Much has changed since Reds last saw playoffs
When last we saw the Cincinnati Reds in the postseason, we weren't tracking news on Twitter, poking each other on Facebook or listening to our iPods (and if we were, many of us would have been listening to TLC's "Creep"). oh, sure, some had cell phones way back in that Stone Age known as 1995. but raising the device to one's ear was the equivalent of a light weight-lifting session. Yes, the world operated differently in those days. back then, you might have called up an Internet article such as this one on the Netscape browser on your Windows '95 operating system, but you could prepare dinner in the time it took the page to load (or at least it sure felt that way). while Davey Johnson's Reds were laying claim to a National League Central title — the first title in the division's history — we were taking the kids to see "Toy Story" or cracking jokes about Hugh Grant. Yes, it's been that long since Cincinnati tasted champagne. It was, in fact, the longest drought ended by any 2010 playoff club. How long has it been? well, let's take a trip in the time machine and remember what the world was like when the Reds last ventured into October: • MLB's season was shortened to 144 games in 1995, thanks to the players' strike that had begun in August 2004. The strike forced a bizarre Spring Training in which replacement players prepared for the season proper. The day before the scheduled start of the season — and 232 days after the strike began — the labor stoppage ended thanks to an injunction issued against the owners by federal judge Sonia Sotomayor, who is now on the Supreme Court. • The end of the strike opened the door to an 18-win season for Pete Schourek, potent production from Ron Gant (29 homers) and Reggie Sanders (28), and a runaway division title for the Reds, who beat out the Astros by nine games in the Central. A victory in the inaugural Division Series round of the playoffs followed, before the Reds met their demise when swept by the Braves in the NLCS. The Braves then went on to beat the Indians in the World Series, another bummer for the Buckeye State. • Think the baseball work stoppage was bad? that was nothing compared with the U.S. federal government partially shutting down twice in two months because of disputes over the federal budget. It was bill Clinton vs. Newt Gingrich and the "Contract with America." Nearly 800,000 federal employees were on furlough for six days before a compromise was reached. but another dispute over financial forecasts arose mere weeks later, and 260,000 government employees spent the holiday season sans paycheck. • Neither the baseball nor government shutdowns dragged out longer than the legal proceedings involving OJ Simpson, following the death of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ronald Goldman in June 1994. O.J. was innocent until proven guilty, and then innocent and assumed guilty. his double-murder trial, which began in January 1995 and was broadcast daily on Court TV, captivated a nation. It was better than anything currently airing on SOAPnet. in fact, the "Trial of the Century" enlightened many on the procedures, policies and potholes of our criminal justice system and triggered heated debates on race. Simpson was acquitted in '95, only to be found liable for the deaths in an ensuing civil suit in '97 and later convicted on unrelated armed robbery and kidnapping charges in 2007. he still hasn't unearthed the "real killers," as promised. • Simpson would never again be known primarily for his football career. but football moved on, all the same. The Super Bowl was a California clash between the 49ers and the Chargers, set in Miami. The 49ers, led by quarterback Steve Young, dominated to the tune of a 49-26 final score. Kathie Lee Gifford sang the "Star-Spangled Banner," for some reason. The halftime show featured an actor playing Indiana Jones, recovering the Vince Lombardi Trophy from the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. It ended with Tony Bennett, Patti LaBelle, Arturo Sandoval and the Miami Sound Machine singing "Can You Feel the Love Tonight." (At this point, it probably is worth mentioning that the preceding two sentences are entirely factual and not some bizarre dream brought on by a bad late-night taco.) • Jerry Seinfeld was in the crowd for that Super Bowl. well, not actually in the crowd, but his character on "Seinfeld" was there in the great "Label Maker" episode, seated next to Newman. Jerry, you'll remember, had originally given his tickets to his dentist, Tim Whatley. but when Whatley was unsuccessful in his bid to bring Elaine to the big event (with ulterior motives, no doubt), he gave the tickets back. this was just one of many great "Seinfeld" episodes in 1995 — the year Kramer's first name was revealed to be Cosmo, George got engaged to Susan, Elaine dated "The Maestro," Jerry was immortalized in fusilli form and "The Soup Nazi" became a legend. • Speaking of legends, we lost a few in '95, including Mickey Mantle, Howard Cosell, Lana Turner, Jerry Garcia, Ginger Rogers and Howard Cosell. The pop culture world was shocked when Latin singer Selena was gunned down by a crazed fan, and the political world was shocked when Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated. • in the U.S., the biggest shock came when a massive bomb inside a moving van parked on the basement level of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City exploded, killing 169 men, women and children. It was, at the time, the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Timothy McVeigh was charged with 11 federal offenses and later convicted and executed. • Distractions from such sadness came from the sporting world, where Michael Jordan returned to the Bulls after his oh-so-brief sojourn into Minor League baseball; the music world, where the likes of Alanis Morisette, Shania Twain, the Goo Goo Dolls, Mariah Carey and Seal ruled the radio, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opened in Cleveland; and the movie world, where "Die Hard with a Vengeance," "Apollo 13," "GoldenEye" and "Batman Forever" were some of the top grossers on the silver screen. • And this was back when we didn't watch games or movies or download songs on our computers. The Internet was just beginning to seep into our everyday lives in '95. no wonder it's the year eBay was founded. If all the above don't provide enough perspective, then just remember that the guy whose walkoff homer sealed the Reds' NL Central title last week, Jay Bruce, was just 8 years old the last time the Reds made it this far. so enjoy the ride, Reds fans, and here's hoping the next wait isn't nearly as long.