Brad's Blog - 11/25/13
Failure. The Reds just clinched a 3rd post-season berth in four years and the word still hangs in the balance. If the Reds don't advance beyond the first round that word will rear its ugly head.
The Reds went into spring training with high expectations and national media hype to make the baseball world believe this team should win the Central Division. The Reds believed they were supposed to win the Central. They still might, but with 5 games remaining and trailing the Cardinals by 2, they are a long-shot. At least they are in. They are dancing again. Dancing without celebration. "There's nothing to celebrate, " Brandon Phillips told me before they beat the Mets Monday night. "Been, there, done that. It's all about the ring." He said they've experienced the playoffs but have failed to move on. He told me he's proud of what this team has accomplished,but he wants a World Series title.
The Pirates haven't been dancing in 21years. They celebrated last night. They should. Anything after this for Pittsburgh is gravy. That's how it works with expectations. In Cincinnati the bar has been raised. The second guessing will begin shortly (as if it hasn't already). Strategy will soon become a part of the playoff equation. If the Cards keep winning and clinch the division, Dusty has to make decisions about who to pitch and when, who to rest, and who to keep fresh.
I wrote two weeks ago about my confidence in giving the ball to Mat Latos for the game that has to be won. Dusty gave the indication Monday night he's thinking Cueto will get the ball for that "must-win" game. Baker cited "longer and greater track record" when he talked about Cueto now building his endurance with a 99-pitch performance Monday. The righty has now thrown 12 innings against the Astros and the Mets, allowing just one run on 8 hits.
Dusty's been in Cincinnati for a few days. He knows the lay of the land. He's got a bunch of decisions to make very soon. Choose wisely. If those choices lead him to the next round of the playoffs, the World Series, a Champion, then he becomes the"G" word. If not, well, then there's that "F" word again.
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 23: Shin-Soo Choo #17 of the Cincinnati Reds is congratulated by his teammates after hitting a walk-off double to defeat the New York Mets 3-2 in the 10th inning at Great American Ball Park on September 23, 2013 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)