It’s a circle,
We don’t have a huge payroll, because we don’t bring in the money.
We don’t bring in the money because we don’t win.
We don’t win because we don’t have the talent, drive, and well money that other teams do.
Which brings us back around to we don’t have a huge payroll.
So going off of my normal rant for a moment that the money is mismanaged (and it is, but let’s be honest what multimillion dollar company doesn’t mismanage it most of the time)
What can we do about it? Well we can get the fans to the ball park. Gee Cob, really is that all we have to do? We’ve been doing this for a while and we already knew that, our question is how do we get people to the games and then more importantly get them to come back again. How do we eventually turn regular 3 to 5 game fans to season ticket holders?
Glad you asked.
Great American Ball Park is an awesome place, it’s not the stadiums fault. It’s beautiful, it’s got pleanty of seats at all the price ranges to make it open for everyone. The food is not bad, sure we could do a little more here, but really it’s not bad.
So what are we missing?
1. The baseball experience.
A. I go to Chicago and there are obvious places around the stadium to hang out before the game and after to be around baseball fans. Wrigleyville is a mecca of baseball. Cincy doesn’t have even a percentage of it. I’ve been going for years and I drive in and out. I go to Hooters across the river and it’s not bad, but it’s across the river.
I’ve been to inbetween and I’m not in awe.
We need those parking lots that are perfect tailgating spots to be a place of community! We need them to rally! We need to get street vendors not selling just water and peanuts but be able to setup tents and be able to get people to gather. Sure we need family friendly areas too, but we also need areas that pull the 21+ crowd together.
B. Open the freaking ball park or do something in the plaza in front of the ball park to get the fans in gear. I’ve sat in front of the ball park hours before the game hoping that you would start having batting practice outside. Nope… Hoping that you might send some guys out to sign autographs…Nope…Do some sort of pep rally..Nada.
Now don’t get me wrong you do the basics, and really you might be the best in the tri state about the basics. (cheerleaders, Big Screen games, mascots, shopping, HOF) but come on, let’s be honest. I have to travel to another ball park to talk baseball and get ribbed or high fived for wearing my jersey. Why because our fans don’t care, and most of the are just visiting. Why? Because that’s what we’ve cultivated. This is the place you visit and leave, we hope you spend money too while your here. Which from what I can tell we do, but obviously not enough.
These are things that the Reds can fix with the right people doing the right things and some of that million dollar budget going to getting the fans involved. Which goes to my next point.
2. Get us involved!
A. We’re in a new era of fandom, become a leader in it. A high tech leader (We don’t just show all those commercials about Cincy Bell because we think there great right?) Give me a place to bring my laptop/netbook (*cough* Dell sells netbooks with Cincinnati Reds logos all over them for less than $400) or give me a place that has wifi, Free wifi bloggers are long term fans, geeks are long term fans. Think about it, a place that can go a few ways. It supports geekdom, geeks like math, math is stats, stats is baseball. It’s a place for the teens. Teens like twitter and facebook, like their phones and their photos and updates, this takes bandwidth. Business men like getting out of the office, small business men love being able to work from places other than their house, the ball park is perfect. The pace of the game is slow enough that they can write an email and watch the game at the same time all while getting some fresh air and a hot dog. Local schools (both College and Grade schools) can have days at the park showing how sports and education go together. I can go on and on.
B. More chances to get balls from the field, BP more often outside. Make it the standard when the 3rd out happens it gets thrown to a fan. I’ve been going for years hoping to get a game ball, and the only one I’ve got is one I bought off ebay.
C. Twenty minutes after the game is over have players spend time with the fans like they do before the game.
D. Fan days, come to the ball park to watch road games on the big screens with fans during the warmer months. Make it even more special by having seats cheaper than game days and some awesome seats (for a price) on the field. Have special guests to watch the game with them (former Reds, insiders, etc)
E. Use Redsfest as a huge comment card and idea generator. I’m just one guy, can you guess what the fest could bring?
So in summary.
1. More baseball experience
2. Get us involved, start building long term fans like you build a long term team.
I was at the Reds v Cardinals game on thursday. It was a day game so the fact that there was only 2,500 or so people there didn’t suprise me in the least. I mean if I wasn’t currently unemployed I wouldn’t have made it. (most likely..) it was really like urban warfare to get me out for lunch most of the time..
So here I was eating a slice of La Rosa’s pizza , peanuts and having a beer in a row by myself out in far left field. Proably one of the best situations for me to be in. Food, no one crowding me, no one talking to me, good weather. I couldn’t be happier. This happiness
goes on for a little while past the first inning. Then with my luck, we start losing, and we start losing badly starting off with a grand slam from Chris Carpenter, a pitcher no less to start the ball rolling against us. I’m trying to root my team on when what happens next? People start seat hopping and coming into my area thinking they might see a Pujols homer over where I’m sitting. So now my game is going a little south, and my territory is being threatened by Cardinals fans no less. Anyone who’s watched specials about territorial creatures should know that this is a bad idea. I could just move, but that would be giving in, and I won’t do that when my team is losing and I in fact was here first. That’s when the heckling begins, not from me, but from the Cardinals fans. “So what high school drop out are you going to put on the mound next?” then a little, “Man if the Reds could get any worse they’d be the Pirates or the Nationals”
I go and get myself another beer and take a walk around the stadium. It’s something I do when we’re losing. When you are at Great American you have to look up in the concourse to really appreciate what they’ve done. There are huge photos of newspapers hanging from the ceilings of great times in in Reds history. The club and executive levels have quote after quote of great players reminding you that history takes time and winning is something to be savored. I made my way back to my seat.
