Last week here at The Riverfront, I asked whether we can be optimistic about the 2021 Cincinnati Reds. The answer (to me, anyway) is an unqualified yes. There are plenty of reasons to think this year’s version of the Redlegs can be competitive and — who knows? — maybe even sneak into the playoffs and do some damage. And even if that doesn’t ultimately happen, there are a ton of fun players here and I fully believe this will be a team that is easy to root for.
In the wake of last week’s column, I received the following email from a devoted reader:
The answer to this is also yes, in my opinion. This is something that I’ve danced around on my Reds podcast, and I want to take a moment to unpack it here.
Let’s begin with this point: Bob Castellini and the Reds ownership group have done absolutely nothing to encourage you to believe that they really want to win in 2021. They just gave up this off-season, refusing to improve the team. Think about it: they’re literally going into the season without a legitimate big league starter at shortstop, one of the most important positions on the field! And they’re doing it in the name of saving a few bucks. (And I haven’t even mentioned the fact that they gave away two quality pitchers — Raisel Iglesias and Archie Bradley — for literally no reason other than the fact that they were going to have to pay them in United States legal tender.)
I think that the paragraph above is absolutely true, and I don’t think it’s possible to argue otherwise in good faith. Castellini doesn’t care about Reds fans; he cares about his wallet. And that’s his prerogative! The Reds are his toy, after all. But that’s not the discussion I want to have today. (There’s no discussion to have anyway; I’m completely right and you know it.)
So if Castellini doesn’t care, why should you? Well, I wrote a lot of words last week telling you why you should. I care about them. This team isn’t bad, and I do believe they can be a lot of fun. And there’s another thing in the mix: you will actually get a chance to go back to Great American Ball Park soon.
Many Reds fans are fired up about the opportunity to get back to the ol’ ball orchard, as Joe Nuxhall used to call it. GABP is the most underrated stadium in baseball, in my not-even-remotely humble opinion. It’s a gem, and an afternoon or evening in the stands, taking in a ballgame down by the river, is among the better ways you can find to waste a few hours. I know I have spent many great times just hanging out at GABP, watching the team we love.
If you’re excited about actually going to the park and watching baseball this year — a return to the normal that we used to take for granted — I’m with you! I can’t wait to sit in a ballpark again, watching baseball, having a beverage and enjoying life with fellow fans. But for me, at least, it won’t be at GABP. After watching him steadfastly refuse to improve this team — when he could have zigged, rather than zagged — I’m not giving a single dime of my money to Bob Castellini in 2021.
This is my little protest, and I’m not asking anyone to follow me down this road. Enjoy baseball however you like, and if that means you want to go out to GABP and have a coney and a brew and watch the Reds, have a blast. I won’t judge you for it.
But you won’t see me there. I’m going to give this team my attention, because I write about them. (By the way, this will be my eighth season covering the Reds for Cincinnati Magazine. Support them, if you can. They really care about Cincinnati. Plus, I’m nothing if not a company man.) I’m going to watch every game, and I guess some pennies will indirectly go into Castellini’s pockets because of TV deals. I’m going to cheer for the Reds, and I hope they win 162 games.
But I’m not buying a ticket. I’m not paying for parking, or concessions, or merchandise. I’m not paying for gasoline to drive to the park, or an Uber to take me there. Bob Castellini refused to spend a dime to improve his team this winter. I’m going to hang onto my dimes too.
Or rather, I’ll spend them elsewhere. I will absolutely go to a big league ballpark in 2021. Perhaps more than one. I don’t know which stadium(s) that’ll be, but I know it won’t be Great American Ball Park. I’ll probably go to a minor league game or three, as well. I love being at the ballpark. When the doors have opened back up, I’ll be there. It’s one of the great joys in life.
Again, I’m not encouraging anyone to follow my example. I really won’t judge you if you want to head out to Great American Ball Park. It’s fun, I know.
And I’m not encouraging anyone to ignore the Reds. I certainly won’t — and let’s be honest, I wouldn’t be ignoring them, even if I didn’t have to write about the team. I’m hooked. At this point in my life, I have to be honest and accept that they are always going to have my attention, probably until my last day on this earth.
Which is exactly what Castellini is counting on. He’s depending on Reds fans just ignoring the fact that he doesn’t care whether his team wins or loses…or at least, that he doesn’t care enough to go all out to win. He’s counting on fans coming back to the park because they can, not because they expect the Reds to be good.
I’m tired of that song and dance. It’s what I’ve been dealing with for most of my adult life. I’ll pull for the Reds all season long. I’ll enjoy every win, and every loss will upset me.
But I just can’t justify giving Castellini any of my money. I just can’t forget that he lied to us, and hopes we won’t remember. Once his ownership group sells the team, or if they actually decide to go all-in to put a winner on the field for the first time since Castellini took over, perhaps I’ll change my stance. I love being at GABP, after all.
Listen, I love the Cincinnati Reds. I always will. But Bob Castellini can take a hike. I dream of the day that a Reds owner actually cares about putting a winning team on the field. I hope it happens in my lifetime.
(And don’t even get me started on Mike Brown…)
What I’m Reading
Grant Freking: FC Cincinnati looks for a fresh start
Mo Egger: Duke Tobin is well positioned in a crucial Bengals offseason. Can he deliver? ($)
C. Trent Rosecrans: Jonathan India takes a step up after a solid spring start with the Reds ($)
Paul Daugherty: For the Cincinnati Bengals to simply 'compete' isn't enough anymore
Geoff Hobson: Bengals Head Into NFL's New Year
What Chad’s Watching
Too much college basketball this week, so the movies took a backseat. In fact, I only watched one film that I had never seen before, Jean-Luc Godard’s “Pierrot le Fou.” As I'm thinking about it now, I’m wondering if I underrated it at four stars. It has stuck with me ever since, especially the intoxicating performance of Anna Karina as a woman on the run with Pierrot. Or Ferdinand. Recommended if you don’t mind subtitles or French films. I like both.
What do I need to say about “The Wolf of Wall Street”? I haven’t rewatched it in years, and I was just as blown away as I was when originally released. Martin Scorcese is just a genius, and he displays all his talents here. Also: probably my favorite performances from Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, and Margot Robbie.
The World’s Most Dangerous Reds Podcast
RNR #365: Take the RNR Challenge!
Chris Garber and I discuss how the Reds will replace Joey Votto for some meaningless spring training games, and tackle all of the ongoing storylines out of Goodyear, Arizona. It’s a fun and far-too-irreverant episode of the World’s Most Dangerous Podcast!
We talk about the Cincinnati Reds — for better or for worse — every single week on RNR. Join us for free by subscribing everywhere you find dangerous podcasts. Or any other podcast, really. And you can support the podcast here.
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Ownership In Cincinnati is a complete embarrassment