Discover more from The Riverfront by Chad Dotson
Why I love being a Reds fan
Can't we all just get along?
Confession: I kinda love Twitter, or whatever it’s called now. I’ve met so many great people over there, and had a million great conversations and even more laughs. I joined in the early days, mostly as a way to talk about the Cincinnati Reds, and I quickly found a core group of avid fans. I’ve become friends in real life with many of them, and I genuinely enjoy checking out their
140 280-character musings on every topic under the sun on a daily basis.
A funny thing about the early days of being a sports fan on Twitter is that we seemed to engage more with fans of other teams, rather than sticking to our own in-groups. When the Reds were about to play Philadelphia in the 2010 NL Division Series, I got to know a bunch of Phillies fans. They were nice to us because it was kinda cute that the Reds were actually in the playoffs. And to this day, I still follow 5-10 hardcore Philly accounts that I met back then.
Twitter, of course, is a cess pool for many of the reasons you already know, so I won’t recount them. But despite that, there are a ton of great Cincinnati sports fans over there. The pros have far outweighed the cons for me for many years. And the truth is, on most days, I still love it and have a great time hanging with everyone.
I am almost assuredly going to miss it. But it’s time to step away, for a while anyway.
This is something I’ve been considering since Elon began throttling links to Substack. I ran across a Substack post today from a newsletter with which I hadn’t previously been familiar, and it summed up a lot of my feelings about the relationship between Twitter and Substack. I write a lot of words about Cincinnati sports — and the Reds in particular — and most of those words are here at The Riverfront. I like writing and thinking about the Reds, and researching fun nuggets from their history. I think you like it too. I hope that’s why so many of you have chosen to subscribe. For the rest of you, a hint:
So, anyway, I really love Substack, and I have a lot of plans for this space. It just makes sense for me to focus on the Substack ecosystem right now. For example, did you know about Substack Notes? It’s really pretty great, kinda like Twitter without all the very angry people. I encourage you to download the app and check it out (though it’s also available on the web). If you already have a Substack account, it’s simple to test it out. Let me know when you join so we can interact, and commiserate about the Reds giving up 36 runs in two games. Or other things.
But it’s not a Twitter replacement, and it wasn’t designed to be. So I’m still going to miss my interactions with #RedsTwitter, and all the great folks over there. I’m now on Bluesky and Threads, and a bunch of the #RedsTwitter family have migrated to these spots, at least on occasion. Bluesky, in particular, has a lot of the OGs there. And I’ll probably dip my toe back into Twitter occasionally, but mainly just to promote my weekly columns at the Mother Ship. (Gotta get those precious clicks, baby!)
There are, however, things I won’t miss about #RedsTwitter…like the behavior of certain fans. I wrote last week about how to be a good Reds fan, and the headline was a misdirection, and more than a little facetious. Be a fan however you like! There’s no one way. There are prospect-huggers and doom-and-gloomers and Krall disciples and the “I’m angry all the time” crowd. And all of that is fine in the end, because we all want the same thing. (I think.) We all want the Reds to play winning baseball, even if we disagree occasionally on the best strategy for accomplishing that.
I’ve tried to be respectful to everyone on Twitter. (Perhaps that’s because, to my knowledge, no Castellinis are on Twitter. I am aware of burner accounts for certain current and former management types, however.) Maybe I’ve stumbled on occasion over the years — and if so, I apologize sincerely — but I always tried to be light-hearted, often sarcastic, and mostly non-argumentative. I was just there to have a good time. Without question, I’ve been critical of the team, and more specifically, Reds ownership. But I’ve tried to separate the players on the field and the hardcore fans of the community with the consistent failures of ownership and management.*
*The most popular post here at The Riverfront is titled, “Love the Reds. Boycott Bob Castellini.”
But as you know, sports fans on Twitter — at least the loudest ones — are rarely light-hearted and non-argumentative. There are a number of reasons for that. First of all, obviously, sports elicit deep emotions in our society. Fans identify with their teams, and they care about the outcomes deeply. Any disagreement or critique ends up feeling like a personal attack, and that triggers defensive and aggressive responses.
Then there’s the mask of anonymity that Twitter provides. It makes people bolder and less inhibited, leading to more aggressive behavior. It often emboldens the meek, turning a civil fan into a confrontational critic. Plus, the digital world often seems void of real-world consequences, and that just fuels this transformation.
Further, Twitter is a stage for immediate reactions. There's no intermission, no time to ponder the tone of a reply, no moment to reflect on the weight of words. The rapid-fire responses, while making Twitter the vibrant platform it is, also stoke the flames of hostility.
And finally — and this is maybe the most important factor — as we navigate the Twitterverse, we often find ourselves amidst a chorus of agreeing voices, an echo chamber of like-minded individuals. These echo chambers, while comfortable, often serve to intensify beliefs and behaviors, sometimes to extremes. What begins as a friendly debate can quickly devolve into a battle of words. In some ways, it’s the nature of sports — a subjective realm where opinions are as diverse as the players themselves. Disagreements are inevitable. However, the journey from disagreement to hostility is one that some fans choose willingly. I just don’t get it, and I never will.
