Reds reporter: 'If this team makes the playoffs, I’ll jump in the Ohio River'

Wittenmyer & Williams is a weekly point/counterpoint column from Enquirer Reds reporter Gordon Wittenmyer and sports columnist Jason Williams. This week, one of them makes a bold promise if the Reds turns things around and make the playoffs.

Williams: You’re out West with the Reds. Hope you’re having more fun than they are. What the heck is going on with this club? Are the Reds ever going to catch a break?

Wittenmyer: That depends on whether you’re talking about bones or not.

Williams: Haha.

Wittenmyer: I’m starting to wonder just how good this team is. When TJ Friedl went out with a broken thumb six days after he got back from a broken wrist, it probably summed up the way this whole season has been so far for the Reds.

Williams: There’s a difference between bad luck and whether a team is good or not.

Wittenmyer: Right. They were the worst-hitting team in the majors going into this road trip. And now that they’ve started to hit a little, they’re not holding leads. Their base running has looked awful, especially lately. And after their only All-Star – Alexis Diaz – blew the save Monday, they were in last place. I’m not sure what would make anyone think that this is a playoff team.

Williams: It isn’t with the roster right now. They’re going to get some guys back in about six weeks.

Wittenmyer: That’s way too little, way too late.

Williams: Well, if you’ll let me finish, that’s where Nick Krall comes in. As I’ve been saying, the Reds need to make a move now. That helps bridge things to getting some of those guys back, including Friedl and Noelvi Marte. That doesn’t count Matt McLain, who the Reds keep saying is coming back in August. I’ll believe that when I see it. Meanwhile, their starters look like a playoff rotation. And as long as they pitch, they have a chance.

Wittenmyer: The rotation’s doing a great job, no doubt. But you also need a bullpen to be a playoff contender. And that has not looked good lately – on top of all the hitting problems.

Williams: Aren’t you the one who always talks about it being a long season?

Wittenmyer: Yeah. And it’s going to feel even longer if this team keeps going the way they are. Look, at some point you have to be honest about it whether it’s us looking at the team or more importantly the Reds bosses looking at the team. I don’t know that you’re wrong for thinking they should try to add somebody. But I’m not sure what is out there right now that would make a difference. And the hole they’re digging is getting deep, fast. Those back-to-back walk-off losses Sunday and Monday dropped them from two games behind in the standings to seven in two weeks. That’s some serious team speed.

Williams: This may end up being a lost season, but I just think it’s too early to determine that. The Reds are making stupid base-running mistakes that have cost them games. Those are fixable. Make those adjustments in their well-documented, daily base-running meeting, which I’m not sure any other team in baseball has.

Wittenmyer: Maybe that’s the problem. They spend so much time on their perpetual green light that they wouldn’t know yellow or red unless it threw them out at second.

Williams: OK. Not a talent issue. The same guys who were running all over teams last season are getting thrown out.

Wittenmyer: That’s right. Because it’s the major leagues.

Reds Jake Fraley (27) swings for the ball during the Reds vs. Diamondbacks game on Wednesday May 8, 2024. The Diamondbacks won the game with a final score of 4-3.
Reds Jake Fraley (27) swings for the ball during the Reds vs. Diamondbacks game on Wednesday May 8, 2024. The Diamondbacks won the game with a final score of 4-3.

Williams: Yep, it’s a matter of adjusting – for the players and coaches. It also might be a matter of them pressing. Jake Fraley acknowledged during the last homestand that it’s natural guys might be pressing “because you care.”

Wittenmyer: So where does that leave us 40-something games into the season with the juggernaut Dodgers coming up for seven games in 11 days and no relief in sight?

Williams: Maybe preaching that it’s a long season should start being my thing. By the end of next weekend, the Reds will be done with the Dodgers and both teams that were in the World Series last year – Arizona and Texas. And the Reds will be done with the AL favorite Orioles, which have the best record in the AL. They’ll be done with the Phillies, who have the best record in baseball. And they’ll also be done with AL West-leading Seattle and San Diego, which is in playoff position right now.

Wittenmyer: Problem is, the Reds might be done by then, too.

Williams: Hard to say that when the Reds have only played three games in their own division.

Wittenmyer: That’s the other thing. You’re treating this like the rest of the schedule will be easy when they’re out of this stretch. But the Brewers have already beaten them in a series. The Cubs look better right now. The division might not be as easy as it looked in March. And they still haven’t played the Braves or the Yankees.

Williams: It’s not even June. You can’t write off a team this early that has talent and has pitched well.

Wittenmyer: Don’t tell me what I can do. You heard it here first: If this team makes the playoffs, I’ll jump in the Ohio River.

Williams: I’m putting that on the calendar, so you better go buy some trunks. Do us all a favor and wear a shirt. I’m going to let Jim Day and Brian Giesenschlag know to be there with a camera crew.

Wittenmyer: Yeah, they’ll be able to catch me sunning myself on the banks. That’s right, no shirt. I won’t have to jump into any water.

Williams: Oh yes, you will. I’m going to hold you to this. I know you remember baseball writer Paul Hoynes having to follow through on his promise to jump in Lake Erie after he wrote off playoff-bound Cleveland as a World Series contender in 2016. He wore a shirt, by the way.

Wittenmyer: Why are you so sure that this team has a playoff run in it?

Williams: I’m not so sure. It’s not even Memorial Day.

Wittenmyer: Right, that’s the day we’ll be memorializing the Reds’ season.

Williams: You sure about that? You’re in Arizona right now. Just look across the field at the Diamondbacks as a good example of a young team not to give up on. Arizona was in first place on July 9 last season. The Diamondbacks then lost 13 of their next 17 games, falling four games back in the standings. Then a week later, they went on a nine-game losing streak and were suddenly 12½ games back in mid-August. They went from 16 games over .500 to a losing record. A young club kept fighting, squeezed into the playoffs by one game and wound up in the World Series. Stuff happens.

Wittenmyer: Well, it is a long season.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Reds beat writer: 'I’ll jump in the Ohio River' if they make playoffs