If this month’s first matchup between the Bengals and the Bills was the night the whole city could not sleep, then the past seven days have been the week the whole world could not shut up.

It is a sad irony that the two people on the planet who should stop talking the most– Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Phil, Duke of Going Elsewhere– have quick access to microphones attached to very large sound systems. I realize that I’m typing this as a person who has made an entire career out of oversharing, sometimes in extremely uncomfortable ways, but I also don’t take an entire monarchy or a 154 year old ballclub down with me. I tumble off the highwire all by my lonesome.

Those with a custodial mindset understand that the position they serve overshadows themselves, as well as their impulses to announce the details of a lawn-based deflowering and the absolute fact that a 1.19 billion dollar franchise is a financial liability, actually. I can’t top Doug Gray’s analysis of Phil Castellini’s lament, so I will simply marvel at the jeweled setting of this week’s outrage.

The incident comes more sharply and ignominiously into focus once it is understood precisely when and where Castellini said what he said. This was a prepared speech at a luncheon of the Rosie Reds, a respected staple of Cincinnati society long before the terrifying giant-headed mascot showed up. “The Rosies” were founded in 1964. Why? For the gals to gab?

No. To save the team.

At this point in the decade, the ’60s were still pretty much the 1950’s, and women wore dresses or their very best capris to the ball park. In this moment, Crosley Field wasn’t a source of fond nostalgia, but increasing frustration; the neighborhood around it was rapidly deteriorating and fans were jealous of the big shiny multiuse stadiums popping up elsewhere.

Partially founded by local superstar Ruth Lyons, the Rooters Organized to Stimulate Interest and Enthusiasm in the Cincinnati Reds was designed to help keep the hometown team at home. And get this: The potential departure escalated to the state of civic emergency a mere four years after the team saw the World Series.  Imagine the reaction if you told these women that their grandchildren would attain adulthood having never lived in a playoff town until we imported a Heisman winner to get our as-yet unfounded football team there.

The Rosie Reds persisted even after the team remained, happily attached to its new aluminum home by the river. Were it not for our Rosies, the Big Red Machine would have clanked elsewhere, or even not at all.

So here was a group of (mostly) women so dedicated to the home team that they were willing to pay thirty dollars a year to be even fan-ier, the spiritual descendants of the enterprising ladies who first laid down time and tea to preserve the organization. And to honor this connection, the Cincinnati Reds:

1) Sent them the least popular person in a franchise that also once contained Kevin Gregg

2) Informed them that the team was just one of many already eliminated from competition on an Opening Day that is yet three months off.

Did Phil circle his bar graph with a laser pointer and say, “Here’s how and why we are doing our very best to not be one of these teams this year”? He did not. I suppose (1) was the very reason that Phil was even there; the front office must have correctly profiled the Rosies as the warmest and most forgiving possible group to listen to him.

From a fan’s point of view, though, I would gladly pay cash money to sit in a garbage dump and watch Joey Votto silently play chess, but you’d better make a fairly large deposit in my checking account for me report to a conference room and tilt my head up for the latest slap in the face from Major League Baseball. I already know I’m a lost cause of an absurdly romantic human being to continue to foster any interest in this ballclub. I don’t need Phil and his mangled Fangraph visual aid to remind me.

I also don’t know if the assumption was that these (mostly) women wouldn’t check his math, or if he simply figured that not one single person would put down a fork and blast his fantasy league projections all over the Interwebs, but I do know that the viral picture of the back of several unimpressed heads facing down a bunch of statistics that don’t even exist (how are you out of contention on Opening Day?!) is every bit a real-life episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. There were very bad, very poorly produced things happening up on that screen, we are forced to live them, and the only way out is to watch Sam run again and think of better days.


33 Responses

  1. JB

    Only Phil could double down on his stupidity and inform the public, not only on his “Where you going to go” ,but now with a we are a non profit organization that’s out of it two months before the season starts. If that doesn’t pack the stadium every home game, I don’t know what will. I think Phil is that guy who sits in his office all day playing Candy Crush and commenting on Facebook.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I mean I’d hope that he spent at least some time outlining what the scouts and managers are doing to pull us out of the cellar, but somehow I have the feeling that wasn’t the goal of this little presentation.

  2. LDS

    Harry is a puppet. Meghan pulls his strings. Unfortunately, I think Phil is pulling the Reds strings. Bob’s the big guy, just taking his cut.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      The English teacher in me is thinking Harry did not write that. Mostly I’m sad for him that no one put a hand on his shoulder and said, “Maybe we should keep this paragraph between you and your therapist.”

    • greenmtred

      More inside information, LDS? I stand in awe.

