Shortly after the Reds lost their seventh straight game to drop to 1-7 on the season, I took my dog, Moose, out for a walk. I was disappointed in the result but happy the bats woke up a bit. Not really dwelling on it much, I was ready to move on and enjoy the rest of my Saturday.
My wife got Moose a Reds bandana before the start of the season. She does not enjoy watching the games but she tries to support my crazy obsession when she can. The bandana is attached to Moose’s collar, and he had started to chew on it so we took it off. I put it back on before our walk just so he had his tags in case he somehow got loose. It certainly was not intended to boast about the Reds.
Just after I turned onto a sleepy, residential street, a car pulled up and the driver yelled “Go Reds!”. I gave a fist pump and yelled back, assuming he would keep driving. Then he stopped and asked me, “did you see the front of my car?” I shake my head, no. After checking behind him to make sure there was no traffic, he backed up to reveal a huge Reds decal encompassing the entire hood of his car. I don’t think I had ever seen anything like it, even back in Ohio.
Living in Portland, it is not normal to run into other Reds fans. I will occasionally see a Reds jersey on a ski slope and give a shout out. The only NL Central house flags I have seen are Cubs and Brewers (thankfully no Cardinals). The closest I usually come to a Reds fan is a Mariners fan whose favorite player is Ken Griffey Jr.
I immediately assume he is from Cincinnati, and ask him to confirm. “No, I’m from upstate New York. But I watched the Big Red Machine, and, well, that was pretty much it. Been a Reds fan ever since”.
I was not alive to watch the Big Red Machine myself, and I always thought I understood how much they meant to Reds fans. But I had never thought about how much they meant to baseball fans. This guy could have easily sided with the Yankees and their 20 World Series titles. He could have even seen numbers 21 and 22 in 1977 and 1978, just after the BRM. Instead, he got hooked on team 500+ miles away in Ohio. It might just be one guy wanting to be a little different. But I thought it was pretty cool.
We chatted briefly about the game that day and how the pitching looks good. He commented on my Joey Votto socks, which I said were intended to break to run scoring drought (they did, you are all welcome). As he drove off, he shouted some parting thoughts. “I’m optimistic!”. The red car with the Reds decal sped away, and Moose and I were left to finish our walk in the drizzling rain.
I had not planned on thinking about the Reds any more that day, but that complete chance encounter was a timely reminder of how cool it is to be a Reds fan. Even when the team is 1-7 during a supposedly competitive year, a dude with the wishbone “C” plastered on the front of his car says hello and spreads some good feelings about the team.
When it is all said and done, he may not be right, but at least he is having fun. Rain or shine, we are all in it for the long haul. It may be pouring on this team right now, but let’s hope that some sunny days are right around the corner.