Every minty fresh Opening Day typically brings a bounding optimism when it comes to Reds baseball. For most people, at least. For me, it is a reason to grill some meat and drink some beers. I have never necessarily found myself excited for Opening Day any more than I do any other game of the year. I am weird that way. Part of it has to do with baseball being a 162-game slog. The other having do with the fact that I have never been to an Opening Day game. To me, Opening Day is like people going to the Kentucky Derby and wearing fancy hats and drinking mint juleps. It is a social occasion. In the grand scheme of things, the game just is not important. Call me if you still give shit in August. The Reds still have to figure out how to have a winning record in the other 161 games and make the playoffs. But, hey, the purpose of this article is to not bash the things you like. Instead, it’s to celebrate the things we all commonly enjoy. The Cincinnati Reds.
To me, the Reds have never been a social occasion. It is not easy to be a fan of this team. However, most of us have since we were little kids. Whether it was Big Red Machine, Wire to Wire, the ’99 season coming out of nowhere, the Griffey trade, or Jay Bruce nailing a NL Central clinching dinger deep into a Cincinnati September night, we all have our slice of nostalgia.
Seriously. Most of us have followed this team for a long time, for better and worse. The Reds have arguably one of the worst owners in baseball. A profit driven, ancient, toad named Bob Castellini who only has money in the banana stand when it’s convenient. Regardless if the team he bought for $270 million, and his $400+ million net worth, it is now worth $1 billion plus. His calling card is that he is slightly better than Carl Linder and Marge Schott. Grand company. While we can attribute some nice things to that owner, we can attribute the constant shuffling of shitty deck chairs to him as well. At least when Jerry Jones meddles he puts his money where his mouth is. However, the point of this article is not him, nor the environment he, himself, has created. It is something else.
We do not derive joy, nor fun from an owner. He’s just another shitty millionaire that lucked into owning a professional sports team. We derive joy from the game, and we derive joy from our team.
Ever since I moved away from Ohio there have been two sayings that I thought were apt for any person to follow that I never heard in my time in Ohio.
“Watch your own bobber.”
It’s pretty easy to figure out what that means even though most people are incapable of doing so. While I think that one is cool, the second is is even more prodigious even if it sounds weird.
“Don’t yuck my yum”
Which means, do not ruin my good time. Life is short, you pessimistic losers.
When did baseball turn into such a boondoggle of this player compared to that player, dollar sign here and dollar sign there, and this spot in the lineup in this exact way? Analytics have brought many great things to this game, but it has also simplified it to a point where we think we can predict outcomes and seasons. We look at spreadsheets, which I do enjoy, and think that a season is won or lost before that first pitch is ever thrown. Players must execute. Pitchers pitch, batters hit, and they must slap the leather and gun out the runner. All results must be perfect because computers never lie. If that doesn’t happen, here comes the hot takes. We all know that isn’t real life. It certainly isn’t fun. It’s stupid difficult to try and watch and fathom for 162 games.
Sometimes, I feel like we turned Moneyball into the same shit our grandfathers drunkenly called into radio shows about.
It takes the emotion out the game. It takes the player impact out of the game. It removes the influence of Nick Castellanos flexing over a shitty rookie pitcher and watching his team respond. Shit, watching Jonathan India’s hair bounce around as he runs may be more valuable than whatever the computer says his value is. That hair has very high xFLIP potential and rookies are rookies. Youth springs eternal.
The most rewarding sports experiences, for me, have been when I had zero expectations on the outcome. The 2010 Reds. The 2002 and 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes. This year’s Cleveland Browns with everyone shitting all over Baker Mayfield and them going to playoffs? Nice. Double nice when they made Ben Roethlisberger cry. Sorry, if you do not like any of that. I refuse to let you yuck my yum. I like what I like.
Why can’t we just watch baseball and enjoy the fruits of the fun? It’s supposed to be the national pastime after all.
Saturday, I listened to Tommy Thrall describe the Castellanos hit by pitch, flex, and the benches clear while fishing on a crystal clear Minnesota lake. I caught nothing but a sunburn but I also got to enjoy listening to some baseball and enjoy some beers. Yum. Fun.
Castellanos wants to bash and lead.
Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray are top notch starters.
Amir Garrett has more swag than most 26 man rosters and devastating slider to boot.
Suarez is giving shortstop a chance for the first time in six years to make the team better. Remember when he once hit fifty dingers? I do.
Derek Johnson and Kyle Boddy literally are being given the shot to give Spincinnati a chance.
I don’t have to listen to a Brennaman and those new guys are pretty good.
Jonathan India is the first rookie to make his debut as a starter on Opening Day since 1988. Uhm, that’s how old I am. The first at second base since 1963. Nine Teen Sixty Freaking Three.
The Reds even have Aristides Aquino coming off the bench. Big risk, big reward.
Joseph Daniel Votto, while 37 years old, literally is standing tall, talking about barrels, and hitting the ball hard. He said he wants to be fun again. Hell yes. Not that he ever wasn’t fun but hell yes to Votto just wanting to bash in his twilight years.
Why wouldn’t you want to just have fun? The Reds seem to want to. We should hold this season, one fresh from whatever the hell 2020 was, as a season where fun is our expectation. No one should be looking to yuck our yum. Do the things that make you happy. Life is short and so is the Summer. I would rather spend it being happy than miserable. My yum ain’t yucked and yours shouldn’t be either.
Taking an opening series from the Cardinals was really fucking enjoyable, and I’m just hoping they do it to the Buccos too. If not, that’s fine, I still have baseball and my favorite team for another five months and change.