The Reds are in prime position for a division title and a playoff berth, but are sure making it hard to believe, and while going about daily chores in the ugliest of fashions. It has worked thus far and I firmly believe its there for the taking and that it will happen. Just try not to look at them or pay too much attention.

The Reds are doing their best to make fans want to wring some necks. Believe me—I am well aware of the how the ugliness can make you teeter on that mountain of faith.

For example, on Tuesday I headed out to my car at 5 a.m. to go to work. Unfortunately, as I turned the key…nothing happened…dead silence. No lights, no noise, no flicker of life…just the early morning crickets.

I think the worst of the worst (an alternator bit the dust), but hope the best (battery needs replacing). I had no other way to work. I thought about jumping the battery, but thought better of it. That ended up being a blessing in disguise.

I called off work, and when “real” person time rolled around, I gave my 2004 Honda a jump. It started right up. I hit the road to the nearest auto parts place to get a battery, I get a quarter mile from my house and the Honda slowly loses all power and comes to a dead stop. Sitting in the middle of a Columbus residential street, my lights don’t work, locks don’t work and windows will not go up.

At this point I’m happy I didn’t jump the battery earlier and try to make it work because otherwise I would have been stranded in the middle of Interstate 71 in the dark of early morning hoping not to be turned into the latest hood ornament on the front end of one of the barreling tractor trailers passing by.

Luckily, a Good Samaritan (John) in a truck stops and asks to help push the Honda on a side street. We do that, but not before a second Good Samaritan stops and assists in that push. Those two take off and I’m examining the engine. A third gentleman (Greg) is working outside his home on the street I’m stranded on and inquires about my ordeal.

After explaining to him my fears about the alternator, and the previous hiccups that make me lean towards it, he says that if you buy a new battery that will give a bad alternator enough juice to get where you are going in order to get it fixed. I grab my backpack and walk home to get my bike and pedal to the nearest auto parts place. Once there, I’m told it will cost an arm and a leg (not quite, but it was not cheap at all).

I had no where near that amount until pay day.

And writing a check at this place is apparently similar to using a debit card, no wait to cash it, it’s withdrawn immediately. So essentially I’d be writing them bad check.

I had to enlist the help of my girlfriend, who was working in downtown Columbus, but she could not leave her office. So I had to bike the 12-15 miles south through the Ohio State University campus to meet her and retrieve the borrowed cash. Not that this is a great distance, but I’m a less than avid bicyclist, so I was not prepared at all. I make it back to my car in the 90-degree heat, dripping with sweat, as the return trip is all at a moderate incline.

I pop the hood on my car and Greg jaunts out from his house with a batter tester and suggests we see if the batter was really dead or my alternator was in the process of kicking me in the proverbial financial crotch. A minimum reading for a “good” battery is a 12.0.

My Honda had a reading of 5.6.

In a nutshell, I could have hooked the battery up to radio controlled car and it still would not have moved it.

I thanked Greg and prepared to lug the dead battery, by bike, no less, to the auto parts place. Greg, who was either really board or way to eager for any human willing to lend assistance, volunteered to drive his truck to the store. I sheepishly declined (trying to not too look helpless), but he insisted, and I didn’t say no a second time.

Mind you, I just moved to this neighborhood two months ago and know only a couple of immediate neighbors and no one beyond two blocks of us. Greg was way cool and drove the two of us to the parts place where I bought the ridiculously overpriced battery and returned the paper weight that had been used as my car’s power source.

On our way back, Greg reminded me to return to the parts place in order for them to conduct a free alternator test to see if I would be shelling out even more money. Thankfully the new battery allowed my car to start up like it was brand new. I thanked Greg who formally owned an Internet Service Provider before selling it a few years ago and now was just, as he put it laughingly, “…trying to be a leader among men.”

More or less, I don’t think he had anything better do to at 8 a.m. on a Tuesday.

Back at the auto parts store, their tester showed my Honda’s alternator was up to par and I was on my merry way.

All of that just to replace a dead battery in my car. It was hectic, annoying, stressful, trying and, downright ugly…but I (and my girlfriend, and Greg, and John, the other Good Samaritan, and my bike) got it done.

That’s how it’s going to be with the Reds. They lost two of the three to the Cards and have been outplayed by the Rockies and will continue to make what should be a full speed ahead end of the season into one that will make you stress yourself out.

It’s not going to be pretty folks, but they will get it done. To get through it, you may want to start drinking heavily.

Oh, and in case you missed it, according to the Cincinnati Reds Yahoo! Sports Team Report, Edinson Volquez could start in the place of Aaron Harang on Saturday. Volquez was recalled from low Class-A Dayton, where he made two starts to work his mechanics. In a combined 13 innings with Dayton, he allowed four runs (two earned), striking out 19 and walking four.

“I feel good,” he said. “I think I can throw more strikes.”

And Jay Bruce hit off the batting tee Tuesday. It was the first time Bruce swung a bat since straining a side muscle a week ago. The plan is for him to take batting practice Wednesday.

“If that goes well, he possibly could be in for this weekend,” manager Dusty Baker said.

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