Nostradamus and the Mayans discovered that predicting the end of the world left them with red faces.
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Five things that have to happen for the Cincinnati Reds to have a successful season, one to make discerning fans happy:
No. 1: Their big off-season acquisition, center fielder Shin-Soo Choo, must do what he was acquired to do — be a standout leadoff hitter with a high on-base average so he is in position to score 120 runs.
No. 2: Joey Votto must come all the way back from last season’s knee surgery and not only continue his ability to get on base, but to once again drive souvenirs into the bleachers and onto the grassy knoll behind the center field wall and a home run on Opening Day might set the tone.
No. 3: Significant contributions from what could be a suspect bench, perhaps their only Achilles heel. The starting eight is as solid as any team in baseball, but there will be slumps and injuries and the bench brigade must be armed and ready.
No. 4: Now that will he or won’t he be the closer is resolved and Aroldis Chapman is the closer, he must do exactly what he did last year — intimidate and produce. With him as the party’s over finisher, the rest of the bullpen sets up perfectly with a left-handed/right-handed set-up combination of Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton that was operative the second half of last season. And Broxton can move into the closer’s role if Chapman needs some restful days.
No. 5: Once they’ve made the playoffs, they no longer should be happy just to make they postseason, they should gear themselves to winning it all, think about how flashy those gaudy World Series rings would look on their fingers.