This card shows the image of the 2006 Cincinnati Reds. They were a team that had some talent, pulled off a devastating trade with the Red Sox but finished with an 80-82 record.
And that sub .500 team must have watch the 2006 World Series and thought “IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN US!!!!”
Manager Jerry Narron had a Reds team with very little expectations on them. The Cardinals were the reliable Division Champs. The Astros, still in their Division, were the defending NL Champs. And of course the Cubs were loaded with talent.
The Reds had Ken Griffey Jr., but he was injury prone and a shell of his former self. Brandon Phillips, Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Dunn and Austin Kearns were all solid contributors. David Ross, before he became a beloved Dancer with the Stars, actually hit 21 homers and veteran Rich Aurilia added 23 of his own.
The Reds fleeced the Red Sox by sending them Wily Mo Pena in exchange for workhorse Bronson Arroyo who, along with Aaron Harang, made for a nice 1-2 punch in the rotation.
The rest of the rotation stunk and the bullpen was a mess.
The Reds got off to a fast 17-8 start and briefly were in first place in May. After tailing off at the end of May, they went on an 8 game winning streak that put them in first place by themselves on June 8.
But the back and forth nature of the season continued when they went on a 5-12 skid.
Despite playing uninspired ball, they caught a slumping Astros and Cubs team napping and kept in hot pursuit of the Cardinals. By August 24th, they were tied for first again.
Then between August 25th and September 18, they went 6-15, going from dead even in the standings to 7 games back with 12 to play. It was a disastrous run that lay their best chances to win the division to ruins.
But a winning streak and a Cardinals slump pulled the Reds to within 2 1/2 games of first with 5 to play. There was a chance that the Astros, Cardinals and Reds could all finish the season tied.
Alas, the Pirates shutout the Reds over the final two games of the season and the Cardinals won the division with an uninspired 83-78 record.
The Phillies, who finished with a better record, failed to make the playoffs.
Then the Cardinals upset the Padres and Mets in the post season and won the World Series against a disorganized Tigers team.
I can’t help but wonder if they did not go into that slide in late August and early September if this Reds team could have gone far. Who knows? Maybe they mirror the Cardinals and celebrate a World Series title, one finally for Ken Griffey Jr.
Or maybe they get swept by the Padres and a new champion is crowned for 2006.
Either way, this is one of the few times a losing team could watch the World Series and think “That should have been us.”