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.

35 Responses

  1. realist

    Kudos, Shakespeare and baseball what a great article! I only slightly disagree that Walt Jocketty returning is so depressing. So very depressing, but your are right it is all ownership.

    • Lori T.

      Love it! 50 year die hard fan. The Queen City has done it’s part. This ownership is disqusting. Why didn’t they stay in St. Louis?

    • Dave

      All it would take is 1 game with zero attendance to force their hands. And when I say zero, I mean not a single soul in the stands. The kind of coverage that would get nationally would be insane. Then maybe Ken Oaks could swoop in and sell the team. Alas, it will never happen. So many people just continue to reward this ownership team by going to the games anyway.

  2. Alex

    Krall deserves neither credit nor blame. His major league trades have been underwhelming. His organization of the minor leagues is an incomplete picture until guys like McClain and de la Cruz cycle through the minors. We’ve heard comments the Reds wants to emulate the Rays. Fine. Do the Castellinis understand the talent and organization it takes to succeed with that business model? Or are they focused on bobbleheads and fireworks.

  3. Don

    That is some spot on writing right there now. I could not agree more.

  4. John O

    The entire Reds organization has to be blamed for this poorly-constructed excuse for a major league team. When you trade or drop all of your All-Star talent and replace them with lower-salaried players, what can you expect the result to be? Mix-in a plethora of injuries and you’ve got real problems. I grew-up in Kansas City and for years I watched the 1955-1967 Athletics trade, or release, All-Star players (Roger Maris, etc.) annually only to replace them with minor league talented players with low salaries. No salary caps for teams (like the NFL) means that the Reds management will have a difficult time pulling the team out of the 3-20 ‘hole’ they find themselves in.

  5. jmb

    As Cormac McCarthy says in The Road, we humans take out our frustrations on symbols, not knowing how to address the real problems (McCarthy was referring to the problem of evil in the novel). Firing the manager or GM is a symbolic act, and would especially be one in the Reds’ case, when, as this article makes clear, the problem is ownership. But in our society, ownership can do just about whatever it likes, especially if it is willing to lose money (which is doesn’t really as those “losses” can be written off on their taxes). So if you have a problem with ownership, you’ve got a BIG PROBLEM.

    • Doc

      Writing off on taxes saves about 37 cents of every lost dollar. You still lose 2/3 of the money.

    • Michael

      JMB,

      Great quote and dear god I hope the reds end up better than how things go in that novel.

      • Gonzo Reds

        As long as Bob and Phil play the parts of Romeo and Juliet I’m all for it.

  6. Gpod

    watching & listening to D. Bell in the postgame, reminds me of the musicians continuing to play music on the deck of the Titanic…except that only lasted a short time, this is going to go on for months

  7. MuddyCleats

    Agree to a pt, but consider the talent & success Reds have had in the Minor Leagues vs in the ML leagues. Overall, Cincy has had a fair amount of quality minor league players who have performed and rated well in the Minors. However, when they make the jump to the Majors, production drops off or fails to develop. I think the key is finding Coaches who R successful w/ the draft and develop model. Tampa Bay is a good place to start. Reds have put a lot of effort into SP development lately and it appears to be helping…….some. Our guys get stuck as 4A players; organization needs to find some coaches who can get them over the top. This season is all about the young guys developing. Time for Stephenson, India and Senzel to get IN the lineup and get 4 ABs 5-6 days a week. Hopefully, Barrero is not too far behind.

  8. Rednat

    we could be 3- 29 by the end of this upcoming home stand. that is not an ownership problem. that is a league problem. there just are not enough good position players to go around right now for 30 teams. other teams are having trouble filling position spots too. not just the reds. it just seems like these young hitters coming up from the minor leagues cannot match the power hitters in today’s game.

    does the league need to contract for a few years until the talent is replenished? does the schedule need to be altered? is there really any point for the reds to play the dodgers and yankees this year?

    • Doc

      Even the salaries that can be spent, which spreads the talent more evenly. The NFL did not become balanced because there was a sudden escalation of average takent level.

