Look, weird stuff happens. Sometimes happily weird stuff happens. Like surprise baby hippopotamuses:
I have questions about the surprise famous baby hippopotamus.
Bibi was on birth control.
Did Bibi get smashed and forget a pill?
Is Tucker not sponge-worthy?
Do we *know* he's the father?
How do you *put* a hippopotamus on birth control?#Cincinnati pic.twitter.com/Y4mEvw3Baj
— Mary Beth Ellis (@Mary_Beth_Ellis) April 13, 2022
Why not an out-of-nowhere Reds championship? Maybe this odd collection of young prospects and old names can pull it off. Yeah. Why not us?
This whole city would happily welcome a surprise World Series trophy. Or an NCLS championship. Or a playoff win. Any playoff win.
Yes, weird stuff happens. The hippo gets pregnant despite the birth control. We are open to all possibilities. Maybe this is the year. Didn’t the Bengals teach us that?
But the Reds are not the Bengals, and Mike Brown, or his children, despite their flaws as owners, probably would not say this on 700 WLW after being asked “Why should (the fans) maintain trust in you?”
“Well, where are you gonna go?”
This rhetorical question has, in fact, worked on me as an argument, but one of the askers was St. Peter and the other asker was Jesus Christ and I am fairly certain that Phil Castellini does not have the words of everlasting life. As our top man Doug Gray detailed yesterday, there was a lot more to the WLW conversation, but the viral chatter focused on that absolute banger of an opening line.
Let’s be charitable here. Let’s assume that Castellini was taken out of context. “Where are you gonna go” could well refer to the difficulty of finding a buyer willing to shell out more money than the Castellinis have, in the sense of: “Okay, well, you need not only a new owner, but a new owner who will give what the fans are asking for. How many people do you think have that much money who will also appreciate the unique nature of this ball team?”
But, as Doug points out, the last MLB to make good on its threats to split town was the Expos–fifty years ago. A single team in half a century. This isn’t 1957, with the home of the Giants and Dodgers reeling from massive post-war population shifts and suburbs in its first fits of sprawl. And the hometown trauma experienced by Colts and Browns fans took place largely under NFL-only circumstances.
The story, happening as it was live on the radio, didn’t have to break. But unlike the Reds, who are legally bound to Hamilton County for quite some time, social media reaction had plenty of places to go.
Then the legacy media caught up. Opening Day has been a story every single year since the 1880s. The owner of the team unleashing on the fanbase? Well, that’s something new. The uproar was the lead newsbreak ad on WLWT during The Thing About Pam and held the “Breaking News” banner as soon as Keith Morrison stopped intoning. Now you’ve got Grandma and the smartphone-as-phone users involved.
However, the focus is on the wrong Castellini quote here. By the time Phil made his way to the field, red blazer in place, the story was about the reaction to the story, which of course only made the story bigger:
Before Opening Day, WLWT's Brandon Saho asked Reds President and COO Phil Castellini about his message to the fans after his comments during an earlier radio interview. Here’s his response:
— WLWT (@WLWT) April 12, 2022
“Are you gonna abandon being a Reds fan? Are you gonna abandon following this team?… How about everybody just settle down and celebrate and cheer for the team?… The point is, stay tuned and be a fan. Celebrate these guys.”
The astonishing circumstances under which these remarks were uttered cannot be understated. Castellini was speaking these words as a standing room only crowd streamed into the stadium despite the suffering the indignity of opening on the road (we don’t do that here)… after a lockout… in the wake of a pandemic… with very few familiar names on the roster… long past the point when the franchise and MLB decided to jump into sociopolitical frays.
A few hours after he said them, the bullpen collapsed into itself like a lesser dying star, casting off six runs in the ninth.
A wiser man would have been on his knees in the on-deck circle, thanking the faithful for exchanging their inflation-eaten cash for tickets. Instead, he chided them. They’d shown up anyway. Of course they had. He knew they would. They came with their grandparents and grandbabies, mental scrapbooks and lifetime of nights falling asleep with the AM transistor under the pillow. They’d shown up anyway, and they’ll show up next year, too.
Where else are they gonna go?