Spring has arrived. Another baseball season has started and the Reds are once again in first place; as of this writing at least. They may not be by the time that this article is printed.
I’m a big Reds fan. Have been since the 60’s when I would go over to my grandparents’ house and listen with them to the Reds broadcast with crackling distant voice of Waite Hoyt on WLW radio. No local radio network. Just WLW live from Crosley Field, and listening to Waite talk about some young upstart player who would run out a walk and a young phenom catcher from Oklahoma that the Reds had signed. And the thrill of Opening Day. The major league’s first franchise playing in baseball’s first game of the season. The parade; the pageantry; the first pitch; Marge Schott and Schottzie.
But what happened to Baseball’s Opening Day? Somewhere between Bench and Mesaraco; Rose and Phillips and Perez and Votto something went horribly wrong. How did Major League Baseball’s Opening Day with the Reds get lost between Riverfront Stadium and Great American Ball Park?
Now not only do the Reds not play in baseball’s season opener, they don’t even play in the first game of the day on the Red’s opening day. Instead, Major League Baseball has the franchise that started it all playing on the second day of the season in the second game of the day. And, if I remember correctly, last year the opening game for America’s pastime opened not in America but in Japan. Now that’s fair to season ticket holders. (Don’t snicker NFL fans, how many games this year are NFL season ticket holders supposed to go to merry old London, England to see their team?)
I unfortunately know the answer: Money. Mostly TV money. Forget fan loyalty, forget tradition, it’s now about how much Budweiser and Cialis can be sold? Actually if you cut back on the Bud you may not need the Cialis but that’s another issue.
And speaking of money, this year the Reds are not supposed to be what you would call “good”; “at all”. I suffered through last season watching them when I could here in southwest Florida on the MLB Network, or ESPN or ESPN2 or 3 or 5 or listen on a radio station with a frequency so high that only dogs could hear it. I’d wear my golf shirt with the patented wishbone C with pride, even though my neighbors thought it was a Chicago Bears shirt.
When I was back in Athens and I went to a game only to find that in order to take my grandson it was like paying for a cruise. Five dollars for a hot dog, $7.50 for a beer, some nachos and a hat, you have to call the bank for a second mortgage to take a family of four to a game. I know that the Reds feel they need to “rebuild”. They had to get rid of Johnny Cueto and Todd Frazier because their contracts were expiring and it would cost, you guessed it, more money. But when you are “rebuilding” (an anachronism for “don’t expect much because we may really stink,” shouldn’t the fans get some kind of break at the ticket office and the concession stand? Shouldn’t I be able to take my grandson to a game without jeopardizing his college fund to see a team that, by all expectations, will finish last?
I know. Stop whining. Get with the program, grandpa. But I really miss the old days when baseball was a game and not a business. I guess I’m just old fashioned. I mean, it took me a long time to get comfortable with having a baseball team in Canada. Where have you gone, Joe Nuxhall?
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C. David Warren is a retired Athens County prosecutor after being elected to three terms to serve the post and is a member of The Messenger’s Board of Contributors.