It's been so long since the Cincinnati Reds were relevant in the National League Central. They haven't made the playoffs since 1995 when Reggie Sanders was their best player and Davey Johnson was their manager. They haven't won a World Championship since 1990 when Jose Rijo was their best player and Lou Piniella was their manager. They haven't been above .500 since 2000 when Ken Griffey was their best player. Since 2001, their place in the standings have been: fifth, third, fifth, fourth, fifth, third, fifth, fifth and fourth. But this year? Yes, the odds are overwhelming that the Cincinnati Reds are going to win the division.
The Fan is ecstatic for the great fans of Cincinnati. These are probably the best baseball fans on earth. And they should be because they have had a lot of practice. The Cincinnati Reds (originally the Redlegs) are one of the oldest teams in baseball with a continence since 1882. And this certainly isn't among the best teams the Reds have ever fielded. This team hardly compares with the Big Red Machine.
This is a team that hardly seems dominant in any facet of the game. Their rotation isn't dominant and when Arroyo is your ace, that's not terrific. Their bullpen isn't dominant. They are good, but not the nasty boys that Lou Piniella fought with. The line up has a superstar in Joey Votto, a future Hall of Fame third baseman, Scott Rolen, who is past his prime, a slick fielding, decent hitting second baseman, a sometimes superstar in the making in Mr. Bruce and good hitting catchers. But the line up isn't without holes. In fairness, they lead the NL in batting average, slugging percentage and OPS. It just doesn't feel like it.
This doesn't seem like a great team. And the Fan has to admit that all year long, this writer kept expecting the Cardinals to roar back to claim the division. But it didn't happen. The Cardinals sputtered on offense and with its bullpen and fell out of it. A win by the Reds over the D-Backs combined with a lost of the Cards to the Cubs pretty much puts the Reds on easy street.
Dusty Baker has been on the receiving end of a lot of abuse over the years. He was the guy that overused Prior and Kerry Wood. He's terrible on pitchers. He doesn't play the young guys. Well, he's gotten the job done this year and should win the Manager of the Year award. The team doesn't look like it's this good. But it is. It's so good that it is going to win the NL Central in a landslide.
Congratulations to all Reds' fans everywhere. Be happy and enjoy this. You deserve it.