In a few minutes, I’m leaving town, heading to South Carolina for a golf trip with some buddies. Given the state of my golf game, it seems like an appropriate time to reflect upon misery. I’m talking, of course, about the collective misery we’ve all endured as fans of a franchise that hasn’t had a winning season since the Eisenhower administration, or thereabouts.

Golf makes a pretty effective analogy, I’d say. You see, I love golf. Just love it, that’s all. I love being outside, enjoying the game with friends. Even more, I like playing golf alone. In my day job, I deal with people all day long, every day. It’s tiring. Golf allows me an escape where I don’t have to think about everything that’s going on out there in the real world.

On the other hand, golf makes me absolutely miserable much of the time. I don’t get to play often enough to get good at the game, and as anyone who has ever golfed will tell you, you have to practice if you expect to be a decent player. So when I am on the course, it can get pretty frustrating sometimes.

You see where I’m going with this. I’ve spent more than five years writing about the Reds every day here at Redleg Nation. RN is my baby, but I’ve been talking and thinking and agonizing over the Reds for three decades. I’m obsessed with the Cincinnati Reds, addicted to this baseball club. That’s better than being addicted to heroin, but…well, I’m not going to explore that one. I’m afraid what I might discover.

Anyway, I love the Reds, but they’ve made me pretty miserable over the last decade. Management has been like the Keystone Kops, and the play on the field has looked like something out of Romper Room most of the time. The team has been a disaster, and there’s no way to put a polish on that. This has been a terrible franchise.

This spring, we’re all wondering if 2010, finally, will be the year that Reds fans can finally enjoy a season all the way until the end. Heck, I have that hope every spring, and almost every spring I delude myself into thinking that the Reds are better than they are. It doesn’t help when the Peter Gammons-types pick the Reds as their sleeper team every year. (Just once, I’d like to be the favorites instead of the sleeper. Is that too much to ask?)

This year feels different, though. Not because the Reds are poised to be a great team in 2010; they aren’t. They have a shot at a winning record, and if absolutely everything goes right, it isn’t inconceivable that the Reds could hang around in the NL Central race. The Reds are, however, standing at the window of opportunity, and it’s beginning to open. With the young talent that is just coming of age, especially in the pitching department, the Reds are poised on the brink.

Over the next few years, the Reds have a chance to be a special team. Of course, we could’ve said that several times over the last decade, but management has always screwed it up when trying to put the final pieces in place. After suffering through this disastrous decade, I reserve the right to be skeptical that current management will get those final pieces together before that window closes. Reds fans have earned that right to be skeptical.

But I hope. I continue to hope. I’m not asking for much this season. I’ll be happy with 82 wins. Just a simple winning record, as long as it’s combined with personnel decisions that put the Reds in place to be a competitive team next year, and the year after.

Although it would be nice, I’m not asking for a World Series this year. I just don’t want to be miserable any longer. Really, is that too much to ask?

Now…I wonder if Walt Jocketty can do anything about my golf game?