A World Series championship is always a great achievement for a ball club, and the 2012 Reds would proudly hang a banner for such an honor in Great American Ball Park should they win nine more post-season games. It would be the team's first one since 1990, when they swept the first four games of the Series.
In order for the 2012 World Series championship to match the one from more than two decades ago, the Reds would have to face either Detroit or New York in the fall classic. Beating underdogs like Baltimore or Oakland would not leave as enduring a legacy as 1990's sweep.
Back then, Cincinnati was clearly the underdog, facing the muscle-bound lineup of the Oakland A's. The defending World Series champs were led by manager Tony LaRussa, and their roster was stacked with well-known talent.
Sluggers Mark McGuire and Jose Canseco comprised the heart of the powerful order, which also had Rickey Henderson, Willie McGee, and batting champion Carney Lansford. The pitching rotation featured twenty-game winners Dave Stewart and Bob Welch, and the bullpen had Hall of Fame closer Dennis Eckersley.
The Reds, on the other hand, had few big names in their lineup. All-Star Eric Davis was the cleanup hitter, and young Barry Larkin was the only Hall of Famer on the team, which featured unlikely heroes such as Billy Hatcher, Todd Benzinger, and Chris Sabo. Starter Jose Rijo was the dominant pitcher, earning the honor of Series Most Valuable Player.
The 2012 Reds will be less likely than the '90 team to be called Davids, unless they meet one of the Goliaths of the American League. One of those would be the Tigers, who have superstars in the order as well as on the mound.
Not only did Detroit sign the second-biggest free agent over the winter in Prince Fielder, but they also have the first player to win the Triple Crown since 1967. Because of that feat, third baseman Miguel Cabrera is likely to win the M.V.P. award this year. Staff ace Justin Verlander is considered a Goliath as well, having won the Cy Young award.
Should the Tigers not reach, the other Goliath the Reds could play would be the Yankees. Beating a club that boasts veteran All-Stars as well-known as Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, and Ichiro Suzuki would be almost as memorable as sweeping the A's of McGwire, Canseco and Henderson.
Not so memorable, though by no means undesirable, would be defeating the Orioles or the current A's. Should the Reds play one of these two, Cincinnati would be considered the Goliath. After all, the Reds have more All-Stars than both of those teams combined, including 2010 M.V.P. Joey Votto.
Reds' fans will be thrilled with any World Series championship in 2012, but the thrill would be much sweeter if Cincinnati were to win it as the underdog. That factor is the main reason the 1990 World Series is still considered the greatest single season achievement in the history of Cincinnati baseball.
Doug Poe once delivered newspapers to Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and Tony Perez, three customers who have made him a lifelong fan of the Reds.
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