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Pete Rose Standing with Marge Schott
Postgame celebration in 1995, with Pete Rose and Reds owner Marge Schott.
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Know Your Enemy: Cincinnati Reds

What is a Red? Seriously

Ah, Cincinnati, the Queen City, The Nati, The “513,” The Paris of America.

Wait, what? The Paris of America? Seems like a stretch to me. I’ve been to Cincinnati, and I enjoyed my brief time visiting this quaint town along the southern edge of Ohio a decade or so ago. Sitting on the banks of the Ohio River, with its rolling hills, picturesque views, and 19th century architecture, what’s not to like?

Downtown Cincinnati viewed from Devou Park
Wikimedia Commons

The current Cincinnati Reds, named for America’s first professional baseball team (the Cincinnati Red Stockings of 1869), aren’t the first Cincinnati baseball club named the Reds. Nor are they the same franchise of those Red Stockings. Nor the team that followed also named the Cincinnati Reds, of 1876–1879. Confused yet? Me too. The Reds — no, not the Red Stockings, or the Boston Red Stockings, or the Boston Red Sox. Or the White Stockings of Chicago, or the other White Stockings of Chicago, now known as the Chicago White Sox. Seriously, what was with turn of the century Major League Baseball teams and their odd obsession with surgical stockings?

These Cincinnati Reds, formed in 1881, joined the National League in 1890, making them one of the oldest operating professional baseball teams. So they have that going for them. Only a history nerd like me would appreciate the nuance. But honestly, I really don’t. The only bit of this history I find interesting is that as a charter member of the National League, they upset the seemingly uptight NL precedent for selling beer during their games and renting the ballpark out on Sundays. What exciting times those were!

The Reds have the notoriety of being the victors in the 1919 World Series vs our very own Chicago White Sox, better known as the Black Sox. One of baseball’s early cheating scandals, though seen with softer eyes after a century of time. The Black Sox are certainly not as front of mind as recent cheating scandals that should still haunt a pair of recent World Champions, but I digress. The Reds have their fair share of despicable history too, such as Marge Schott’s’ infamous racism and Pete Rose’s lifetime ban for betting on baseball. The Reds also have the Big Red Machine, a nickname for Reds teams that dominated the National League during the 1970s, winning six National League West Division titles, four National League pennants, and World Series titles in 1975 and 1976.

So How Are They Doing, Anyway?

The Reds are off to a slow start once again, hardly a new phenomenon since the days of the Big Red Machine. A playoff team in the Covid-shortened 2020 season, the Reds lost 100 games in 2022 and currently sit 13-18, fourth in the NL Central. Cincinnati started 3-1 in the first week of the season before falling to 7-15. They won five straight to close out April, and are 6-4 in their last 10 games.

Are the Hitters Fearsome? Need I Worry About Dingers?

Honestly, outside of a handful of names, I don’t know who most of these guys even are. Shows how much I pay to the NL Central. Rookie of the Year (2021) Jonathan India is hitting .281/.378/.377, for a whopping .755 OPS and 99 OPS+. First baseman Joey Votto started the 2023 season on the injured list as he recovers from surgery to repair his rotator cuff and bicep last August. The Reds are batting .244 as a team with a team OPS of .679, and have hit a mere 21 home runs as a team. Only the Cleveland Guardians and Washington Nationals have hit fewer. If they were facing any other team I wouldn’t much worry about their bats, but we are talking about Chicago White Sox pitching, so anything can happen.

And the Pitching Matchups? What of Them?

Before we get to those, can we bask is this glorious moment for minute?

Too bad Cease won’t appear in this series.

