I’m home after a fantastic weekend at Redsfest. It was my first experience, and I came away with two firm conclusions:

1. If you haven’t been, you have to go to Redsfest. It is a first-class event, and Bob Castellini deserves as much praise as we can lavish upon him for going all-out on a fan event of this type; and

2. I’m definitely bringing my children to Redsfest next year. For several reasons, they couldn’t join me this time around, but there are a ton of activities for the kids.

Overall, lots of fun for everyone at Redsfest. I definitely enjoyed getting to talk to some of our favorites, including C. Trent (who related a great Dick Pole story) and Reds beat writer Mark Sheldon, and some other Reds bloggers including Doug and a couple of the OMGReds guys. Unfortunately, we kept missing Slyde of Red Reporter fame; maybe next time.

Below the fold, I’ll give some more of my thoughts and impressions of the weekend, many of which are culled from our twitter feed. I will also have some pictures (and video) of the event later, as soon as I get them all uploaded. And yes, that will include a picture of me with Dusty Baker.

Suffice to say: I was overwhelmed by the event, and that surprised me. We don’t get to say this enough, but: kudos to the Reds.

–Lines for autographs were very long. Which didn’t bother me a bit, since I don’t really care about getting autographs. Everyone did say, however, that players were very accomodating.

–Record attendance for Redsfest this year: 17,500 people, including 8.400 on Friday. That’s amazing, given the state of the product the Reds have put on the field over the last decade.

–Funniest/nicest/most entertaining Reds player I had the chance to interact with this weekend: Chris Dickerson. By far. (Although Jay Bruce and Carlos Fisher were high on the list, as well. These guys understand what a PR opportunity Redsfest is, and they took full advantage).

–Got to shake hands with and talk to Chuck Harmon, the first black player in Reds history. He was extremely nice. It was so much fun watching him interact with kids.

–Barry Larkin was the one guy I wanted to get a picture with, but he was a popular attraction. The lines were too long, so I skipped it. Someday, maybe he’ll come to Chadsfest, and he’ll stand in the line to get his picture with me. I’ll even give him an autograph.

–Dusty Baker said a couple of things of note. First, he dismissed summarily the idea of moving Brandon Phillips to SS. Also, he basically coronated Drew Stubbs as the starting CF. Baker seemed very impressed with Stubbs.

During a Q & A session, Dusty stammered through two straight Taveras questions from fans, and was about to get a third when Marty Brennaman rescued him by changing the subject. Give Dusty credit for recognizing the sentiment in the room, however. After initially trying to defend leading off Taveras all year, he said that Taveras will likely be forced to accept being the 4th or 5th outfielder in 2010.

–Edinson Volquez is on track to return “late July, early August” according to GM Walt Jocketty.

–Jocketty also said that first-rounder Mike Leake will likely start next season in AA.

–Baker was very complimentary of Homer Bailey. Bailey wasn’t there, by the way. He was probably the biggest name among current Reds who wasn’t in attendance.

–The crowd cheered every time Jonny Gomes’ name was mentioned. Jocketty said he had just talked with Gomes’ agent, and that they’d talk again at the upcoming Winter Meetings. I wasn’t too encouraged by his noncommittal answer, but the crowd seemed very satisfied.

–Classic moment: Eric Davis and Jay Bruce were next to each other, and there were lines for people to get their pictures taken with each of them. Davis: “Jay, why are all the chicks in your line?”

–I thought about asking this guy for his autograph, but I don’t think he really plays for the Reds.

–Winner of the most insane jersey that I saw, although one of the OMGReds guys wore a Scott Ruskin jersey. That’s pretty good.

Jim Maloney and Jerry Lynch. (Yes, I know the quality of the pics isn’t great; these are all snapped with my phone. Pics from my actual camera are forthcoming, and they should be better quality.)

–Ron Oester is really bald.

–Evidently, Oester chewed out Chris Sabo for being late to a photograph session, then Sabo got mad and left the building, refusing to do the session.

Later, the Reds got him to return, but he kept acting bizarrely. For example, when the 1990 Reds were on stage taking questions, Sabo was the only player who wasn’t sitting in the front row of seats on stage. He left his seat empty and sat behind everyone else. Also, he was the only player who wasn’t wearing a jersey.

–Tom Browning had a red plastic cup in his hand every single time I saw him during the two days at Redsfest.

–Mario Soto was wearing a sweet brown fedora. He looked just like Indiana Jones.

–I looked everywhere, but couldn’t find Adam Dunn. The Reds must not have invited him this year.

–I played in the Reds Community Fund charity poker tournament, and had a blast. Carlos Fisher was seated at my table for a long time, and he was great. Brandon Phillips was at the table next to me and he was as outgoing/exuberant as you would expect.

I just missed finishing in the money, but I outlasted over 90% of the field, by my count. The blind structure was absurd and stacks were ridiculously short, but it was a charity tournament, so it was all in good fun.

Marty Brennaman was hilarous — and off-the-record, if you know what I mean — when they were auctioning off various items. I will probably play in the tournament again in the future. It was a fun time.

Daniel Ray Herrera and a banana?

Poor Jack Armstrong.

–Once, Herm Winningham walked by me, and two guys said “Norm!”, Cheers-style. Strange.

