The 2007 Cincinnati Reds

July: New hope? Really?

When a team underperforms, in many cases the manager gets the ax. Cincinnati is one of those cases. Expectations weren't high entering the season, but losing is losing. A lot of times, the manager has nothing to do with the losses. Players have to play. Hitters have to hit. Pitchers have to make their pitches. Catch the ball, throw the ball.

In Cincinnati, a lot of the losing was the manager's fault. Jerry Narron had a slow hook. He allowed pitchers being slaughtered to continue getting slaughtered. Pitchers like to try to work through problems, and there are cases when a manager should allow them to. But Narron always allowed them to. Allowed them to remain in to a fault. It's tough to make a gourmet meal out of hot dogs, and to be sure, Narron didn't have a lot to work with in the bullpen, but what little he had, he used poorly.

On July 2, Rosecrans reported that the Cincinnati Reds had relieved Narron of his responsibilities. Replacing him was Reds advanced scout Pete Mackanin. The change in the team's performance took place almost overnight.

They take after the new boss and play loose. Mackanin uses humor to defuse tough situations, and Rosecrans remarks several times how much fun the postgame press conferences have become.

Going into the July 10th All-Star break, in which Griffey is the Reds only all-star selection, the Reds had an honest to goodness 4-game winning streak. Griffey started swinging the bat like a 28-year-old. Harang would be a Cy Young award candidate on a winning team. Adam Dunn is still swinging the bat like Paul Bunyan. At the All-Star break he's on track to hit 52 homeruns on the year. Second baseman Brandon Phillips is a breaking out superstar. He's playing second base with a pizzaz not seen in the Queen city since the days of Joe Morgan. Endwin Encarnacion, apparently in a better state of mind, has been recalled from Louisville and has really turned it around.

Even the bullpen isn't tripping on their own shoe strings anymore. Seriously.

Maybe these guys aren't such bums after all.

July: 14-12

Season: 45-62

5th place, 13 games back

Don't look now but on July 7th, after a win over Arizona and a Tampa Bay loss, the 2007 Cincinnati Reds were no longer the owners of the worst record in major league baseball.