Everybody in charge of the editing agreed: The part where I fell over must, must remain.

In the long, highly editable process of checking the framing of a shot, I managed to fall off a treadmill that was exactly one inch high, and also not in motion. Thus an extremely low-tech commercial shot for my alumnae chorus, the sole remaining thread of our shuttered high school. But rather than enticing an avalanche of donations and merch purchases to help us reach a much-needed fundraising goal, I’d filmed a cautionary tale against exercise equipment.

“I loved your video,” people tell me.

“Thanks so much. What do you think about joining us at the concert? It’s free!”

“Yeah… I don’t know.”

“Did you see all the different kinds of stickers you can order?”

“Remember when you fell over? That was my favorite part.”

I mean, people are watching, which is the main point, and I’m not at all salty about falling over on camera. Not when falling over is a normal state of life. People have been watching me fall over since birth. I have fallen over nephews, areas marked “FALL HAZARD,” and perfectly flat bathroom tile. It is the norm. But, isolated from all other moments of humanity, it accidentally became a star. Which is, come to think of it, most appropriate.

What does this have to do with the Reds? My friends, has every single thing in the world to do with the Reds. Like the Bengals until quite recently, their team narrative is a spectacular penchant for finding new and creative ways to lose. The losing overshadows all. It shouts down the bobbleheads. It engulfs the play of a future resident of Cooperstown. It has wrapped itself about Great American Ball Park like a toxic fog. And if this team isn’t careful, the losing, not the row of World Series trophies in the stadium den, will become the trademark of this franchise.

Even if a sports fan doesn’t follow anything but baseball, the Reds have been somewhat able to hide in a division that also contains the Cubs and the Pirates. When the Cubs were winning, the Reds weren’t such a rolling disaster. But now they stand in extreme danger of becoming synonymous with hurling a win away with both gloves. “Redding” doesn’t quite have the ring of “Cubbing,” but the second I see “Come on, start Redding” on non-Cincinnati Twitter accounts is when we know we’ve passed the point of no return.

I’d like to think there are plans in place to prevent this, because the situation has, game by game and season by season, slid from frustration at never making it past division playoffs and into a settled culture of truly epic losing. Here is the barrel we’re looking down at this point in the wider sprawl of history:  We lose; we are the measure stick of losing. The ’62 Mets are a point of aspiration. High draft picks are trolled with images of Reds batting helmets.

Setting aside the romantic nature of baseball to view this team purely as a financial asset, who wants to own a business with that kind of word of mouth? This team wants to be the Dollar General of Major League Baseball? Because that’s where the ownership group will find itself if they don’t turn this sinking aircraft carrier around right quick.

Otherwise, the world will tune in only to watch the Reds fall over.

23 Responses

  1. Oldtimer

    The Reds were Meh from 1945 to 1955. Ten straight losing seasons.

    Then the Reds had the best W-L record in the NL from 1956 to 1981.

    You just never know when the turnaround is just around the corner.

    • Ryan

      Greg Rhodes’ “RedlegMemories” on the fifties and sixties Reds is a treasure

      • Oldtimer

        Yes, that is a fabulous book. Highly recommended.

      • TR

        I recently came across a novel titled ‘The Cincinnati Red Stalkings’ by Troy Soos. It regards a murder that ocurred in 1921 when a museum was being planned 52 years after the first professional Red Stockings
        team of 1869 with items from that era. The author uses the actual names of the 1919 WS champion team and refers to actual locales in Cincinnati. After almost a hundred pages in, it’s getting real interesting.

    • Jon

      You just know it’s not coming as long as the Castellinis own the team.

    • TJ

      Hey old-timer, if you were around to watch the Reds from 56-65 (Frank Robinson’s years), I would love to hear your perspective. I don’t have a book on the 1964 season, but the more articles I read it seems I learn something new

      • Oldtimer

        Yes indeed. We had season tickets from 1961 through 1979. I attended lots of Reds games in 1964. Reds were 8.5 games behind Phillies on Sept 15 1964 but came home 1 game ahead on Sept 27. They proceeded to lose 4 of 5 at home to fall 1 game short of the Cardinals. My first game in person was in 1958. The Reds were pretty good from 1961 to 1965. I got to see the Big Red Machine develop in the 1960s.

      • Pinson343

        There’s an excellent book about the 1964 season titled Fred Hutchinson and the 1964 Cincinnati Reds. Hutchinson was a beloved manager and during the season had to step down as Reds manager because he was dying of cancer.
        With two weeks left in the season, the Reds began a famous Phillies collapse by sweeping them in 3 games and went on to win 10 in a row. They were seemingly on the verge of winning the pennant, but lost 4 of 5 at home in the final week. It was the way they lost two of those games that was tragic, especially a Friday night game which they
        blew to the Phillies. SS Leo Cardenas melted down after getting hit by a pitch and with the Reds leading 3-0 in the top of the 8th, he made little effort on a pop-up that fell near him. Pitcher Jim O’Toole was furious and the meltdown was on. Earlier in the game an apparent two run drive with Pinson and Robinson on base and on the run was turned into a triple play on a miraculous catch. A few years ago, RLN members who were at that game said the ball seemed to curl back to the OFer.

    • Michael E

      That was pre-free agency though. A cheaper team or lower revenue team could win solely on scouting and being able to hold on to scouted/drafted talent for a long time.

      Once free agency hit, the Reds have been much less of a franchise. They did not adapt to the FA world. A string of cheap-skate owners didn’t help. Marge Schott looks like a big spender compared to Linder and Castellini.

