Entire City Teeters on Game 5


How did we get here? No more than two business days ago, Reds fans were hounding StubHub and making excuses to leave work. Now nearly 7,000 tickets remain for arguably the biggest game in this city in decades and the general consensus surrounding the city is one of disdain and despair.

The fan base has gone the way of the Red Sea. One side accosts Dusty Baker and anyone who didn’t hit a six-run home run to win the game in the 9th. The other desperately encourages positive thoughts and is eager for 1:00pm. No matter which side you stand on, it’s quite evident – there is a whole lot more than just the National League Divisional Series on the line today. We woke up this morning to frost on our cars. A loss today and we’ll wake up tomorrow to the middle of winter. The hearts of this guarded fan base so desperate for a contender and October glory will go into a deep freeze. Dusty Baker will sit on a throne of distrust. The spectrum of emotions surrounding this team is sitting about dead center. A loss today tips the scale in favor for critics and skeptics for the rest of 2012, and probably a large portion of 2013. A win today could savor everything. And at the center of it all is Mat Latos.

Aug 19, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Mat Latos (55) pitches during the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Great American Ball Park. (Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE)

Where were you when you heard about the biggest off-season trade of 2012? I was just getting out of a wedding, in West Virginia. I turned my phone on to a myriad of texts, most of them in utter disbelief at the amount of talented prospects the Reds gave up for Latos. Mat Latos served as this fan base’s whipping boy for the entire first month of the season. Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal received more attention from Reds fans while playing in San Diego than they ever had here. That was until April ended. Then, most people understood.

I had a chance to speak with Mat’s father yesterday at the Grail before the game. He talked to me about that trade. Said San Diego promised Mat they’d build a winner around him. Promised he would be the future of the San Diego Padres.

Mr. Latos said they found out he was traded on Twitter.

Senior Latos likened this city’s fan base to a roller coaster. Hard to argue. The fickle and bi-polar fans of Cincinnati make even the Vortex at Kings Island seem pedestrian. Just check Cincinnati.com after any win. Then check it after any loss. Night meets Day. They don’t get along.

It’s almost as if we’ve come full circle. From the day we found out about the trade back in December to October 11. The Reds paid sticker price for Latos for days like today. Game 5 of the NLDS. Their first trip to the NLCS in 17 years on the line. Talented prospects don’t win you Game 5. Aces do.

Can Mat Latos play Superman just won more time and beat the San Francisco Giants?

We’ll find out soon. One thing is for sure though – the weight of the entire city is resting on his arm.

Sep 22, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Mat Latos (55) pitches during the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Great American Ball Park. (Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE)