I'm going to qualify this post with a note that this may be the winning talking, but I don't care, I feel good!
Yesterday at the Vote Votto lunch, I had the pleasure of sitting and chatting with Dan from OMGReds for quite a while. One topic that we discussed was how different these Reds were compared to recent Reds teams of the last decade. Obviously the on-field performance is different than we've seen for quite some time, but it's more than that. The organization is doing things that they haven't done in the past, at least not for several years.
Can you imagine the Carl Lindner run Reds springing for a free lunch for fans just so they can come use the Reds computers to vote for a player to go to the All-Star Game? Hell, can you imagine the Reds of the early aughts even campaigning for a player to make the All-Star Game? I think the more likely scenario is that the old Reds would have sat on their hands for fear that an ASG appearance for Votto would drive up his price during salary negotiations.
But not the new Reds. Instead of being afraid of how much a player is going to cost them in the future, they understand that a baseball team is a long-term investment and if they want to be successful, they need a team that fans will care about. Yes, it helps that Joey Votto is an awesome player, and that Scott Rolen still has something in the tank, and that Mike Leake caught everybody off guard. But building a good organization takes more than just putting a good product on the field.
A couple of years ago, on this site, I complained about the fact that the Reds did very little to promote their players. I had gone to Jacobs Field and saw giant pictures of Indians players and banners with players' faces all around the outside of the stadium. Then I came home and barely saw anything representing the current squad inside the stadium, let alone in the surrounding areas. Granted, some of that had to do with the fact that the Reds didn't have much to celebrate in the middle years of the decade, but the Reds did very little to build enthusiasm around the organization.
That has changed. Today, when you go down to the park, even when there isn't a game, you still get a lot of the Reds flavor in the area. There are banners on every light post with CURRENT players' faces on them. There are two giant pictures on the outside of the Reds team shop next to the Reds Hall of Fame depicting Johnny Cueto and Joey Votto in action. When you come to the park, you can't help getting enthused about the organization.
But it's not just pictures and banners. The Reds marketing staff has been throwing everything at fans but the kitchen sink. From big events like Fireworks Fridays and MC Hammer(!) to smaller ones like Bark-in-the-Park and Baby Day, they are doing all they can to give fans reason to come to the park. And while fans still aren't making their presence felt in droves, the Reds' organization has been keeping a positive attitude and not blaming the fans for not coming out. They simply keep trying new things (Did I mention MC Hammer?).
I know there are some of you who still are going to hate on the Reds process, but not me. Not right now, at least. I'm going to give some props to Bob Castellini and his crew. I belive they are truly trying to make the Reds a great organization again. It ain't easy, but it's getting there.