Here in Cincinnati, we don’t get many days like April 2nd. Names like Willy Tavares and Edgar Renteria have defined the hot stove here in recent years. We’re usually the city that all-star athletes or ambitious coaches end up leaving for greener pastures. Yesterday, Cincinnati boasted a pasture greener than nearly anywhere in baseball.
I mean, what shade of green do you consider $225 million? Forest Green, or Magic Mint?
Yesterday was arguably the most exciting day to be a Reds fan in the off-season since February of 2000 when Ken Griffey Jr. came home. You would think any gust of wind last night around 7 pm was the collective sigh of relief from an entire city knowing that the 2010 MVP will be playing first base at Great American Ball Park until 2023. Unfortunately, you have a better chance of restoring peace in the Middle East than you do satisfying Reds fans.
For all of those crossing their arms and lamenting the now probable exodus of Brandon Phillips, let me first say to you that I get it. I do. Cincinnati is a guarded city. The average Cincinnati sports fan keeps their hands up. Over a decade of epic injuries and heartbreaking losses has left the Cincinnati sports fan broken and skeptical. That’s because we aren’t used to fairy tale endings here. Ken Griffey Jr. didn’t live happily ever after. Carson Palmer didn’t either. Aaron Harang was a shell of his former self before he left Cincinnati. Ditto Chad Ochocinco. The biggest fan-favorites of late in Cincinnati have left most of us with a sour taste in our mouth. Injuries and chronic unfulfilled promises have left the sports fan in Cincinnati believing none of what he hears and only half of what he sees.
It’s time to let that guard down, Reds fans.
An event as historic as this should be heralded. All work activity today should be suspended while Reds fans everywhere partake in a collective kumbaya to the backdrop of Stevie Nix’s “Landslide.” We deserve it.
Reds fans, you have a voice. You took the websites, the blogs, the message forums. You looked to Walt Jocketty and asked him to build a World Series contender. A few trades and $225 million later, I’d say Walt Jocketty got the message. Signing Joey Votto means that, for now, the Reds will dodge the black plague of free agency that’s so prevalent in small-medium market towns. Walt Jocketty gave this city its most heralded athlete in over a decade and promised him to us for the next 11 years. Look around at our friends in the division. Milwaukee fans watched their homegrown All-Star take a payday in Detroit and leave. Fans in St. Louis watched the best player in baseball leave the team he’s played for his entire career, after winning a World Series, because St. Louis couldn’t anti up. We looked to our neighbors and prepared for the worst, all but assuming Joey Votto would emulate the actions of Albert and Prince and seek his Mega Millions elsewhere.
We were wrong.
This dialogue shouldn’t be about Brandon Phillips. Brandon has been rather vocal about his situation. He tells the media he wants to be here, but his pen has yet to find the dotted line that proves it. Brandon Phillips will be 31 this season. And where he’s still arguably the best second baseman in baseball, he’s not someone who can put an entire team on his back. Opposing teams don’t game-plan or pitch around Brandon Phillips. Joey Votto keeps them up at night.
The decision between the two was a no-brainer. If you’re disheveled to any degree about Votto’s $225 mil, you’re simply projecting your fears and insecurities of repeated failure in this city. I get it. But you’re doing yourself a disservice. The average baseball fan in America doesn’t get days like yesterday. Enjoy it.
One of the best players in Major League Baseball will be wearing our city on this front of his jersey for the next 11 years. It’s time to celebrate something, together.