Bingo! I Have a Project

Illya Harrell@illya_1971Analyst IIAugust 17, 2009

As my good buddy Cliff Eastham will vouch, we "Featured Columnists" have many a responsibility.  Well, not really.  But we did agree to write three weekly Reds related articles during the season and two a week in the off-season.

Cliff jumped on the roundtable idea.  If only I had been as quick thinking—or an earlier riser.

So here I sit in need of something to get me through the doldrums of the last few weeks and some much needed off-season article ideas. 

I needed a niche, a hook, anything as an easy excuse to bang a quick one out each week.  Last night it hit me.  As I explained in an article written about a month or so ago, I have this odd obsession with the 1986 Cincinnati Reds—probably due to a few reasons. 

It was sort of my last innocent summer...The one before cars and high school.  They had a pretty exciting team.  A nice mixture of youth and vets.

Pete Rose was in his final season as the player/manager.  He continued to manage the club for a couple more years, until his gambling problems were made public to everyone besides his bookies.

Tony Perez was having one last hurrah, go-round at the age of 44.  Davey Concepcion, the only guy to stick with the team after the dismantling of the "Big Red Machine" was in the twilight of his playing days.

But it was the kids who got me excited.  Eric Davis played his first full season.  The guy had the quickest wrists I had ever seen. 

He was Twiggy thin, but could easily launch balls into the second deck of the old Riverfront Stadium.  If I am not mistaking he popped one upper-decker.  A place where less than 10 home run balls landed.

Other young dudes included Kal Daniels, Tracy Jones, Paul O'Neill, and Kurt Stillwell.

But my favorite debuted in the middle of August. 

Barry Larkin ended up playing 19 major league seasons—all with the Reds.  Gold Glove winner at short, Silver Slugger, 12-time All Star, MVP, and World Series Champion.

Larkin will be on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time next year.  Very doubtful he will be a first-ballot guy, but if he isn't in by his fifth year of eligibility, I will consider it criminal.


The Project

If I had thought of this last week it would have worked out perfectly... leading up to Opening Day 2010.

But I didn't so we'll have to deal with it.  Which wont be hard.

There were 34 different players on that 1986 team.  Sometime this week, probably tonight, I will begin profiling each member of that 1986 squad.

After I get the first guy out of the way, the plan is to profile a new member and post the article each Sunday.

Like all of my new ideas, I have lofty aspirations.  Hopefully, I'll be able to get a couple of interviews of some of the minor players.

Kurt Stillwell is a high school golf coach—shouldn't be too much trouble to track down.  Reliever Rob Murphy has something to do with thoroughbreds.  His email address was easy to find. 

So starting tonight or tomorrow Michael Anthony Smith, otherwise known as Mike Smith, the only one of the 34 whose name I did not recognize.  Probably because he only pitched two games in '86, and 49 and two-thirds total innings in his five year career.

Nonetheless, Mike Smith was a part of my favorite team ever and he will get his due profile in the highest regard.

It is my hope, first that I actually keep up with this, and second that you guys and gals enjoy this little project that will take us to opening day of next season.

If I start to slack, someone scream at me, tell me I am a total loser, and that I don't deserve the Featured Columnist position. 

And that Cliff is better looking than me.


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