A month into the season and the Reds are what they are, but for the sake of relevance to their fans, the Reds had better make some considerations…and soon!
Coming from one of America’s great fans of baseball this will sound odd; but I’ve watched a grand total of three innings of Reds baseball this spring.
That’s right. I watched the final three frames of Jake Arrieta’s no-hitter a couple of weeks back…and confess that I was rooting for Arrieta. I ALWAYS ROOT FOR THE PITCHER, and always for no-hitters!
Look, the Reds, the way they’re playing, are a little bit like falling in love with Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, probably more Clinton than Trump.
Trump would make no excuses for being a small-market team if he owned the club, and like George Steinbrenner I suspect that he would be impatient and ante up to make them competitive on the field and solid in their minor league development…out of arrogance and pride!
Clinton would be more like present culture. Just give us more time to develop younger, cheaper players. Pay big league prices while we do it. Enjoy the atmosphere; and we need the rich teams, “the haves”, to pay more to make life better for the other teams, the “have nots”. And if this goes totally south…build us a new stadium with taxpayers’ dollars in a few years so we can start the process of phony renovation of downtown Cincinnati again. It’s good retail to have a new ballpark to tour.
Or, you can blame it on the street car. There should be no question of that being a total bust by then.
I wasn’t a fan of George Steinbrenner at the time he owned and managed the Yankees. Like Trump of today, he came off as a bully, petulant, entitled, and arrogant in the pursuit of success. But hey, wouldn’t some of that look good right now as you watch 10 of the 25 players on the roster that have never appeared on a Topps baseball card? Personally, I long for some bullying.
It would sound a lot better to cynical minds like mine than the age-old lament from the progression of Reds owners about being “small-market”, that they can’t afford what the other teams are doing. They don’t care about making money, they’ll say. They just don’t want to lose any. You think Carl Lindner actually believed that in his private business empire?
Well, in the meantime I stand on my prediction that they’re going to lose a hundred games this season.
I stand on my assertion that from a baseball environment the Reds at GABP are as lacking as any I’ve ever seen.
And unfortunately, when the June draft comes along next month I don’t think they’re going to find and introduce a Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, or Carlos Correa…someone that can make the kind of immediate impact that John Bench did as the cornerstone piece of the Big Red Machine back in the 60s.
I think it’s going to be a miserable summer for Reds fans. That’s not negative; it’s just the truth. Attendance for the first month is down…way down. You can only induct Pete Rose once to the hall of fame, and the crowd that would come to see that only comes once a year anyway, a protest demonstration on behalf of the life and ways of the Hit King. So, if I were the Reds…I think I’d do a few things to prove to the fans they they understand – that being “small market” goes both ways.
1) Ticket prices across all of major baseball are ridiculous. But charging extra to see the Reds play the Cubs, Cardinals, and the other top franchises (because you can, or because the Yankees do it) is just sleazy. Paying $30 to sit in the right field bleachers, 400 feet away from home plate, is equally usurious. I’d cut ’em by half.
2) Concession prices at major league ballparks are a freaking joke. Someone recently wrote to Hal McCoy on this site and suggested free Cokes to offset the profit margin being charged for beer and food at GABP. Seriously, can you imagine paying $8 for a Frisch’s Big Boy? Can you imagine bringing your own food to the ballpark, like you once could when they played at Crosley Field? Take another cut. Prove to the fans that while they’re paying too much for a bad bullpen, you can still buy a hotdog for $2.
3) I’ve never liked this idea of having security people walk out between innings and stand on the warning track, staring up into the crowd, looking for trouble. I think it’s kinda’ creepy. The Reds aren’t alone in this, by the way. The guys in Houston all look like broken down body builders. This all started years ago when two drunks jumped on the field in Chicago and beat up a first base coach. But the present practice is simple over-reaction.
4) When I was a teenager you could go to the ballpark and watch both teams take batting practice, take infield, and just hang around, soaking up the environment of being in a major league ballpark. Ushers didn’t hassle you. You could hang out by the box seats and get autographs, and generally you learned a lot about how the professionals played the game by watching their pre-game routines. Not anymore. Costs too much to have stadium personnel on hand three hours prior, and the players refuse to even take infield. So what you have is a good retail environment, but a bad baseball environment. Thank you, players union.
5) Finally, I don’t know who could sit through a pair of back-to-back baseball games when you play like the Reds, but the players union also canned the classic “double header” years ago…two games for the price of one. Now, if they play two they clear the ballpark and make you buy a separate ticket for the second game. Again, great for retail…bad for baseball.
Look, the Reds aren’t going to be good on the field for a while, and I know no one who who’s willing to say in under five years. That’s a long time to charge too much for outfield seats, too much for hot dogs, hamburgers, beer and soft drinks. It’s a long time to listen to Thom Brennaman and Chris Welsh. It’s a long time to tell your patrons that they have to pay major league scale for minor league baseball…but they can bring their dog to the ballpark if they clean up the mess!
They’d better remember? This isn’t 1956 anymore. The Reds were bad back then, too, but there was nothing else to do…and Johnny Temple and Roy McMillan (I loved Roy McMillan) would stand and just talk to you about baseball. Being relevant on the field didn’t really matter. Now there’s a lot of things to do besides go to the ballpark and management had better think about making fans feel relevant in their own wallets.
You can argue that I’ve oversimplified. You can claim it’s entertainment and with its inherent value…it’s the MAJOR LEAGUES. But the Reds are not working from a “seller’s” market. They’d better make the case to Reds Country…it’s time to make the case … that “small market” goes both ways!
Florence Freedom, anyone?