I am wondering just how much longer we are supposed to be “patient.”

Baseball, of course, was built on patience. That’s why I cringed at the pitch clock and downright reared up at the tee ball-level extra runner when we cannot decide the thing in nine innings. Give it time to unfold.

Baseball is chess and requires thought. That’s why a game is an ideal date: Time to talk between pitches if it’s going well, and time to bail out to the concession stand when it’s not.

The Marshmallow Test

I recognize this is a paradox, however. Baseball is a children’s game and children are crap at being patient. One of my nephews once had an absolute, world-is-ending meltdown at the zoo because the line for getting on the carousel cut off a few people in front of us.

He’d been through this before. He watched for 10 minutes as an allotted number of people onloaded and offloaded as the zebras and elephants sat there. This was not a black swan event.

The baby was mad on the same grounds that we get mad when we see someone extract a checkbook in a grocery line in the Year of Our Lord 2024 and Apple Pay: He expected that this thing would move along with reliable rapidity, and his expectations were not met when it did not.

Checks at the Checkout

But I couldn’t get mad because he got mad, as I get mad for pretty much exactly the same way on a near-daily basis. I’d just figured out that children are studiously ignored when they throw a carousel-related tantrum, but when adults justly express ourselves in the same way in the Kroger self-checkout, we go to jail.

In an age in which Reds fans may reasonably anticipate an inside-the-park home run because that’s where the 22 year old set the bar, we are less and less receptive to pleas from the manager and ownership to please stand by, the team is under reconstruction and we’re just waiting on our prospects to flower.

But this team has been under reconstruction longer than I-75, and a cavalcade of injuries and lamentable production has brought our prospects out of the hothouse and into the dugout again and again. I shouldn’t have to fret that Elly De La Cruz might go the way of Billy Hamilton and realize with a nasty start that the Billy Hamilton situation unfolded three Presidential administrations ago.

In Real Time

Generational players are worth waiting for. Allowing a season or two for a clubhouse to get its act together is reasonable; the Big Red Machine was not built in a single trade. But the fact that the last time this team finished atop the division in the same year Billy Hamilton was born rather dents the city’s self concept.

I realize I’m frowning over this while in the very act of sacrificing the pleasures of watching a game unfold in real time in exchange for the benefit of fast-forwarding the commercials. I can only listen to rhapsodic descriptions of the All You Can Eat stand so many times without choosing violence.

But there’s patience and then there’s simping.  It’s a fun team to watch, yes–when it’s pulling off fistfuls of come-from-behind victories and the bullpen and the bats both decide to work at the same time, in the same game. When you go two weeks without establishing a lead, it is understandable that the fanbase might express a word of frustration.

The Definition of Fandom

There’s something to be said for feeling appreciative that at least there’s baseball and at least the team is still here and at least we have one guy consistently worth watching. It’s also arguable that the definition of a fan is the one who sticks around and shows support no matter where the win-loss record falls. I think Reds fans have demonstrated that we can be patient.

Whether or not we’ll continue to care, however, is another matter.

16 Responses

  1. Brian

    There was a talk show yesterday on wlw before the game. The host was talking about how well the Reds would be doing if they didn’t have the injured or suspended players. Maybe so but #1. Nearly every team faces some injuries and that can’t be the excuse every year. #2. Those players don’t have any kind of established MLB track record. There’s no way to know that these guys wouldn’t regress just like the rest of the team seems to have done.
    Stop with the endless excuses…. Year after year, decade after decade.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      It’s verrrrry easy to take hits of hopium with “on track to” stats. And it’s always interesting to talk about. But the reality is… how is the team adjusting and continue to compete? That’s what we have to deal with in the end.

      • Brian

        Some fans(myself included) question ownership and how they fail to adjust when obvious needs arrive.
        The casual conversations that I’ve had with fellow fans nearly all have the same theme. It’s that the ownership group doesn’t place a high priority on winning.
        There’s no doubt that they’d enjoy winning but money, nepotism and lord knows what to appease the group of owners.
        To me, I wish there was a sole owner and not a group. Who knows how that dynamic actually works. It’s not all on ownership though as MLB is also broken. Being a Reds fan is aggravating though.

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        Bunch of fans buy the team.
        Fans elect the board, straight up.
        CEO is chosen from all the names of the board thrown in a hat.
        We could also do this Pope-style, but, again, we aren’t patient enough for that.

      • Brian

        Good thoughts MB but think we’re stuck.

  2. Mark Moore

    Well stated (again) MBE! I think you nailed the definition of “fandom”.

    Frustrations run high. I bugged out after we were down 2-0 last night, largely due to the hands on Mickey. That only gets worse as we move on to LA over the weekend. I’m just too old to sacrifice sleep for a game. Plus, I think we’ve all felt the despair of being down a few runs even early in a game. Happy me when I checked in this morning. I even told my First Wife they had won.

    We soldier on … and often we grouse about what we see as inept coaching/managing or lack of discipline … but we remain Reds fans. The historic euphoria of 1990 still rings true for me … even if the memories have softened due to the passage of time.

    Let’s see if we can string together two in a row this afternoon. As I type this, it’s about an hour until first pitch.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I’ve been pre-Cleting since the middle of the losing streak. I will watch the game on fast-forward when they EARN me watching the game on fast-forward.

  3. Dwayne Powers

    David Bell is the reason this team is underachieving

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I think it was one thing when the man just had nothing to work with.
      He’s somewhat in this situation now due to all the injuries… but it’s not like who’s left just sucks. They don’t.

  4. Rednat

    Great piece MBE. Again of all the contributors on this site, i feel you and you alone have your finger on the pulse of Redleg Nation.
    Yes we are all frustrated as heck. Im 74 and wonder if i lwill ever see another 90 win season for the reds. Ive pretty much given up on a world series championship at this point.
    Alot of it I feel is out of ownerships hands really. The pitching is so dominant that there are just fewer and fewet players that can hit consistantly now. The few players that can are going to be quickly gobbled up by the likes of the dodgers and yankees so it will be a challenge for the reds to ever have a real a strong offense.
    My only hope is that the league continues to alter the rules to favor the offense. More bams on the shifts,moving the mound back,banning certain pitches…etc.
    Anyway… Im rambling…keep up the good work!

  5. LDS

    Bell is no Sparky Anderson and Krall is no Bob Howsam. I suspect we’ll be waiting a while to see a Reds World Series. Let’s hope they don’t waste EDLC.

    • Brayan

      Krall has made three incredible trades. 1) Saurez/Winker, 2) Mahle, 3) Castillo.
      Aside from the 1971 blockbuster trade with the Asstros, I’ll put these three trades up against ANYTHING Howsom put together, with the possible exception of Frank Duffy & Vern Geishert for George Foster. When history is written, we will know how these young guys match up against George.

  6. Brayan

    Let us play a game…. You’re the owner and you decide to sign Ellyctric to a long-term contract. Remember how vilified you were for thr

    owing so much money at Homer Bailey and Joey Votto…. How much money and for how many years would you commit to Elly at this point in time.
    Personally, I’m so confident in the kid that I would say ten years for $20M/year. I’m thinking that if they wait too long, Elly will have the confidence to know that he can write his own check in LA/Anaheim. Write now there is still a smidge of “can I really do this? Should I take the money while it is on the table?”

    That commitment, together with several-year commitments to McLain, Steer and a few others would establish a core group of players that the city and Reds-country can get behind.