So about those pitching matchups:

Friday, May 5
Sox: Lance Lynn (0-4, 7.16)
Reds: Hunter Greene (0-1, 2.89)

Saturday, May 6
Sox: [redacted] (2-2, 4.60)
Reds: Nick Lodolo (LHP, 2-1, 6.16)

Sunday, May 7
Sox: Michael Kopech (0-3, 5.97)
Reds: Luke Weaver (0-2, 7.88)

Not much to say about these pairings. This series might just be a battle of bloated ERAs, with the exception of Friday. All three White Sox starters have had their struggles, as has the Sox pen, and by the looks of it, the same can be said for two of the three Reds starters as well. With the forecast in Cincinnati looking to be mid-70s to low-80s this weekend, and Great American Ballpark’s reputation for being home-run friendly, we might just be in store for some high-scoring games. So let the fireworks commence!

Why Do We Hate Cincinnati?

Cincinnati is a nice town. I don’t have much against it personally, with a few exceptions of course. First, it is in Ohio. I mean, Ohio. Gross. Merely Googling the words “Ohio” and “controversy” revealed some wonderful results — perhaps a bit too off-topic to be mentioned here, so you’ll have to take my word for it. If you thought Illinois was bad? Woof. All I will say is that this once-swing state seems to be embracing the fascist undercurrents in right-wing politics. Calling it a purple state would be far too generous at this point, but that’s another discussion altogether.

Then there is the food. Or shall I say, the dish? That culinary abomination for which they are most famous: Cincinnati Chili. Or Skyline Chili, as it is better known. Though I should put chili in quotation marks, because chili it is not. Yes, I know it’s an easy pot-shot, but seriously, what is in that? Nutmeg? Hazelnut? Eye of newt? More noodles than beans and shit ton of cheese, how it is considered chili is beyond me. I’m no food critic, but those ingredients just don’t go together, and yes, this is a hill I will die on.

Why Do We Hate the Cincinnati Reds?

The White Sox are 21-9 all time vs the Reds in the regular season. Seems pretty dominant, but most of the season series seem unremarkable, and even less memorable, with one notable recent exception, of course.

The 2020 White Sox went to Cincinnati late in September, fresh off of clinching their first playoff berth since 2008, with their chins held high and with all of the positive momentum of a team with deep postseason aspirations. The Sox were leading the AL Central, and of course we all remember how that series went. Most of us would probably like to erase it from our brains, but it’s hard to forget the brutal ass-beating doled out on our playoff-bound White Sox in that series, which sent the South Siders on a downward spiral they never really recovered from.

A precursor to disappointments to follow? Perhaps. The Pale Hose lost their division lead and a chance at their first division title in 12 long years, but still made the expanded playoffs during the very odd Covid-shortened 2020 season. Honestly, have they fared well since? I place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the Cincinnati Reds!

They also have Joey Votto, and they don’t deserve him or his loyalty. A great player and a great man. He deserves a shot to win at the highest levels, and sadly, his devotion to the Reds will preclude such things in his tender age of 39. Ugh. How could they do that to such an icon?

The name. I sort of understand the origins now, but seriously, what is a Red? As a noun? As a thing? Hell if I know. And I doubt the organization does, either.

There’s the aforementioned Marge Schott and her racism, which makes her utterly irredeemable, and this was in the 1990s! Not that time is ever an excuse for such discriminatory hate, but I’d like to think there has been some progress made in this country’s sordid and sorry history. Yet, here we are.

Then there’s Pete Rose and his unrepentant attitude towards his betting. Say what you will about upholding a ban for betting on baseball when MLB gleefully climbs into bed with sports betting sponsors and has a hand in the ubiquity of sports betting culture. I’m not here to debate the merits for or against, though. MLB sucks, and is pretty shameless about a great many things. But MLB makes the rules, so no Hall of Fame for you, Pete.

So Let’s Hear It White Sox Fans? Why do we hate those Cincinnati Reds?

I only know of this film through an episode of my favorite bad movies podcast, but when one of my favorite animated comedies takes random shots at it, we are talking content gold.

The Reds won that Series. But do we know that they weren’t in on it? Hmmm? Think about it ...

OOOOF. Yeah, we thought Reinsdorf was bad. The Reds have had some deplorable ownership.

Honestly, who the hell knows ...


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