The scuttlebutt has returned. Once again, like an egg slipping off a plate, conjecture sits precariously on rumor’s tongue, ready to drop as truth into the conversation with all the stealth of the evening sun surreptitiously dropping over the horizon.
Walt Jocketty is back. Or so we are told by the New York media. His Waltness has long been a lightning rod for criticism, his old school ways an easy punching bag for the shortcomings of ownership. Make no mistake, it’s going to be a sad distraction from the real problem down at 100 Joe Nuxhall Way.
‘Tis the season for punching bags. David Bell is old news. It’s Nick Krall’s turn to take his place in the stocks. Jocketty-bashing redux awaits on the horizon. Polish up those flip-phone jokes.
I recently listened to a Reds podcast where the theme was the need to part ways with Nick Krall. The cognitive dissonance of the argument was stunning. On the one hand, it was acknowledged that Reds’ ownership needs to have a fall guy, and although none of this is fair to Nick Krall, he nonetheless needs to go.
Krall gets blamed for running the team via spreadsheet; for putting together a historically bad roster; for a lack of depth; and marginal major league talent—all resulting in poor roster construction.
What’s wrong with this picture? For openers, ownership has demanded that the front office build a house with straw, then expected it to stand like a house made of bricks when the harsh winds blow—which they have in the form of gale force injury winds.
I will continue to contend that we don’t know what kind of GM Nick Krall could be, because he’s been cut off at the knees from the get-go. Many will surely disagree.
So, fine. Fire Krall. Then what? If ownership insists on meddling in the long-term operation of the club, what talented individual is going to want to come into a situation where the boss keeps whispering his ear, only to find himself a GM playing Cassio to Phil’s Iago? Please identify the cheap, young, ambitious individual who can find the talent on a shoestring budget to provide depth to back up the major league players that ownership refuses to open its wallet for?
We had a that young, ambitious individual once. His name was Dick Williams. He quit. Ask yourself why.
Why is there always a need for scapegoats when things go wrong, instead of rationally identifying the source of the problem and hammering that point home? Why do we habitually take our eyes off the ball?
The frustration with the situation down at the Small Park on the River revolves around the stark reality that there’s so little that can be done. We are stuck with ownership. Sure, it’s fine to daydream about the billionaire savior swooping in and kicking the Castellini ownership group to the curb.
That’s not happening.
Feel for all of us who have chosen to talk and write about the Cincinnati Reds. We desperately want something new to say. How many podcasts and articles can be created that say essentially the same thing day-in and day-out. Ownership is arrogant. Ownership is incompetent. Ownership is cheap. Yes. That was true when Wayne Krivsky was running the show. It was true when Walt Jocketty was peering down from the GM box. It remains true today.
Nevertheless, just as hammering Mike Brown got old, so will criticism turn bitter fingers on the keyboard and mic’d up voices on the InterWebs to find other villains beyond Phil and Bob. But that would be a mistake. It lets ownership off the hook. It shifts the narrative off them to others. A revolving front office door is not the answer. If ownership cannot be replaced, they should be humiliated. Daily. Ego is a powerful thing, particularly among those with money and power. All of us should leverage that and make medicine of our revenge in an effort to force change. Will that work? Who knows. But, it is the one small tool we all have to chip away at the monument to greed and arrogance at work in the ownership box. Use it.
When bestie Horatio laments the wedding of Hamlet’s mother so soon after the death of his father, he is sarcastically informed:
Thrift, thrift, Horatio. The funeral baked meats did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.
The baked meats are on display right now in 2022. And cold it is. Don’t forget who is to blame.