By this time the game has gotten really out of hand 9 to 0, and my rivals are entrenched in my area. I do what any good fan does in this situation. I start cheering for every Red that does anything good. “Good Catch!” “Great hit!” “BRRRRUUUUUUCE!” being as abnoxious as I can with my fandom. In hopes of rattling my invaders to move on. After all they seat hopped to get to me, and there are pleanty of other seats, better seats to hop to. This does nothing, inning, after inning. We start losing, by more and more.
By the time the game was wrapping up I was 1 of maybe 300 still at the ball park. My 10 or so intruders were among those still there as well.
So here’s my feeling and my question. I’m not sure who I’m more pissed at.
1. The other fans who saw we were losing and left before the game was over. Loyalty is something not to be messed with.
2. The Cards fans who invaded my space
3. The fact that they are better fans than my Reds fans since they stayed to the end despite an even longer drive than I (I’m from Indy so it’s 4 hours round trip for me to go to a game)
4. Myself for allowing this all to get to me.
I was reading Mark Sheldon’s really well written article of the Red’s Year In Review and I was reflecting on what all happened. The good, the bad, and well the ugly. It made me think a lot about why I took baseball back up as a sport to be a fan of. To be honest while it was happening I was not sure why I’d become a baseball fan again, much less a Reds fan. Don’t get me wrong, I always followed how the Redlegs were doing. It was more of a every other week kind of thing and then catch up what happened in baseball as a whole about once a month. This was all very casual, and then around October I’d get excited about the race and the World Series to be surprised that I had no clue how or why the teams that got there, well …were there. I’d then listen to the sports announcers and get caught up about all the drama, the controversy and the trades that made it happen and that would help me decide who I was cheering for.
Well this year was year one of my rebirth, I dusted off my point of views, started reading everything I could about my team and what ever else was going on. I played fantasy baseball and found a new appreciation for it. The list goes on and on. But why? Why baseball? Why the Reds of all teams? Why now? Let’s review.
Baseball is a young man’s sport to play and a old man’s sport to watch. You play it when your young because it has a position for everyone. Your good at hitting, but not so a fielding take the outfield, your good at fielding but not so good at hitting take the infield. Your a fat kid, congrats your a catcher. The list goes on. It’s a game that allows anyone no matter their ability or phyical makeup to a be a hero if positioned correctly. Heck that’s what the movie The Bad News Bears was all about! You could play with a lot of friends or you could practice by yourself. The point being is when your young, learning your role can be confusing, but it’s an important piece of life as your generally lost without it. As you get older, and you start putting to use those team skills learned and march out into life you may get too busy for baseball. That’s what happened to me at least, but you come back. It’s the sport that you were raised on, it’s the one that you know will always be there. In Indianapolis where I live, baseball isn’t a big sport, we’ve went from being basketball fans to now a town full of football fans. It never was baseball, since we don’t actually have a major league team. We do have a decent minor league team in the Indianapolis Indians, and it draws it’s fair share of fans, but mostly because it’s a good family experience. This was where it came back to me though. Sitting on the grassy picnic area behind the outfield watching these guys play while my young son finds new friends to play with. This is where with a little quiet, a hot dog, and some grass between my fingers I get to remember why this sport means so much to me. Why I want to apart of this game again, why I want my son to be apart of it, and why I want to share it with him. Baseball is good. There’s a lot about it that isn’t, but baseball is good, and yes there really isn’t a lot of good out there anymore so you need to take it in when you have the chance.
Why The Reds?
Why the Reds!!! I don’t know…why not? Seriously, I was born in 76, and started hearing about and playing baseball 6 years later. That makes it the early 80’s and I had the choice of the Cubs or the Reds for a home town team. In the 80’s which one would you have picked? Come on! We had it, we had it with our great team, our nazi loving owner and her dog. Reguardless of it all we had it, and it was good. Then several years later when I was a teen and having dreams of what I’d be when I grew up we were back in the thick of it again in the 90’s.
Now I’m 32 years old, I have a 5 year old son, and a great girlfriend of almost 3 years that loves me more than anything else in the world. I’m finally to place in my life where it doesn’t suck all the time. I have a lot of hope for me, and my family. Yes I even have some hope left over for baseball and the Reds. We’re a game and a team that needs believers now more than ever, let the politicans of baseball do their thing, let the business people of baseball do their thing, it’s time for the fans to come back and do their thing and that’s bring the good back to baseball.