Oh, did I forget to mention that we’re Pirates fans too? These are the sacrifices we must now make for the good of Reds baseball. Cheering for the Cubs and Pirates: It’s despicable, but it’s a necessary evil.

If the Reds had swept the Cubs this past weekend, we’d be having a different conversation. Our Redlegs would have been within striking distance of the division and not sitting 7.5 games back, relegated to fighting for the either of the Wild Cards with the other eight hopefuls. But the Reds split the series. It’s a fine result and not one to whine about, but it does leave us in this curious predicament of root, root, rooting for the Cubbies.

It’s no secret that after these next seven games, the Reds schedule finally dials down its season-long gauntlet. Nick Kirby has been saying it here, Twitter, and to anyone who will listen since the All-Star Break. Instead of the Dodgers and Braves, the Reds will play the Padres, the Marlins, the Mariners, as well as a smattering of games against the Pirates. As Chad Dotson wrote for Cincinnati Magazine last week:

If the Reds can remain on the periphery of the Wild Card race until August 19—and yes, that’s a big “if”—there is a real path to a September full of exciting and meaningful baseball. Of course, they have to get to that date first, but I’m feeling better and better about Cincinnati’s chances of hanging around.

The Reds can also do a lot to help themselves over the last month of the season, with series against the Mets, Brewers, Phillies, and two against the Diamondbacks. The recipe for a late season comeback is there, and it’s just missing one ingredient: A pinch of help.

We all know the saying, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” but even I won’t go as far to call the Cubs or Giants “friends.” For the remaining quarter of the season, let’s just think of the two as compatriots, complicit in the search for Red October.

Over their final 44 games, the Cubs three against the Reds (cheer for the Reds of course), six against the Pirates (pick your poison), and 35 against the other Wild Card contenders. While the Cubs miss playing the Phillies and the Diamondbacks, how the presumed NL Central champions do in the other 35 games will go a long way toward deciding whether the Reds can #SneakOnIn. Most critically, the Cubs have three games against the Nationals and six games left against the Cardinals, the teams who currently inhabit the first and second Wild Cards.

Also of importance, only 13 of those 35 games will be on the road for the notoriously away-phobic Cubs. After the Reds series, the Cubs improved to 23-35 on the road while 41-19 at home. Though it could be argued that at least Thursday’s game was home contest for the Cubs, given the jersey gimmicks before and the sea of blue in the stands during.

For the Pirates, it’s more of the same though on the other end of the logic spectrum. Pittsburgh’s season is going nowhere. The Pirates are done. They are washed up and have washed out of contention even if they keep up the eyewash that is throwing at other players’ heads. I think you get the point, but also why shouldn’t we revel in just how cooked the Pirates 2019 season is? It’s finished. Kaput.

And so now, we must reluctantly cheer for them.

Of the Pirates final 45 games, six are against the Reds, six against the Cubs, and 17 against other Wild Card contenders. Honestly, it’s nice that the schedule only necessitates us to be Pirates’ fans for half the games we need to be Cubs fans because let’s be real, counting on the Pirates to do anything right is foolhardy at best.

But the Pirates do have four games against the Nationals in Washington just as the Reds hit the easiest part of their schedule. That series could pry the Reds window of hope open just enough to see our playoff hopes realistically last into September.

Just imagine: The Pirates take the series from the Nationals, keeping the Reds within 4.0 games of the Wild Card or perhaps closer even. Then, just as Amir Garrett emerges from his suspension, the Pirates roll into Cincinnati, with the Reds hankering for a three-game beatdown. The Pittsburgh team thinks they’ve finally crawled out from under their ruler, Yasiel Puig, but Aristides Aquino comfortably takes over the reign. Meanwhile, Derek Dietrich consolidates all of his shares in Clint Hurdle’s head and begins operating the Pirates manager like a personal avatar.

In other words, rooting for the Pirates will only make revenge that much sweeter.

If the Reds are going to sneak on in to that second Wild Card slot, they’ll need to go on a tear while getting some help from non-vested parties. Sadly, those parties are the Cubs and the Pirates. It’s dirty job, rooting for those two clubs, but from here on out we all have to be a little bit more like Mike Rowe. We’re Cubs / Pirates fans now.

22 Responses

  1. Daytonian

    True confession. I root for the Cubs whenever the Reds are out of contention. It’s a long-term fixation. Even the site of so many blue jerseys at GABP can’t undo this–once they go back home. There ain’t no cure…

    • Daytonian

      It’s a bad “sight” I guess.

  2. rex

    I am looking ahead for a sweep over the Cards in the season opener

  3. Jon

    MVP Votto isn’t coming back.He has been bad for 2 years.Still owe him $107m moving forward.

    • Mason Red

      I’m not going to say Votto is bad but you’re right about never being MVP caliber again. But I also think he’s better than what he’s been this season. He can still be an important part of a young team because of his experience. I think he could still be a 270-280 hitter,hit 10-15 HRs and 60-70 RBIs. They just need to move him down in the order.

  4. Scott C

    It’s going to leave a bad taste in my mouth, but at least we don’t have to root for the dirty birds.

  5. Rob

    This has been an exciting but frustrating ballteam. The team to me has two characteristics that hold them back: 1) losing is the norm, and 2) not playing well in pressure situations. I just don’t know how many times we fall 1-2 run short in our comeback efforts. We fight, come back from deficits, but almost never do we get the over the top hit. We just don’t seem to have many games when Kris Bryant hits the 3 run go ahead shot in the 8 th inning. Walk off wins….Probably near the bottom of the league.

