Thank goodness the Cubs don’t face the Reds again this season. I’ve had my fill of Baker’s boys thumping the Cubbies, which I’m sure has tasted real sweet for the former Chicago bench boss.
POLAR OPPOSITES: We’re talking about two teams that couldn’t be more opposite. Cincinnati (90-59) is fighting for the best record in the National League after clinching a playoff spot with its 5-3 victory vs. Chicago this afternoon–completing a three-game sweep of the series. The Cubs, meanwhile, are fighting to avoid 100-losses (58-91).
The Reds are playing like a team poised to make a World series run, and they have all the parts to do it. Its starting rotation is both strong and reliable. They have one of the best bullpens in all of baseball. The lineup is solid top-to-bottom with good bench depth. They field the ball well…blah, blah, blah.
The Cubs are, well, being the Cubs and looking at a high draft pick and any help they can find…in all areas. For all intents and purposes, the Reds are exactly what the Cubs want to become, and where we hope the rebuild leads to–a World Series contender.
When that finally happens it will be a nice change of pace to the season series vs. Cincinnati, which has leaned heavily in the Reds’ favor over the past three seasons. Cincinnati is (33-15) against the Cubs, including a (17-8) mark at Wrigley Field since 2010.
In 2012 the Reds are (10-4) against Chicago and (7-2) at Wrigley. The Cardinals may still be the arch rival, but St. Louis hasn’t had nearly the success the Reds have had against the Cubs in recent memory. Ugh, painful.
IN DUSTY REDS TRUSTY: As much as Cubs fans don’t want to admit it, the Reds also have one heckuva manager in Dusty Baker, who will become just the third skipper in Reds history to lead the team to the postseason more than once joining Bill McKechnie, Sparky Anderson & Davey Johnson (yes, the same Davey Johnson skippering the Nationals (90-58)).
If Baker’s Reds do, in fact, take home the best overall record in the NL there’s a good chance Dusty wins his third Manager of the Year Award. His next victory, by the way, ties him with Pete Rose for the sixth most wins as a Reds manager in franchise history.
NOW ST. LOUIS: Next up for the Cubs are the Cardinals, winners of four-straight and leading the wild card by 2.5 games over the Dodgers and 3.0 over the pesky Brewers (at the time of this post).
It’s the last series of the season for the Cubs to really play a spoiler role in the National League. Colorado, Arizona and Houston are the final series of 2012 with basically zero playoff implications on the line.
If the Cubs don’t take two of three from the Cardinals this weekend, it probably spells the end of Milwaukee’s late charge as they head to Washington for a four-game series against the Nats.