5. Brendan uses black magic (probably) to predict the Reds' 3-game sweep of the Cardinals
This might have gone unnoticed outside Twitter, but Red Reporter writer-emeritus had an eerily accurate prediction embedded in his masterful spring preview of the Arizona Diamondbacks:
It's the evening of July 15th. The Reds have just completed a three game sweep of the Cardinals and have moved into first place in the NL Central. It's an exciting time in Redsland, but within one heart, there is turmoil. Thom Brennamen sits alone in a darkened room, with only a flickering computer screen lighting his wrenched face. The Arizona Diamondbacks are coming to town tomorrow, and despite broadcasting for a new team for five and a half years now, Thom watches a Gotye video on YouTube over and over again, trying to convince himself that he's well and truly over the plucky team that bucked expectations and won the NL West in 2011. The last of the haunting, lingering notes fades away, and Thom hits Play Again, hoping this time his professions of love for the Reds will be real.
I can't say for absolute certain that the second thing happened, but the Reds did sweep the Cards over a weekend series July 13-15.
The Reds then suffered their biggest fright of the season when Joey Votto went under the knife (/Psycho stinger) immediately after that series.
4. Reds make Faustian bargain to win without Votto / Marty shaves his head
I don't know how to explain the 10 game win streak any other way. The Reds won every game they played from July 19 to July 29, starting with an improbable comeback victory over the Diamondbacks. They trailed 6-0 in the top of the sixth in that July 19th game - until Mike Leake took a caged chicken, some candles and some garlic down into the bowels of Great American Ball Park.
Marty Brennaman made good on his promise to consummate these dark arts through a public "Gray Mass" ceremony in which he shaved his head. I'd like to think that he also said this:
"And in a funny way, the shaving of my, uh, head has been a liberation from, uh, a lot of, uh, stupid vanities really. Uh, it has simplified everything for me, it has opened a lot of doors maybe."
3. Reds score just one run in 7 of 12 games during April
I'm big enough to admit I was scared. In just the 12th game of the season, the Reds already found themselves 5 games out of first place. From April 9 to April 21, the Reds' offense was stone dead. Or, at best, undead. They needed brains.
2. Aroldis Chapman terrifies an entire league, including himself
Aroldis Chapman did not give up an earned run from Opening Day until June 7th, his 25th appearance of the season. Over those 29 innings, he had a K rate of 16.1 per nine, gave up just 7 hits and surrendered just one extra base hit (a triple to Jose "Death" Reyes). He might as well have been throwing flaming pumpkin-heads.
Managers would warn their rookies that if they didn't get in by curfew, the Chap Man would pitch to them.
Even after he started looking a little more human and less like a pitching hell wraith, most of the league was still pretty scared. Especially Matt Downs, who was one of two hitters that faced Chapman more than 4 times this season. He went 0-6 with 5 Ks.
Also on the subject of Chapman, there was also all that weird stuff that happened to him around late May. He was picked up for speeding late at night out in the wilds of Ohio, had an $18 million dollar lawsuit filed against him in Miami and was burglarized by a what appeared to be a small-time con-artist.
Can't say for sure whether these paranormal activities affected Chappy's performance, but I would be spooked. Then again, I get spooked when car alarms go off.
1. The second half of the NLDS
I'm still creeped out.