Most of us who are lifetime members of “Reds Nation” cannot explain how much this season has meant to us. Similarly, many of the media folks and critics have been observant enough to point out what Cincinnati has done thus far is more than just a fluke.

I do want some to understand that the soft schedule they are playing should not be held against them, but they are playing great baseball, nonetheless.

By no means is this a rant about how Cincy is being overlooked and brushed aside because most of their wins have come from the bottom feeders. That notion does come up in conversation (which it should, to tell you the truth), but for the most part, the Reds are getting the attention for all the right reasons. Teams don’t get four All-Star selections if they aren’t any good.

Though for those who do point out the so-called “easy schedule,” you need to take a few things into consideration.

First of all, the Cincinnati Reds are playing the schedule that was given to them. The Reds don’t make their schedule before each season. This isn’t college football or basketball where good teams make themselves look great by racking up meaningless wins against far lesser opponents.

Secondly, the Reds are not playing in the National League Central only for the fact that four of the six teams are struggling mightily. Every team plays the majority of their games within their division. Cincinnati just happens to play in a division that is not very good from top to bottom. Not to mention, the NL Central has six teams, which is more than any other division in Major League Baseball. The Reds did not make that decision either.

Number three, if you are given a schedule that you have no control over, you can only do what you can by playing your best against what has been determined for you. The Reds have been good stewards of their future by winning games against the teams they should beat. The Cubs, Brewers, Astros and Pirates are not the greatest teams and the Reds have beaten them, establishing a record of 20-8.

The other team in that division, the St. Louis Cardinals, are on fire and have won seven straight. The Cards (the NL Central favorite, which is a well deserved) and Reds have played twelve times this year with St. Louis winning seven of those games. If you are keeping score, only one win separates a draw between the two. Not much of difference there.

Finally, of the ten remaining teams in the senior circuit, seven of them have winning records and the Reds are absolutely even with 20 wins and losses a piece. If they were not as good as advertised, that (generally) would not be the case.

Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci’s recent article touches on the Reds schedule a bit, but does take heart in what the Redlegs have on their roster. And they have what most winning teams have.

Cincinnati has a potent offense that is more than just occasional power, but it’s also a great manufacturer of runs when everyone is hitting on all cylinders.

The pitching is light years ahead of the performances of the past ten years. Trust me, this has been a sore spot for a long, long time.

They have veteran leadership with playoff and World Series experience; they have young stars that have been able to keep their composure, despite the extreme atmosphere they find themselves in.

As a whole, the Reds have great camaraderie and chemistry. They have been able to avoid major, or multiple, injuries for the vast majority of the year. And their roster, from top to bottom, has everyone playing to the best of their abilities with everyone contributing in one way or another every game.

All of these are the key ingredients that produce wins and this is exactly what is taking place right now.

Sure, there are games they should have won against teams that couldn’t fight their way out of a wet paper bag, but you can say that about every team in baseball.

The remaining schedule is relatively soft if you look solely at the records of those teams. Everyone knows most teams that have no playoff shot play better at the end of the year in order to spoil the chances of those teams in contention. That’s not an excuse for what may happen, that’s a given.

The Reds could hit the wall and take a nose dive, it has happened many times before to Cincinnati’s beloved baseball team. It wouldn’t surprise any of us, though it would be a disappointment.

If the Reds don’t win, shame on them. If they do and produce post season baseball for the Queen City for the first time in ten years, then they have done the job baseball has asked of them. Plain and simple.

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