Aaron M. Smith
|Dusty Baker gets blasted despite managing first-place team.|
Yet throughout this amazing run and especially now after losing four straight, the negativity voiced by this team's fans on talk radio and social media has gotten out of control. You can't turn on AM 700 WLW without hearing fans from all over the tri-state area blasting the Reds for an inability to hit, an ineffectiveness on the mound, and a general lack of knowledge from manager Dusty Baker and general manager Walt Jocketty. On Twitter, a flood of tweets from twits constantly blast Baker's lineup, his handling of pitchers, and even his use of that blasted toothpick. The critiques and complaints come in such high volume, you would think we're dealing with the Astros and their 40-games under .500 record.
We're not, though. We're dealing with a first place team. A team that is 21 games over .500 and that leads the surging Pirates by 2 1/2 games. We're dealing with a team that, prior to Dusty Baker's arrival, had sniffed the playoffs just once since sweeping the World Series in 1990. You would think fans would be grateful for what Baker has brought to the Queen City. Sadly, he's received a barrage of criticism.
Another complaint that he always gets: "What's with that lineup? Dusty's lineups suck." Fact: The Reds went on a 15-3 stretch without Joey Votto. They won several without Votto and Brandon Phillips in the lineup. Why is that? Because every player on that bench has had playing time and every starter has received enough rest to keep him fresh. The Reds have veterans like Ryan Ludwick, Scott Rolen, Miguel Cairo, and Wilson Valdez. They're going to need rest. They cannot start every day or they won't be available or productive during the stretch run. Bench players like Valdez and Cairo and Chris Heisey all have seen significant time in meaningful games this year. Rookie Todd Frazier now has experience playing three different positions -- which comes in handy when you have an aging third basemen and an MVP first basemen on the disabled list. These bench players are not afraid of game time because they have seen it and played in it. The veterans are contributing greatly in the second half of the season because they haven't been played to death. That credit goes to Baker. The lineup bashing needs to stop.
I've mentioned some of these things to people and I hear all this "It's my right to criticize the team," or "I'm a fan, I pay money to see them play. I have a right to criticize them." I guess you do. You can have your freedom of speech. But why the negativity? I cannot understand why you would call yourself a fan and then spend all your energy dumping on the manager, who has them in first place? "They are in first place despite Dusty," I've heard. "They should be 10 games ahead of the Pirates," is another one. To them I say, -- well, I just throw up my hands. There is no logic to being so negative, especially for a first-place team. As assistant director of media relations Jamie Ramsey pointed out on Twitter, "Wait, what are they complaining about?" Said 24 other MLB teams' fans." Exactly. Enjoy the run people. It could be far worse. It's been a decade since the Reds have been relevant (pre-Dusty Baker).Why not enjoy this team. They're a great team with a great group of players. Put down your critic's hat and enjoy this.
Ramsey is one of the Reds' most boisterous and ardent supporters. What he has done around Cincinnati to support the Reds, their players, and their organization has been fantastic. He is optimistic. He talks anxious fans down from the ledge after losing streaks. And he rightfully defends the team when a flood of negativity swarms his Twitter feed and Reds blog. I'm happy to report that his Twitter account is active again. I hope that this time, Ramsey simply blocks followers that are full of hate and negativity. I hope he doesn't bother with RTing these negative whiners in an attempt to defend the team. These people will find other outlets to spew their vitriol. Let's keep Ramsey's feed for those who actually support the team.
Long gone are the days of "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." Now, it seems, people like to shoot off their mouths to get a reaction, to get RTd, to make themselves feel as if they know better. Yes, it's your right to act like a 10-year-old. But why? What's the point? This is a good team -- a first-place team. It's not like the Reds have been mired in a lackluster drudge of a season. It's been a heck of a year, and this Reds fan plans to enjoy this ride clear through October. And if they don't make it until October, this team will be back again next year for another run a title. And regularly being in a championship chase is really all you can ask for as a fan.
Trust me. I'm also a Browns fan.