Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Thoughts on Reds Caravan

by: Jack Ward
Staff Writer

I visited the Reds Caravan at Fannin Motors in Ashland Ky on Saturday, January 30th. There were many loyal Reds fans there. I am impressed with the love the fans have for the Reds. The Reds organization is doing the right thing to reach out to their fan base with these tours. The Reds were awful last year and going to be more than likely again this year, but the fans I talked to have hope that springs eternal. They even pumped me up…a little.

I asked assistant GM Nick Krall what they expected for the 2016 season. In a nutshell he said that they feel they have made some moves that will make the team better now and into the future. That’s glockenspiel for “we are going to be bad this year.” But only time will tell if the future will be better.

Amir Garrett, a minor league prospect, was there. He played basketball at St John's and is 22 years old. He had a great year in A ball last year and is on the Reds 40 man roster. He is a beast at 6’5 and a hard throwing lefty. He was very excited about the upcoming possibilities with the Reds.

Also there was former Red Dimitri Young who played with the Reds from 1998 through 2001 and hit over .300 every season. He looked great having lost a lot of weight in recent years.

Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart said when I asked him what it was like to catch an Aroldis Chapman fastball…”painful.”

I also asked Nick Krall what the Reds planned to do with Brandon Phillips since they traded for Jose Peraza and gave up Todd Frazier to get him. Krall said that Brandon had elected to stay with the Reds and vetoed a trade and would be with the Reds for this season. I didn’t know at the time that Bryan Price had said that Brandon would be the opening day second baseman.

I told Nick that I love “Brandon Phillips but he needed to go.” Hinting that he should have gone to a team with a chance to win in the twilight of his career. Chris Welch over heard the conversation and asked me “Why do you think that about Brandon?” or something to that affect. I told Chris “I love Brandon but he needs to go and by the way I love you too Chris.” Chris quickly responded “so I need to go too huh?” We laughed.

NO Chris I do NOT want you to leave! Chris Welch is my favorite TV baseball announcer of all time. NO I’m not sucking up. I love the Cowboy, and Thom off course is masterful, but among the many things I like about Chris is that you can tell when he’s getting a little irritated about something. What I like about that is it’s the same things we as fans get hacked off about and we want someone to say something about it. For example, he will point out that a player didn’t run hard to first. Or he will question the way a pitcher is working a batter in certain situations. And he’s not afraid to contradict his play by play guy. And like he did me, he will turn the question back around to you “what do you think about that?” He’s just the best.

And that’s why I love Marty Brennaman. He is simply born to broadcast baseball. I especially love it as with Chris when you can sense that irritation about the things that go on. Marty always will say what needs to be said. I have met Marty twice and he couldn’t be nicer. I have a picture with Marty on my desk that he took with me in 1992. He signed it for me during my recent trip to the caravan and it’s my most valuable piece of memorabilia. Thank you so much Marty!

By the way I brought with me two young boys from my church who I have hopefully turned in to life- long Reds fans. They were so thrilled to meet everyone on the panel. And I personally want to thank all of the Reds players and Nick, Marty and Chris for being so nice to them. They are still talking about it.

If a Reds Caravan comes near to your town. Get there. Because I live more than an hour from Ashland and only recently retired from 37 years with the Postal Service, this was only the second time I have had a change to attend one and I loved it.

I know it’s a business and I know about marketing, but baseball is more than just that. Being with Reds fans is like being in church. I’m not meaning to be over sanctimonious, but everyone loves each other because we have a common devotion and purpose, a love for our Reds. And these caravans make us feel that the Reds love and appreciate us too.

Until next time,

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