I heard a veteran baseball fan attempt to preach something the other day that may have sounded nice, but I don’t necessarily believe in:
“Stats and standings don’t matter in baseball until Memorial Day.”
That fan was wrong. That may hold up in New York or Boston where you can go out and get the best player on the market come June or July to catapault you back into a pennant race, but in Cincinnati stuff like that doesn’t happen. You get off to a slow start, and it’s looking to the next season. It’s shopping veterans. It’s Bengals talk. Less and less Skyline Chilli sold at the ballpark and a lot of empty red seats out in the right field moon deck.
Some members of the fan base have listed reasons as to why we shouldn’t panic. Others know better, if we don’t turn things around quickly it’s going to be another season of disappointment.
The Reds return to Cincinnati to start a 6-game homestand where they’ve been markedly better over the past decade. They welcome in a Dodgers team who many have predicted to be a World Series contender and then the Padres over the weekend.
We predict that this homestand will define the rest of the season.
The Reds sit at 5-8 and are currently on a 5-game losing streak. More scary then that is that the Reds could have finished the past road trip 0-7 if not for two games in which the Marlins wasted last at-bat opportunities to win ballgames.
We’re about to find out where the 2010 Reds are at and where the future is headed. This team has to find a way to gut out a 4-2 homestand at the bare minimum to bring the record to .500 before heading to the road again to take on divisional foes Houston and St. Louis.
If the Reds come out flat at home in these six games, they’ll spiral further into the abyss and the talk will continue that Dusty Baker needs replaced before seasons end and that hitting coach Brook Jacoby needs fired.
The Reds are not pitching; they haven’t had a win from a starting pitcher yet. They are the only team in the Major Leagues with that dubious distinction. They aren’t hitting with runners in scoring position. They aren’t getting on base. They’re walking too many of the opposition’s hitters.
If the Reds cannot accomplish a winning homestand, this team is done for the season. Some people might think it’s premature. However, no Reds team that has started 5-8 has ever won the World Series. If you think that’s a lofty goal, the only teams that started 5-8 or worse in Reds history to make the playoffs was the 1995 team. The 1999 team also started 5-8, but of course missed the playoffs by one game. One game that the Reds have already blown could cost them a chance for October meaningful baseball.
But if the Reds don’t show up this homestand, it won’t even be a close shave by late in the year.
The Reds won’t extend Dusty Baker’s contract. Attendance will suffer. Veterans will be shopped, down to guys like Brandon Phillips, Bronson Arroyo, Jonny Gomes and Francisco Cordero.
If you like the current makeup of this Reds roster, and you like rooting for the 9 you see on the field regularly for this team; you need to pull for them hard this upcoming homestand or they’re on borrowed time in a Cincinnati uniform.
If you like King Dusty, you need us to pull out some wins right now.
The young guys have to come through. The veterans have to be in the lineup and get the timely hits; something that no one is doing right now. The Reds have to gut it out and find a way. The season is already at stake and time is ticking away with every out they make and every run they allow to cross the plate.