There’s something to be said about an off-day coming at a very opportune time. I can’t think of a better one than today based on what has transpired in the past couple days in St. Louis. If you followed the outcomes of both those games in particular, I think the majority of you can breathe a collective sigh about now.
Losses happen. Even back-to-back losses. They’ll happen more than once in the course of a season. Minimizing the overall damage is really the key. The hardest part for the “average” fan to accept is that there are 162 games to be played in the course of a Major League Baseball season. It is not a sprint; it is a marathon. It is a battle of attrition. It is surviving the rough spots and persevering even when things may look bleak. The ability of a team to see the “big picture” at a time like this is absolutely critical.
I haven’t written anything to start the baseball season fundamentally on purpose … until now. The first three opponents on the schedule were top-notch, quality foes who most “experts” would consider post-season contenders, if not possibly favorites, to make runs late in the year. Let the list sink in for a moment: the Los Angeles Angels, the Washington Nationals, and the St. Louis Cardinals. Those first two names, in particular, have been repeated almost ad nauseum by the big sports networks. In those series, the Reds took two of three games BOTH TIMES and had realistic opportunity to sweep both series had the extra innings games played a little differently. The biggest single rival the Reds have within the division is the team they just faced: St. Louis. They lost the season series in 2012 with a 7-8 record, including getting pounded in early April with two early series (home and away) that resulted in a 2-4 record against the Redbirds AND 5-8 record through the first 13 games after leaving St. Louis a year ago on April 19th. Through the FIRST NINE GAMES of 2012, the Reds faced three different opponents (two common to this year, coincidentally, in Washington and St. Louis and the other being Miami in the season opening set) with a 3-6 record, only winning two games versus the Marlins and one versus the Cardinals and sinking three straight losses against the Nationals.
History should give some fans perspective, and, perhaps, a better feeling of confidence. The team stands 5-4, a two-game improvement over a year ago at the same time with a harder schedule. They stand tied atop the NL Central with the team that just laid a whooping on them only one day ago. Funny enough, it took a 11-1 trouncing at the hands of the Cardinals in that 4/18 game one year ago (falling 5 games back to that same St. Louis team) that finally awoke the team to head back towards .500 by the month’s end, never fall below .500 after May 3rd again, and propel towards the season of 97 wins we all remember.
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