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.

24 Responses

  1. Sliotar

    Really nice post, Matthew.

    As bad as 1-8 is, the worst thing by far is … no Reds regular-season game tomorrow.

    There are 25 more weeks left, starting tomorrow. I will get through Monday by listening to other games via Sirius while driving for work, and doing some daily fantasy at DraftKings.

    But come Tuesday, I will catch at least some of the “Titanic Struggle” between the Reds and Marlins…watching most likely, through the phone if I am out.

    Just like 1-8 was unseen by us all, the next 25 weeks are unscripted, too. There is still hope, unlikely as it feels right now.

    If winning was the sole reason to consume Reds baseball, the team would hardly have a fan, and this blog wouldn’t be the “must read” place that it is.

    • Alex

      I admire Reds fans optimism right now.

    • Joey

      Thank you for sharing that awesome encounter.

  2. Jim Hampton

    Thanks for the article. Always nice to hear from Reds fans. I too live in Oregon, about an hour south of you in Albany. I’m originally from the Bay Area and grew up watching my second favorite team the Giants, but have been a Reds fan since I was a kid when I first saw The Big Red Machine. It was nice to see them actually try and make some moves to better the team this year. I’m going to stay optimistic and hope they turn it around here. But once again thanks for the article, and Go Reds!

  3. Warren Leeman

    The Old Cossack is completely on board Matt. I’m frustrated with the losing record, the missing offense and the unreliable bullpen, but I’m enjoying every single game this season as a prelude to a brighter future.

    The only thing I find truly objectionable are the inane, snarky calls for DB’s immediate firing for totally baseless pretenses as an idiotic, knee-jerk reaction. The only issue I have questioned about DB’s management has been his bullpen management, but in his defense, he has to see what his bullpen and relievers can do (or not do) in order to make proper decisions going forward. I hope he has seen enough after 9 games to begin making that assessment.

    • Don A

      I have made a few “snarky” comments not related to DB. In all reality, there are better players on this roster than last year, and things will improve. I just hope they improve before they get too far behind. GO REDS!!!!

  4. old-school

    Agree here. I went to Opening day and had a blast. This year was a lost year until the Reds FO made some major moves to go in- not all in- but in on 2019.
    Its been a tough few weeks and doesn’t look like this is their year. Scooter got hurt. Senzel got Hurt. The offense has sputtered. The SP has been solid. The bullpen will be an issue. I will still follow and support and go to games. I think they can be good in 2020.

    But, Luis Castillo is a gem. Sonny Gray could be a solid #2. Tyler Mahle and Tony Santillan look like legitimate future pitching prospects. Amir Garrett is a bullpen anchor. Winker and Senzel will get healthy. Suarez is solid and Votto looks to be getting back into form. The bullpen gets a year to sort and the AA studs will be ready by 2020. Bell and his coaches and the FO are solid.

    • greenmtred

      I’ll add: Stephenson finally looks good, though it isn’t time just yet to say more than that. Puig is showing flashes of nice defense in right field. Suarez, defensively, is looking more like 2017 than 2018. The bats–some of them–are waking up.

  5. CFD3000

    Nice post Matt. I was at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown a couple of weeks ago, and it was pretty empty. There was one couple there who were obviously big Reds fans – he had on a custom Reds jersey with his name on the back. He and I were the only ones in the place with team gear on – I saw about 40 people. We may be few, but we represent. Go Reds!

  6. matt hendley

    Indeed there is very little that will change my Reds Fandom. THose calling the season lost obviously have lost their stomachs through their third point of contact. There will be opportunities even as soon as Tuesday. The pieces are there and maybe we have struck gold again with Dietrich.

    • Mason Red

      I don’t think the season is lost but seasons can be lost in April and these games are as important as games in August. They need to turn it around soon because otherwise there will be a fire sale at the trading deadline. There are also fans like me who have gone through this before with this franchise. The past 40 years haven’t been kind to fans of this team. One WS title,a handful of playoff appearances and lots and lots of changes and rebuilds most of which failed. And sometimes miserably. This is a Reds site so there are going to be those critical of the Reds especially during a stretch like this. Many didn’t buy the hype about the offseason moves. Many aren’t sold on the prospects in the farm system. Many are tired of waiting. Now the magical year for success is 2020. I admire anyone with hope. I also admire any fan who never loses hope. But not everyone is like that. And it doesn’t mean those folks are bad fans or bandwagon fans. It means they’re tired of the losing.

      • matthew hendley

        Multiple SANE people have attempted to place the losing streak into perspective with other sports. noting how incredibly early in the season it is to toss the entire lot. Indeed, Chicago, is also doing Awful, St louis is not without their problems. The season is not over by a long shot. To put it into another perspective, Giving up now, is like giving up on a marriage when you had a fight at the reception. No one is realistically going to do it.

  7. Mark Lang

    I’m also a Reds fan with a dog named Moose! Too bad we can’t embed pics –

    I think this team will come around and give us a better record than last year by about 7 to 10 games – but it sure is ugly now.

    • g

      Moose is a great name for a dog, but I’m puzzled as to why Reds’ fans would name their dogs after an old Yankee.

      • Mark Lang

        Moose Haas? He played for Milwaukee… 🙂

        Actually, mine’s a “rescue” – so, he came with that name.

  8. Ralph Keyes

    Another Reds fan here in (northeast) Portland.

  9. Vada

    Optimism is only a feeling it cannot change reality. Whether or not the players begin to win does not depend on fans optimism. So whether these comments are optimistic or pessimistic has no bearing on what the players do on the field. Pessimism results from observing reality. Optimism does not. So please do not criticize the pessimistic comments. Reality is what IS. Of course the Reds will start winning games but the number of wins won’t match what the fans had hoped for. Let the year play out and let things fall where they will. Love life and live life. Baseball is a form of entertainment. So enjoy it ! And give the pessimist a break they’re only expressing their frustrations of higher expectations. Both players and fans are only human. And being human they cannot be perfect and meet everyone’s expectations. A TRUE fan will always enjoy baseball as a game, whether they are pessimistic or optimistic. I wonder how many fans give any consideration to how the players are feeling with their current performance. Players want to win too. Just like fans they hate to lose as well. Besides, experiencing and sharing love in one’s life is far better than a World Series championship.

  10. TR

    I think the Reds will turn it around and get to .500, over or under a few games. This season will a big step toward contention after four years in last place. Even after the encouraging offseason, I’ve not felt contention was on the horizon for this year. The lack of offense is a continuation of the anemic hitting in spring training and getting accustomed to a new hitting coach. Too much offense on this team with much better starting pitching. Game by game, they’ll get it together.

  11. Pete

    What would a 5-6 game winning streak do for player and fan optimism? 6-8 and 7-8 would magically transform the team’s perceived fortunes Hopefully the winning streak starts tomorrow and the Marlins are a great place to get it going. Go Reds!

    Dietrich should probably start every game for a while, I like the cut of this guy’s job.

  12. Still a Red

    Great story!
    Regarding 1-8 start…I hope the coaching staff isn’t being toooo overly analytic in that players are now too far into their heads trying to ‘use all that data’.

  13. LWBlogger2

    I’ve been as disappointed as I’ve ever been about the start of any Reds season. I really thought this team was better than this and thought 79-82 wins being expected. I formally predicted 79 in a number of places. 1-8 with 4 shutouts has been a really cruel blow to me and my confidence in my baseball acumen and savvy.

    That said, the Reds need to go a dreadful 2-10 in their next 12 as well to have as bad of a start as they had last season.

    There is a whole lot of baseball left to play.