We’ve waited a long time for this day, and following up one of the best weekends of baseball that Cincinnati has had in a long time, the Reds again delivered for a lot of people out there like us who realize that there’s no guaruntee that your team sits in first at any point.
A thrilling 4-3 victory on Saturday night in the Civil Rights game that ended with a play at the plate followed a hard luck nip and tuck loss that we were on hand for Friday night. Yesterday’s 7-2 victory with Bunny Arroyo going the distance (the 3rd Reds pitcher of the week to do so) served as the cherry on top.
There’s going to be those fans who don’t really know how to handle pulling for a first place team. We’re not used to our boys being the talk of the town. The Reds play their next 14 games against teams that are .500 or worse, so as long as they handle their business they’ve got the opportunity to enjoy a prolonged run with the title belt. That said, there will be doubters.
Mo Egger summed it up with a great post. There will be people who say they’re not for real. I’ll be the first to admit that this team (still with a run differential of -1 run on the season right now) isn’t perfect. I’d rather be lucky then truly good and I’d rather be scrappy then hyped any day. These guys win ugly. They’re grinders, and you have a feeling that the manager at the helm of this now ruddered ship has to like it. They’re first in defense in the National League. They haven’t committed an error in 11 games. Their starter’s ERA for the past week was almost below 2.00.
Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips, and Drew Stubbs haven’t really even begun to hit at this point. Stubbs had a few big hits over the weekend, but who on this team with the exception of Ryan Hanigan and Joey Votto at points has hit a white-hot temperature at the plate? You know, the type of white-hot that allows you to carry an offense for a week? They are a group of streaky hitters that will do that at some point, and when that happens if they get any pitching it could be scary as to the results.
I want to tell readers that I know the Reds are for real, but I can only confirm what I’ve seen and what I believe in my heart of hearts. All I know for sure is that these Reds are going to ‘be there’ all year long. They’re not a last place team and while they might not be a division winner in the NL Central they’ve shown the Cardinals that they’re not going to just roll over and the longer that the Reds remain in or around that top spot in the NL Central the more they’ll feel ownership of it. They’ll take pride in it. They’ll gain confidence. They’ll get a little moxy, as well as a little swagger.
I’ll say it again: this team is going to be in the thick of things in this subpar division all year long. Even if they do that, things most likely come down to how well they finish–as they don’t have the type of group as it stands that will be able to just run away with things. The longer they stay in it, the more likely that ownership goes out and does what truly needs to happen at some point; which is adding a player. Adding a veteran right-handed hitter who can knock in runs and protect the young guys in the lineup. It’s been a long time since the Reds were relevant enough to be adding personnel at the big league level. Of course, that’s not counting the move to add Scott Rolen to the mix last year, which has been great. Rolen is the team leader right now. He takes a lot of pressure off Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips, and Joey Votto. He’s the guy everyone is looking to for the big hit rather than a 23-year old youngster. To a lesser degree, Orlando Cabrera has been one of those guys. But at some point the longer we’re in contention the more the percentages increase that we add a really nice player for the middle of the lineup.
As always it’s a high character group. It always has been, but now that they’re actually winning a little that is going to be talked about in the media. Turds like Baseball Tonight are going to have to start giving the Reds a little serious run-time if we can just hang on a little longer. And who knows, with any luck the Reds can maybe get TWO All-Stars instead of the usual one.
But there’s one thing no one can take away from any of us. For at least one day in this life we live, for one day in the 2010 season we were kings. We’ll see where it gets us from here but you can’t overstate how good it feels. Right now I’m just soaking it in and enjoying it hoping to hang onto the ride for a little longer. Have a look:
First place. It’s a beautiful thing.