    • Scott C

      Disagree, there are some bench players that would be an improvement to the cast of players we have. If we had just kept Winker, Suarez and Gray we would have been a lot better.

      • greenmtred

        A little better,maybe. Gray is injured and not pitching, and Suarez and Winker are so far only marginally better than what the Reds have now.

    • Cyrus

      I agree with your opinion that we have a league problem but the two main things I see fueling it are the increase in pitching speeds coupled with the marriage of sabermetrics and the shift.

      What I don’t want to see is MLB leadership stepping in and taking away this strategy from the game. What has really surprised me is the inability or reluctance (and perhaps stubbornness) of players to adjust to this new challenge.

      IMO, a professional athlete earns that distinction by their ability to creatively adjust their game in an effort to thwart or overcome a similarly creative defensive strategy employed to hinder their effectiveness.

      The ability to hit to all fields regardless of how you are being pitched to or the skill of pushing or laying down a bunt to get on base when a shift is clearly dictating that as a counter strategy amazes me. MLB players need to be more like our best golfers. Adjust to the conditions in front of you. If you are one-dimensional (hit for power), perhaps you aren’t really what the future of the game needs.

      I hope MLB stays out of what is happening right now. Necessity is the mother of invention. The 3-point line plus Steph Curry revolutionized the game of basketball for our generation. If left alone, I think something similar will occur in MLB and the result will rekindle an influx of new fans as the game becomes exciting again.

  9. Hotto4Votto

    Although, I’ve not been impressed with either Krall or Bell in general, I don’t think it’s fair to lay all this at their feet. It starts at the top. With Bob, Phil, and Walt. Only way to get better is to clean house. Get rid of them all, but start with ownership.

  10. Klugo

    Don’t forget that Dick Williams wasn’t the only one to quit. The purge went deep.
    It’s kinda funny to me that Nick Krall has now become the punching bag because I’ve been here punching him since he first opened his mouth years ago. He’s a dote. He’s been a dote. He’ll always be a dote.
    They’re not gonna fire David Bell because then they’d be admitting that they were WRONG. THEY GAVE HIM AN EXTENSION, for Pete’s sakes. They won’t fire Krall either for the same reason.
    This is historically bad , but unfortunately it’s the new tanking era of MLB. The Marlins have done, the Astros have done it, the Twins and so on.

  11. Mark Moore

    Yep … Krall doesn’t get a pass, but it’s not all on him. Frankly, I think he’s over-matched for the job. Williams choosing to walk away speaks volumes to me.

    Uncle Walt or no Uncle Walt, this fish rots from the head downward. We’re seeing that (plus the massive IL roster) in spades. it’s going to take deep, systemic, rock-your-world change and I don’t see that happening.

    Bell isn’t blameless either, but he’s got very limited material to Tinker with right now. I have to think this spreads to the guys playing and they see the white flags over the castle waving fully unfurled. Some, like Pham, are playing for what comes next. Some are getting their chance in The Show. Some do seem to be mailing it in for the most part.

    I have no brilliant answers, only more questions and head shaking. It just makes me sad as a long-term Reds fan.

    Nice Shakespeare analogy. Very apropos. Just wish it were “Much Ado About Nothing” instead.

    • Klugo

      Yeah, no one person can be this horrendous. It takes a Hurculean group effort. Now, that’s team work!!

  12. SOQ

    Excellent writing Richard. I watched last night’s game up until the Grand Slam put it out of reach, and switched over to the FCC game, checking back occasionally. Had I watched the entire game, I’m sure I would have had tears streaming down my face by the end. Tears for the players, tears for us fans, tears for the City of Cincinnati. I remember feeling so hopeful during the Atlanta series as our guys scrapped back, played small ball and took two of four. I then left for vacation and missed most of the 10 game losing streak. As others have mentioned before, I don’t believe the team is as bad as the record. They have just been decimated by injuries, and haven’t had the opportunity to play with their core for several weeks. I’m sure the losing has the ones remaining pressing to make something good happen. The pall of hopelessness shrouds the team. Yes, there needs to be a change. Some kind of change to let the players feel that the front office is working to upright the ship. Sticking with the status quo is unacceptable at this point. It may not be Bell’s fault, or Krall’s fault, but that is irrelevant at this point. The players need new hope. It’s time for a change

