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.

The Mr. Red Race was typically broadcast in later innings, because the drunker you were, the more you cared. Here’s a recreation from the wizardly Cam Miller.

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:

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.

16 Responses

  1. RedNat

    too funny Mary Beth. I always felt the old Riverfront Red’s Race was flawed. It seemed like number 2 won every time. At least with the GABP version there is a more even split! I wonder if anyone has any statistics to back up my claim? lol

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      thanks! You know what, for all the analytics out there, you’d think somebody would be keeping track of the new version. I think it’s a sign of everyone’s utter apathy that no one has.

  2. Scott C

    Say It Ai’nt So!
    I haven’t been able to get to GBAT for a couple of years tried two years ago but it rained the whole time we were there, so I have not seen this new modern version of the Mr Reds race. (Can you even call it that?) I think we need to start a write in campaign to get rid of all the false mascots and go back to just Mr Red. If they want to have a race have it down on the field between a Skyline Chili Coney and a Gold Star Coney. The Skyline Coney would stomp the Gold Star Coney every time.
    By the way Kroger’s here in Virginia sell frozen and canned Skyline but no Gold Star so you know who Krogers thinks is better.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I actually prefer the frozen Skyline as a 3 way and my coneys fresh. The canned stuff was glorious to me when I lived out of town. Once I found some in Florida and stood in the aisle and cried.

      • Mason Red

        My wife is great at “cracking the code” of certain restaurant recipes including Skyline sauce. It’s spectacular homemade.

      • Scott C

        I understand the sentiment exactly. I didn’t exactly cry but my eyes glistened over.

      • Eric

        You can buy the chili…you can chop onions and open a can of beans…and make spaghetti…but you’ll never duplicate that CHEESE.

        They must have a proprietary shredder that shreds their secret-recipe cheese that comes from somewhere in Area 51. No way to copy it.

        …but my favorite Skyline discussion of late is The Changing of the Oyster Cracker Vendor, which apparently made the entire Queen City lose their collective minds.

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        Oh the cheese is amazing. The secret is that it’s just fresh. The second most disappointed I’ve ever been in my life was after buying a prepared package of Skyline cheese in the grocery and discovering it tasted just the same as any other shredded cheese. Tried shredding block cheese and it was much better.

  3. Mary Beth Ellis

    You raised a reader! Good job 🙂 I’m also excited that “emulate” is used in the post AND in the comments now. It is indeed a brighter day.

  4. RedsFan11

    Mary Beth thank you for bringing this up! I know your posts are all in good fun, but seriously! I usually yell at the scoreboard every time they run this new farce called the Mr. Reds Race.

    The biggest travesty is when they sold out to corporate sponsors and Cintas came in and paid $millions for the rights. Now they had to drive around the city in cute little trucks… I will spare everyone all the logistical and geographic inconsistencies as they “raced” around Cincinnati…

    At least the version before Cintas there was some randomness. Until they “re-vamped” it for the 150th season with the Cintas version you actually would know who would win by the middle of the race. Whoever was in 3rd wouldn’t be “tricked” by that 4th favorite mascot and would come back in dramatic fashion…

    The truth is even though it was just a helmet dot you couldn’t tell who was going to win until it was all said and done. Im all for starting a petition on for this one! You can keep the sponsor, you can change the “dots/heads” to Mr.Red/Rosie/Redlegs. Just get rid of the ridiculous animations.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      That’s some solid analytics on the new version.

  5. Eric

    “…because the drunker you were, the more you cared.”

    “…It was a deep, avant-garde commentary on modern man working against himself in a neverending cycle of identity crisis, homogeneity, and self-destruction.”

    These two thoughts are…um…let’s just say incongruent. As my physics professor used to say: “Fusion is to fission, as antelope is to canteloupe!”

    I think I’m going to be seeing that soul-free version of Mr. Red in my sleep. What on God’s green Earth were they thinking with THAT one???

    And we’re NOT trying to say that Gold Star is bad, but yeah…Skyline is just better, and I’m not sure why we find lists like this that say otherwise.

    Mark, I’m glad to hear about DD#1 – mine is settling in, way out I-40, although she has no Friday classes, so she’s already home for the long weekend!

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      No incongruity at all. We’re rooting against ourselves. IT’S ALL VERY INTELLECTUAL

  6. Mary Beth Ellis

    Me too! He can have his own dot race.

  7. Mary Beth Ellis

    Oh big fan of the Running of the Sausage.