Time and time again, this franchise has gotten off to a nice early start; nice enough to just draw the fans in....message board traffic increases, Reds hats start showing up in remote locations like Jacksonville, FL; Des Moines, IA; and Phoenix, AZ. It is as if it is not so embarrassing to claim the Redlegs as your team of choice. Hope....ever-so-dangerous as it may be, can envelop a hungry fanbase. I daresay Mistress Hope is springing eternal in the human breast of many a Red fan right now.
Not many Reds Fans predicted a division championship or even a wildcard showing out of this bunch. There really was no reason to do so - sure, we have some offensive ability, but our rotation is littered with the likes of Eric Milton and Dave Williams; the latter a guy who has caused Reds fans to clamour for the return of Paul Wilson.
We have a guy closing games who might not even make the middle relief staff of many good teams. We pay Rick White money to pitch for us. A lot of money. If the wind is in my favor, I could beat a Chris Hammond fastball to the plate and, I can assure you all I could not effectively set up a changeup.
We had a 2-3 west coast roadtrip vs. a couple of teams who are outplaying expectations (not unlike the Reds). Came home and were within a miraculous JR blast from losing a 3 game series to the pitiful Nats and were swept by the Phils. The one thing we thought upon which we could depend, our offense, has mysteriously gone missing. David Freaking Williams gave us 8 innings of one run baseball and LOST. This is a guy who has earned a win in a game in which he gave up 5 runs in 5 innings. He had a 7.85 ERA entering yesterday's game.
Brandon Claussen pitched a beaut' today and still could not deliver a win. We've scored something like 2 runs in our last 21 innings. The aforementioned game in which JR came up BIG in the 12th saw the Reds totally helpless against Zach Duke. 'Course...we all thought that would create some real momentum. Not so.
When we're scoring runs, our pitching is sub-par. When our pitching is nails, we cannot score. Our bullpen compares favorably to maybe 3-5 NL teams.
We're 1 game out of first in mid-May, with a 23-15 record that, despite recent failures, is still something that any Reds' fan polled in early April would have been thrilled to have. Question is, are the Reds toying with us again? Is it just a matter of time before Bronson Arroyo returns to earth, our starting pitching collapses entirely, Weathers blows those borderline saves, Brandon Phillips becomes the guy with whom the Indians were willing to part for a bottle of wine, and Kearns/JR fall victim to more injuries? Or...is this the coming of age for Kearns/Phillips/Arroyo? Is Harang/Arroyo/Claussen a formidable front 3? Will JR stay healthy? Is Felipe as good as he's been? Is it the case that our hitting and pitching will finally synchronize?
Something tells me that we're going to be a force to be reckoned with this season. I certainly would not be surprised if I am wrong.