This was a relatively popular topic after the 10-6 mark in the first sixteen games. It was lopsided for pretender, but people were generally encouraged.
I'm interested to see if attitudes have changed at all with the Reds putting up an 11-5 record over the second 16 games of the season to get to 21-11 20% of the way through the season.
Personally, I'm still somewhat skeptical just because the starting pitching simply has not given us a reason not to be skeptical. Arroyo, other than his last start, has been terrific, and Harang has been pretty solid as well. After that, it's a mixed bag, with Claussen throwing in a few good outings and some terrible ones, Williams being pretty much horrific every time out (although the team has managed to win with him as the starter, which I think is HUGE), Lizard still being pretty much an unknown, and the hope that Milton can come off the DL and pitch like he did in the Spring and in his first two starts and/or that Wilson can regain the form of '03 and '04 (nothing spectacular, but solid enough).
But I'm certainly much more optimistic about the season-long possibilities for this team than I was sixteen games ago for several reasons: 1) The only test they really have not passed with flying colors was the West Coast roadtrip, and there have been PLENTY of really good Reds teams that simply couldn't win out west. And as ugly as that roadtrip was, a 2-3 roadtrip is never really a disaster. The Houston/St. Louis 4-1 homestand before the West Coast trip was more telling than the 2-3 Colorado/AZ trip IMO. 2) 32 games is getting to be a pretty good sample size. If a team can win 21 games in any 32 game stretch, it's hard to call that a fluke. That doesn't mean that this is a great team or one destined for the playoffs necessarily, but I think we can all agree by this point that this is not a bad Reds team like we've been getting used to seeing. 3) The team has won in Griffey's absence. Now, I know we've all gotten used to Griffey being out. It seems like he's always out. But his injury is minor, and he will be back soon, and you have to think that anything he can give the team will be a net positive over whoever was taking his place in the lineup. Sure, it doesn't always work out this way, but the team should be better once Griffey is back in the lineup.
OK, so what does everyone think? 32 games in, contender or pretender?