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Lindner lacked drive

John Erardi really hits it out of the park here:

It's been a rough seven years for the Reds and principal owner Carl Lindner.

The last five of those have been losing seasons, the worst such stretch since the Reds had 11 consecutive losing years from 1945-55.

"It's no coincidence that Powel Crosley owned the Reds back then," said John Snyder, a Reds historian and author of Reds books. "He and Carl Lindner both ran the club as a civic enterprise."

Lindner tried to make more of a splash than Crosley - among the examples are the Ken Griffey Jr. trade in 2000, and adding $17 million to the payroll last year to no avail - but otherwise, Lindner didn't appear any more driven than Crosley in the 1950s to do all in his power to get the Reds into the World Series, Snyder said.

Although Lindner succeeded in putting the Reds on stable financial footing - as had been his goal when he took over from Marge Schott - that stability didn't translate into success on the field, the ultimate measuring stick for any owner in professional sports, say Reds historians.

So, what is Lindner's legacy as the principal Reds owner?
"He had a new stadium paid for by the taxpayers ... but (he'll be remembered for having) put no plan in effect to build the ballclub," said Kevin Grace, author of several books of Reds histories.

"He blew a huge opportunity," said Snyder. "He could have filled that stadium for years to come by spending money to bring in people (to run the ballclub) who really knew what they were doing ... Just look at the way this ballclub is constructed. You want a legacy? There it is right there."

Well, John Snyder really hits it out of the park, but at least Erardi was talking to the right guy.

That will be Lindner's legacy as an owner.  Not that he was cheap, and not that he didn't care.  Just that he blew a huge opportunity, one that doesn't come along very often for any franchise.  At best the Reds will open a new stadium every 30 - 40 years.  Every time they do there will be a potential surge in fan support and interest.  But Carl Lindner tossed away the goodwill generated by GABP, because he cared more about keeping the Reds from moving than he did about their success.  It wasn't about payroll, because $60 million a year is enough to win.  It was about hiring people who knew what the hell they were doing.  Carl didn't do that, and Cincinnatians are probably always going to despise him for it.  Considering his business dealings in other parts of the world, it's somewhat ironic that people will dislike the guy for what he's done with their baseball team, but it's certainly not undeserved.  

The worst part of the new deal is that Lindner will still own a part of the Reds, which is a shame.  He doesn't deserve to have a hand in such a proud franchise after doing so much to drive it into the ground.

In the coming days I'm going to be focusing pretty exclusively on the new ownership.  This is the most important thing to happen to the Reds since they signed Junior, so I think it deserves scrutiny.