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The R...sniff...The Re...sigh...The Reds. Damn.

But you know what? Screw that.

Screw the first 12 games of this season. To hell with everyone being newly paid, newly primed, and crowned before the season started. Enough of being in awe of the Cardinals, and enough of being the poster-child of bad front office decisions.

It's always darkest before the dawn, Reds fans, and it doesn't get much darker than right now.

Tonight, the team was bad; tonight, many fans were worse. Just who the hell do we, as Reds fans, really think we are, anyway? More than that, just who the hell do we want to be? In more ways than one, I think it's time to give a full-fledged re-evaluation of who we are as a team, as a fan-base, and to many extents, as a blogosphere.

Up until a month ago, the national media had done everything in their power to shoehorn the Reds franchise into predictability, and in the process I believe they warped some of us fans as well. We were told this franchise couldn't sign Joey Votto. We were told we'd given up "the future" to trade for Mat Latos. We were told that this team was "all-in," and that we had a mere two years to see the fruits of two decades of frustration.

I know we all read that, and I know we all soaked it up. The evidence is rampant all over Red Reporter. You can use the search function at the top right of the page to find out, if you'd like.

But then, somehow, things changed...internally, at least. Maybe Walt read the press; Bob Castellini certainly did. Somewhere, lost in all of the fervor and screaming about the Reds pushing all their chips into the middle, the Reds brass pulled a fast one on all of us.

Joey Votto was given an extension. Brandon Phillips was given an extension. Nick Masset was given an extension. Sean Marshall was given an extension. The "Votto Window" as we'd known it was shattered, and the "Votto Era" began.

It's almost 10pm MST, and I'm sitting on my couch, drinking a tasty beer, and wondering about the state of my fanhood. I don't mean to state that I'm giving up on being a Reds fan forever, and I certainly don't mean to state that I'm giving up on being a Reds fan this season.

I simply started thinking...what's the fucking rush?

Tonight's loss turned the page for me. As I sat and pondered how to accurately describe the play on the field, reflected upon the minor epiphanies I'd had watching the first 12 games, and tried to muster up a way to describe it all, it hit me: Relax, damnit! This is just the beginning! Why do we have our big, red, obnoxious panties in such a bunch?

Whether or not Dusty Baker is the answer at manager is not the premise of this argument, so I'll leave that aside. What I will say, however, is that the Reds are in the unique position to experiment a bit while not risking a wasted opportunity.

It's time.

Rolen and Cairo are redundant, so one of them needs to go. Wilson Valdez and Willie Harris are redundant, and likely both of them need to go. Todd Frazier is 26 years old and needs to be in the make that happen. We don't need Ryan Ludwick, so let him go as well.

And for God's sake, we just signed Brandon Phillips for 5 more seasons...can we please give the damn guy a rest?

The perceived urgency put in place by this team's leaders is what gets me the most. Latos, Cueto, Leake, Bailey, Arroyo, Chapman, Votto, Phillips, Cozart, Frazier, Heisey, Stubbs, Bruce, Masset, Marshall, Bray, Ondrusek, and LeCure will all be here for multiple years if we want what's the damn urgency to burn through them now? We finally assembled a roster suitable for the long-haul, yet we began to crucify them after Game 2.

Let them breathe, cut the fat, let the team begin to grow up a bit, and relax.

We've got years to watch this group grow. It's enough to make me forget the last two weeks.