'23 Reds: Ownership vs the players and the leap of faith for fans
I’ll be honest, there were days this baseball offseason I resisted talking Reds. I couldn’t do it.
I knew what was coming. I knew what the return on my investment in the topic would bring.
The fan dislike of ownership is palpable. There is a real sense that some fans don’t just want the Reds to lose, they want ownership punished and embarrassed. The default position of many fans is to answer any Reds topic/question with “Do they still own the team?” or “Where ya gonna go?”
Those talking points seem to have circulated amongst a network of angry fans to post on any and all social media outlets. Again, and again, and again.
I love baseball. I love the Reds. They are the only team I’ve rooted for over my 56 year lifetime. I enjoy listening on the radio. I enjoy a day at the ballpark.
But that’s me.
I’m trying to do a better job understanding and accepting fan frustration. I often have to check myself on the fact that not everyone was fortunate to grow up with the Big Red Machine and witness three World Series titles in their lifetime.
As another season approaches, I think this comes down to two questions:
- Can you separate your feelings for ownership from your feelings for the players?
- Are you willing to take a leap of faith with the team?
You know you’re in trouble when the season debate is how many games the Reds will lose, rather than how many they win. Vegas has set the win total around 66. That would be a four win improvement. But that’s still 96 losses.
This appears to be a young, hungry, aggressive and very likable group. A team minus some players that drove fan angst a year ago: Mike Moustakas, Aristides Aquino, Mike Minor, Hunter Strickland, Tommy Pham, Jeff Hoffman. This group talks openly about playing with a chip on their shoulder to answer critics. There is a clear core to this team: Tyler Stephenson, Jonathan India, Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, Graham Ashcraft, Alexis Diaz. And, by all accounts, help is on the way.
But I get it. The MLB deck is stacked against a small market team like the Reds. The margin for error is miniscule. Money wins most times.
And a rebuild requires time and patience and fans have run dry on both. It’s like the sign that says’ Free Hamburgers Tomorrow.” When you show up the next day the sign says the same thing. The Reds will cringe when they read this, but it’s likely 2025 before this team is in a position to be a serious player in the NL Central.
At least this is a rebuild finally started the right way, with ownership giving the greenlight and getting out of the way and assets being maximized in trades.
A boatload of badly needed young talent was infused into the system. But I get it. Most fans don’t care about prospects or have time/interest to follow minor league baseball. And there is a belief that prospects that pan out will just be traded. That makes it tough to emotionally invest and attach yourself to a player.
Stranger things have happened. The ‘22 AL Central champion Guardians happened with 17 rookies. The ‘90 Reds happened…..the '99 Reds happened....the '10 Reds happened. Nobody is bold enough to predict any of that for the 2023 Reds. But it is time to play ball.
This season is about progress and development, the core players taking the next step, the top prospects taking a step closer to GABP.
So I’ll ask again…Can you separate your feelings for ownership from your feelings for the players? Are you willing to take a leap of faith with the team?
Let’s discuss tonight on Sports Talk.