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Cincinnati Reds neglect to return to present day after “turn back the clock” game

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Sitting in a reserved coach seat on Amtrak’s Texas Eagle bound for Chicago, Cincinnati Reds third baseman Scott Rolen couldn’t help feeling a bit reflective. It wasn’t that he was consumed by a pennant race entering it’s final weeks, it was the difference upon entering the clubhouse following Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the Astros, he said. Something odd that couldn’t exactly be placed at the moment. Something didn’t feel right.

That “something” has since been explained as a clerical error by Reds marketing staff, failing to formally conclude yesterday’s “Turn Back the Clock” event at Houston’s Minute Made Park by properly issuing an order with the league to return the team to present day. This formality, which Cincinnati front office staff plans to take up with the Commissioner’s office Monday morning, has left the ballclub confined to the late 1880’s.

“I checked the dry erase board for info on our charter flight and it wasn’t there,” said Rolen, who went 1-for-1 as a pinch hitter on Sunday. “Not much was there, just a few chairs and a place to get changed. The team doctor was smoking a cigarette. I asked Joey (Votto) what was going on and that’s when we both realized the only players in the locker room with us were white.”

“I went looking for Miguel Cairo and couldn’t find him,” Votto said. “Nobody had seen him. I was talking to him in the dugout and thought he was behind me when we came through the tunnel.”


Nobody has seen Cairo since.

Same with catcher Ramon Hernandez, shortstop Orlando Cabrera, relief pitchers Aroldis Chapman, Arthur Rhodes and roughly a third of the Reds roster, as Major League Baseball did not integrate until 1947.

Once the time warp issue is resolved, African-American and Latino players should re-appear, hopefully in time for tonight’s 8:10 PM start in Milwaukee.

Thankfully, scheduled starter Homer Bailey is white, so the pitching rotation won’t be immediately effected.

Cincinnati Manager Dusty Baker is perhaps the biggest loss for the team. In his third season as Reds skipper, the three-time National League Manager of the Year has guaranteed the club an above-.500 season for the first time since 2000 and the franchise is poised to claim it’s first NL Central Division title since 1995. Baker was noticeably absent in post-game interviews Sunday. Bench Coach Chris Speier fielded questions during a make-shift press conference next to a barn.

Back-up catcher Corky Miller

“I was left holding the bag,” said Speier, assuming the role of interim manager. “I’m trying to find out what’s happening too, I didn’t have a lot of answers. I’m saying things like ‘hullaballoo’ and ‘druthers’ and I’ve never used words like that before. I didn’t have a lot of time to chew the rag with reporters — there I go again! I have no idea what that expression means.”

For now, the remaining team members struggle in uncomfortable coach seats, fighting for sleep on the Texas Eagle. The hope is that the Commissioner’s office can remedy the error soon enough on Monday so that the Reds can transfer to a charter flight in either St. Louis or Chicago. If not, it’s a late afternoon arrival by train in Milwaukee and a very tired Cincinnati club.

Currently up by 6 games over division rival St. Louis, this space-time hiccup has pitcher Bronson Arroyo noticeably unsettled. “We’ve had a pretty rough September (7 wins-11 losses) without this but we’ve got a good lead in the division,” he said. “Hopefully this series in Milwaukee goes well. It’s going to be interesting. We’ve never played at night. Or have we??? Oh jeez, I don’t know what’s going on anymore.”

This isn’t the first time-travel mishap to threaten a Major League team and nobody more than Rolen needs to be reminded. “I was on that 2009 Blue Jays team [but was traded to the Cincinnati in July] and there isn’t a day I don’t think about it,” Rolen said — referring to the accidental beaming to the future of the Toronto ballclub. This error set off a series of events ending with the entire team being executed by cyborgs, led by evil Emperor Olinnex in 2099.

“They say they transposed a digit and added 90 years by mistake and I don’t know how that even happens but a lot of good men lost their lives because of that,” Rolen said. “I just want to close my eyes and when I wake up, it’s over. I don’t know what year we’re in and I don’t want to know.”

Cincinnati’s Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen and Jonny Gomes

Most likely guesses peg it at 1888. “We didn’t have a particular year in mind with the promotion. We were picking up on something the Astros were doing and put together some uniforms from the era,” said Jeff Litton, Assistant Director of Media Relations for the Reds. “Musty dark blue flannel road jerseys but nobody’s sure if this was the 1876 style or something closer to 1900. All this has made it harder for us to locate the team in the continuum and bring them back home.”

Litton blames the error on timing led on by the distractions of a pennant race. “It was all sort of rushed on our part,” he said. “Believe me, we’ll never make this mistake again.”

These promotional events usually go off without a hitch, notwithstanding the 1986 incident when the Kansas City Royals were lost in a time portal and were never found again. Major League Baseball has yet to issue a statement regarding today’s meeting with Reds front office staff.

Meanwhile, players are coping. “I’m just happy to be here. Hope I can help the ballclub,” said Aaron Harang. “I just want to give it my best shot, and the good Lord willing, things will work out,” proving that some clichés work in any era.

“People in the dining car were talking about Jack the Ripper terrorizing London,” said outfielder Jonny Gomes, who points out the team is not yet the Reds but the Cincinnati Red Stockings. “I had breakfast with someone who works for the Grover Cleveland campaign and he asked me who I planned to vote for, it’s such a hoot. I love the History Channel so I’m really enjoying this.”

“We’re supposed to be in San Diego Friday night and even with a day off Thursday, I don’t see how we make it there in time,” said outfielder Jim Edmonds. “We may have to play a ‘Turn Ahead the Clock’ game to make up time. All I know is, pencil me in. We’ve got a division to win.”

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