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West Coast Re-Write?

Driving to work this morning, I noticed a billboard advertising a volunteer program that targets young writers in Philadelphia. It quite simply asked: "So…what's the story?" As I sit here developing my first blog post for RedsMix, I am realizing what a compelling question that actually is, specifically when considered in the context of the Reds' most recent series versus Seattle.


For many, the story today in the Cincinnati blogosphere is the fact (and now, more than ever, it is a fact rather than just a trend) that the Reds basically turn into a double-A team when they travel out West. It has been their undoing for years and, the way this road trip started, there is no reason to believe things will end differently this time around. The most hopeful of fans might point out that when the Reds square off against Oakland for the next 3 games they wont face anyone named Felix Hernandez or Cliff Lee. Indeed, those guys are legitimate aces. However, the Reds may as well have been facing Randy Johnson in his prime yesterday the way a guy by the name of Rowland-Smith shut them down. Raise your hand if you had heard of Ryan Rowland-Smith before this weekend. That's what I thought. The dude's got one win this year, and the Reds handed it to him.


One could also contend that in years past the Reds have not had the National League's top offense entering their West Coast road trip. Admittedly, I took comfort in that statistic as the weekend begun. As it happened, that same offense went on to post just one run over the next three days (did I mention they lost to Ryan Rowland-Smith yesterday? He didn't even make the Australian national team!). Playoff teams are measured by how they fare against playoff-caliber competition and, while the Mariners are by no means a playoff team, Lee and Hernandez are bona fide studs and the Reds had absolutely no answers for them.


What this tells me is that, while we would all love to see our boys make the postseason for the first time since 1995 (I don't count the one game playoff in 1999 because, let's face it, Al Leiter may as well have been out there by himself), they must start hitting the big boys if they want to be a factor when it matters. That should be what we are worrying about. Not the mystique of the West Coast.


That being said, the next three games are certainly big for the Reds. They wasted a chance yesterday to draw within a half-game of St. Louis, knowing the Cards had lost earlier in the day. Now they face an Oakland team that just lost a series to those very same Cardinals; they must capitalize in order to (at the very least) regain some of their swagger and reemphasize that they can keep pace with the class of the division. This Reds team has several pressing issues, not the least of which being its constant disappearing act in the face of quality pitching. However, should its slide in Oakland persist, 'West Coast woes' will continue to be the story.


- Reed Domer-Shank


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