I have been a Reds fan a long time so I'm not going to let the current mess ruin the season - I'm just going to change gears from expecting to win to looking for things I can root for.
Watch for Jocketty as he maneuvers things around. This is a slow watch but this team is so bad I don't care who Walt trades anymore. What's here hasn't worked for years now. If the losing continues, this team is going to look very, very different after the deadline.
Enjoy Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez. Both are worth watching regardless of how the offense/defense hurts or helps them.
Root on EE and Joey. If there are any pieces of offense left worth hanging on to, its these two. Both are capable of being forces to reckon with. EE is breaking out and Joey starting out.
Harang. I'll appreciate his starts and pitching while he's here which hopefully is for a long time. Dusty said and I paraphrase "Aaron needs to get it going for us" - Huh? He is one of the best hitters on the team when he pitches. The offense is so bad behind him Aaron should bat cleanup in his starts. That is only mildly tongue in cheek. Aaron made maybe 2 mistakes yesterday. The Cubs made him pay. Zambrano made about 33 mistake pitches and the Reds let him off every single time. So, Harang, yes, I'll enjoy watching this kind of pitching in a Reds uni while I can. Maybe Aaron will be the best(peripherals) worst(record-run support) pitcher ever by the time its all over.
Junior - I know his days are numbered. I want to watch these last moments in a Reds uni, the 600th, the sweet swing that IS baseball in motion, the last vestiges of "the kid" glimpsed from time to time in that fading body.
Dunn. Each time Adam comes up now I know I may be watching the end of an era of Reds baseball. The final shards of a shattered dream outfield - Dunn and Kearns and Griffey Jr. Remember when that was going to be one of the great OFs of all time? I see Dunn bat fifth or 6th and all I can think is "Blinded by the Power". I still watch for one of those prodigous blasts but I know his true value each time he reaches base, yet again, with no one behind him to drive him in.
Root like mad for Mike Lincoln, and for Kent Mercker. Hey, if the Reds were in the thick of it maybe I'd wish for younger better arms but let this be the resurrection and the swan song. Two great stories here buried in the muck of a losing team.
Gold from the Mines. Jay Bruce and Homer Bailey. Lesser lights like Janish, Dickerson and Rosales. Step down a level to Chattanooga and see Thompson and company. Watch the raft of talent developing at Dayton and Sarasota. In a bad year you can be forgiven if you tune the radio to a Lookouts game or buy tickets to see the Dragons instead of the Reds. Maybe catch a glimpse of the future. Despite this year's Reds team that future remains bright.
Root for Ks. Unlike hitting, where strikeouts really don't matter, few markers of pitching effectiveness are better than K/9 and BB/Ks. Reds pitchers are gathering Ks by bushel baskets. When was the last time the Reds had so many power pitchers who missed bats? Even Arroyo is K'ing guys. But a game with Volquez for 7, Burton in the 8th and Cordero closing? You have to go back to Rijo and the Nasty boys to see anything like that.
Watch the lineup. Dusty has started tinkering. How far will he go. How long will he keep the same players in the same crazy spots? BP hitting 3 or 4. Dunn 5th or 6th - will he go even lower? Dusty watching. Crazy quotes. Inane lineups. Hey, he adds to the next point.
And sometimes, being the perverse creature I am, its just finding the humor - I mean bad becomes funny at some point. At some point it becomes morbidly comedic when
the bases are loaded with none out and you watch a three pitch K followed by a 1 pitch GIDP and they're scoreless AGAIN. Comedy fans should recognize the genre. The hapless slapstick heroes, the Charlie Browns losing yet again. Finding the comedy is defense against the pain.
I am an optimist but a realist. I can do nothing but accept that I was very wrong about this team's offense. 34 games is no longer early. It's a true indicator of the team's level. I'll still defend the pitching. Given solid defense and some offensive support this staff could compete. The offense is horrendous. It's a case of the sum being much less than the parts. I don't think that's rash or giving up. I just think it's time to pick and choose what to look for outside of winning the division and for the Reds to make moves based on what is best for 2009 and beyond.
SO, what do you look for when the Reds are going really bad? Can you find ways to still enjoy the games? Do you move more to rooting for individuals on the team?