Baseball is Life: Happy Opening Day, Farmers

See, strange things are happening. Luckily, strange things sometimes happen. Like surprise baby hippos:

Why not a Reds Championship from scratch? Maybe this odd collection of young prospects and old names can pull it off. Yes. why not us

This whole town would love a surprise World Series trophy. Or an NCLS championship. Or a playoff win. Every playoff win.

Yes, strange things happen. The hippopotamus becomes pregnant despite birth control. We are open to all possibilities. Maybe this is the year. Didn’t the Bengalis teach us that?

But the Reds aren’t the Bengals, and despite their shortcomings as owners, Mike Brown or his kids probably wouldn’t say so on 700 WLW after being asked, “Why should (the fans) keep their faith in you?”

“Well, where are you going?”

That rhetorical question actually worked as an argument for me, but one of the questioners was Saint Peter and the other questioner was Jesus Christ, and I’m pretty sure Phil Castellini doesn’t have the words of eternal life. As our top man Doug Gray detailed yesterday, the WLW conversation was about much more, but the viral chatter centered on this absolute banger of an opening line.

Let’s be charitable here. Let’s say Castellini was taken out of context. “Where do you want to go” could well refer to the difficulty of finding a buyer willing to shell out more money than the Castellinis have, along the lines of, “Okay, well, not only do you need a new owner, but a new owner who gives what the fans ask for. What do you think, how many people have so much money who also appreciate the uniqueness of this ball team?

But, as Doug points out, fifty years ago, Expos was the last MLB to live up to its threats to divide the city. A single team in half a century. It is not 1957 when the homeland of the Giants and Dodgers was rocked by massive post-war population displacement and suburbs in their first bouts of urban sprawl. And the hometown trauma experienced by fans of the Colts and Browns largely took place in purely NFL circumstances.

The story, played live on the radio, did not have to break. But unlike the Reds, who have been legally tied to Hamilton County for quite some time, the social media reaction has had many focal points.

Then the old media caught up. Opening day has been a story every year since the 1880s. The owner of the team unleashing on the fanbase? Well, that’s something new. The riot was the leading newsbreak advertisement on WLWT during The thing with Pam and held the “Breaking News” banner as soon as Keith Morrison stopped intoning. Now you’ve got grandma and the smartphone-as-phone users involved.

However, the focus here is on the false Castellini quote. As Phil made his way to the field wearing the red blazer, the story revolved around the reaction to the story, which of course only made the story bigger:

“Will you give up being a Reds fan? Will you give up following this team? … How about everyone just sit down and celebrate and cheer for the team? … The point is, hang in there and be a fan. Celebrate these guys.”

The amazing circumstances under which these statements were made should not be underestimated. Castellini spoke those words as a standing room crowd poured into the stadium, despite suffering the humiliation of opening on the street (we do not do that here) … after a lockout … in the wake of a pandemic … with very few familiar names on the list … long after the point at which the franchise and MLB decided to plunge into socio-political wrangling.

A few hours after he said them, the bullpen collapsed like a small dying star, dropping six runs in the ninth.

A wiser man would have knelt in a circle on deck and thanked the faithful for trading their inflation-worn cash for tickets. Instead he scolded her. They showed up anyway. Of course they had. He knew they would. They came with their grandparents and grandchildren, mental scrapbooks, and a lifetime of nights sleeping with the AM transistor under their pillow. They showed up anyway, and they’ll show up next year.

Where else will they go?

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