The following is about the worst possible scenario we could think of in regards to the Reds' second half of the season. I'd give better odds to you on seeing a pig fly rather than most of it, but as a wise man once said: "stranger things have happened before."
@Redlegs_Review's worst-case scenario:
Imagine every nightmare you've ever had about being a Reds fan. You know, the thought of Joey Votto being dealt to Toronto, Mr. Redlegs without a mustache, or even a shortage of Skyline Chili at a home game. Well, this scenario may prove spookier than all of that combined.
After sitting atop the NL Central standings for most of the first half, the Reds fail to regain that position for the remainder of the season. When it becomes apparent that the Pittsburgh Pirates are destined to win the division, Cincy's focus shifts to grabbing one of the two Wild Card spots in order to sneak into the postseason. Their attempt at achieving that goal, however, fails miserably in every imaginable way possible.
The Reds inexplicably suffer a long losing streak in mid-July and force GM Walt Jocketty to take a desperate measure. In an effort to revive a slumping offense, the Reds acquire an over-the-hill veteran in exchange for a slew of prospects including electrifying shortstop Billy Hamilton. Needless to say, the new addition doesn't produce and neither does any other player on the Reds roster outside of Joey Votto and Johnny Cueto. Drew Stubbs' average dives below the Mendoza Line as he piles up the strike outs, Jay Bruce suffers a power outage and falls victim to a monumental homerless-draught, and Brandon Phillips' appearances on Baseball Tonight's Web Gems see a decline after the happy-go-luck second basemen fails to shake off the pain of being left out of the ASG.
The rookies play like rookies and Bronson Arroyo returns to his 2011 form where he serves up more homers than McDonald's does french fries. Mat Latos struggles with his command and intense arguments break out on Twitter between his loving wife, Dallas, and mean-spirited fans. Aroldis Chapman mysteriously loses juice on his fastball a la Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn in Major League II and employs the services of several female escorts to help get his mojo back. His efforts are in vain, however, as the scantily-clad women run off with his valuables, his swagger, and his chance at a successful individual season. Attendance at GABP dwindles as the season wears on to the point where owner Bob Castellini seriously considers giving away free tickets to every section outside club and scout.
By early-September, the Reds have slid all the way down to fourth place in the standings with the lowly Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros nipping on their heels. A rash of injuries to key players has the team looking more like a minor league club than a big league one. Votto continues to come to the plate with nobody on base and begins to uncharacteristically express his frustration through the media. He has second thoughts about signing a long-term extension before the season and rumors spread that he wants out of Cincinnati if things don't change. Tensions are sky-high in the Queen City at this point and the only thing to help vent those feelings are through the start of Bengals football.
The end of the season mercifully arrives just in time for Dusty Baker's squad as they nearly miss ending up in the NL Central basement thanks to the 'Stros. The proverbial lid finally blows off around the city as fans and the media discuss the grave disappointment of the season that was. The Cardinals win their second world title in a row and prove to the baseball world that Tony La Russa and Albert Pujols weren't as valuable as some were lead to believe. Instead, the baseball Gods just favored them more and it had never been more apparent than the last two years. Former Reds Josh Hamilton, Edwin Encarnacion, and Adam Dunn finish one-two-three in the AL MVP voting. The only solace that Reds fanatics use to help ease the pain of the colossal meltdown is the firing of one Johnnie B. Baker as manager.
@RedlegsWriter's worst-case scenario:
After trailing the surprising Pirates by a game at the break, the Reds are never able to taste the sweet success of first place again. The Reds trade prospects at the deadline to get a leadoff hitter, but he fails to get on-base with any more proclivity than the previous players did. Due to this, Joey Votto’s power numbers are not able to keep up with the other MVP candidates while he also battles a lingering knee issue that seemed deceivingly innocent at the end of the first half. Using only five starters proves too good to be true, as the injury bug finally rears its head and the healthy starters forget how to pitch. The Reds’ lack of organizational depth hurts them badly here as none of the Triple-A options pan out and then they rush Tony Cingrani to the majors only to find he’s unable to duplicate his minor league success this year. Johnny Cueto still has a good season, but doesn’t get the support needed for him to reach 20 wins. Aroldis Chapman does another somersault roll, and as his knee buckles from a torn ACL, he uses his left arm to break his fall only to hurt his shoulder and cost him 2013. Yeah it was a violent roll. Okay, maybe that part was a stretch. Back to reality, the Reds miss the playoffs by one game and somehow Mike Matheny guides the Cardinals to a second consecutive World Series win. I don’t know which of the following endings Reds’ fans on Twitter would find worse.
Ending 1: Dusty Baker is re-signed as manager for another three years.
Ending 2: Dusty Baker does not return as manager and Walt Jocketty hires Tony LaRussa to bring his secret, ultimate vision of St. Louis in the Queen City to fruition.