Before I get into this, I know the title of this post has been consistently used since 1990 whenever the Cincinnati Reds are in the playoff hunt. So I'm not claiming to be original here and apologize for my lack of post title creativity. With St Louis coming to town for a four-game series the Reds, who are still leading the NL Wild Card race, could conceivably take over sole possession of first place in the NL Central this week. New Reds owner Bob Castellini, who was formerly part of a Cardinal ownership group, is offering the majority of tickets at half price for three of the series' four games. This move has drawn the ire of some local baseball fans that claim Cincinnati is no longer a true baseball town because, if it were, the series against the Cards would be sold out without the ticket discount.
A little over a week ago, the Enquirer had a front page story that wondered why attendance at the games were so bad. Of course, I was not asked so I think I will offer three reasons why few are going to the games.
1) Turn on the TV. By the end of this season, Fox Sports Ohio will have shown 112 games. The two parties signed a new eleven year agreement last week that ensures they will air 140+ games next year. If I want to see the Reds, I can watch them at home. I'm already paying for cable and don't have to shell out for parking or over-priced concessions. Now if that's how I feel about it, and I live close enough to the ballpark to be back home in five minutes, how would people living up in Mason feel about it? So instead of attending a game every one or two weeks, I catch a game a month.
Plus, perhaps people should look at the current economic state of our country: people are more selective with their entertainment dollars. Instead of nights out at movies, people prefer staying in, investing in their home entertainment system, and saving a few bucks. If gas wasn't three bucks a gallon perhaps people would be willing to spend their entertainment dollars at the ballpark.
2) Time heals wounds. It's been eleven years since the Reds made the play-offs. Since that time, they've had some pretty bad teams. We thought Carl Lindner would come in and seriously invest in franchise. Who could've predicted that he'd spend less than Marge Schott [relatively speaking]? This town loves a winning team and will invest in them. Look at the Bengals who have already sold out their entire season? I guarantee that if the Reds have an active off-season making improvements to the roster, it'll be more difficult to get tickets next year.
3) This team ain't that good. I thoroughly appreciate the efforts of Castellini and General Manager Wayne Krivsky to put together a contender. But this is the most frustrating Reds team I can ever remember watching. The 1999 club that lost in a one game play-off to the Mets was an easier team to root for; they were over-achievers. These guys seem to lose numerous games on baserunning and defensive gaffes. And they're much better on the road than at home. It's ugly baseball. Even if they do make the play-offs, they'd struggle to win a series. I still love 'em but it's painful to watch.
I absolutely love the Reds, but it's absurd to think that I don't care about them because I don't go to more games. It'll be interesting to see if this series will sell-out this week. It might cause the Reds ticket office to reapproach their marketing of the team.
Prediction: Reds win three of four to get to .5 games out of first. And they'll make the play-offs.
Update:Reaffirming point number three, It's the fourth inning in game one and the Reds are now down 9 to 1. EZ Ramirez's throwing grapefruits and Brandon Phillips is hot dogging at second. Like I wrote, I love these guys, but they're giving me an ulcer.