The Long Ride Home



The last two weeks have effectively put an end to the Reds chances for the year. That’s a hard thing. This is a team we can all remember as very promising. A contender, even. But sometimes, the wheels fall off. And, if we were paying attention, we knew this was possible. The signs were there.

And so, we’ve got four months of baseball season left. That’s a long time to follow an also-ran team. It’s a long time to spend thinking about next year. So, for now, here’s what you do: Don’t. Don’t think about next year. Don’t worry about trades or contracts or injuries or recoveries. Don’t think about Homer Bailey’s timeline or Joey Votto’s decline. Don’t even think about a month or two from now when Johnny Cueto gets traded. And don’t check the standings either. Stay away from that.

Baseball is different things at different times. In recent years, we’ve had the nervous excitement that comes from watching a really good team. That lends itself to agonizing over the small details like batting order and bullpen usage and bench construction. But for now, for at least a couple of months, I’m shifting gears. I’m not going to worry about anything. I’m just going to watch.

I’m going to watch Johnny Cueto do what he does as many times as I can. I’m going to enjoy Votto batting and Hamilton running and the long, long balls that sometimes come off the bats of Frazier and Bruce. I’m going to enjoy watching BP and Cozart connect on a double play. I’m going to enjoy seeing what we might get from Lorenzen and DeSclafani.

That’s all I’m going to do for now. I’m just going to watch baseball. I’ll hope the Reds win, but I won’t worry about it (there’s a difference). And then, sometime toward the end of August when the grass starts to turn brown a little and that little breeze shift happens that lets you know fall is coming, I’ll change what I do. I’ll remember about the contracts again. I’ll look at how Bruce has recovered and how Votto has hit for the season. I’ll worry about updates on Mesoraco’s hip and Homer’s arm. I’ll check on what kind of seasons Jesse Winker and Robert Stephenson have had down in the minors. I’ll wonder who’s going to get a September call-up. In short, I’ll start worrying about next year, because that’s what the end of the season is for when your team isn’t in it.

Now? For now it’s too soon. For now, I just want to watch and not worry about anything else. Baseball is referred to as a child’s game often enough that it’s cliche. But the thing about children’s games is that is doesn’t always matter who wins.

Jason Linden is a Nuxhall Way contributor who also writes for Redleg Nation and The Hardball Times. His debut novel, When the Sparrow Sings, is out now. You can follow him on Twitter at @JasonLinden.

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