CINCINNATI — The subject of the Cincinnati Reds’ record this season against teams with winning records was broached and manager Dusty Baker reacted as if somebody had stolen his toothpicks and wrist bands.
“What the hell,” he said with a shake of his head.
Baker was told that the talk emanated mostly from Twitter and Facebook and he said, “Social media. It’s one of the worst things ever to happen to sports.”
The Reds are 11-17 against teams over .500, but 18 of those games have come against their top rivals in the National League Central — 3-6 against the St. Louis Cardinals and 4-5 against the Pittsburgh Pirates before Thursday afternoon’s game against the Pirates.
The subject was appropriate because on Friday the Reds embark on an eight-game western swing through Arizona (39-33, first place), Texas (40-32, second place) and Oakland (43-31, first place).
Fans accuse the Reds of beating up on the weak and kowtowing to the strong.
“A losing record against winning teams right now? So?” said Baker. “We have a big winning record over everybody else. How many games have we played against winning teams? Most of them so far are against St. Louis and Pittsburgh.
“We had a losing record to start the season on the road, too, and everybody was panicking,” he added. The Reds started 1-7 on the road but have been 17-9 since.
“People are always looking for something negative and I deal with the positive,” Baker added. “You can find a negative in anything. Now what if we were losing to the bad teams and then it would really be negative, even if we beat the good teams.”
Despite it all, the Reds have a better record (44-29) than any of the three teams ahead on the schedule.
“I think we’ve done pretty damn good not to be at our full forces most of the year,” he said. “We’re not doing great, but our guys are doing better than a lot of teams.”
In fact, in all of the major leagues, only the St. Louis Cardinals have a better record than the Reds.
“That’s right, so what the hell?” Baker said. “What do you want? They want 162-0? Yeah, I do, too.”
Baker, though, does agree the oncoming trip is an important part of the schedule.
“This is a big road trip coming up,” he said. “We have to really push. These are first-division teams fighting for first place.”
Baker is hoping to have Chris Heisey off the disabled list by the time the team hits Oakland. He is rehabbing at Class AAA Louisville and has five hits in his first two games.
“I need some pop in the lineup,” said Baker. “He would give more options. Last year we were too right-handed and short of left-handed hitters. This year we are short of right-handers and too left-handed. We need more balance.”
And that’s exactly what the Reds are looking for on the trip — some victories against good teams to balance the won-loss ledger and force the social media mavens to search for a different negative approach.