Today’s early game was just the perfect matchup. The Cubs and Cardinals met in a 2:20 matinee leaving Reds fans scoreboard watching leading up to game time. And we all were pleasantly welcomed with a 5-4 extra inning Cubs win (and an always satisfying Chris Carpenter debut thwarted) and another digit ticked off that Magic Number counter to the NL Central crown. With the number now 1 we could be seeing the first division clench of the season. That leads me to sum up a feeling I have had for the prior month about this team.
Watching the Reds on TV with the game now in the 5th just tied 1-1 by a Bronson Arroyo base hit, I can tell a difference in the fans at GABP. The electricity is emanating through the TV and getting me excited. This year’s version of the Reds took their lumps in 2010 from the playoff veteran Phillies and learned from them. Collected, focused, and complete this Redlegs team is the most competitive team that has been fielded in Cincinnati since I have been following the team. In the past decade, there were flashes of Reds teams that had talent. But those teams were incomplete, being great offensive powers but not pitching well. Or being good but letting a little winning go to their head and losing sight of the goal. Joey Votto‘s quote that Steve chronicled earlier today is exactly the kind of quote you hear from teams you know that have ‘it’.
I truly believe this team has graduated. Gone are the spunky upstarts with potential replaced by the confident and mature team, complete in all major facets of the game, built to go deep. In 2010, I was a nauseated form of excited at this point in the season. Delirious with the prospects of winning and just getting to the postseason, Reds fans were in full-on ‘happy-to-be-here’ mode. In 2012, I have entered an almost bored holding pattern during the previous 2 weeks with the team. Fully assured a playoff spot and almost certainly assured the division, I grow impatient.
Bring on the postseason!