Looking back at the events of the past year, you might think that the Cincinnati Reds would have been a long shot to contend for anything in 2012. Locked in a division that featured the reigning world champions , the St. Louis Cardinals, along with the always dangerous Milwaukee Brewers and the young Pittsburgh Pirates, the Reds had their work cut out for them before the season even started. Add to that the loss of first baseman Joey Votto, the undisputed team leader, for nearly two months, and Cincy's chances would look bleak in retrospect. To top it all off, manager Dusty Baker found himself out of the dugout and in a hospital room with an irregular heartbeat as September rounded into October. Yet, despite all the seeming obstacles in their way, the Reds defeated the Chicago Cubs on September 20 to become the first team in baseball to punch their ticket to the 2012 playoff party.
With Baker undergoing tests and trying to recover in a Chicago hospital, bench coach Chris Speier watched as his team finished sweeping the Cubs on Thursday afternoon. Fittingly, Votto came off the bench in the seventh inning of this game just in time to drive in the second of five runs in the frame and helping to nail down the victory for Johnny Cueto. These two guys represent that the Reds have to offer, and Votto seems to be back from the injury that, somehow, did not derail Cincinnati's season. A healthy portion of that Votto-less success can be attributed to Cueto, who now stands at 18-6 on the year and is one of the frontrunners for the National League Cy Young Award. Votto won't win any individual hardware this year, but he and his teammates have something bigger in mind, anyway.
It will be fun to see what the Reds do over the next two weeks now that they are assured of a post-season berth. Next up is the division title, which should be theirs within a couple of days (their magic number stands at 2). After that, it could be a horse race with the Washington Nationals to secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Will the Reds go all-out to secure the Majors best record, or will they coast into October? I suppose that it doesn't really matter since the Reds weren't supposed to get this far anyway. Everything they accomplish from here on out might be viewed as gravy, but I want more from this team.
Somehow, I think that Votto, Cueto, Baker and the rest agree with me on this point. Go Reds!
Adam Hughes was raised, and still lives, in rural Indiana. He has been a Cincinnati Reds fan since the early 1980s, when gods like Dan Driessen and Cesar Cedeno roamed the ethereally green Riverfront turf. He thinks that Dusty Baker is the anti-Davey.
- Sports & Recreation
- Cincinnati Reds
- Joey Votto
- Dusty Baker
- Johnny Cueto
- Milwaukee Brewers