And that’s what I saw on Trade Deadline night out there on #RedsTwitter. It echoed the political debates in this country in the sense that there was no middle ground. Everyone had to be divided into one of two camps, and if you’re in the other camp, you’re the enemy. A rough sketch of the two sides:
As my friend Mo Egger characterized it: adding starting pitching help to the 2023 Reds in an effort to bolster their chances of making the postseason and advancing in the playoffs would completely torpedo the club's long-term hopes; or
Nick Krall refusing to make any trades would (a) doom the 2023 Reds and (b) be the dumbest strategy in the history of baseball, and clearly a failure on the part of the entire organization.
Obviously, I’m being a bit reductive here. But what I saw on trade deadline night were fights everywhere.* And none of the people who were screaming the loudest, on both sides of the issue, were allowing any room whatsoever for nuance. Because that’s what happens on social media. Frankly, I’m exhausted by it.
*I stayed away from most of this nonsense, but I did see a lot of my friends getting frustrated with the silliness of a certain camp who took any mild criticism of the organization as a personal affront.
My opinion about what the Reds did on Tuesday is, I think, pretty balanced. Standing still at the trade deadline might very well be the right decision for the Reds long-term. I suspect it’s not, but that’s arguable. I do think it was absolutely the wrong decision for the 2023 team’s chances. And that’s a shame, because I want to see the Reds win.
So yeah, I didn’t delete my Twitter account, but I did delete the app from my phone. I’m tired of unserious people dropping into my mentions to mischaracterize what I said and looking for an online fight.
But then I reminded myself of something that I occasionally forget. The loudest voices online don't represent the entire Reds fan base, on either side of the divide. The noise we often hear comes from those screaming voices. It's easy to mistake them for the entire crowd. But for each voice that spreads discord, there are countless others celebrating the Reds and baseball in its true spirit — with respect, with camaraderie, with love for the game and for our community. Those are the voices we should tune in to, the voices that remind us why we fell in love with the Reds in the first place.
Twitter is not real life. I’ve met so many amazing Reds fans through the years of interacting online, at Redleg Nation, via my various writing outlets, and on social media. The vast majority of fans just want to see the Reds win and don’t want to get angry about a sport that’s supposed to be a distraction. They want to go to the game and get a beer and talk to the person sitting next to them, while cheering when a Red hits the ball hard.
In the end, I love being a Reds fan. And the reason why is simple. It’s you, and others like you. It’s our community. Often, you disagree with me, and you let me know, and we have a discussion about it. Keep doing that! But these interactions are never hostile (at least not here on Substack). Because we have this Reds thing in common. I love the fact that a shared affinity for this dumb baseball team has given me friends. It has given me genuine joy.
So yeah, I think the Reds do dumb stuff sometimes. But I can’t quit them. I’ve made too many friends along the way.
He’s not wrong
Somehow, I accidentally sent an early, unfinished draft of this week’s column to my editor at Cincinnati Magazine. (If you haven’t read it yet, keep scrolling!) We cleared up the confusion, and I got this response. Not sure what to make of this, but he’s not wrong haha.
I thought the first version ended abruptly, but I was thinking maybe you didn’t have a lot to say and were done with the trade deadline. I need to remember that you always have a lot to say even when you don’t have much to say….
I have literally no complaints with my editors at the Magazine, and they impose few limits on me (unless it’s a piece for the print edition, and you can’t avoid having a word count there). They’re amazing friends and colleagues. But I think that’s why I’ve leaned so heavily into my Substack. I do always have a lot to say, even when I don’t have much to say.
This week at Cincinnati Magazine: The Reds don’t add a big name at the deadline
The Major League Baseball trade deadline has passed, and perhaps the best place to begin our analysis of the Reds’ activity is where I left off last week:
The Reds should be good in coming seasons, but with the Cubs and Cardinals presumably improving over the winter there’s no guarantee the Reds will be in this position next year—or any year in the future, for that matter. The Reds have a shot at glory now, and, as we’ve seen in recent years, anyone who sneaks into the playoffs has a chance to win the whole thing.
(GM Nick) Krall’s goal should not be to scrap the plan but to evolve it, given the new realities of Cincinnati’s situation. Improve the rotation. Improve the bullpen. And give this incredibly fun group of kids (plus Joey Votto) a chance for Cincinnati immortality.
Cincinnati’s situation at the trade deadline was better than it’s been in more than a decade. The Redlegs stood atop the National League’s Central division, a game and a half ahead of Milwaukee. Despite recent struggles against the Brewers, the Reds rebounded to win two of three in Los Angeles, then took the first game of a series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Things were looking good again. The Reds even had a positive run differential for the first time all season!
If you were placing your bets on the Reds going full steam ahead at the deadline, leaving no stone unturned in their quest for the division title … well, you wouldn’t be alone. Many, including yours truly, were hopeful that the organization would make real strides to bolster this young, promising squad for the stretch run. Krall, after all, didn’t just hint at it, he spoke it aloud a month ago. “We’re looking to win,” he said. “That’s our goal. I think we want to do whatever we can for this team.” And then, “Yeah, we do have financial flexibility to add (players).” Read the rest of this week’s Reds column over at Cincinnati Magazine.
What’s Chad Watching?
After last week’s Barbenheimer extravaganza, not much on the movie front this week. I did watch three of my favorites, but it was more like they were on in the background while I was working (with Chris Garber) on finishing up the second edition to “The Big 50” (coming soon!).
I look at that graphic, however, and I wonder why I underrated Shawshank so much.
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