Coming off a trip to Cincinnati, I have a few things to get off my chest.
Cincinnati is not a good baseball town. In fact, it's a terrible baseball town.
I have to hear about it every time I go to a Cubs/Reds tilt on Cincy -- as I did Saturday night. The Reds fans are "good baseball fans" or "Cincinnati is a great baseball town." I don't even understand how anyone can say this with a straight face. The team that only sells 62 percent of their seats in resides in a good baseball town? Those same fine citizens allow their overrated stadium to be overtaken by legions of Cubs fans every time the North-siders visit town, bolstering attendance numbers higher than they really should be.
This isn't the seventies, and you can't live off supporting a dynasty forever. It's easy to support teams when they are good. Show me support through adversity before you proclaim your superior fandom (I should note, that if you are reading this, you're likely exempt from this rant -- reading Reds articles in September of this season means you aren't part of the problem).
The reaction, of course, by the thousand or so fans that actually are trying to support their pathetic team is to take out anger on the ten thousand or so Cubs fans. I've had guys try to pick fights with me the last five times I've gone, for no other discernible reason than that I was wearing Cubs gear. As I've told each of the attempted assailants, if you have a problem with my being there, sell out your own stadium. You never see Wrigley Field overtaken with opposing colors.
I've heard all the whiny arguments on why that's not a fair statement. One guy said, "I'm guessing Chicago has a few more people than Cincinnati." Yeah, good point, dude. You can't expect upwards of 30,000 Cincinnatians to fill a stadium from their really minuscule population on a Saturday night when a massive city sits a mere four and a half hours away via automobile -- unless Matt Sinatro is driving, of course. Sarcasm aside, if that's really your best defense on why the Reds don't draw anymore, then they need to be contracted from baseball. You want a major league baseball franchise? Support it.
Another argument you'll hear, which should have some merit, is that the Reds suck. Plain and simple. Why would you pay to watch a team that's terrible? The problem is that in 2006 the Reds were in the pennant race until about mid-September ... yet there they were, sitting a comfortable 22nd in attendance. I actually went to a Saturday night game that season in August when the Cubs were in last place and the Reds were a half-game out. The stadium was at least two-thirds blue. That's embarrassing, Cincy.
The final cry is the small market one. Baseball's not fair because the Cubs, for example, have an inherent advantage over the Reds. Thus, they shouldn't support their team. I guess they're showing the MLB who's boss by not fully supporting their team. All the MLB would do in return is point to the Tampa Bay Rays, Minnesota Twins, or Milwaukee Brewers and say to do things correctly and you can compete.
The leg most Reds fans try to stand on is that they are knowledgeable. You know, the same ones that despised the existence of Adam Dunn for years. I love this argument, by the way. Every time a fan base has less fans, they try to cling to the "knowledge" factor -- hello Barack Obama! Let me spell it out for you, because it's quite simple: The more fans you have, the more stupid fans you have. It doesn't change the percentage. If you think 20 percent of all fans are morons, then the Cubs 20 percent is a much larger number than the Reds. That doesn't give a fan base the right to start proclaiming themselves knowledgeable. Cubs fans give Ryan Dempster a standing ovation for a perfect sacrifice bunt in the 2nd inning. Does anyone else do that?
Of course, there is a flip-side.
The four guys in my party all wore blue, faced forward, and respectfully cheered for our team. We were, unfortunately, the exception rather than the rule. Bringing obnoxiously-sized "Welcome to Wrigley South" signs and turning around to mock the few Reds fans in the section is not cool. Turning around after every good play by the Cubs to show your jersey and point out to everyone that you are, in fact, a Cubs fan isn't either. It's ignorant, and that's why people hate the Cubs. The entire place was theatrical Saturday night. It's not Wrigley South, because in Wrigley Field the fans would be facing forward and simply cheering for their team. Starting "Let's Go Cubbies" chants with a 12 run lead is unnecessary, and quite lame.
If you want everyone to hate you, I guess this is the route to take. It does, however, give people like myself just wanting to enjoy their team, a bad name. It also causes a stigma to linger. When I buy a beer, the vendor says, "there's a shock. A Cubs fan buying a beer." Not only is that unprofessional, but it's because of the idiots that overtake the stadium. This stigma carries over into a jerk in the bathroom trying to pick a fight with me because I am in their stadium wearing Cubbie blue. It's gotten to the point that I almost don't even blame them.
A good rule of thumb as an opposing fan is to act like you are watching your team at home. If you'd do it at home, go ahead. If not, sit the hell down and shut up.