The Cincinnati Reds are not accustomed to such liberties in the race for the National League Central. With a double digit lead heading into the last couple of weeks of the regular season, their magic number is shrinking fast. Still, there are a great deal of things that could get in the way of a Cincinnati Reds parade after the season. Now is the time for them to start thinking like a World Championship team. Here are three things they should be thinking about as they close out the Central:
How can we keep our eyes on the prize?
It would be very easy to take your foot off the gas and suddenly find yourself in the middle of a losing streak. It is very unlikely that the Reds would lose this huge lead, but they could still jeopardize their momentum heading into the postseason. The Reds have a legitimate chance of securing another world title here, so I would hate to see us get prematurely eliminated. Treat every game as though it is important because it is.
How can we improve our lineup?
Although we have a great lineup that is certainly going to score some runs, we still should be looking at the little ways we can maximize our lineup. Something as small as a change in the hitting order could make a huge difference one way or the other sometimes. Tinker a little bit with minor changes and see what works. Hopefully Dusty won't get too wild, but things like his rotation adjustment are not bad ideas to maximize the potential of the lineup.
Start coaching up the youngsters on playoff baseball
The Reds have plenty of young players that have no playoff experience. Now is the time to start talking to them about what they need to know. How does the game change and what are the things to look out for? What will be their primary responsibilities when the playoffs start? How can they help the team the most? All of these are questions they should be exploring with the young guys so that they can be a little more prepared when the real season starts.
If the Reds pay attention to these things, they will be more prepared when the playoffs get started. They have the team to win it all, but they are going to have to play smart and put their best out there night after night. If this season has been indication, I like our chances.
*Southern is a life-long Cincinnati Reds fan that grew up watching Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and the boys dominate the Major Leagues. He longs for those days once again in Cincinnati.
More from this contributor:Five Reasons the Cincinnati Reds Look like Champions in 2012: Fan's Take
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