I don’t even know what to say anymore about how the Reds have been functioning post-All Star Game outside of the apparent fact that they’re not actually acting as a contending baseball team. They are orbiting the concept of being a contending baseball team.

You know orbiting? The kids know orbiting. People orbit when they’re dragging the murky, barnacled floor of the dating pool. A space person like me used to love the idea of orbiting; orbiting was a good thing. It was a goal in itself and it could also act as a stage for greater missions. Not so in the social media realm, I have learned.

Apparently what was once soul-crushing in out-of-office hours with emails, voice messages, AIM pings, and answering machines is now soul-crushing all the time, at all hours of the day, and in countless forms of digital ignoring.

I thought it was exhausting trying to figure out the call-back/email-back/appear in the chat room timing game, but that was when the only form of attention was exchanging actual words. Now there are likes and tags and gifs and emojis (a smiley face with heart eyes means something entirely different than a smiley face surrounded by hearts, and mixing up the two is akin to the social life-ending faux pas of turning your back on the Queen.)

The worst, most un-navigable part of it is the orbiting. Orbiting is letting your social media ignoring partner know that you looked at one of their Instagram stories, or saw thier TikTok profile, but are still choosing to never actually interact in any way. The orbiter knows you’re there, and doesn’t necessarily mind letting you know that they know you know they’re there, but there’s no need to actually communicate in words or anything.

If an orbiter is really feeling like splashing some attention on the target, a like will be magnanimously distributed upon a post or comment.  Actually commenting on a public post oneself is tantamount to, in the British Regency era, asking to speak to a single woman’s father, applying for permission to speak to the young lady in a room containing less than 400 other people. Sending the person a direct message (“sliding into the DM’s,” I am told is the correct terminology) is practically a public wedding announcement. Why use words when we can just ignore each other in new and horrible silent ways?

So this is where the Reds are: They’re orbiting. They’re not quite bad enough to just bump team by team down the standings, but nor are they good enough to maintain every element necessary to win a baseball game all at the same time for any significant stretch of the calendar.

Apparently being destroyed by the Cubs is necessary so they didn’t seem too forward.  Then they orbited first place, and then the Nationals came to town and oh we might as well get swept by them because we don’t want to seem too eager to win the division, do we? Then here are the Marlins and we can’t quite decide if we like the Wild Card berth or, you know, like like the idea of playing in October, so let’s blow one game while managing to hang on to another one.

It is exhausting. Zoomers are exhausting, and trying to figure out what they’re trying to achieve or even say is also exhausting.

Why do something boring like go wire-to-wire anyway? Where’s the challenge in that? Better to orbit like Gemini astronauts for weeks on end and see what comes of it. But– we’re at least off the ground, which is much more than we can say for the rest of the last 30 years.

14 Responses

  1. LDS

    Yes, in the traditional sense, they are orbiting. But that orbit is decaying rapidly and in a few short weeks they will burn up in the atmosphere. That was to be expected when the command pilot for life is David Bell, the capcom is Nick Krall. and the flight director is Bob Castellini, who is certainly no Gene Krantz.

    • Mark Moore

      Apparently “failure IS an option”. And I still think the capcom you mention was hog-tied to his chair by said “flight mis-director”. Attendance boost added to his pockets, so he stood pat and let the chips fall where they may.

  2. Brian

    One sentence could have gotten the point across. I can’t believe that I read this long of an article that said so little.

  3. Mark Moore

    Orbiting … an apt way of describing it. And, as LDS noted, it’s a decaying orbit that brings back clear, painful memories of 2021’s near-epic collapse.

    Hope is proving to be very dangerous after all. Have to keep reminding myself that we weren’t supposed to have this much “success” in 2023.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Oh, “decaying” orbit is the best possible way to describe it. Gravity kicks in and what goes up is indeed coming down…

  4. Scott C

    My youngest son is beside himself over the Reds “implosion” as he calls it. Me not so much, my expectations were so low to begin the season that anything under 100 losses would have been good. Even before the all star break I knew we weren’t going to keep it up, we were getting by on smoke and mirrors. Without some addition before the trade deadline there was not much hope, we didn’t get it in case no one noticed. (Sarcasm) Now if Hunter and Nick and Tejay and Vlad get back that might add a breath of life but I am afraid it will be too little too late.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      the poor little one! Well, the sooner he understands the reality of life as a Reds fan, the better, I suppose.

      • Scott C

        LOL My little one is 39. But you are right on.

  5. Andrew Brewer

    The odd thing to me is that the Reds starting pitching has actually shaped up without anyone being added to the Roster. Yesterday, showed another good start by Weaver, and Ashcraft has come back to his early season form. Williamson has also found his legs on the mound. It must therefore be the rat-a-tat-tat of the Reds hitting attack that is showing the slack. I have followed this season closely, and who can explain the Reds surge from last to first ? Yet, it happened before our eyes. It was the Brewers more than the Cubs that had some hidden power over us. We all knew that what we were seeing was fragile, but now it is just as impossible to believe that it is all over. At least it can be said that the Reds had their moment of Glory this season, and if by some miracle (or the favor of the baseball gods) they again turn things around, we will say, “yes, we knew they were capable.”
    “It ain’t over ’til it’s over”, said the great Yogi Berra.