Saturday, October 18, 2003

Baseball playoffs: The Ex-factor

Reds shine in post-season

The Reds are in the World Series!

No, really! Just look. There's Juan Encarnacion roaming right field. Aaron Boone is at third base. David Wells is starting on the mound, with Gabe White, Felix Heredia and the other guys in the bullpen. Over there on the bench, ready to add to his major-league pinch-hitting record, is utility player Lenny Harris. And in the dugout is the familiar sight of crafty old Jack McKeon managing.

OK, you caught us. They're all former Reds - the lucky ones who got traded to teams that were going places in October besides the den sofa. Of course, those teams probably went somewhere because they nabbed talent from the Reds. The players may have left their hearts in Cincinnati, but they've taken their skills to New York, Boston, Oakland, Florida ...

As the Enquirer's John Fay noted recently, six of the seven players the Reds traded during this season made the playoffs, and all eight playoff teams this year had at least one former Red. In all, 19 former Reds enjoyed postseason play this year.

The New York Yankees can boast six ex-Reds on their roster - most notably Boone, who hit an 11th-inning home run Thursday night to put the Yanks in the Series. Just think of Cincinnati as the Little Apple.

We congratulate those players for their postseason success, even if it's not in a Reds uniform. But with this thumbs-up comes a hearty nose-thumb to Reds management for having let go a lineup that itself could make up a pretty decent playoff team. Some of these trades were economic moves to ease a payroll crunch; some seem sheer miscalculations of talent and team-building.

It's particularly galling to see McKeon, who took over the slumping Marlins and made them champs, leading a team in the World Series. The Reds, you recall, cut Cap'n Jack loose as skipper in 2000, the last time the team came within sniffing distance of the playoffs.

As McKeon told sportswriters during the league championship series, "We could have done this in Cincinnati if they would have left me alone." TV play-by-play announcers seemed to back up his claim, repeatedly praising him for making the right moves at the right times. With the Reds nearing a decision on a new general manager, we hope this is an ability that will soon be back in fashion at Great American Ball Park.

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Baseball playoffs: The Ex-factor
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