Baseball in Cincinnati used to mean more. The fans still love it and throw a parade on opening day. Since 1876, the Reds started every day in Cincinnati except for 1877, 1885, 1888, and 1990. But looking at the sports news, it would be easy to understand if some people started questioning their allegiances.
Cincinnati Reds President Phil Castellini responded to statements about fans saying they would like a change in ownership with angry words. Castellini told fans they needed to accept the Reds had fewer resources than bigger market teams. In the offseason, the Reds dealt pitcher Sonny Gray, outfielder Jesse Winker, third baseman Eugenio Suarez, and reliever Amir Garrett.
The team responded to these changes by tying an MLB record for the worst record through 25 games. Cincinnati began the season 3-22. Here’s a look at some of the other slow starters in league history.
2003 Detriot Tigers
Before the 2003 season began, manager Allan Trammell knew he was entering a no-win situation. Detroit had little talent on the roster and saw some of their best players from the previous season — Juan Acevedo, Randall Simon, and Robert Frick — move on to other places. Not that those guys would have helped.
Like the Reds, Detroit started the season 3-22. Things didn’t get any prettier for the Tigers after that. Detroit would finish the season 43-119, which broke the 1916 Philadelphia Athletics record for most losses in American League history. The Tigers, who lost 17 of their first 18 games, finished one loss short of the 1962 New York Mets’ MLB record for losses in the modern era.
2004 Montreal Expos
While Montreal never reached the mountaintop in professional baseball, the Expos deserved a better swan song than they received. With MLB taking ownership of the team, the league didn’t precisely stock their roster with the best players while waiting to find a new landing spot for the team. Thus the 2004 Expos responded with the same effort MLB put into them.
Montreal started the season 5-20 and finished 67-95. The Expos did have a few notable performances that season. Tony Batista belted 32 home runs and drove in 110 runs. Brad Wilkerson also hit 32 home runs. The Expos moved to Washington the following year.
Cincinnati fans might not be so angry about their current state if they hadn’t been in this situation. The Reds began the 2018 season 5-20. The Reds fought back to finish 67-95 to avoid a 100-loss season. Cincinnati, however, would fold entirely.
The Reds would also discover a few players to help them in the strong seasons they had following the 2018 debacle. Suarez would hit 34 home runs and drive in 104 runs for Cincinnati.
2018 Kansas City Royals
Memories of the Royals’ 2015 World Series crown were solidly in the rear-view mirror by 2018. Kansas City started the 2018 season 5-20 and finished the year 58-104. The Royals would finish the regular season with winning records against two opponents.
Seeing the record plunge had to be disappointing for the Kansas City fans, who had seen the team finish 80-82 the year before. Plus, the 2018 season signaled the Royals’ renaissance of the previous five years was likely over.
Despite the Royals and Reds starting the 2018 season with 5-20 records, neither team earned the dubious honor of finishing with the league’s worst record. The Baltimore Orioles finished with 47 victories to take home that prize. Kansas City went 4-2 against Baltimore and 10-9 against Minnesota.
1995 Florida Marlins
Following the baseball strike in 1994-95, Florida got off to a 5-20 start during the 1995 season. However, this wouldn’t deter the Marlins. The Marlins showed some of the grit that would lead them to the 1997 World Series.
Florida would battle back and go 62-56 over their last 118 games. The Marlins finished the year at 67-76. Jeff Conine belted 25 home runs for the Marlins and drove 105 runs. During his career, John Burkett was a two-time All-Star pitcher who would finish the season with a team-high 14 wins on the mound.