Eric Davis and Barry Larkin were on a team that wasn't expected to win but shocked the world. They see no reason the 2016 Reds can't do the same thing.
The Reds finished fifth in the NL West in 1989 with a 75-87 but went wire-to-wire to win the West and upset the Oakland A's in the World Series.
As Joey Votto said, "Like the Bob Dylan song Times they are a changing."
Davis and Larkin agree that the Reds have talent and may be as hungry as that 1990 squad. Not only are the Reds pair working with the young major leaguers, their 1990 manager Lou Piniella is here too. After a few seasons, working with minor league players, Davis and Larkin are working with the younger talent with the Reds.
"When Lou is around, excitement starts to happen," Davis said.
The former World Champions want these talented players to think like winners.
Davis recalled his teammate Randy Myers in a preseason interview in Plant City, Florida 26 years ago.
"Randy told people in an interview that the Reds were going to win the first 14 games, go wire-to-wire and win the World Series. People laughed at him," Davis said.
"That's exactly what we did," Larkin added although the team actually won the first nine games.
"Even though we have young guys, it's not etched in stone that we finish last," Davis said.
Larkin doesn't like to use the word rebuild.
"Expectations are whatever they are," Larkin said. "Every year you're trying to build something. Rebuild? Trading away some pieces, getting some pieces back, that's how you stay competitive. If you get rid of Joey (Votto), you get rid of Jay (Bruce), you get rid of Brandon (Phillips), O.K. that's a total rebuild. There;s nothing wrong. Just because we have a lot of new faces, doesn't mean we have to come in last place. There is a negative connotation to rebuild. Rebuild means we're going to get our tails kicked. You know, we're going to accept the fact we're going to lose? No, let's just accept the fact that we're going to be competitive. Let;s accept that fact that we're going out to try to win ballgames. If we're short, the difference is we go out and get beat, we can live with it but if we beat ourselves, it's unacceptable."
Davis nodded in agreement.
"I'm the same word. I don't really use the world. Everybody's starting somewhere. I look at it as an opportunity to show what they can do, put their names on the map, establish yourself as a major leaguer," Davis said. "If you don't perform, it's a rebuild. If they do perform, you're in contention. That's how I look at it. It is an opportunity whether you have old guys or young guys."
After the interview, Larkin went out on the big fields behind the clubhouse and worked with Jay Bruce, not one of the younger guys for a half hour as if to prove Davis' last point.