Chad recently wrote an article talking about a lost generation of Reds fans. I am among the lowly who barely remember the Reds last playoff series victory in 1995. I watched that entire sweep, but those memories fade just a little every year.

I grew up on stories of the Big Red Machine. My father, a 1975 high school graduate, comforted my brother and I with tales of the good, ole days. It was a bittersweet consolation prize as I listened to Marty and Joe relay the mediocrity of the teams of my youth. In retrospect, that stretch was less frustrating than the current era of losing.

The Reds were rarely horrible after that 1995 season, winning at least 76 games 9 times from 1996-2009. They never had back-to-back 90 loss seasons. Because of that, each year offered hope that they would finally return to the postseason and just maybe, make a run that many of us haven’t really seen before.

Looking back, those front offices often applied band aids to gaping wounds. Each year, the Reds slowly leaked oil, so slowly that it felt like they were contending, but the front office never addressed the issues that kept holding them back, which were mostly pitching related.

The patchwork the Reds did at the expense of a real rebuild made them perennial losers for roughly a decade. It was the wrong way to construct a winner, but their pseudo-competitiveness made it feel more tolerable.

The current poor stretch of baseball is different. The Reds have committed to getting younger and have traded aging assets to improve their long-term fortunes. The overhaul I wanted them to do in the early to mid-2000s is exactly what they’ve tried to do in the last few seasons. The general approach makes more sense than what they tried to do during the decade of the 2000s.

Unfortunately, the last five years have made the 1996-2009 period seem like an era of great prosperity. Not only have the Reds been bad, they have been slothful in offering hope. The 2015-2016 teams were old and uninteresting. The 2017-2018 teams were younger but just as unsuccessful.

The 2018 season was especially harmful to the good will between fans and the organization because it was the year some expected things to turn around.

I notice friends my age losing interest. “Don’t they have the same team as last year” one quipped when I noted they should be better in 2018. In hindsight, he was right. I expected the young pitching to grow; none of it really did. To casual fans, they did nothing to improve, like the team just didn’t care.

The Reds genuinely thought Tyler Mahle, Robert Stephenson, Sal Romano, and potentially others would take big steps forward; they had good reason to think that might happen based on how 2017 ended. Many fans just saw was an unwillingness to upgrade a disastrous rotation.

That feeling has led to frustration and even worse, apathy, maybe especially among 20-35 years who weren’t alive or don’t remember 1990. Fans my age are having kids, and while we remember the joys of going to the ballpark with our parents, the current product has been so disheartening that many seem unwilling to carry on their family ball park traditions.

That will all change if the Reds can sport a winner soon. I believe they have made better decisions now than during the 2000s, but for casual fans, it doesn’t feel like it. The Reds should never make decisions based on how the fanbase (or owner) feels, but they need a sense of urgency right now. If they are unable to turn this franchise around soon, my peers will get used to taking their families to other events on summer nights, their kids rarely or never experiencing the joy of an enthused crowd at GABP.

That’s how one lost generation becomes two.

18 Responses

  1. Aaron Dowden

    And the people said “Aaaaaaamen!”

  2. Ghettotrout1

    Yeah I feel the exact same way I’m 32 and have 3 little boys of my own and I want them to be Reds fans like I always have been but I don’t want them to always be let down. I’m hoping that the Reds can atleast get to the middle of the pack when it comes to payroll, and hoping that some of these guys can take a step forward. This losing stretch is getting awful to watch.

  3. magi210

    I’m old enough to remember Benzinger catching the final out in 90, but the Big Red Machine is a bit beyond my memory banks. Still waiting for a good team to come along, it’s a shame to waste Votto’s career on an average team.

  4. Bill J

    Bob I agree, baseball has lost people for money, and without fans their will be no money. You’d say no one goes there anymore because it’s to crowded will just be no one goes there.

  5. Jeff Reed

    Baseball will survive even when us oldy, forever, fans pass on. The key is winning and the conundrum for the Reds to get there begins with forward looking ownership.

  6. Kettering Reds Fan

    I guess I’m prescient – I suggested this approach a while back.

    Build a killer bullpen.

    Use the money saved on -not- signing an absolute Nr1 starter to buy two or two and one-half Nr 2 starters.

    Use what’s left to buy power. Lots of it.

    The Brewers have always worshipped power and the general approach has been – You put up 2, we’ll put up 4. You put up 5, we’ll put up 7 or 8, and our pen is good enough to keep us in the game long enough to do so. And in a ballpark like Great American, you can see how that would play out. It’s not like we’re a West coast team playing a lot of games in pitcher-friendly environs.

    And, you have to admit, seeing the Brewcrew humble the nr. 1 payroll in MLB would represent a definite moment.

    • Kettering Reds Fan

      Remember, the next two games are back in the friendly confines of Miller Park. So, while the odds presently favor the Dodgers, it’s not all that impossible for the Brewers to take the last two. And they did put up better regular-season numbers than LA. So maybe we ought to think about giving their style a try…….

