Thanks to HGTV, we have all learned that the worst thing anyone can do while remodeling a home is include walls, and if there is a wall, you had better hire someone to backsplash the crap out of it.

Now that the Reds are in the midst of their own remodelling, I, like everyone else, am eager for 1) results 2) a season to actually begin so I can complain about them in earnest.  As the downtown area gears up, then gears immediately back down, then somewhat tentatively gears up again before gearing up one more time for parade prep as Opening Day (we have been promised) approaches, I see several signs proclaiming this as “Reds Country.” Which it may be. In the immediate area. Because we’re the only ones who will actually put up with this crap.

Marketing gurus like to pretend the Reds fanbase is a Property Brothers mansion, sprawling and freshly backsplashed; I suspect the truth is more in the neighborhood of Tiny House Hunters. THH is somewhat the opposite of Property Brothers; it’s about people seeking out living spaces under 400 square feet, sometimes entire families, in which case it should rightfully be titled Pending Murder Case. There are no backsplashes in THH. There is no room for a backsplash in a tiny house, or for full sized appliances or a coffee table or sanity. This is the situation in which Reds fans find ourselves.

We’re simply not “Reds Country” outside of the I-275 beltloop, God’s Waiting Room where everybody from the 275 loop went to die, and certain areas of West Virginia where everyone is too busy fighting off Appalachian mission spring breakers to change the channel from 700 WLW.  Sometimes Reds spiritwear is experienced in the wilds of Arizona, Colorado, Texas, or DC.

The number of times this has happened in my travel-weary life can fit well within a tiny house toilet, and it’s because the last time the Reds won anything they didn’t sustain it long enough to become a fashion statement. In the 90s you saw an influx of University of Miami (the wrong one, the one in Florida) caps, Dallas Cowboys jerseys, and Chicago Bulls shoes; you think people in Maine were snapping up 2010 NL Central Division tee shirts?

No, Reds Country banner-makers. And I do not disdain this. We are who we are:  A mid-market team with a movable parade and free cheese coneys once we figure out which day they’re actually available.

If we’re a concentrated fan base, that means we’re crammed up in this river valley all by ourselves, fending off Pittsburgh to the– whatever direction Pittsburgh is in, I really don’t care –Cleveland to the North, St. Louis to the West and Chicago in hell. We sit here and argue over contracts and catchers and whatever else makes a baseball team work…or, in our case, not work.

These moments in our tiny little footprint are what make our Scooters and our Home Run Championships and our actual Opening Days worth sleeping in a loft and using the shower as a sink spray. We’re elbow to elbow for the moment, but, when the time comes, that’s how we know we real homesteaders from the cap-buying carpetbaggers.

26 Responses

  1. scotly50

    We are what we are. The other day, while wearing my Reds cap, a complete stranger, (vs an incomplete stranger???), donning a Cardinal cap, asked me, “you know your wearing the wrong hat”. It was my fault, I well outside the I-275 loop.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I saw a Reds shirt in Flagstaff, AZ. The good part of the rarity is that it’s enough to know you’ve found a true fan.

  2. Mary Beth Ellis

    Thanks for waiting! Every other Friday this season 🙂

  3. Mary Beth Ellis

    Awwwww thanks. The integrity of one’s search engine is paramount.

  4. jazzmanbbfan

    I needed a little humor this morning. Thanks for providing it.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      You probably need it even more now that the game is over.

  5. sanantonefan

    I sport my Reds cap/shirt proudly in San Antonio. Don’t see many down here.

    • Jeff Reed

      I do likewise in San Antonio, Florida, or as we locals call it, San Ann.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I need to expand my Texas destinations. That’s one I haven’t hit yet.
      Kind of a big state in case you didn’t know.

  6. Eric

    This Reds cap has been worn in Cincinnati, Louisville, Austin, Nashville, and now Raleigh/Durham. It has made it as far as Bangalore, India, where I tried to explain baseball to a guy as he tried to explain cricket to me (it didn’t take). I’ve experienced only minimal amounts of crap from people about it, if only because I’ve not spent extended periods of time in the aforementioned CLE, STL, PIT, or CHI.

    Even having been born in Libertyville IL, as a Packers fan, I do appreciate your “Chicago in hell” comment, which I think bears even more significance on Good Friday.

    Surprise us, this season, my beloved Reds. Pleasantly. Surprise us.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      You win the “farthest away” award so far.

  7. Scott Carter

    You are right. Not much beyond the I 275 loop. Although I lived in Findlay for about 4-5 years and that was pretty heavy Reds Country. Now however down in Virginia I have two Reds shirts that I have worn out and two Reds Caps. I still wear proudly. (Along with my UNC hat, I get much more grief for that one) The real issue is that however is that I don’t get grief for the Reds gear because no one around here cares about the Reds. They are insignificant outside of Cincinnati. Let’s move out of that tiny house into something better. Maybe we need to contact Chip and Joanna.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I have a Crosely Field cap that’s waaaaay cool. It really separates out the bandwagoners.

  8. gusnwally

    I have had the good fortune to visit Saratoga Racetrack 3 times in recent years. I always wear my Ted Kluszewski shirt one day. It is so much fun to have guys my age and older(70) tape me on the shoulder. ” Hey, Buddy, I sure remember Big Klu, boy could really hittem” I only get a few seconds with them, but that shirt is priceless. My son made it for me and he stands and smiles knowing how much pleasure Ol Dad gets from BIGKLU 18 shirt. Always look forward to your pieces , keep them coming.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Oh! Thank you so much for bringing Big Klu to Saratoga! That sounds wonderful 🙂

  9. Matt Esberger

    Wore my late 90s/early aughts black wishbone C hat in DC a few years back and lost count of people that came up to me and replied that they were huge Bears fans as well and what I thought of Jay Cutler.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I lived in DC when the Nationals began. It was… uncomfortable for me and my Sean Casey tops.

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        Now that was the Era of the Ill-Advised Haircut, so judging by the photographs, 2008-2010.

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        Oh wait, I was around when the park opened, not when the franchise moved. Never mind. All I remember is a co-worker cramming his cubicle with all kinds of Nationals gear and me thinking, “Are you sure this is the kind of lifelong commitment you wanna make?”

    • Eric

      Matt, I had a special Reds denim cap with a wishbone-C filled wth stars ‘n stripes, and I used to get the Bears thing from people all the time. uggh…

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        That sound wicked cool (the cap, not the Bears thing. That’s just sad.)

  10. Mary Beth Ellis

    I got my MFA in Vermont. My cap would have been friends with your cap.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Bennington. Me and Diane Chambers.

  11. Florence

    We moved from just outside the I-275 loop 10 years ago to central Iowa where being a Reds fan is definitely in the minority. Hubby and I are in the midst of doing the MLB tour (20 down, 10 to go). I wear my Reds t-shirts at most games, regardless of who’s playing.

    Side note: Since leaving Ohio, the t-shirt I get the most comments on is my Skyline Chili one.

    I enjoy your articles, and look forward to another season of Redleg Nation recaps that often make me laugh when I want to cry.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Thanks Florence. Although the one I’m working on now is largely tear-driven.