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Punched in the Stomach

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I'm not kidding when I say that tonight was one of the more painful losses I've ever experienced as a Reds fan.  We all deserve better than this.

I'm not being a whiny Red Sox/Yankees/Cubs fan who thinks they deserve to win for no real reason. I couldn't imagine feeling that way.  I'm midwestern, and when you're midwestern you don't expect dynasties.  Brief flashes of glory, sure, but Ohio's too working class for every season to go our way. At least these days, when the rich seem to have inherited the earth.

But I'm not even talking about winning.  I want to be able to watch an entire season and have a somewhat reasonable shot at seeing my favorite team makes the playoffs.  That's all.  It's pathetic how little it would take to please me.  I know I'm not alone in this.

I'm not naturally pessimistic.  It's been drilled into me through the years, years of watching the Bengals go 3-13 and the Reds be all but eliminated by the All-Star break.  But this offseason I decided to try a different tack.  I wasn't enthused by the Eric Milton signing, but I decided to be positive.  The Reds needed pitching help badly, and he was better than what they had I thought.  I wasn't enthused by the bullpen signings, but I asked myself how the new relievers could possibly be as bad as the old ones?

I'm done with that.  This team needs blown up.  It's painful to admit, and it's not going to happen, but the team needs to be dismantled and rebuilt, yet again, but correctly this time.

Dan O'Brien is not the man to do this.  Dave Miley is going to be taking a great deal of heat in the coming days and weeks, and I'd say there's a great chance that he's going to find himself out of a job by the All-Star break.  But this is Dan O'Brien's team, and this Dan O'Brien's mess.

This is Dan O'Brien's bullpen that has imploded again and again in the past week.

This is Dan O'Brien's starting rotation that doesn't feature a pitcher who can get past the sixth inning.

This is Dan O'Brien's shortstop who has been a complete and utter waste of 70+ at bats (and counting).

This is his team.  It's not Jim Bowden's fault anymore.  Dave Miley, while proving to be something of a poor manager, shouldn't be the scapegoat.

No one forced Dan O'Brien to sign David Weathers.  Nobody held a gun to his head and said that Joe Valentine had to come north with the team out of Spring Training.  These are moves he's made and he deserves to take the consequences.  

Dan O'Brien is far too cautious to run a small-medium market ballclub.  The Reds need a general manager who's willing to be something of a visionary, someone who's eager to do things in new ways, ways that might give the Reds a competitive advantage.  O'Brien has tried with his pitch to contact philosophy and his tandem rotation but both are failed ideas.  Texas got rid of their tandem system, and pitching to contact doesn't work when you have terrible pitching.  Terrible pitching is something the Reds know well.

Perhaps I'm overreacting.  Maybe this is the low point of the season, and the Reds will get better from here.  It's certainly possible, believe it or not, anything is possible when you have such a potentially powerful offense.

But I just can't see it happening.  I want to be optimistic, and I can't.  I just can't.  This is the most bitter pill to swallow, that I want very badly to be able to believe in my Reds but I am unable.

It'll be interesting to see if there are any roster moves tomorrow.  While I'd like to be proven wrong, I'm guessing we'll stay with the status quo.  O'Brien wouldn't want to jump to any conclusions.