with this post. Thanks, Happy Nappy Bookseller!