Speaking Tuesday on WLW radio before his team’s home opener in Cincinnati, Reds president Phil Castellini was asked why fans should maintain trust in an organization that has finished above .500 and made the playoffs just three times in the last 10 seasons.
Castellini, whose biggest qualification for his job is that he is the son of Reds chief executive officer Bob Castellini (the team’s controlling owner since January 2006), knocked it out of the park with his idiotic response.
“Well, where are you going to go? Let’s start there. I mean, sell the team to who?” Castellini said on WLW, via The Cincinnati Enquirer. “That’s the other thing — you want to have this debate? If you want to look at what would you do with this team to have it be more profitable, make more money, compete more in the current economic system that this game exists? It would be to pick it up and move it somewhere else. And so be careful what you ask for. I think we’re doing the best we can do with the resources that we have. We’re no more pleased with the results than the fans. I’m not sitting here saying anybody should be happy. I’m not polishing trophies in the office right now, and that’s what we’re here to do.”
Where are Cincinnati fans gonna go? How about anywhere but Great American Ball Park to pay their hard-earned money to watch a team that has been an MLB bottom-feeder since Castellini’s daddy took control of the club nearly two decades ago? Castellini and the rest of Major League Baseball clearly fail to realize it, but people have many, many more ways to entertain themselves in 2022 than they did in 1869 when the Cincinnati Red Stockings played the first professional baseball game, and not everyone finds the idea of watching a mediocre baseball team play a boring game for 3.5 hours appealing. The reality is that baseball needs its fans far more than its fans need baseball. They have options. MLB doesn’t. Castellini asked where his fans are going to go. He’s really the one who should be careful what he asks for.
Given a chance to explain exactly what he was trying to say on WLW, Castellini pretended he didn’t know what he had said that would have annoyed fans before issuing a convoluted clarification in a pregame interview on the field.
“Are you gonna abandon being a Reds fan?” Castellini said ahead of their home opener. “Are you gonna abandon following this team? We haven’t abandoned it, we haven’t abandoned investing in the team and the community. The point is, how about everybody just settle down and celebrate and cheer for the team. You can hate on us all you want, we’re not going anywhere.”
After his comments and tone-deaf follow-up remarks hit the internet and the Reds lost their home opener 10-5 to the Guardians, Castellini issued a statement through the Reds PR department: “I apologize to Reds fans and regret the comments that I made earlier today. We love this city, we love this team, and we love our fans. I understand how our fans feel and I am sorry.”
Castellini should apologize to his fans for having himself and his father in leadership roles. And for Cincinnati chili.