There’s something pretty cool going on just a couple hours from my house. The Cincinnati Reds have survived the summer and are poised to enter baseball’s final month with a comfortable lead in the National League Central.

Some writers picked the Reds as a team with the potential to surprise last spring. But after they stumbled out of the gate, it looked like another long summer for Reds fans. The Cardinals, as expected, were going to run away with the division and Reds fans could only hope that their young arms would get some experience and be ready for a run in 2011.

Then April turned to May, the Reds righted the ship, the Cardinals cooled off, and by June the Reds were in first place. Despite a contentious series in Cincinnati last month, which featured a bench-clearing brawl and a Cardinals sweep, the Reds have gotten hot, the Cards continue to scuffle, and suddenly the Reds’ lead is up to five games.

I’ve written here before that it’s tough for me to jump on the bandwagon of any National League team. Growing up an American League fan in the days when the NL won just about every All-Star game made it tough to like the senior circuit. My preference for the AL style of play – more offense, the DH, fewer silly late innings moves – added to that reluctance. Other than when the Yankees make the World Series, and I automatically root for the NL team, I still tend to default to the AL.

The Reds are, technically, Indy’s major league team. I would imagine there are more Cubs fans here, plenty of White Sox and Cardinals fans, and healthy swaths of Yankees and Red Sox fans. However the Reds are the team whose games we see on our local FSN affiliate and the easiest team to hear on the radio.1 I’ve watched my share of Reds games since we moved to Indy, but as they’ve either been not very good or out-of-the-race by August, it’s never been more than a handful each season.

As they’ve stuck in the race this year, though, I find myself watching more of their games. On nights when I want to listen to a game, it’s been the Reds I pull up on the iPhone instead of the Royals. That says something about how enjoyable they are to watch play, as the Reds broadcasting teams are awful.

Anyway, I won’t say I’m becoming an NL fan or that I’m even officially on the Reds’ bandwagon. It has been fun, though, to watch some games that matter for a quasi-local team. I have several friends here who are big, lifetime Reds fans and it adds to my enjoyment to see them getting excited about their team for the first time in years. It gives me hope that someday that might happen for the Royals again.

Of course, now that I’ve outed myself as following the Reds, I’m sure they’ll go into the tank. Blame me when it happens. Sorry, Reds fans.

  1. The Cubs are on local radio, as well, but on a much lower powered station than the Reds.