Pardon the late start. I'm still dealing with the reality that the Reds are good again.
And man, is it refreshing.
"Good," of course, is relative. Despite the seven straight wins and the four-game series sweep of the Cubs, the Reds are still pretty much buried in last place. But if you want to enjoy the way the guys are playing without the cold splash of reality that is the NL Central standings, by all means, have at it.
Because I'm doing the same.
Here's the thing for me: This shouldn't be all that surprising.
Okay, so maybe a four-game romp over the Cubs, even the debilitated, weakened version of the Cubs that showed up this weekend to Great American Ballpark, is a surprise. But the Reds' 3-18 start was primarily a byproduct of their offense starting the season still in mid-winter hibernation.
We knew they'd hit.
And their bullpen has been a strength all season.
If the starting pitching improved from abhorrent to merely sorta-competent, this team was always capable of winning with more frequency.
Which has happened.
The questions now are about whether this is sustainable (no idea), how the front office should react (continue to try to make the team better for next year and beyond, which means listening to all trade offers, but not be desperate enough to pull the trigger on each one), and whether the Reds are closer to actual competitiveness than we might have thought a month ago (maybe.)
I stop short of making any sweeping proclamations about what this refreshing Reds run means. I think we'll have a better idea in a couple of months, if a few nice turns through the rotation can be turned into a few nice months of decent starting pitching (note that the pitching has only needed to be decent for this team to start winning), but it at least feels like things have progressed at least a little.
And suddenly the future is at least a tad bit brighter than it was just a couple of weeks ago.
Here's some stuff....
I like USA Today's Bob Nightengale. Great writer. Been on our show a few times. Knows his baseball.
I like Jim Riggleman.
But can't this decision wait?
Nothing against Riggleman, or his prospects of getting the gig long-term, but if he is the manager next season, shouldn't he get the job after a full-scale search has been conducted? You know, like the one the Reds didn't conduct when they hired Bryan Price?
And shouldn't the next guy be hired with the idea of him being in the job for the next, say, five to ten years? Is Jim Riggleman that guy?
Is there any harm in waiting to hire a full-time skipper until after the season?
Nick Senzel's injury sucks. I have two thoughts. One is this...
The other is encapsulated by a piece I wrote for The Athletic: Injury buys time, but Reds need clear plan for Nick Senzel in 2019.
Do read, would ya?
I confess: I have barely watched much of the World Cup.
There's a simple reason why: We're not in it.
I really, really, got into the World Cup four years ago. I enjoyed the communal aspect of watch parties, including one on Fountain Square. I like it when we're underdogs, which we'll always been globally in soccer. I got into going to the Holy Grail to watch the US Men's National Team and everyone being on the same side.
I looked forward to 2018.
2018 is here, and the US is absent from the proceedings in Russia.
This sucks for those of us whose interest in soccer is aligned with how the national team is doing.
It sucks for the sport in the US. There's a huge, open swath of American sports real estate available right now. The NBA season is over. Baseball has never been a more regional sport. The NFL doesn't really begin until actual games are played. This time on the calendar was begging to be taken over by America's World Cup efforts in Russia.
Instead, I'm trying to convince myself to cheer for Belgium.
Here's some other stuff...
We are nearing a day in which Homer Bailey will no longer appear on lists like this one.
Radio Show: Lots of Reds today, and refreshingly so. ESPN1530, 3:00 - 6:00. 700WLW, 6:00 - 7:00.
We took Crosley to a Reds game. Here's a pic.
(Photo credit: Getty Images)