Cincinnati Players Show Themselves to Be Superzeroes with Comic Book Shirts
Just as Cincinnati was starting to earn some respect in the world of sports, its baseball team continues to downgrade the city's reputation. The latest stain on the Reds occurred Friday night on the West Coast, so thankfully most of us in Cincinnati were in bed before we had to endure the epitome of poor taste.
Last fall during the college football season, the University of Cincinnati brought national attention to the Queen City. Head Coach Luke Fickell and the Bearcats became the first non-Big Five team to earn a spot in the College Bowl Championship, having completed a perfect regular season schedule.
Then in the middle of winter, the Bengals surprised everyone by its impressive run in the NFL Playoffs. After knocking off heavily favored Buffalo and Kansas City in back to back games, the Bengals went on to play in the Super Bowl.
Fans were riding high in Cincinnati, anticipating even more good news for the upcoming baseball season. After all, the Reds came up just a few games short of qualifying for the playoffs last year, and they had indeed made the postseason in 2020.
When the work stoppage was finally settled, Cincinnati fans could greet the new season with all the hope of spring. The new agreement between the MLB owners and the players association had provisions to help create a more competitive balance, where small market teams like Cincinnati would have a much better chance against financial behemoths in New York or California.
Almost the very minute the agreement was finalized, the Reds betrayed their fans. So much for the idea of every team now being competitive, for Cincinnati in the first week after the deal traded two All-Star regular players and a Cy Young caliber starting pitcher.
Great American Ball Park was destined to become a ghost town, as outfielder Jesse Winker and third baseman Eugenio Suarez were sent to the Seattle Mariners for prospects. Soon thereafter, staff ace Sonny Gray was traded to the Minnesota Twins, again for minor leaguers.
In response to the expected backlash, the son of the owner condescendingly upbraided the club's fans. He in so many words told them to stop complaining, or the Castellini family would move the club to another city.
His poor reaction to fan criticism proved most untimely, for the Reds began the regular season 3-22. The embarrassing start eliminated even the tiniest slither of hope for a postseason berth but, believe it or not, the organization's gaffes has continued.
Rookie Hunter Greene pitched a no-hitter, a game which the Reds ended up losing anyway. Then a month later, outfielder Tommy Pham assaulted Joc Pederson at Great American Ball Park before a game against San Francisco.
Thankfully, the victim and his Giants teammates blew off the incident, saying it had stemmed from a grudge Pham held over a move in a fantasy football league. One would think that the Reds would have been glad to put the embarrassing scene behind them, especially with all of the already bad public relations they had suffered so far this season.
Unfortunately, the Reds did the opposite. Rather than leaving Pham's transgression to disappear into history, four players decided to revive the memory with a joke in very poor taste.
Before the opener of a three game series in San Francisco, this cavalier quartet wore shirts making light of the assault. Illustrated like a comic book's sound effects of a fight between a superhero and a villain, the shirt read Pham!
Surely someone in charge of the team, perhaps manager David Boone or even Pham himself, could have prevented the four players from following through with this idiotic, insensitive stunt. In a real organization, someone would have stepped up as soon as word spread about the antic.
Maybe the fans in Cincinnati should pool the money they save by not buying tickets to pay for a set of shirts with a similar design, for both the players and the front office personnel. It would feature the same colors and comic book design around just one word, only this time it would read Sham!