  13. LDS

    Good article but you still start with field management. Bell and his coaches didn’t win when Williams was GM. They won’t regardless of the GM. Yes, the roster is poor. But you start closet to the problem and that Bell whose only claim to the job is daddy not qualifications. I’ve fired managers who couldn’t deliver. It’s tough sometimes but managers have a duty to produce results. If they can’t , sorry they go. My view on Bell formed in 2019. He has only reinforced that view as has Zinter and Johnson

    • Mark A Verticchio

      plus 1000, The manager is responsible for what happens on the field. For any manager to come out after his team has lost 19 out of 20 and getting drubbed 18 – 4 and talk about he proud he is of his players is just strange in so many ways. Bell may be a very nice man but for an old high school basketball coach who has been fired after winning seasons this is beyond ridiculous.

      • greenmtred

        What would you have said? I will again point out that the “great” managers we lionize have bad records when managing bad teams. And the Reds, this year, are a bad team.

  14. Don

    Krall is the one who’s had nothing to work with. I seriously doubt letting Iglesias, Gray, Miley and Barnhardt go for nothing or next to nothing was his call. Bell, on the other hand, is, even if he is a great guy, a horrible manager. This is a guy who piloted a team four games up in the Wild Card race with the easiest schedule in baseball ahead right into a wall. That was a decent roster last year, with players who were enjoying themselves and their brief relevance. Had the team played .500 ball – against sub-.44 competition, as I recall – from that point on they waltz into the playoffs. But no. And then Bell is REWARDED for his failure – in real time – with a 2-year contract extension!? That was a soul-crusher, man. When a team is playing this listlessly, moves HAVE to made that affect the locker room. The thing that pulled the Reds out of miserables early ’80s doldrums was hiring Rose to manage. We need a guy with some fire down there. And speaking of firing, just fire Moustakis’s fat a**. Every time he takes the field it sends a message to fans and players, and that message is “We do not care.” And by the way, I live in Washington state, and if Williamson is halfway decent, Krall won the Mariners trade. Getting Suarez out of the lineup HAD to happen. He is awful out here, too. So then it becomes pretty much Winker for Williamson and I’ll take a good pitcher over a guy who can only hit righthanders.

    • SOQ

      I agree Don. The loss that REALLY hurts was letting Nick C go. We might still be struggling due to injuries, but Nick had Fire. We haven’t seen his ilk in a long time.

      • Doc

        They didn’t ‘let him go’. They made a qualifying offer. He chose to go. Maybe they would be 4-20 if he were here but no way the presence of NC makes these pitchers suddenly Cy Young candidates instead of guys who can’t get past the third or fourth inning.

      • SOQ

        They let him go by not making him a competitive offer. They didn’t even talk to him or his agent. And as I said, they would still be struggling, but probably could have pulled a few more wins out of this dumpster fire

  15. DataDumpster

    I like your comments about humiliation. It doesn’t have to be nasty or littered with venom and curse, but filled with passion and attempt to bring out some degree or humility or shame.
    If someone could find the guy who did the “Fraidy Cat” campaign around 2005 against Mike Brown, I would pay to enlist him on a similar effort.

  16. Matt WI

    I know the Rays are the “go-to” example, but the Reds would do well to emulate the Brewers right here in their own division. They went out and got a smart, savvy GM in David Stearns, they deploy innovative thinking toward their pitching, consistently outperform expectations, and reliably pull 2 mil fans a season. Similar markets, similar budgets. Different worlds.

    • Rod Andrews

      …….plus one of the best managers in the game

  17. Jeff

    Stop supporting the bad product they put on the field and they will eventually either sell or change their cheap ways.