Lance McAlister

Lance McAlister

Lance McAlister covers everything in Cincinnati sports! Host of sports talk on Cincinnati News Radio 700WLW and ESPN 1530!Full Bio


Perception vs Reality: Bengals vs Reds and the pass from media and fans?

Perception and criticism: Bengals vs Reds, Brown vs Castellini

The above tweet I received last week was another reminder of a growing sense the Reds and Bob Castellini get a pass when compared to the scrutiny, criticism and heat put on the Bengals and Mike Brown.

I decided to take a look at both franchise over the last 15 seasons since the Castellini group purchased the Reds 15 years ago today:

January 19, 2006: MLB owners unanimously approve the November transaction in which Bob Castellini and two other Cincinnati businessmen bought control of the Reds from previous owner Carl Lindner. According to reports, the trio, which includes investors Thomas Williams and William Williams Jr., acquired approximately 70 percent ownership of baseball's oldest franchise, believed to be valued at an estimated $270

Reds since 2006:
Regular season record: 1,110-1,218 (47.6%) Winning seasons: 4. Playoff appearances: 4. Playoff series wins: 0.

Bengals since 2006:
Regular season record: 110-126-4 (46.6%) Winning seasons: 6. Playoff appearances: 6. Playoff wins: 0.

In fact, the Bengals made the playoffs five consecutive seasons (2011-2015) while the Reds have made the playoffs five times in the last 25 years.

Questions: Does the fan criticism and pushback directed towards each team match those numbers?

For years, I've believed the Reds have created goodwill that has bought them patience, understanding and even sympathy from the city and fans.

The Bengals have rarely, if ever, received that type of treatment in this town, at least over the last nearly 30 years.


I believe there are several reasons:

*The Reds had about a 100 year head start over the Bengals in working their way into the DNA of the city. The Reds were baseball's first franchise in 1869. The Bengals arrived in town in 1968.

*The Reds have long been viewed as part of the fabric of our community. The Reds are summer fun and family. Reds baseball is Cincinnati to the rest of the country. The Bengals, meanwhile, have been viewed by many as a dark, cold, business, the Brown family business: Cheap, void of emotions, detached and distanced from fans, resistant to change, unwilling to catch up with the rest of the NFL. 

*The Reds have won championships. They have the aura of the Big Red Machine of the 1970's and back-to-back World Series titles in 1975-76. They have Hall of Famers. They have magical and historical moments the city has celebrated and continues to be proud of.

*The Reds been able to celebrate that success and connect it with their fan base. That includes the Reds Hall of Fame, the retiring of numbers and unveiling of statues at GABP.

*The Reds have been able to promote their product with fan events like Redsfest and the Reds Caravan that travels more than 3,800 miles with stops in five states over four days. The four Caravan tours travel through Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee to spread the word about Reds baseball.

*The Reds continue to do more with their game-day experience at GABP than the Bengals at PBS.

*The Reds have a community outreach program, Reds Community Fund, which has had a big impact on the local scene.

*The Reds have the deck stacked against them based on the structure of their sport. The Reds play in a small market on an uneven playing field. MLB does not have a salary cap. The Bengals play in a league with a salary cap and an even distribution of national TV money. MLB has individual team TV contracts based on market size.

*The Bengals have mostly been hesitant and/or resistant to celebrating the history of the franchise.

*The Bengals offered us the lost decade of the 90's, which fans still carry the scars of. The period of futility left the Bengals as a national laughing stock and a punchline for jokes. The team went from 1991 to 2004 without, not only a playoff appearance, but a winning season. They have gone 30 years since their last playoff win.

*The Bengals continue to bear the biggest brunt of backlash for the stadium deal, a half-percent sales tax increase to pay for: Great American Ballpark and Paul Brown Stadium. It is considered the worst stadium deal in American history.

Having said all of this, I believe the Reds are using up a great deal of the goodwill they have created over the years.

Fans got worn out by the rebuild and tired of the losing. Now they wonder how the Reds 'went for it' for one year in 2020 but are now reallocating, if not rebuilding, again. All of this is unfolding while the value of the franchise has gone from $275M when purchased by Castellini in 2006 to $1.2B in the most recent report from Forbes.

The Reds have had losing seasons in 16 of the last 20 seasons. They have just nine winning seasons, five playoff appearances and one playoff series win in the 30 seasons since winning the 1990 World Series. They have not won a playoff series since 1995.

There's a generation of Reds fans that don't know much winning. The BRM fans are getting older. Riverfront was the place to be. Greatness was witnessed night in and night out. I'm a product of the BRM. Winning was burned into my brain. To have seen and appreciate a World Series title in Cincinnati you have to be around 38 years old. You have to be around 33 years old to have witnessed a winning playoff series. What about everyone younger?

Does fan critique, criticism and pushback directed towards the Reds and Bengals match all these numbers?

I think we can have a pretty good discussion about this tonight at 6pm on Sports Talk.

Can't wait to discuss? Join on conversation on my Facebook page HERE

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