There comes a time where every team’s fan base must perform a self-evaluation and determine whether they’re truly as good or as bad as they boast or complain about being. In some instances, this evaluation germinates from media stories that are, at their best, mildly-thought provoking and at their worst, straight up trolling. In other instances, they’re brought about from well-worn self-aggrandizing credos such as "America’s Team," or, yes, "Best Fans In Baseball." Still other instances stem from the actions of the few that, perhaps unfairly, act as synecdoche for an entire fan base.
If you’ve seen a Reds home game on TV, you’ve probably wondered who that costumed individual is in centerfield under the Power Stacks dressed up as a sad cross between Peter O’Toole as T.E. Lawrence and a juggalo. Actually, I take that back, you probably do not care who that costumed individual is. However, that costumed individual would like to think that you think that. His name is Chuck D. No, not the gifted and brilliant lyricist of Public Enemy. Not even someone whose name serves as an homage to The Hard Rhymer. Chuck D calls himself Chuck D because his real name is Chuck Dorn. Clever.
Chuck D considers himself "No. 1 Reds Fan" because, well, because nobody else in our humble city would remotely consider calling themselves that on a daily basis.
"Good afternoon and welcome to LaRosa’s, can I take your order?"
"Yes you may. I would like one extra large pepperoni pizza."
"No. 1 Reds Fan."
(ten minutes pass)
"Order for Noah Redfern?"
This monicker changed recently when Chuck and his cleverly named Power Stack Pack (think Robin Hood’s Merry Men dressed up as extras in "Paris is Burning") decided to heckle some Cardinals fans at a Reds game. Now, I enjoy a good Cardinals joke with the best of them. A well-timed "How is Chris Carpenter going to explain this to his kid?" will bring down any room I am in. I can never get enough of Tony LaRussa’s alphabet. And frankly, you’re not enjoying Twitter properly unless you’re following @BestFansStLouis However, a line is crossed when instead of going after public figures and statements you choose to attack passive and respectful spectators.
After mocking Jon Jay for having two first names (the Power Stack Pack members are far too clever to make a joke about homophones of authors of the Federalist Papers), the
gang bullies, according to the interviews they gave to the Enquirer, literally moved Cardinal fans to tears through heckling. While some of us may not be surprised given our mental caricatures of the Cardinals, remember the players were not attacked, but rather actual fans. I have never met a fan, from St. Louis or otherwise, that has ever been moved to tears from heckling, let alone two of them. So, what does this mean? It probably means that the Power Pack said something patently offensive and inappropriate en masse. Do I have further evidence of this? No, but I’ve never seen two grown people cry due to taunting that has not devolved into straight-up bullying.
Now that Chuck D has been told to, um, cease performing acts of verbal harassment against fans, he has tossed aside the title "No. 1 Reds Fan" and has replaced it with "1 Reds Fan." See? Still clever. While most of us would meekly nod our heads when we’re told to stop doing something improper, Chuck has decided to wage a publicity campaign complete with a Facebook page and hyperbolic quotes to media outlets:
"It’s like my mom told me I can’t go outside and play."
Well, yeah. That’s what I was told the last time I bullied a kid. I guess the only difference between your experience and mine is that I ceased doing that in fourth grade. Oh, and I didn’t go on Twitter and try to turn the tables by labeling myself a victim and whine to the media. However, this is a practice that appears to be a key part in Chuck’s social media strategy:
@LanceMcAlister lance are you on right now? Can I call and get on to talk about. Something.— Chuck D (@ChuckD1redsfan) November 8, 2012
I'm not happy!!!! I didn't do anything wrong my only crime was being nice and talking to folks.— Chuck D (@ChuckD1redsfan) November 8, 2012
I pour all my blood sweat and tears into this organization and I get treated like a criminal.— Chuck D (@ChuckD1redsfan) August 6, 2013
The first two tweets are selected scenes from "Chuck D Goes To Kenwood Towne Center To See Brandon Philips at the Microsoft Store And Cannot Gain Entrance For Some Undisclosed Reason." It’s a good thing there weren’t any Cardinals fans at that store, or his second tweet would not have been accurate. The third tweet, in addition to cleverly alluding to both Fiona Apple and Dostoyevsky, represents his initial reaction for being reprimanded for harassing other fans.
In response to these shenanigans, credit has to be given to Phil Castellini who, in the Enquirer, was exceptionally diplomatic in expressing the concerns for the Reds. You see, the Reds want you to be loud, very loud. They also want to make sure that everyone who attends a ballgame feels safe and has an enjoyable time. Guess what? If you asked the 2.5 million people who are projected to visit GABP this season, 2,499,993 will express this desire in exactly the same way.
Making the environment unsuitable for other fans (again, not to be confused with opposing players) is a myopic view that isn't in the best interest of the ball club. Chuck and his gang may not understand that Cardinals fans living in Cincinnati pay for Joey Votto too. So do Cubs fans. Heck, I got tickets this season that were paid for by a Brewers fan. As someone who attends a lot of games, making other fans’ experiences less enjoyable doesn’t make my experience any more enjoyable.
Oh, and more importantly, don’t do anything that makes the rest of us look bad. We’re already going to have to explain away your actions during the next Cardinals series. Don’t say "we were following the rules, we weren’t cursing ," as an excuse to belittle someone else without using profanity. You can have a clean mouth while still making someone else's life miserable. If you don't believe me, watch "Mean Girls" again. Don’t look for loopholes to justify something that you know is wrong. I sometimes have to do that for a living and I’m not that clever.
If you’re going to try to be front and center, be ambassadors for the city and show some civic pride. Don’t use whatever forum you have to belittle someone else or make them feel unwelcome. Don't act like you're more important than other fans or our athletic heroes. That’s not something we do here in Cincinnati. At our core, I believe Reds fans are still respectful, courteous, and when not being fed idiotic arguments about the importance of RBIs, well-informed. I’m hoping this altercation is a blip on the screen for Chuck D, and all Reds fans. However, I remain confident that if it isn’t, Chuck D will not be around much longer. Remember that Fireman Ed and the Jets divorced last year and this has served as more of a relief than a hindrance to Jets fans.
Finally, if you’re not going to represent what is good about baseball and Cincinnati, I suggest you let someone with a better view and a better outlook on life take your place. Someone like: