If you have read my brief bio on here, you know that the reason I have such an infatuation with the game of baseball is largely due to the influence of my brother. It didn’t hurt matters that as he was teaching me about the game, the Big Red Machine was gearing up for a pretty incredible run.
Yes, on baseball matters, I was spoiled.
One thing I learned from him was a simple three step “recipe” that can lead to winning: beat the teams you’re supposed to beat, play at least .500 ball on the road, and play well within your division. Take care of those and the rest should fall into place.
It does sound simple, doesn’t it? Well, it is and it’s not a family secret either.
Sep 22, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds players celebrate at the end of the game after clinching the National League central title at Great American Ball Park. The Reds defeated the Dodgers 6-0. (Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE)
2012 has been such a season with the Reds currently holding a record of 92-61. In looking at these three ingredients, here’s is what you would discover for this year’s team.
1. Beat the teams you’re supposed to beat.
In other words, play well against the teams that are under .500. This year’s version of the Reds has done just that in going 55-28 against all opponents that are currently under .500. The only team in this category that fits this bill that had a winning record against the Good Guys is the Minnesota Twins (1-2)…and that was one pitch away from potentially not being the case.
Two teams from this category had a .500 record against the Reds: Cleveland (3-3) and Miami (3-3).
2. Play at least .500 ball on the road.
Check. Currently, the Reds own a 44-31 away record. Even with six away games left on the schedule, the Reds will have at worst a road record of 44-37. A big hump was finally winning in Philadelphia. Another was not falling prey to the “West Coast Swing” (6-5 at SF, LA and SD). They even took two of three at Yankee Stadium.
Yes, there were swept by Cleveland and Milwaukee, but those were also the only two series where the Reds were swept on the road this season.
3. Play well within your division.
This goes without saying. This is the most important ingredient. If you can’t take of business against your division, you will have extreme difficulties winning it. This is as elementary as it gets. For 2012, the Reds are (so far) 44-26 with nine divisional games remaining. Here’s the breakdown for this season…
St. Louis* 6-6
* – Cincy has three games reaming against this team.
There is a chance the Reds could end this season with a less than .500 record agsint both Milwaukee and St. Louis. They will face Milwaukee for three (beginning this evening), then head to Pittsburgh for three, and to St. Louis for the final three games of the regular season.
Side note here. That series in St. Louis should be intriguing to say the least. If the Cards have clinched their wild card by then (and I think they will have it wrapped up by then), and the Reds have the opportunity to take the top seed in the NL, I can see the regulars from both teams getting some rest. If the Reds were the assume the NL’s top seed and the Cards go on to beat Atlanta in the WC game, then the Reds would begin their hunt for a World Series Championship against the defending champs…in St. Louis.
How do you think that would go over in some circles (like Twitter)? Oh the irony over this possibility is already dripping.
Back to the recipe. It has served the Reds (and probably ever other playoff bound team) well in their history. Since divisional play began in 1969, every Reds squad that has achieved postseason status has had these three go in their favor. Even prior to 1969, those Reds teams that made the postseason had over .500 records versus those teams under .500 and played over .500 on the road. Of course, they had a good record against the “division” because the division was, at those times, the entire NL.
I know I’ve heard Chris Welsh mention all of these three on occasion, but they do reflect an almost-to-easy positive trend to detect.