Cincinnati Reds are a small market team in a big market world

Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cincinnati Reds have trouble drawing enough fans to keep up with the Chicago Cubs and Saint Louis Cardinals.

The Cincinnati Reds signed a new cable contract that will bring them significantly more money in 2018, but that won’t make up for the lack of fans coming through the gates of Great American Ballpark.  In their best season the Reds don’t draw as many fans as the Cubs and Cardinals do in their average seasons.  That is an obstacle that is impossible to overcome.

The Cincinnati Reds have never drawn 3-million fans to their home games in a single season.  The Cubs and the Cardinals regularly draw that many fans.  Overcoming those types of numbers is nearly is impossible.

The National League Central is somewhat unique in this spread.  The Cubs are clearly the biggest market.  They can compete with the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers dollar for dollar.

Meanwhile, the Reds, the Milwaukee Brewers, and the Pittsburgh Pirates currently, and for quite some time, have had little chance to match the salary and development monies of the Cubs.  Instead, they are stuck building their teams around generational superstars.  In what is a bit unique, all three teams have those players right now in Joey Votto, Ryan Braun, and Andrew McCutchen.

The Cardinals are a slightly different animal.  They have the ability to draw more fans consistently than any other non-Cubs team in the NL Central.  They are a mid-market team, but it is clearly larger than the three little brothers of the Central.

The Cincinnati Reds have been acting like they are a team losing money since 2013’s playoff run.

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What the Reds don’t seem to get is the fans understand that they are not following the Cubs.  The local fans like being able to focus on Friday night football in the fall and Xavier vs. UC in the spring before the baseball season kicks off.  They lean in to being a Midwest city.

But the fans, don’t want to feel like they or their team is a charity case.  There still doesn’t appear to be a plan to get out of the rebuild.  Last off-season the Reds traded away Home Run Derby champion Todd Frazier and this off-season it is Dan Straily who they traded away in his prime.  This year the Reds also traded away Brandon Phillips.

The fans have seen rebuilds before, but the others focused on young players.  The only two players that have long term contract on this team are Homer Bailey and Votto.

Neither of those players are the type of players that you would rebuild around at this point in their careers.  With Brandon Phillips off to the Braves, the Reds enter swim or sink mode.

That’s what is wrong here.  The fans know what it’s like to under a small market rebuild.  They just don’t recognize that as what is going on right now.

Next: Brandon Phillips returns home to Georgia

The front office has already waved the white flag on 2017.  The fans hope that this is the last time the white flag goes up before the season starts.  In the meantime, there will be a discussion of what the team will get back for Zack Cozart in his mid-season trade.