Monday, August 5, 2013

Time to put up or shut up for Reds

by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

I’m writing this from the point of a passionate Reds fan who is deeply disturbed over the events of the past weekend, allow me to explain.

The definition of a coward is a person who lacks the courage to do or endure dangerous or unpleasant things. What I saw this past weekend was baseball’s version of cowardice. The St. Louis Cardinals pillaged the village, causing mass mayhem in the process. Our heroes offered passive resistance with a meager win on Saturday. The Queen City may never recover. It’s a good thing this Reds team wasn’t around during World War II; we may be speaking German or Japanese right now.

Iconic Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman said it best on Friday night when he stated that St. Louis KNEW they could beat Cincinnati, the Reds hoped they could beat the Cardinals. Hoped they could beat the Cardinals???? Even the woeful 61 – 101 1982 Reds knew they could beat somebody.

The “softball” answer is well they tried. Realism tells me this is just a mediocre team that took advantage of a cupcake heavy first half of the season and eked out 61 wins in 112 games. This is sickening. This is disgusting. This is frustrating.

Who’s to blame? The pitching has been solid despite this past weekend’s debacle. The defense has been great, even brilliant at times. Apparently, the Reds mauling of San Francisco lulled us into the false hope that the offense has turned it around only to get a cold slap of reality the past nine games. This offense offends.

Joey Votto, the Reds number three hitter, has 17 home runs and 52 RBI’s. The season’s nearly two-thirds gone and the number three hitter has ONLY 52 RBI’s? Are you kidding me? Let’s examine this, I’m not blaming Votto, it’s just he hasn’t gotten much of a chance to be productive with a huge void in the number two slot in the line-up. Shin-Soo Choo has given the Reds a needed boost at the leadoff spot, but when he leads the game off with a single; he usually gets eliminated by a double play. Brandon Phillips has been a decent cleanup hitter, although I’d like to see his average higher. Jay Bruce has hit well since early May. Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart have been nonexistent this season. Devin Mesoraco is hitting better since the All – Star break. Conventional wisdom says not to do it, but why not put Mesoraco in the number 2 spot. What can it hurt?

Case in point, Saturday’s game, the Reds loaded the bases in the seventh inning with none out and a real chance to put the game away. Jay Bruce strikes out, Derrick Robinson pops out on the first pitch, and Zack Cozart strikes out on a pitch he couldn’t hit with a two by four. Utterly disgusting! Fortunately our beloved Reds rose to the challenge and hit two homers in the eighth to ice the game.

One difference from this year’s team compared to last years is swagger. Last year’s team was loaded with it. Nothing seemed to intimidate the Reds last season especially those mean ol’ bully’s from the Mississippi River. It seems this year’s team has the attitude that if we show up the other team will wilt in our greatness, hasn’t happened yet.

The other is team leadership. I have yet to see anyone put this team on his shoulders. Last year was Ryan Ludwick, who rose to the occasion when Votto went down for six weeks. If his hot streak would have continued into September, he would have gotten some serious consideration for M.V.P. Ludwick’s been out since opening day and who has rose up to fill his void – ABSOLUTELY NO ONE!

Fortunately, there’s still time. Eight weeks left in the season is an eternity; there’s no reason why the Reds shouldn’t win at least 30 of the 50 games left. To match last season’s record, the Reds need to win 36 of the final 50 games. Unless they rise to the challenge, a second straight division title and the playoffs are going to be just a dream. If our Reds can accomplish this task and make the playoffs, I’ll gladly write an apology. In closing I ask the Reds players to PROVE ME WRONG!!!

Dan Howard

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with the comment about the lost swagger. I love Brandon Phillips but he has done little or nothing at the plate in the last two months and then added to the negative vibe with his comments about Votto's contract. Is he still hurt? With so little production from Frazier, who helped carry the Reds when Votto went down last year, Cozart, and the left field spot, Phillips needs to make the difference.