Thursday, August 9, 2012

Why the negativity?

Why the Negativity?
Aaron M. Smith

Dusty Baker gets blasted despite managing first-place team.
The Cincinnati Reds are in first place for only the second time in about a dozen years this late in the season. Recently, before a four-game slide, the Reds had the best record in all of Major League Baseball. They had won 22-of-25 games, most of which without injured Joey Votto, the best player in the National League. The last time the Reds went on a run like this, Grover Cleveland was in office.

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.

Joey Votto
One complaint about Dusty Baker that I always hear: "He kills pitchers arms and works them to death." Fact: The Reds have used only five starting pitchers this year. Only the Marlins can say they've done the same. How would you like to be San Diego? They've used 13 different starting pitchers and, surprise, they're in second-to-last place in the NL West with a .434 winning percentage. Who's in last place in the division? The Rockies. They've used 11 different starting pitchers. Seems like Baker has taken good care of his pitcher's arms and, as a result, has managed a first-place team. Let's give that repetitive critique a rest for a while.

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.

Jamie Ramsey
Ramsey has also had enough of the negativity, and with good reason. People have blasted Ramsey on Twitter for, get this, being too supportive of his team. That's ridiculous. One twit wrote: "eternal optimist, you would have stayed on the titanic as it was sinking." To which Ramsey replied: "I don't give up on my team." And why should he? And why should anyone? I just don't understand. After firing off an onslaught of illogical critiques of the Reds, some Cincinnati fans decided to go after Ramsey personally with a vitriolic hate that has no place in society. It's really unconscionable how people can act like this ... they can act like this behind the veil of social media. There is no accountability. Ramsey, after sending off an ill-advised direct message to one of the worst offenders, shut down his account after the offender re-tweeted his threatening message. Should Ramsey have sent the message saying how he would have enjoyed kicking his a$$ in front of his six followers? No. And he knows that and acknowledged as much. But do I blame him? Absolutely not.

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.


  1. I have to agree with you on this. Everywhere I go, people are complaining about the Reds. Even when they were winning all the time. Strange folk, I guess. Now, you have a right to complain being a Browns fan :)

  2. Bottom line: When the team wins, there's not much to say. But when they lose, even just a game, there are enough reason's why a loss occured that everyone has a say.

    It's also so easy to have a say with social media. It just seems every complain is intensified because of the RT's. To be honest, half of all twitter complaints wouldn't be seen if those reporting didn't catter to it. I'm not saying it is Fay's fault because he replies, it's part of his job, but if he only replied to non-negatives, I'd never know it was bad.

    Also, everyone thinks just because they watch games they could be a manager. That's like watching the tv show ER and saying you could be a doctor. "WHY DIDN'T HE USE THE SCALPEL THERE!? THIS DOC SUCKS!"

    I can tell you this: The more you learn about baseball, you find out there is so much more you don't know. Right now, fans don't know, what they don't know.

  3. One last thing I forgot to mention. As the team stays in the race, each game means more, so fans are more frustrated because they care. Usually apathy sets in and no one cares that Ludwick is batting 11th or whatever.

    Unfortunately fans, including myself, sometimes struggle to realize there are still 50 more games remaining. Chill out!

  4. Anonymous: Your point about RT's is well received. I've mentioned that too, and should have in this blog post. In all honesty, I had to stop following Fay because he only RT's -- it seems -- people with ridiculous comments/critiques. It really turns me off and sours the experience of following the Reds. Twitter can be cool when you get inside info that you normally don't get, but when the reporters, etc. keep RTing the negativity, it just fuels it.

    Thanks for the comment.

  5. I wonder if Bobby Cox, Davy Johnson, or even Lou Pinella were managing this team the same way if the critques would be so harsh? I think Dusty gets a lot of flack and sometimes it's deserved. There are head scratching decisions, but all managers have those.

    I think, and it's unfortunate, that some people are just not ever going to like Dusty, and I don't think it has anything to do with baseball. The guy could win the next 2 World Series and people will still be throwing a fit about Dusty being an idiot. He can do no right to some people, and you have to wonder what the reasoning is.

  6. Agreed, Anonymous ... you don't have to agree with all his moves. But you have to respect the fact that he probably knows a little something about baseball. He's taken the Giants to the World Series, the Cubs to the brink, and a dormant Reds team to the playoffs once and now has them in first place again. Because we don't understand some of his moves does not make his moves wrong.

    I don't know what the reasoning is ... but there certainly is a lack of respect for the man. For my money, the Reds are lucky to have him around. The insults and just all-around bashing of the man are unwarranted.

  7. I went to the World Series in 2010 to watch a game between Texas and San Francisco. While I was sitting in the stands, I made sure to have my Reds hat and shirt on. I was in the vicinity of 30 people from San Fran. Die hard Giants fans, that talked about the Reds, and how much they liked Dusty Baker. Talk to Giants fans, they loved the guy. For some reason, the Midwest doesn't like Dusty. The Cubs are never going to get right. Dusty got them the closest they will ever get. There is about 90 years of history that show that.

    Dusty isn't perfect, but he took a Reds franchise that has been horrible, and won a division, and likely will win another one here this year. He's done a good job.

  8. THANK YOU! I have a hard time with all the negativity and honestly if I was Jamie, I would have snapped a long time ago! As a season ticket holder, it's really hard to sit at the game and hear all the negative crap being said around us! It really ruins the experience! I just want to support my team!

  9. I think a lot of people like Dusty. I'd bet over 85% approve of him as the manager, it's just the disapprovers have a much louder voice.

    ALSO: I don't think anyone has a bad thing to say about the person, Dusty Baker. Just a real good guy with good intentions. The opinions on his management style are very different than those of the human being.

  10. Very good article, Aaron; and all valid points--expressed eloquently. Some people just aren't happy unless they have a reason--whether valid or ill-conceived/manufactured--to complain. Their happiness is unhappiness, and their joy of life and its accomplishments is nil. These same people would never comment about a good or positive happening, because they have blinded themselves to any such thing.