      Definitely better odds than MegaMillions or Powerball (grin)…………

  7. Alex

    But it’s not capitalism.its the opposite. You put out a good product and you make money, that’s capitalism. Mike Brown and big Bob make money off of taxpayers and revenue sharing. It cracks me up these so called capalists live off welfare. If Bob ran any other business that put out this bad of a product he’d go out of business. Instead he has basically quadrupled his investment and his group are now billionaire. They do it on our backs. I know three ppl who aren’t renewing season tickets. F you bug Bob and I don’t give a spit what you think either. I am not sure there is one person in that front office who could get an equal position on any other org. Am I wrong?

  8. roger garrett

    We must build a team that can out slug the others.Common sense because we play in GABP.Speed is nice but doesn’t help when you are getting out homered nor does it help when you turn and watch it go over the fence.Doesn’t matter who pitches for us because the best will give up the cheap wall scraping first row homer.We just need to hit more then they do.A real and I mean real power guy hits 40 easy and should hit 50.We need more power.

    • Ron Payne

      How about trading for Khris Davis of Oakland? He would be nice to have in left field and batting cleanup.

    • Jeff Reed

      Power is good but pitching gets a team over .500. GABP Is not that small except right center field to the foul line. That could be fixed without a great expense but putting up a secure screen on top of the fence. There’s no problem with the other dimensions.

      • Kettering Reds Fan

        Forgive me if I’m misremembering, but didn’t this topic come up a few days ago?

        The answer was along the lines of “easy to say, well nigh impossible to do” because of the underlying structural elements of GABP.

        And, as a green eyeshade kind of guy, taking out 200 front row seats at GABP has a bigger effect than you might first think. 81games x 200 seats x 50% occupancy (conservatively) equates to 8100 fewer sales. At $50 drop per to the bottom line, that’s around $450K – per annum. Sounds like chump change, but those numbers are very conservative and “a million here, a million here, it adds up”. Then add on the (multi-million dollar) cost to make the adjustment, which you still need to recover or amortize. How many rookies at MLB minimum are we talking the equivalent of here? How many prospects? How many analytics guys?

        I’m not saying the current ownership is Scrooge McDuck, needing only to take a bag of Benjamins out of the money pool, but the Reds -are- still a family-owned small-market club and they need to squeeze maximum effect out of every dollar. A lot of people around here don’t get the way sports economics is like other real-estate economics. You may be asset rich due to inflation, capital appreciation, and reevaluation, but all along the way, you are often cash light (or at least impaired). You can’t spend paper accounting gains and, while you can borrow against them, MLB has some pretty stringent rules on how much leverage they will tolerate in their franchises.

        I’m not poor-mouthing here and I am (somewhat) encouraged by managements intention to raise payroll. Just be pragmatic and keep in mind that spending does not -guarantee- winning baseball, although it goes a long way toward that goal. Past performance is not a guarantor of future outcomes. Read the prospectus. Read the prospectus. Caveat emptor.

  9. Westfester

    Personally, I don’t believe the Reds need to move the walls back. The Reds most recent successful period occurred in the same ballpark. Those rotations were dominant within the cozy confines of GABP. Those pitchers were one of two types: dominant high strikeout guys (Cueto, peak Latos, peak Homer) or high contact groundball pitchers (Bronson, Leake, Simon). the pitching philosophy was throwing lots of sinking type pitches, preventing hitters from lifting them. The Reds need to re-focus the pitching priority and encourage the youngsters to initiate weak contact. Let the defense do the work which historically has been a strong suit of this team, last year withstanding.

    • Kettering Reds Fan

      Concur, in spades. And it’s not as if the Reds’ record has been significantly better in pitcher-friendly parks than batter-friendly venues, so there are some deeper issues that may need attention.

      (BTW, that statement is off the top of my head. If anyone has accurate numbers or correlations, I’ll be happy to step aside and wait for the pie-in-the-face .)

  10. BigRedMike

    The pitching needs to improve for certain. Not sure chasing after starters is the best option. Get a power bullpen and utilize the trend of openers and one inning starters.

    Still do not understand the concept that the Reds offense is fine. The offense is not that high in categories and is bad defensively.

    Reds

    18th in runs scored
    20th in Home runs
    20th in Slugging %
    24th in Doubles
    17th in wRC+

    The teams leading those categories. Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, A’s, Rockies, Indians, Astros, Brewers, Braves

    The Reds have one of the worst OF’s in baseball from an offense perspective and the two corner OF’s are injury prone.

    The one player to add to the offense does not have a position since the Reds position players are so impressive.

  11. roger garrett

    The pitching is by far the major weakness on the team but everybody needs pitching so how can we compete with the rich to acquire what may be available?We will have to out bid others to get a guy or guys to come to Cincy where pop flies go out and that just isn’t going to happen.We will have to take a chance or chances on some guys in free agency,trade some of our position players to acquire a pitcher or go with what we have.If it was my money I am looking to acquire at least one proven power bat along with acquiring some pitching but we have to free up some money.Of course you have to find a trade partner but lets be honest Billy,Scooter and Iggy free up over 20 million at least.Surely we have players that can fill these spots at little or no cost.I like all 3 of the guys I just mentioned but we don’t need a closer nor a centerfielder that can’t hit after 5 years and while I go back and forth on Scooter because of his offense I can see us having a couple of guys that are better defensively in Dilson and Senzel that may surprise on offense.The reality is we continue to lose with them anyway.