There wasn’t much electricity or excitement at the latest Redfest held at the Duke Convention Center in downtown Cincinnati. There had been no trades or signings. There had been no news at all. I can only imagine the excitement at the annual Cubs Convention.

Just a few days after it was over, the Reds traded two-fifths of their starting rotation (Matt Latos and Alfredo Simon) for four minor leagues. It’s probably a good thing that didn’t happen a few days before Redsfest.

I saw Latos on Sunday at Redsfest being escorted by Reds officials to a signing. As he walked by me, I said “Hey Matt, how ya’ doin?” Latos never even looked my way. It seemed sort of, kind of obvious he didn’t even want to be there. It’s a good thing I didn’t bring up Buster Posey’s grand slam home run off him in Game Five of the 2012 playoffs.

But Latos was the rule, not the exception. Most of the Reds players were friendly to a fault with the fans and good to the kids, which is always good to see.

The main reason I go to Redsfest is it gives my brother and me an opportunity to spend some time together and visit. We enjoy seeing older Reds veterans the most. A good example is Jack Billingham, a pitcher for the Big Red Machine. I couldn’t remember how many World Series innings he pitched and he allowed just one earned run. He was virtually unhittable in the four World Series he played in. I thought it was 24 and 2/3 innings. “25 and a third,” a smiling Billingham said without hesitation.

Gary Nolan also had a big smile when we talked about Game 4 of the 1976 World Series. It was the only Series game the former Reds righthander won in seven starts. But Nolan had several great seasons for Cincinnati and it was the first time I have seen him personally.

I spent a lot of time with former Reds outfielder Eddie Milner. The only Opening Day I’ve been to happened in 1984 and Milner homered in that game. “I should have had two,” Milner said. When I said that Mets outfielder Daryl Strawberry robbed him of a second with a leaping catch, Eddie looked at me and said, “You remember that too?” After we chatted about the ’84 Reds, (“We didn’t have much except for Soto,” said Milner) Eddie looked at me and asked, “Hey, who was pitching for the Mets that day?” Mike Torrez started for the Mets but was knocked out in the second inning. Milner’s drive caught by a leaping Strawberry came off relief pitcher Craig Swan in the 6th inning.

Of the current Reds, I had a limited but nice talk with Jay Bruce during a photo session. I told him I had a front row seat the night he hit THE home run, the one that clinched the Division Title for the Reds in 2010. Before I left, I told him not to get down on himself for the bad 2014 season he had. And that when he plays like the real Jay Bruce, he’s the best rightfielder the Reds have had since Frank Robinson. I meant what I said and have written that in the past, for what it’s worth.

Before all the Reds were introduced on the first day, we were betting on which Red would get the biggest applause. My brother said it would be Brandon Phillips. I bet on Todd Frazier. Phillips was the correct choice.

Crowds at Redsfest reflect the crowd you see at Great American Ballpark. Lots of kids, many families. The price of beer is about the same too — $6 for one at Redsfest (ouch).

The Reds do a good job at putting events like this together. I’m confident they will also do a great job with the All-Star Game next year and all the events surrounding GABP.

Now, if they could just get an outfielder with some pop in his bat.

And fix the bullpen.

And make Aroldis Chapman a starter.

You can always hope can’t you?

13 Responses

  1. Clay

    I attended RedsFest and saw Latos thrive with fans and seem like he loved the atmosphere and enjoyed being there. He took part in a number of fan friendly events during the weekend and was there for the majority of the weekend. Can you imagine the number of fans who scream at players as they walk by? You can’t acknowledge everyone and they are being escorted around by Reds officials to make sure they do not stop and talk to fans as they are on a schedule.

  2. Hebron Reds Fan

    My kids and I got Mat’s autograph on Saturday. I congratulated him on being a new dad and told him that I hope we would be around (the Reds) for a long time. He thanked me and warmly responded that he hoped so too. These guys are human and I think the trade rumors obviously weighed on him and his family (he has said as much). Not sure it is fair to evaluate his desire to be their based on all that was going on. They purchased a house and made Cincinnati their home. I think they really appreciated the fans here.

