Summer is over, folks. As of today we are in the midst of autumn.

The leaves are in the process of changing and floating to the ground, the nights are a bit cooler, and the Cincinnati Red will get to stave off hibernation a bit longer for the first time in about 15 years.

The Reds in the playoffs—damn, it feels good to say that.

Yeah, the Reds haven’t exactly played great ball over the last month and seem to be in cruise control to ride out the regular season. I’m not really worried for the basic fact that the St. Louis Cardinals have done Cincy the huge favor of collapsing in on themselves and allowing the Reds to play “okay” baseball and not have to worry about anyone nipping at their heels.

Eleven days of the 2010 regular season remain, and the Reds are 19 games over .500, have an eight-game lead on the Cards, and have a magic number of three for the division title. Funny how this is fall (again, as of today), the third season of the year, and Cincinnati’s magic number is three. Is there a higher power working here? I’m kidding, but it is a bit hinky.

It almost seems as though everything is “falling” into place, ha! Sorry, I have been dying to use that phrase for the past week. It’s the title of a song by a pretty good band called Mike Viola and the Candy Butchers, and it fits the situation.

Nevertheless, naysayers will point out that the Reds are now beginning to slide into that yearly poor play phase that they are known for and are lucky that it didn’t rear its head until the last month of season. This, they say, will evolve into an eventual National League Division Series loss.

I say that’s crap.

I say the Reds, although not playing as well as they should, started preparing for the second season within the last two weeks by playing well enough to keep their position and ride out the regular season. Dusty Baker lit a fire under the Reds in April that helped them take off and play winning baseball every month of this season. He will continue to do so.

On the Yahoo! Sports Cincinnati Reds Team Report, Baker indicated just as much: “We’re not done yet. We’re a long way from done. … There’s no comfortable lead, where I come from.” Though you can get much comfortable than right now.

The Reds are just 9-12 this month, but you will get that when you are comfortable enough to sit your regulars, play some up-and-coming prospects, and sit guys aside to allow injuries to heal a bit faster. When was the last time the Reds were able to do that? (That would be 1995 if you aren’t sure or were not alive at the time.)

Yes, Cincinnati needs to be prepared and playing at the top of their game when playoff time starts. I have no fear of that “new to the playoffs” thing many experts like to talk about. These guys are professionals, not kids who haven’t traveled to the big city before.

My only concern is how the Reds’ pitchers will perform in the playoffs. They say you have to score to win games, but most of their playoff brethren have staffs that can (and will) keep you from getting anything easy in the postseason. Those bats have to be alive, and the baseball mindset needs to be in high gear. I’m confident in the fact these things will happen.

Reds fans, the summer may be over, but the season isn’t. Rejoice!

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