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.