    The Reds do an amazing job with Redsfest and these events. Next year will be our 10th Redsfest in a row. Thanks Redlegs!

    • Dale Pearl

      I doubt it weighs on them in a bad way. We are talking millions of dollars to play baseball and typically if you are trading teams it also means you are closing in on a payday. Sure they are human but let us also not forget that they are spoiled millionaires.

      • CP

        Rich athletes, and their families, don’t have feelings.

      • Dale Pearl

        family man raking in 50K a year versus Mat about to make 8.5 million even if he gains 100 pounds in the offseason? Totally different level of behavior and humanity absolutely. Mat doesn’t have to worry about having to work OT Christmas eve to buy his little kid a $5.00 toy. Mat will be buying his baby a new house, a new car, and half a dozen servants to wait on him hand and foot so Ms. Latos can annoy Marlin fans with silly tweets.

  3. Dennis

    Maybe Latos didn’t respond because you said his name with two T’s.

  4. zaglamir

    Thanks for the report. Glad to hear the Reds community outreach is still functional. Also, I think you meant to say “Mat was the exception, not the rule,” as you later imply the rest of the players were extremely friendly. Just don’t want someone to misinterpret you.

    Cheers,
    Zach

  5. gusnwally

    Welcome home John. I was a kid in the USAF stationed in Washington D.C. Went down to the snack bar as always in the morning. Got my sports page and saw a kid named Gary Nolan had struck out Willie Mays 4 times. That remembrance brought a big smile to Gary’s face. Jim Maloney was great as well as Eddie Milner. Eddie was having a ball. He obviously loved being there. However, Cactus Jack was the best. Greeted everyone warmly and seemed to really love seeing the fans. The lines for the pics with the old guys are almost nonexistent. I heartily recommend everyone going at least once.

    • Tom Gray

      I saw the Nolan (K-ing Willie May 4 times) game in person at Crosley Field. Nolan had something like 15 or 16 K that day. It was his rookie year, I think. Dominant.

  6. CP

    Pete Rose was a hitter who just happened to play RF. I don’t think anyone would actually consider him a RF…

    Reggie Sanders from 1992-1996 put up a 18 fWAR, with a 6.6 fWAR in 1995, with solid defensive metrics. The guy gets overlooked all the time, but man, could the Reds use him right now. Might want to keep a guy around in case they face the Braves in the playoffs though…

  7. icee82

    I was there as well. I travel about eight hours annually for this so I am not a Cincinnati native. Sometimes when you are close to the fire, it is hard to evaluate. I waited for a few weeks so that I could really analyze what I saw and felt. RedsFest was very different this year. I have been for six or seven years straight now and there was no buzz this year. To be honest, the Reds’ organization did not seem to be on top of their game. Information about RedsFest was very slow to trickle out. Normally there are last minute additions that really gets the adrenaline going. Basically two weeks before RedsFest the final roster was revealed and there were few changes. Upon arrival and talking with people in line, there was a prevalent feeling of apathy. It was almost a sense of impending doom. The fan base was just not energized whatsoever. I know myself that I still feel a bitter disappointment over the performance of the previous two years. Few positive changes have been made to the roster and the organization just seem to happy with the status quo. The window of opportunity is quickly closing and it seemed that the fan base believes that the window has already closed. I am not a conspiracy theorist but I wonder if the organization believes that with the All-Star game coming, they will sell plenty of season tickets so they are okay with the product. I hope that is not the case. We need left field help badly as well as bullpen help. Seemingly most teams have already positioned themselves for the 2015 season but we are on the outside looking in.

  8. james McDaniel

    I went a couple of years ago and I can’t see how another club could do as much as the Redsfest does for the fans. There is something for everyone.