There's a lot being written these days on the fact that the Reds are only 6-1/2 games out in the division, and speculating on their chances of catching the Cubs/Brewers/Cardinals and capturing the weak NL Central.
Let's face a fact here. This is a team with a starting rotation of Harang, Arroyo, TBA, TBA, and maybe - with an outside chance as the fifth starter - TBA. So we aren't looking at a team like San Diego that has solid pitching and wondering if it has enough offense to catch the D-Backs and hold off the Dodgers and Rockies in the NL West. No, we're looking at a team with Harang, Arroyo, and the Louisville Bats and wondering if they have enough offense to overcome that and make a Cinderella run in a weak division.
That's the BAD NEWS. The GOOD NEWS is that sometimes, this does happen in baseball. In 1978 the Yankees were 14 games behind on July 20 and won the division. In 1995 the Mariners were 13 games behind on August 3 and won the division. In 1973 the Reds were 11 games behind on June 30 and won the division. Every once in a while it just seems like the baseball gods get up one morning and decide to sprinkle some team with fairy dust.
In 2007, the Reds are 6-1/2 games behind. When Pete took over, they were 20 games under .500 and it's taken them two months to get to where they're now only 10 games under .500. For the Reds to win the division, the Cubs, Brewers, and Cardinals have to not just play .500 ball during September, they have to basically have the wheels come off in order for the Reds to have a shot.
That, again, is the BAD NEWS. The corresponding GOOD NEWS is, that's not out of the realm of possibility, especially if there's a team involved that the baseball gods have sprinkled with fairy dust. Cinderella teams always seem to have things like that go their way. And the Reds do have six games left against each of those three teams…but the thing is that if you play a division opponent and go 2-1 in a series, you only pick up one game in the standings, so the Reds need to come up with series sweeps against these guys.
BAD NEWS: The Reds have only swept four series all season.
GOOD NEWS: All of them have been under Pete.
A look at the Reds' remaining schedule for the regular season reveals:
BAD NEWS: The Reds have a three-game series in GABP against the Mets, against whom they lost 3 of 4 last time the two teams met (pun intended), although that was in New York.
GOOD NEWS: They have a four-game series against the Giants (who suck), a three-game series against the Astros (who suck, and who threw in the towel yesterday, firing not only their manager but the GM as well. Coincidence? Or a move orchestrated by the baseball gods to insure that their fairy dust wasn't going to go to waste?), and of course, four games these next three days against perennial NL Central power Pittsburgh. So, the toughest series to win might be the Mets, and other than that, each remaining series provides the Reds with an opportunity to either gain ground on a divisional opponent who is ahead of them in the standings, or fatten up against a losing team.
It's a tough row to hoe, but who knows? If the baseball gods recently watched a rerun of Cinderella, had an overabundance of fairy dust on hand, and spilled a few tons of it on the Reds, we might be seeing one of the greatest Cinderella stories in baseball history shaping up right now. After all…the team that won this “weak” division last year also went on to win the World Series.
We'll know in a week or two. If the Reds get through this week with their current position intact, and then sweep the Mets at GABP Sept. 3-5, look out for these guys.