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On the Ball: The Reds are bad, but maybe not as bad as you think

I have a love-hate relationship with the Cincinnati Reds. 

Over the last quarter-century, we have been widely regarded as one of the worst teams in not just baseball, but all of sports. Nevertheless, I still can't help feeling optimistic at the start of every new season. 

The start of the season is just around the corner, with opening day on Thursday and I have the same annual optimism. 

I grew up attending Great American Ballpark, or GABP, with my father and fell in love with the game of baseball for all of its finest intricacies and delights. 

I never needed a winning team in order to enjoy the game. 

It was always just showing up to the ballpark, eating a couple of hot dogs and my dad with a beer just kicking back and enjoying the game. 

However, over the years, as I have enamored myself more and more in Cincinnati sports history, I dream of how great it would be for the Reds to return to the glory days of the '90s when we were a perennial World Series favorite. 

With an owner who is vocally unwilling to spend money and a group of players that seems to have lost all ability to win, this year's Reds are far from the glory days. 

However, we may not be as far as you think. 

I know as Cincinnati fans, after watching years and years of poor performances in both baseball and football, it has become our very nature to be pessimistic about our team's potential successes. But I am willing to be brave enough to sit here and tell you that the 2023 Cincinnati Reds are going to be above average.

Let's start with the main reason why everyone should watch the Reds in the first place: 39-year-old Joey Votto. 

Votto has reached the end of his career, but like many baseball players before him, the first baseman has stood the test of time. 

While we will almost certainly never see Votto back in his 2010 MVP form, he has slowly become one of the most polarizing players in all of baseball and most importantly, the Reds' number-one cheerleader. 

Votto embraced the new generation by cementing himself as one of the social media's most entertaining baseball players last year. From his crazy TikToks to his odd obsession with chess, there is no better person to follow for the Reds. 

Despite Votto's antics, the Reds have still been pretty consistently bad. This usually means one thing: we have racked up enough top 10 draft picks to have some of the best young stars in all of baseball. We do, and I personally could not be more excited to watch them play this year. 

These stars, including Elly De La Cruz, Hunter Green, Matt McClain, Nick Lodolo and so many more, will be the heart of this year's young team as they take on the long 162-game season. 

It's always fun to watch young guys come up from the minors and while all those names won't be on the roster to start the year, we will surely see some phenomenal debuts throughout the summer. 

While most of this talent was developing in the minors, the Reds finished last year's season with a whopping 100 losses and only 62 wins, but I don't think last year's team was as bad as the numbers show. 

The team had an abysmal start, losing 22 of the first 25 games to start the year. In a division that includes great teams like the Milwaukee Brewers and the St. Louis Cardinals, the season was basically over before we even entered the summer months. 

The Reds showed some promise in July and August, finishing the two months with a decent 25-29 record. 

Now I know that that doesn't sound like much, we still lost more games than we won, but if we can stay on that pace for a whole season, we will be hovering around a .500 record and have some important games late in the season that might just put us in the playoffs. 

I'll admit it, come July, I may be totally wrong. I'll throw in the towel like most fans already have and hope for better years to come, but for now, the Reds are 0-0 just like the rest of the league. 

Remember in 2021 when everyone counted out the Cincinnati Bengals before the season even started? We made the Super Bowl that year. Just saying, why not? Nothing says that we can't make the unlikely jump from 100-losses to a dark-horse contender. 

Robert Keegan III is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views expressed in this column do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk to Robert? Tweet him @robertkeegan_.

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