Here’s the thing, we’re not going back to pre-2016. There’s no putting the toothpaste back in the tube when in this case the “toothpaste” is a fascist and white nationalist movement trying to send me to a death camp and, also, is well-represented in Congress.
Acknowledging that, there are two facts to keep in mind.
- These no-goodniks wear red hats
- The team we all love and tolerate also wears red hats
As peaceable Reds fans, we have no choice but to tell the Reds to stop wearing red hats. It’s not that Castellini, et al will listen to us, but it’s that we as fans have an obligation to put the right kind of pressure on a family that gave a ton of money to the party of separatism and denial and hamfisted coups d’etat. There’s a sort of social responsibility to ostracize the traditions that these people thought they could purchase.
The red hat has a proud history: Big Red Machine, 1990, all of that. It’s also the official sign of A Person You Need to Avoid, and Not Just Because They’re Not Masked Up. I don’t see Barry Larkin, Pete Rose, and Mario Soto when I see a red hat (okay, maybe Pete Rose). And that’s simply not going to change because that history was great. That history is only getting further away, and the Reds as-constructed have no interest in making the current interation of baseball-playing any fun to watch. So why not just burn it down?
We’re in a proud moment of getting rid of embarrassing sports things: the Washington football team, the Cleveland baseball spiders...lots of things that are better shuddered-about and forgotten. But just because you’re not the most egregious offender doesn’t mean you get to ignore your offense! Like nobody on the 1916 Windsor Swastikas was wearing their old sweater 30 years later, telling their neighbors about how it was a good symbol that was just misconstrued. Similarly, if a bunch of antifa supersoldiers had me in their sights what am I supposed to do? Tell them how Mike Cameron was a better player than Griffey after 1999, and that’s even while acknowledging that Brett Tomko was a washout? No! I’ll just not wear a red hat! (I have this fresh fauxback. I would eat toenails for this one. I still have my #greenhat, thanks John Fya and UncleWeez!)
The red hat was well-intentioned. It’s now time for it to go. It’s not like the Cincinnati franchise doesn’t have a rad history of not-red ballcaps. They won two World Series before donning the red caps for the first time in 1968. Frank Robinson, pictured above, never wore a red hat. Chuck Harmon didn’t wear a red hat until he got traded to the Cardinals (oh! You say what about the Cardinals still wearing red hats? Well, everything I wrote over six years ago still stands). The Reds have spent the majority of their history - the longest history in baseball, if you believe that sort of thing - not wearing red hats. The true way to respect the history of this team is to stop hearkening every damn thing back to the Big Red Machine and try and build something that is even better.
After all, building something better is what we’re supposed to be doing as a country, as a fanbase, as a what-have-you. There’s a place for the red hats: in the Reds Hall of Fame. We can acknowledge that these things used to be wonderful, before the country got crawling with revanchists who used the red hat to mean white pride. But there’s also things bigger than baseball fashion, and we can’t just shrug off the attempted putsch and the random street beatings and migrant detention camps and 400,000 dead from COVID all in allegiance of some glassy-eyed goniff in a red hat.
The toothpaste is out, and there’s no place for it but the trash. In the spirit of moving forward, of trying to wring out the country of the grime that’s built up over the past four or four hundred years, the Reds should do their bit: get rid of the red hats. It’s a cosmetic little offering, showing the world that you care about it’s pain and will do the smallest possible thing to use sports to move on.
Knowing the Reds, it will still be too much.