Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Cincinnati (F)Reds

The "Freds" is a nickname my father has long used to refer to our household's favorite Major League Baseball team, the Cincinnati Reds. "Freds" simply means, "Fu*king Reds" and it's usually accompanied by at least four exclamation points sometimes while smashing a wooden hockey stick on a basketball pole in the backyard after Roy Halladay no-hits them in their first playoff game since 1995. That may or may not have happened.

Or it could stand as an expression on the name Fred and that people and characters named Fred tend to be bumbling dufuses. See: Fred Flintstone. I prefer "Fu*king Reds", but that's the beauty in the nickname. It can exist as clean or dirty at the same time.
Just like Fred Flintstone. Wilma!!

It's applicable for any situation in which the Reds manage to botch a game or it can be used to generalize a long grueling season, which up until last year was most of them. It works in any instance. "What time do the Freds lose today?", or "Who are the Freds losing to today?" or in twitter-speak, "I hate Francisco Cordero so much!!!!! #FReds".

2010 was a mostly Fred-free season. The team won games in every fashion and a magical presence seemed to permeate the locker-room. See: Jay Bruce's walkoff home run to clinch the division in October. That doesn't happen without some Harry Potter voodoo. This year that magic has inexplicably fallen on teams like the Pirates and the Indians. The Reds are dried out.
Maybe we spent it all?

The 2011 Reds, despite a nearly identical roster to 2010, lack that little extra indescribable quality that makes winning baseball teams winning baseball teams. So here we are, Freds again. 50-53 on the season and with the expectations placed on this team in spring training and with the cooky ways they've found to lose games, this may the Freddiest Reds team I've ever seen.

The good news is that there's ten weeks left in the season and the Redlegs are only 5 games out of first place. The National League Central is easily the worst division in baseball and we Reds fans should feel fortunate we're not in the East or West where we'd be a combined 93 games out to the Phillies and Giants (math may be inaccurate). Look at the NFL team Cincinnati has to look forward to and you'll see why we need the Reds to carry us to October.

5 games? Larger deficits have been overcome in shorter amounts of time by dozens of teams. We keep telling ourselves that they haven't played to their potential, that the 2010 Reds are going to show up any week now, that the starters are going to start going later, that the relievers are going to stop blowing leads, that the lineup is going to start delivering with runners in scoring position. The Brewers aren't that good, that the Cardinals lack bullpen, that Larussa is a maniac who does more harm than good, that the Pirates are gonna come back down to earth. That the Reds should waltz to the division title by default.

We keep telling ourselves those things, but it's late July and they're not here yet. Maybe this is our team. Maybe it's not going to get better. Maybe this year we're just back to being the "Freds".

Tell me I'm wrong.