By Conrad Clowers
Cincinnati Herald Contributor
It’s the final week of the regular season in Major League Baseball. Season started waaayyy back in April when the flowers were just blooming and we were still in cold weather. At present time, the Reds go into the final week at two and a half games out of the playoff hunt. Whether it ends with a playoff birth or the Reds on the outside looking in, it has been a year of excitement, surprise, disappointment and belief.
If this is it the magic the 2023 Reds brought, was real. Multiple players nobody had ever heard of came out of nowhere to capture the heart of the city. Elle De La Cruz has multiple All Star Game appearances in his future. True, he will have to mature at the plate and on the base pads. He showed his youth and inexperience by swinging at unhittable pitches and being picked off base in game costing base running errors. At the same time, Cruz provided a spark to the Reds local and nationally they sorely needed to be in contention. Along with Cruz came the winning. The attitude changed and so did the expectations.
It’l be a tough mountain to climb for the Reds to make the 23 playoffs. Standing in the way are the upstart Miami Marlins and Chicago Cubs. Both are ahead of the Reds and fighting for the final playoff spot. This past weekend may have been the dagger in the heart. In a game played on Saturday September 23, Cincinnati had a 9-0 lead against Pittsburg. Despite the lead and the momentum, the Reds were unable to finish off the Pittsburg Pirates and lost the game. It was a crucial swing game that may cost Cincinnati a playoff birth.
Coming off a season where the Reds lost 100 game, the expectations were pretty much about the same for this season. Not many changes were made in the off season with the team. Once veteran players stated getting hurt and young minor league rookies started coming to the majors showing what they can do, the outlook changed. Reds fan attendance started to rise and the ‘same ole Reds all of a sudden became an eye opener.
The team closes with the Cleveland Guardians and the St. Louis Cardinals this final week. To get to the post season Cincy will have to win and hope for help. For a team that has had magic all season, there’s no reason to end the hope for more magic now. Nobody wants to switch their hope for 2024. As long as there is hope for ’23, excitement for Reds baseball will stay in effect. If the time comes the team gets eliminated from playoff contention, all eyes will be focused on ’24. Unlike ’23, the bar and standards have been raised. We’ll just have to wait until it comes.