      The revenue is lower than ever compared to peers because Linder and Castellini didn’t invest properly in the on-field product. They basically are robbing and pillaging the franchise and fans. The only pity we might have is for Pirates fans…thats it. Nutting is a bigger thief than the Castellini’s and partners, but not by much.

      • Oldtimer

        The Reds have played in NL since 1882. They have made postseason play 16 times. Of those, seven postseason appearances (1979, 1990, 1995, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2020) have been made since Free Agency in 1976.

        So ten times from 1882 to 1976 (95 seasons). And seven times from 1977 to 2022 (46 seasons).

        That’s 10 of 95 or 7 of 46. The % is not that much different post Free Agency in 1976.

      • Pinson343

        You’re absolutely correct about the devastating effect of free agency on the Reds. After sweeping the Yankees in the 1976 WS, the first signing of the free agent era was the Yankees signing the Reds ace pitcher Don Gullett. The Reds were still good through the strike interrupted 1981 season, when they had the
        best record in the major leagues but didn’t make an expanded playoff field due to how the split season was handled. Bowie Kuhn wanted a Yankees-Dodgers WS. After the 1981 season, the entire Reds OF – Griffey, Foster and Collins – headed to NY. That led to the infamous Reds 1982 season, worst record in baseball with 101 losses. The Reds have had some good seasons since then, but that was the turning point.

      • Pinson343

        With all due respect, fellow Old Timer, an analysis over all those years based on percentage of times making the playoffs is misleading because until 1969, only one team from each league made the playoffs. And prior to 1903, there was no postseason.

      • pinson343

        The Reds were an exciting team from 1956-65. In 1956 they tied the major league record with 221 HRs, led by Frank Robinson’s 38 HRs, a major league record for a rookie. From 1957-1960, they still had a strong offense but weak pitching. In 1961 they finally put together a strong starting rotation and two good co-closers. Frank Robinson won the MVP, Vada Pinson batted .343 with great CF defense and speed. Of course they won the NL pennant, with Fred Hutchinson as manager. They contended from 1962-1965, winning 98 games in ’62. In 1964 they lost out on the final day of the season, after losing the next to last game in tragic fashion.
        In 1965 they had a great lineup with power and speed. They led the majors in runs scored by a wide margin. Pete Rose said it was the best lineup he ever played for, better than the BRM lineups. But they had terrible pitching.

    • Challenger

      Important perspective, Old Timer! Thank you.
      What happened to turn things around? I doubt it was by accident.

  2. LDS

    I think the Reds have already reached that point. As for falling, well when you younger folks stumble or fall, it’s “oh, she’s always been a little clumsy”. When we retirees fall, it’s like “quick call an ambulance, something has happened to the old man”. Until I was 65+, I never saw a question on the medical forms about “Have you fallen in the last 12 months”. Happy Thanksgiving to you and the Pilot.

  3. Votto4life

    On point as always Mary Beth. Thank you so much for your articles. I look forward to them every week.

    Happy Thanksgiving to everyone at. RLN!!

  4. Jon

    If anyone’s been following the news, on Sunday Disney fired their CEO Bob Chapek. He had taken over running the company less than two years ago and continued to raise prices and nickel and dime customers in every way possible. Cutting perks and charging for things that used to be free. Stock prices had taken a nosedive. Disney brought back former CEO Bob Iger to run the company for the next two years.

    There are a lot of similarities between Bob Chapek and the Nick Krall/Bob Castellini regime. Chapek and Krall both took over during the early portion of the pandemic. Both made lots of cuts and changes that were not popular among their guests and employees. As a result, Disney’s stock price and the Reds’ attendance figures have both fallen.

    One company is on their way to correcting this. The other continues to slash payroll and makes no real effort to attract fans to the ballpark by providing a competitive team in baseball’s weakest division. Dick Williams may or may not be the answer. But 2022 made it clear that Krall is definitely the wrong man for the job (spending his limited resources on Minor, Pham, Strickland, and Moran). Castellini needs to make a commitment to bring payroll back to at least $150 million. Then bring back Dick Williams and get the team back on the path toward success.

    • LDS

      You left out the other similarity. Chapek contaminated many of Disney’s franchises, e.g., Marvel, with his political ideology. While I don’t think any of us would accuse Krall of that, he did trade away popular “franchise” players – some I agree with. I don’t see an Iger in the Reds future. There have been a number of good offseason hires. The Reds simply didn’t make any of them.

    • Votto4life

      Maybe they will bring Dick Williams back, hopefully as majority owner.

      • TR

        I hope Dick Williams wants to come back. I, for one longtime fan, felt when Dick Williams was in charge that the Reds were ‘more in the game.’

    • Michael E

      You’re not directing the blame to the proper level of management.

      Krall is simply operating within the Castellini’s directives. Krall is not a puppet, but he is not given free reign. Disney’s Chapek reported to the board, but he had much more free reign. Krall has been handcuffed since he was hired and I am sure he knew he would be, but a GM position is still coveted.

      Krall is not the/a problem. The problem is the Castellini’s.

      I will say that the signing of Minor might be a Krall mistake, can’t imagine the Castellini’s demanded that, so that is a deep blemish to be sure.

  5. Mark Moore

    Love it, love it, LOVE IT!!!

    Well done again, MBE. Hoping your fundraising efforts are spectacularly fantastic.

    As for our Reds … meh … 😀

  6. Harold

    New ownership would definitely be an improvement. Krall is not the problem. The problem is ownership Nothing positive will happen until we hire someone who cares more about winning than the bottom line. SELL THE TEAM BOB!!!!!

    The fans and city deserve an effort to put a winner in Cincinnati. The fans interest will continue to wain and more and more people will look toward soccer and other forms of Spring and Summer entertainment.