Look, weird stuff happens. Sometimes happily weird stuff happens. Like surprise baby hippopotamuses:

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:

“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?

27 Responses

  1. realist

    From Wikipedia:
    Castellini’s son, Phil, widely detested amongst the Reds’ fanbase,[5] worked as the team’s Senior Director of Business Operations.[6] Following the 2007 season, he was named the team’s Chief Operating Officer.[7]
    Hopefully he runs Great Granddads business better than the reds.

    I loved the article Mary Beth!

    • Dk072257

      After the comments from Phil Castellini, What else am I gonna do? What a flipping moron. Well perhaps I can devote my money and time to an organization that in committed to winning like the St Louis Cardinals. I grew up in Cincinnati, and lived very near Pete Rose. I played little league at Pete Rose park. The Big Red Machine wasn’t in a different market however they brought fans to Crosley Field. Phil if it wasn’t for bad deals, you would be making money.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Thank you realist 🙂 We’ll get through it!

  2. LDS

    My guess is Phil’s upcoming reign will make us miss Bob.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      It’s extremely rare for the son to outshine the father… we shall see.

  3. Jeffery

    So what about from 1991 until 2007?..If any fan base has alot to bitch about its Cleveland. 73 years .Our bullpen will sort itself out. I like the team we have. Could care less about the “let me see the books crap”…,ugh

    • MBS

      Funny thing is I like the team we have to. Unfunny thing is I don’t care for Phil’s attitude. Also I don’t care about seeing the books, but I do think the owner / player dynamic is bad. More importantly I think the gap from the top team to bottom team spending is only going to continue to grow. It’s funny the CBA did nothing to decrease the gap, they only wanted to widen it.

      • Dk072257

        Exactly, the attitude of Phil Castellini, sure isn’t impressive from a fans point of view. If he doesnt care about how the fans feel, he’s an idiot because we are the ones that keep the lights on. Ask him how much went to Griffey Jr this year. Do the math, if the ownership wasn’t making stupid deals they wouldnt be in the RED. Slowgo was a great deal huh?

  4. Bred

    How many cheeks do Reds fans have to turn before we realize that knowingly or unknowingly ownership is practicing the ancient art of lingchi? We are a loyal lot, but our fandom will pass by suffering “a death by a thousand cuts.” His words were but another arrow thrust into our hearts and baseball souls.

    • Dk072257

      Im sick of the arrogance of this ownership. 15 years ago, we were promised a winner. When’s that gonna happen. Cincinnati fans are a lot smarter than Chicago fans and if it’s one thing the Big Red Machine proved is, put a winner on the field and they will come.

      • Jimbo44CN

        The Cubs really didnt’ start drawing sellout crowds until they started to win and put some good teams together. I have been a few times and as much as i hate the Cubs, the whole atmosphere in Wrigleyville before and after games is hard to beat.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      My favorite part is that the second interview was presumably undertaken to undo the damage of the first.

      It did not.

  5. Pablo

    Well said Mary Beth. And his chutzpah to claim that we should just snap to it because they’d gone 2-2 in Atlanta is beyond explanation. I guess his time in the family ivory tower has robbed his brain of critical oxygen.

    Phil is Spalding from Caddyshack but with less charm.

    • Mark Moore

      “50 bucks the Smails kid picks his nose.”

      “Another 50 says he eats it.”

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      It’s extremely difficult for people who live in a bubble, even if they didn’t always live there, to imagine life outside of it.

  6. Mike McSorley

    “Where you gonna go?” is an incredibly insensitive statement to be sure. But I think back to the Bill DeWitt era in the early ’60s when he threatened to move the Reds leaving Cincinnati, the birthplace of professional baseball without ANYONE to root for. The thought of no more Frank Robinson, Vada Pinson, Jim O’Toole, Bob Purkey, Jim Brosnon, Pete Rose, Gordy Coleman, et al, made this teenager think that his future was bleak. Baseball loyalties are not transferable. Fans are lucky to have the Reds and they show it by how much they care.
    For what it’s worth, the Nationals reportedly can be had for $2B. Now If I just shelled out that coin, I want an immediate return on my investment. I get that by selling off stars and turning a World Series champion into a 97-loss team. Hey, thank you, fans!

    • Jimbo44CN

      Funny but I think they will be sold and go back to Montreal. Truth is stranger than fiction sometimes.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      The thought used to scare me, but now I’m wondering who would actually buy the franchise out of this uniquely loyal and established market. It’s far easier and less expensive to simply invest into what’s already here than to pick it up and plonk it down in, say, Vermont, and have to start from scratch with a new market.

      We hold the winning hand. We just don’t recognize it.

      • greenmtred

        Vermont? We actually have a strong baseball tradition and have supported our minor league teams (when we’ve had them) handsomely. Years ago, we were a Reds’ farm team. I’m pretty sure that Sabo and maybe Larkin played here. On the other hand, with a population of 630,00 scattered in a state famous for saying, when strangers ask directions, “you can’t get there from here,” We might not be a reasonable destination for a MLB franchise. And don’t forget the weather: April is very nearly a winter month, and we get a bit of snow in May from time to time.

  7. Mark Moore

    The depths of my distain for Phil’s arrogance and disconnectedness cannot be measured or plumbed. He has no idea that respect is an earned thing and he’s lost almost every chance to garner any with his latest moronic diatribes.

    What are we going to do? I can think of a lot of things. I can still watch the Reds but provide ZERO cash into their coffers in any way. I won’t visit Cincinnati (cancelled my September trip because of the team’s trajectory) and I won’t buy any new gear (I can always get some stuff from the Rocket City Trash Pandas to brighten my day).

    I will not Clete completely as a fan, but I’ll do the bare minimum. After all, that seems to be what Phil is willing to do for the team and us as fans.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I don’t think Clete would Clete out, so I agree with this call. But I’ve managed to not send cash to the Reds in any form for over three years.

      I’m fine.

  8. TR

    It’s strange, after the topsy-turvy home opening day, I don’t feel like a peasant after the leadoff blow from Red’s C.O.O.. Phil C., and the ending typical bullpen move from D. B.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I choose to think of our bullpen as performance art.

  9. Robert Ironside

    Looooongtime lurker here.

    10 months ago, I moved from Cincinnati to Seattle after living in Cincy my whole life. I shed nearly all of my belongings in the move but one of the things I brought with me was my 90’s era Rob Dibble jersey that my Dad got me from Koch, downtown on 4th. I love that jersey so much but this year, this opening day, it stayed in the closet.

    I hate this guy. Basically admits to being a leech of fan goodwill and tradition.

    Just making it easier for me to be a Mariners fan… He even sent along some ballplayers!

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I am greatly honored that you should delurk here, Robert. Thanks for sharing your story. Say hi to our team over there.

  10. hokiebo

    Where else will I go? Well being in VA there’s the Nationals, or Baltimore if I’m really feeling adventurous. Pittsburg is about the same amount of driving for me to attend a game. How much longer before Nashville or Charlotte gets a team? That rumor pops up every so often.

    The grass also needs cut. It’s about time to change the oil in the truck. Maybe I’ll go watch my niece’s soccer game. Lots of options, I’ll find somewhere else to spend my money.