Unplugging The Big Red Machine
This was the last hurrah for the Big Red Machine, as they would fall off of a cliff and be nearly the worst team in the majors for 1982. Major League Baseball didn't give the Big Red Machine a chance to make a curtain call because of the crazy playoff format in 1981. Although the Reds had the best overall record in all of baseball, they didn't get into the playoffs. The way the playoff format worked, it rewarded teams that were hot at either the start of the season or at the end and punished teams such as the Reds that were consistent throughout. The Reds finished 2nd in both halves of the season.
This was a shell of the team that won back to back World Series in 1975 and 1976 by 1981 anyway. Gone were Sparky Anderson, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, and Cesar Geronimo along with the entire pitching staff. George Foster, Ken Griffey, and Dave Concepcion were the only starters still around. Johnny Bench was still around, but was playing more first base than catcher in '81, and even that was in a back up role.
The Baseball Bunch
I was 8 years old in 1981, this was about the time I started really paying attention to major league baseball. The name Johnny Bench to me has always meant the host of "The Baseball Bunch", more than a hall-of-fame catcher. By the time I started paying attention, he wasn't as good of a player as he once was and was perceived in my 8 year old world to be more important for hosting a TV show than playing baseball. It was a show that could only be on in the early 1980s. It wasn't really that good, and I am not sure if I watched it all that much, but I do always think of the show when Johnny Bench gets mentioned.
|__||FL||217||OF||Paul Householder (or DO 303)||CIN|