After being up two games to none against the San Francisco Giants, then losing three straight games at home in Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati Reds fans and team members were left with a bitter taste in their mouths at the end of last season. Long-suffering followers of the Cincinnati club had built up high hopes after their team plowed through the regular season by winning 97 games on their way to the National League Central Division title.
"I've never had heartbreak in my life," the first baseman said. "That's the first time I actually felt pretty whipped from something. I thought we were going to keep going. For us to get knocked out like that I couldn't even talk about it for a good bit. I still haven't spoken about it. I have no interest in speaking about it.
"It was so upsetting and so frustrating," Votto added. "To have it in our grasp and have it fall through is just so disappointing."
But now that the calendar has turned over to 2013, it's time for everyone to forget about the past and look to the future.
The Reds have made some moves during the offseason to solidify both their everyday lineup and their pitching staff. The addition of Shin-Soo Choo should greatly improve what had been a concern at the leadoff spot in the batting order. The bench has likely been upgraded with Jack Hannahan and Jason Donald. Also, overpowering Aroldis Chapman will move from the bullpen to the starting rotation.
But perhaps most importantly, Votto should return to full health after suffering a knee injury during the 2012 season.
On paper at least, the Reds look to be even better in 2013 than they were last season. And despite the bad taste left in the mouths of fans, last season was pretty good.
I was wearing my Reds jacket a few days ago and ran into a fellow fan. "Man, they just broke my heart with that playoff loss," the man said. That's a feeling many of us had.
But when we take the time to look back at the last two decades, the 2012 season gave Cincinnati fans more to be thankful for than to regret.
Hopefully, the New Year will bring with it another season filled with wins and hope.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. Please check out RacingWithRich.com for NASCAR news and views plus Ryan Dungey and KTM Look to Build on 2012 American Success