In a stunning and unprecedented move, the Cincinnati Reds, firmly in first place in the NL Central Division for much of the year and currently leading by 8.5 games over the second place St. Louis Cardinals, decided to end their season at the 141 game mark, calling it a day and ceding first place to the Redbirds.

All Star right fielder Jay Bruce was quoted as saying:

“As a team, we got together after yesterday’s loss to Houston, took a long look at ourselves, and decided the fans were right: if we can’t beat the snot out of the worst team in the history of baseball every game, what are we doing out here?  It’s a shame, too. I was really starting to rake and was entering the MVP conversation. Shoot, it’s just as well.  I’m feeling a little slumpy this morning anyway.”

The Nation was in an uproar, despite one of the best records in baseball, and rightfully so. Spokesman for the Nation, RedsFanMaybe said “There’s no way the Pirates don’t sweep us this week.  When informed that the Reds had taken 2 out of 3 from the collapsing Buccos only a month ago, RFM replied,

“That was August, before Joey came back and ruined the clubhouse chemistry. This team was doing fine without him. Why must Dusty constantly tinker with the lineup?”

Fox Sports Ohio reporter and all-around Cincinnati guy Jim Day caught up with Joey Votto, just as he was emptying out his locker and sliding a golf bag over his shoulder:

“You know, it’s probably for the best. My knee was only 85%. I’m a glass half-full kinda fellow, and this gives me a chance to work on my golf game and take a few bucks off Marty Brennaman.”

Said the Famer:

“Joey’s MVP trophy doesn’t mean squat out here on the fairways of Coldstream CC. And were he to get a little lucky–and I’m not saying that will happen–a sand wedge to that left knee is always a possibility.

Thom, load my bag into the trunk and bring the car around.”

Caught off guard by the stunning news that the Reds had quit on the season, Cardinal Chris Carpenter was quoted as saying,

“My son is one confused little boy this morning, and that’s all I’m going to say on the subject.”

Despite deciding to call it a season, the Reds will play the Pirates tonight at 7:10 as scheduled, as a sort of Fan Appreciation Night for a fan base that has had to put up with a lackluster performance for most of 2012.  While a fan poll showed that only 4% of the fan base wanted the season to end, a vocal minority held sway. When it was pointed out by the always effervescent George Grande that the Houston series was an anomaly in a long 162 game season, and that even a team made up of replacement level players would win almost a third of their games, Internets fan RedInAbsentia replied:

“What’s an anomaly? Sorry, not buying it. This team was fading faster than a Paul Daugherty 3-wood. What time do the Bengals kick off tonight?”

In a deeply ironic twist, manager Dusty Baker’s lineup for tonight’s final game will feature Ryan Hanigan batting second and Votto and Jay Bruce batting lefty-lefty in the 3 and 4 spots.  Said Baker:

“It’s what I like to call an Intentional Clog.  If it slows down the game for the fans so they can enjoy one last look at the boys a bit longer, hey man, it’s worth it.”

In related news, it’s been rumored that Great American Ballpark has been sold to an unknown buyer from Blue Ash, who intends to reconstruct the 10 year old ballpark next to the already existing Crosley Field restoration.  Rumor has it that the soon-to-be resurrected park was going to be used for little league games, but Blue Ash city officials feared the fences are simply too close for knothole play.

“We don’t want to ruin the integrity of Knothole Baseball by encouraging cheap home runs,” said an unknown source who refused to be identified.

UPDATE: 12:38pm:  In late breaking news, manager Dusty Baker has reportedly accepted an offer to manage the Boston Red Sox, who fired lame duck and sometimes volatile manager Bobby Valentine only minutes ago.  Said Baker,

“I can’t really discuss the deal.  But, hey man, this Boston clubhouse has a lot of quality guys who don’t quit and are simply misunderstood.  They just need somebody who can get them going, and I think I can do that, big time.”

A date for the news conference has not been set.