I have been wearing my newest Cincinnati Reds hat just about everywhere since I got it for Father’s Day.
And when I wore it the other night to a Baxter volleyball match, head football coach Rob Luther asked me if I thought the Reds would get into the playoffs.
My answer: I don’t know.
I started the season all in for a playoff appearance. I thought it would finally be the year the Reds wouldn’t finish in fourth or fifth place.
After struggling to beat bad or even average teams early in the season, the Reds have suddenly caught fire and are back in the mix.
I also told Coach Luther I gave up on the Reds two weeks ago.
After a four-game series with the Pirates a few weeks ago ended with a split, I thought they were done.
Every move manager David Bell made backfired.
The bullpen wasn’t very good. The offense was both average and historically unlucky.
There just wasn’t much for me to be confident about.
Then, they took two out of three against the Cardinals last weekend and swept a four-game series with the Pirates in the middle of the week.
They started this weekend series against the playoff-bound White Sox in one of the eight playoff positions. And took two of three in that series to stay in the mix.
That was a huge series win for the club. But it’s still close. Too close.
With six games to go, the Reds are .500. I think a .500 record will get in. The Cardinals are one game ahead of the Reds for the second guaranteed playoff spot in the NL Central.
The Reds also are tied with the Brewers and Giants at .500 for one of the two wild card spots.
The Phillies are a half-game in front of all three teams for the seventh playoff spot.
If the Reds can win three of their final six games against the Brewers and Twins, I think they get in.
The Brewers play three with the Reds before finishing with five against the Cardinals. So the three NL Central teams battling for two playoff spots could just beat up on each other.
My only request is the Reds win two of three against Milwaukee and then the Cardinals and Brewers go 2-3 and 3-2 against each other to give each team enough losses for the Reds to be ahead of them both.
Winning the Twins series to end the season could guarantee them a playoff spot. I don’t see a record of 31-29 being bad enough to be denied a spot.
The Reds will use their three best pitchers — Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray and Trevor Bauer —áin the Brewers series. Gray is coming off an IL stint and Bauer will be pitching on three days’ rest.
It’s go time for a team who spent money this offseason to make the playoffs. It’s now or never for an offense that is Jekyll and Hyde. And the starting pitching needs to stay sharp.
Flipping to football, I can’t remember a time where the San Francisco 49ers lost so many impact guys in one game.
They started the game without their starting center, George Kittle, Richard Sherman, Dee Ford and Deebo Samuel and ended the game without Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas, Jimmy Garoppolo and Raheem Mostert.
Bosa and Thomas are likely out for the season with torn ACLs, Garoppolo is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a high ankle sprain and Mostert may miss multiple games, too.
They can survive. Kittle could be back this week. Deebo comes back in Week 4 and Sherman could be back in Week 5.
Can the defending NFC champions weather the storm? Time will tell. The roster is still one of the best in the NFL. The depth will get tested now though.
Hopefully Mo Sanu can help the receiving corps and GM John Lynch gives Clay Matthews a call to boost the pass rush.
To lose all those guys and still beat the Jets 31-13 was impressive. The Jets may just be that bad though.
Contact Troy Hyde at email@example.com