–Mascot Gapper started dancing on stage. Comment from disgusted old lady behind me: “That’s obscene.”

–Lots of merchandise for sale. Would you pay $150 for a game-worn Daryl Thompson jersey? Me neither, but gotta admit that $25 seems like a bargain for this.

I almost purchased a game-worn David Weathers jersey, but I just couldn’t talk myself into spending actual money on it.

–Bronson Arroyo gave a pretty entertaining concert. His carpal tunnel must’ve been feeling okay, because he was pickin’ and grinnin’.

–Jim Day was all over the place, especially at the poker tournament, where he was doing play by play. I’m not going to comment further, because Day really seems like a genuinely nice guy.

–The place went absolutely nuts when the University of Cincinnati football team finished off Pitt in that crazy game on Saturday. It was a wild scene.

17 Responses

  1. Dennis

    Very revealing: numerous questions from fans about Taveras with Dusty stammering to explain why he kept playing him and Marty B. rescuing Dusty by changing the subject.
    If I were there, I would have said this: “Dusty, keeping Willie T in the lineup leading off did everything to destroy the Reds’ chances in 2009. Why did you do that?”

  2. Dan

    Chad! Great to meet you at Redsfest. Also, thanks for the honorable mention in the “Most Obscure Jersey” contest. It’s an honor. You have to really dig deep to beat a Scott Ruskin 😉 Coincidentally, I did get a few positive comments about Scott from Hal Morris and Tracy Jones in separate situations… too funny.

    • Chad Dotson

      Ruskin was actually the most obscure jersey, but I didn’t snap a picture of it…so I went with the most obscure jersey for which I had a photo.

      Great to meet you, too. Really a great weekend.

  3. pinson343

    Sounds like a fabulous time. Glad to hear that people were putting heat on Dusty about Taveras. But why should he be the 4th or 5th OFer ? That still hurts the team, release him.

  4. Travis G.

    That old lady’s comment about Gapper is hilarious. And once again, thank goodness Ron Oester isn’t the manager. Seems like a total a-hole to me, notwithstanding Sabo’s apparent unprofessionalism.

  5. Travis G.

    I will say, though, Redsfest is not a place to take toddlers. I took my 2-year-old son for a couple hours on Saturday morning, and it was exhausting!

  6. Drew Nelson

    Thanks for the report Chad, I have been able to attend the Fest pre Bob buying the team and post and no question that Bob really cares about it and does a fantastic job. I attended the White Sox fest back in 2002 and it was not even close to what the Reds present.

    As for Sabo, I don’t think he likes crowds. I am shocked he even attended, he has always been kinda of LF type of guy. Some people just don’t like that scene.

    • Matt WI

      Or maybe Sabo was just busy thinking about finals being due for law school at Northern Kentucky.

      Drew Nelson: Thanks for the report Chad, I have been able to attend the Fest pre Bob buying the team and post and no question that Bob really cares about it and does a fantastic job. I attended the White Sox fest back in 2002 and it was not even close to what the Reds present.As for Sabo, I don’t think he likes crowds. I am shocked he even attended, he has always been kinda of LF type of guy. Some people just don’t like that scene.

  7. wanderinredsfan

    Kinda sad that Sabo didn’t feel welcome enough, but even more sad to see Browning clinging to the ‘red-cup-crutch’. Hopefully it was just for spit from chew, but not likely. It’s just not good timing, considering his publicized problems earlier this year. I don’t know, I guess I just hope he is happy and can keep things together while coaching and mentoring the young guys coming up through the system.

  8. jason1972

    Jack Armstong’s 1990 season was one of the strangest I can remember from a Red’s pitcher. Sometime in August or September, my friend and I had $5 nosebleed seats at Riverfront and we were slow to leave after the game. Jack Armstong, who was in the end of his massive second half tailspin by then came out onto the right field line with a catcher and started throwing. My friend yelled “Jack Armstrong, you’re still awesome!” and he threw the next one right in the dirt.

  9. Slyde

    Sorry we missed you, Chad! We just couldn’t seem to find a common time for either of us. Next year!

    As for Browning’s red cup, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a spit cup. He always had some dip in when I saw him. Also, Herm Winningham brought him a beer once and he didn’t touch it for 20 minutes and then left it on the table when he got up and walked away. Not saying he wasn’t drinking, but from what I saw of him he didn’t appear to be going heavy with it.

  10. KWells

    I purchased a Kip Wells game worn jersey for $25 (it didn’t have a tag on it so i offered 25 and they took it). The only reason i bought it is because my last name is Wells. Beats paying $150 for a new one.

  11. Kevin Mitchell is Batman

    I’m beginning to understand why Redsfest is such a spectacular event…they spend all their money there rather than at the Winter Meetings.

    I know we’re not going to be movers/shakers/winners this week, but I somehow have still found the time to check every news outlet every 15 minutes just in case. I guess when you’ve been tortured for 14 years without postseason baseball your mind becomes numb and you just lose focus.

  12. Kidcop

    Adam Rosales was great with my son and even requested a picture with him. Bruce was great too along with Dusty. Votto pushed all the kids through the kids only line. 19 autographs in all for my son on his batting helmet. Great time, and my 2 1/2 year old son is read to go back. I did get Sabo’s autograph when he was trying to leave the second time.