  3. Mark Moore

    Your basic slap in the face to those dear ladies. They knew it. They are just too polite to express the outrage we all do on this forum.

    The MST3K reference is hilarious and very accurate. Maybe that’s how we need to start watching games since we officially have no chance of competing in any way.

    Keep charging ahead, MBE! We’re all with you.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I LOVE MST3K. Pulled me through a rough time. The guys are still going as Rifftrax, but I don’t know if they could stomach these shenanigans.

    • Old Big Ed

      Yeah, I got a big chuckle out of the MST3K reference, too.

  4. 2020ball

    Phil bringing charts and fake statistics to a gathering of the franchise’s most loyal fans is another sad and pathetic chapter for this front office. Just shut up and collect your check, antagonizing the fanbase is just plain stupid and uneeded. Why he keeps doing this when it has clearly backfired so far is absolutely mindblowing.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I mean, that’s what gets me: Somebody in that front office doesn’t have the wherewithal to yank the mic out of his hand, and that honestly is even more concerning than the increasingly alarming pitcher invites to Spring Training.

  5. Redhaze

    I would love to see the Rosie Reds protesting in front of the stadium with sandwich boards. That would let Phil know that his Jedi mind tricks did not work.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Now the Jedi don’t use mind tricks for evil; this bar chart is a Sith technique. (No, I should not know the difference between them, and no, even I did know the difference, I shouldn’t be announcing that fact to a jury of my commenting peers.)

      But to know he’s lost the Rosies would serve as a sharp blow indeed (at least I would hope.)

  6. SOQ

    Bob will never sell. The Reds are Phil’s toy now. What else is he going to do?

    • 2020ball

      “Where else is he gonna go?”


      • greenmtred

        Well, he could go to rehab of some kind; a place where they specialize in extracting feet from mouths. I’m mad, a little (I don’t care so much anymore). We’re all mad. But what he said about being out of contention is the truth. He, in his position, is just an odd messenger.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I was recently contacted about a very valuable job opportunity that involved processing rebates. I just needed to send it a $4000 training fee. Maybe we should pass that along.

  7. Castellinis Onions

    Maybe it’s a testament to how cheap they truly are. Phil makes the slides, picks the players, heats up the nacho cheese, makes the appearances. I wonder what year at the Wharton school it is where they teach you the best way to sell your product is to say it sucks and it won’t get better.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I used to make the waffle cones for the GAPB luxury suites. I went home smelling like Vanilla Beam Dream lotion from Bath and Body Works. I don’t imagine the nacho cheese duty is quite as dignified.

  8. Jim Walker

    A person wonders why somebody in the accounting department was told to check the numbers then realizes may they were and 1)did not recognize they were bogus or 2)were afraid to tell Phil the truth.

    Not sure which is the scariest.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Or 3: They DID tell him, and nobody cares.
      If you’re talking about the chart, though, it probably didn’t go through people who actually understand math. This was a deliberate manipulation of FanGraph data.

  9. Jimbo44CN

    This has become a tragic comedy. Just watch the scene in Major League where the new owner passes out the list of players invited to Spring Training and you will understand all you need to know about the current Red’s ownership.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I recently watched the clip of Kevin Costner throwing out the first pitch at the Field of Dreams game and I was like, “Can we suit him up or…”

  10. Greg G

    Rachel Phelps > Phil Castellini

    Mary Beth, inspired work, even by your incredibly high standards.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Oh thank you, my friend. Tremendous praise indeed from a learned person 🙂 I hope you are well.

  11. Old Big Ed

    I figured that they would handle last year’s Phil Phiasco by letting him run the local revenue side — tickets, concessions and merchandise, advertising, pourage rights, etc. In theory, anybody with a decent business background and a good work ethic could make some improvements there. But Phil is krpytonite to ticket buyers, and I am the first person to use “good work ethic” and “Phil Castellini” in the same sentence.

    The minority owners, including the Williams family, have to be in rebellion about Phil.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Your first two sentences are a particularly excellent point. Any smart and ambitious new MBA with the team’s best interests truly at heart could surely bring fresh eyes to the situation.

  12. Pablo

    I wonder what Marge Schott would say to this group of buffoons running our Reds over the cliff? She’d probably hand Spaulding Castellini Schotzie’s leash and tell him to take him on a walk.

    • jessecuster44

      Marge – despite all of her faults – wanted the Reds to win.

      • greenmtred

        The Castellinis probably want the Reds to win; they’re just unwilling to spend the money that the project requires.

    • Mark Moore

      “And don’t forget to pick up his crap! Take a BIG bag for that.”