Tuesday, August 5, 2003

They didn't need 2 pages


Just 2 words: We're sorry

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They never apologized. The Reds bought two full pages of space in this newspaper Sunday. Not once did they express sorrow for the mess they've made at your taxpayer-funded, new ball-palace expense.

They did allow that the current team has "one of the strongest batting orders in the National League," which was barely true when Aaron Boone and Jose Guillen were still a part of it and is a flat-out whopper now. They proposed they "have immediately improved (the) roster," without explaining how trading your two best players, closer and top lefty in the bullpen for prospects achieved that.

The Reds did reach the inspired conclusion that "pitching will win games." They deduced that "as the year progressed, it became clear that a lack of depth in our pitching staff was keeping us from reaching the next level." The Reds need more pitching. How 'bout that.

They offered this desperate, groveling revelation: "We truly love Cincinnati, the Reds, and our fans. And we look forward to seeing everyone at the ballpark." A club that's run properly would never need to say that.

What the Cincinnati Reds didn't say in their two full pages on Sunday was, "We're sorry."

No mea culpa. Not so much as a whiff of an apology. (For whiffs, go to the batting order of one of the strongest lineups in the NL.)

Sorry for no plan. Unless, of course, the plan was to celebrate Great American Ball Park by firing the manager and the general manager halfway through the inaugural year, then trading four established veterans for a bunch of pitchers known best by Baseball America.

Sorry for the typical small-market deck shuffling. Sorry for looking like we've designated ourselves for Third World assignment, baseball division.

Sorry we stiffed you, fan and taxpayer. Sorry we believed a starting pitching staff with Jimmy Anderson and Jeff Austin would accomplish anything greater than insulting your intelligence. Sorry we didn't pay for Bartolo Colon last year or Elmer Dessens last offseason.

Sorry we watched all that fight displayed by our players in May and June and did nothing but rattle our jewelry. The players deserved better.

Sorry about Felipe Lopez. And Aaron Boone playing second base. And Josias Manzanillo. We're really sorry about Josias Manzanillo.

The road back is not paved with two-page testimonials to your own selfless devotion to the team's cause. It's with being honest about your plight and telling people how you intend to change it.

You want to win? Great. Prove it. Go outside the organization and hire a baseball man. Try Omar Minaya. He's good at making something out of nothing. He's the general manager of the Montreal-San Juan Expos. Go to the commissioner's office. Ask to speak with Sandy Alderson. He built the Oakland teams of the late '80s and early '90s. He knows some things.

Find out what Davey Johnson is doing. Find out if he'd like to do something else. Such as sit in your dugout.

Do all of this. Because if you don't, the next heartfelt letter to loyal fans will be met with something worse than the present nausea: Apathy. Don't pat me on the head, OK? Get me a few established starting pitchers who actually deserve the title.

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E-mail pdaugherty@enquirer.com




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ON THE AIR
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