    We are now in a now or never situation where we probably need to win 5 of the next 6. 4-3 weeks are no longer good enough. As Votto says, we are playing good but we have play exceptionally a period of time. We have to go like 12-5 the rest of the month and we better not lose more than 1 the rest of the week. We just can’t keep thinking we are going to win 9-10 in a row. How about a couple series sweeps against a contender in the next 3 week? It is too late in the game for this 2-1 or 2-2 stuff.

    Who place is Galvis and Casais and Dietrich going to take over the next week? O Grady is obviously one. Who are the other two? Peraza? Dietrich? Farmer? Or one of the young guys? I would guess Peraza and Farmer (until 9/1).

      • wkuchad

        oh yeah, completely forgot about Casali

      • Rob

        Who do you think the 3 guys are going to be when Galvis, Casili, and Dietrich rejoin the team in the next 4-5 days? OGrady is obviously one. That is the question.

    • Chris

      Reds have converted 11 of 17 save chances since the break. Two of those saves are Sal Ramano finishing off blowouts for 3 IP. Call it overuse or just ineffectiveness, but the bullpen is the primary reason we can’t seem to get on a real run right now. That is the area I would seek to upgrade next year. Between Winker, Ervin, AA, and Senzel, we should be able to feature a reasonably okay OF. SS is a concern, but perhaps Galvis is the answer there. We have Van Meter, Dietrich, Peraza, and Blandino under team control next year at 2B. We could stand to upgrade there, but none of these issues are a glaring as the bullpen. In order of importance in the offseason:

      1. RP
      2. RP
      3. 2B
      4. SS
      5. #5 SP
      6. Corner OF

      • Chris

        Agreed on 1B, but we have $100MM already allocated to that position over the next 4 or 5 years. Votto’s unfortunate decline is a sunk cost. We’ll just have to work around that. I forgot C as well…

  6. SultanofSwaff

    Rooting for other teams is a bad look and reeks of desperation, but that’s where we’re at. Year 4 (or is it 5? who knows anymore) of the rebuild and there is still sorting taking place. With the jury still largely out on Ervin/Vanmeter/Aquino/Winker/Mahle/Garrett, Senzel seems to be the only meaningful graduation during all this time. The real roster improvement (Gray/Bauer/Puig/Roark) came at the expense of trading away multiple prospects and increased payroll (not that I disagree) while robbing the above mentioned prospects of opportunities. So I ask this—why now? The Reds could’ve been playing more meaningful baseball for the last couple seasons had they taken this approach sooner. Part of me is really resentful about having had to endure the last place finishes when a more proactive approach could’ve avoided much of that. Of course, we’ll never get a mea culpa from ownership.

    • Mason Red

      The rebuild was a monumental bust and the Reds are still paying the price. They have some decent talent,added some players other teams didn’t want and traded away players they didn’t want. There has been improvements. Instead of awful the Reds are almost average. To move forward the Reds must add talent and I don’t mean renting players like Puig.

    • Jefferson Green

      The new approach has been crafted by new direction at the top. DW got the conn and beefed up the front office (esp. more analytics) to find the best path in an ever-changing environment. Coming from investment banking, we can expect DW to use info and brains to continue pushing to find the most efficient ways to use resources (via new market inefficiencies), so unlike the previous guy, will keep evolving (and discounting sentiment). We all wish his power had been increased sooner.

  7. Chris

    I think we did well in the 2019 draft, grabbing Callahan and Hines… But you’re right – there’s just not a whole lot of top-end talent on the way. Greene’s timetable is probably 2022 or 2023 by now, Trammel is gone, Santillan has been a dumpster-fire this year and is hurt, India isn’t hitting with power, etc

    I feel like no one above rookie ball has had a good year in our system. Maybe Packy Naughton.

    The good news is, we should have a pretty good MLB rotation – especially if Mahle matures into a #3 and/or we are able to go year-for-year with Bauer for awhile. That should go a long way in masking our complete organizational failure to develop SP for the last 30 years.

  8. James H.

    Um, no. The Reds make the playoffs based on their own merit or they don’t deserve to be in the playoffs. They shouldn’t have played like assholes at the beginning of the year, and if they miss out, they can eat that sandwich on their own.

    • Jefferson Green

      Profanity-free, please. Some kids come to this site. There are better ways to articulate your point. Thanks.

  9. Don

    Reds have to figure out a way to go 6-3 in next 9 games (2 Nats, 3 Cards, 3 Padres) to get to two under 500 (62-64) with 36 games to go. That is the next off day for the Reds after the Padres series.

    They then start a 10 day, 11 game road trip (Pirates – 3, Marlins-4 , Cards-4).
    They have to figure out a way to go 7-4 in these 11 games on the road with a 2-2 split vs Cards.
    Reds are then 69-68 with on Sept 2nd.
    7 home games (Phillies-4, Dback-3) Need to be 5-2 in these 7.
    74-70 on Sept 9th.
    Start of 9 day road trip (Mariners-3,D-backs-3,Cubs-4) – need to go 6-4 with a 2-2 vs Cubs.
    That is the 80-74 on Sept 19th (off day)

    Team finishes 2 home and one away series
    Mets-3, day off, Brewers 3, day off, Pirates 3.

    This could happens, not probable but possible to occur. Odds are against but it nice to be able to have a possible in mid-August.

    Current WC1 pace is 86 wins, WC2 is 85 wins.
    Reds would probably need to be 7-2 in these 9 for wildcard to finish with 87 wins.

    Would the Reds use a 4 man rotation (or 3 man for the last 9 games) with the off days between each series in the last 9 games.

  10. TR

    I don’t root for any other MLB team than the Reds. If they’re going to become a winning .500 plus team, they need to do it themselves regardless what other teams do.

  11. Eric

    Except that they won’t, for reasons unknown to humanity.