There’s going to be a lot to discuss in this offseason, so let’s start with the obvious: We need to address a horrific error regarding the very backbone of this team– The Mr. Red Race.
The Mr. Red Race, back at Riverfront, properly consisted of three electronic dots moving from left to right across the scoreboard, the same scoreboard with the burnt-out pixel which often led attendees to believe that the Reds regularly played the likes of EW YORK and ITTSBURGH.
Cam’s excellent emulator carries a flaw, however: It’s too good. You must imagine the actual Mr. Red Race as slower, pixellier, jerkier, with less definition, and worse. We loved it. It was three identical Mr. Reds racing against one another. It was a deep, avant-garde commentary on modern man working against himself in a neverending cycle of identity crisis, homogeneity, and self-destruction.
Now the modern Great American Ball Park Mr. Red Race version combines every single thing which is horrible about Western society: Computer animation and terrible mascots.
The mascot of the Reds has long been–in the great tradition of the artistically volcanic hotbed which is Southwestern Ohio–Mr. Red, a giant baseball wearing a Reds uniform. We’re an old team and therefore have not had to suffer mascot-by-committee, which explains the horror of pretty much every single Olympics mascot all the way back to Greece (when the best description the PR office has is “an abstract figure?” You’re not representing very well.)
It was then decided that no, an enormous baseball wearing a baseball uniform does not sufficiently represent a baseball team, so Reds management inflicted Gapper upon us. A lot of people don’t like Gapper, as evidenced in this Twitter ratio participant when a local news station declared, without consulting anybody but Gold Star, that Gold Star Chili is the best chili in Ohio:
Fake news. @Skyline_Chili is way better. Obviously this article was written by someone not from Cincinnati. @CampWashChili and @pricehillchili are also better. That makes Gold Star the Gapper of Cincinnati Chili, 4th place and doesn't even get included in the Mr Reds Race.
— Aaron Youkilis (@ayouk) August 27, 2019
However, I find Gapper a valuable visual warning about the dangers of obesity. The way he carries his weight indicates he’s at high risk for metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes. Gapper saves lives.
But then the ad wizards who came up with this one decided that–wait, maybe an enormous baseball wearing a baseball uniform doesn’t sufficiently represent a baseball team, so in addition to Gapper, they ladled on additional enormous baseballs wearing baseball uniforms: An updated soul-free version of Mr. Red, a chick, and–to appeal to the “The Rocky Mountain Vibes Have a Giant Smore Named Toasty, So Why Not” demographic– Mr. Redlegs.
I must hedge my complaining, however, because these innovations granted what is easily the greatest moment in all of American sports:
And it happened right here in our hometown.
A few years after opening, Great American Ball Park gave itself a new scoreboard, and unveiled a new Mr. Red Race along with it. The front office promised that “when fans see it, they will gasp,” which was completely the case: We were all struggling to keep our peanuts and beer down.
It was on the scoreboard, it involved Mr. Red, but It. Sucked. If you thought you hated computer animation, you have not met this version of the Mr. Red Race. You will not be surprised, for example, to learn that the participants, far from being inoffensive, comfortable dots, were now not solely Mr’s. The only thing that could possibly have made it worse is the addition of Jar Jar Binks.
The current Mr. Red Race now features much better graphics, much cleaner ad integration, and much more to hate. But at this point the participants could shoot live Patriot missiles out of the scoreboard and into the opposing dugout and we’d still ignore it.
We want our dots back.