Steve: Is home opening day still as important to Reds fans as it used to be? is there still a case that the Reds should open at home a day before everyone else?
Cam: I think Opening Day is just as important to Reds fans as it has always been. Baseball, more than any other sport, relies heavily on tradition and family. And there is no city in the world that encompasses that mix of baseball, tradition and family like the Queen City. It’s just different here. There is no city that does what we do. From the parade to the promotions to the atmosphere. The first professional team in the history of American sports was founded here and as it was for many years, should be the city that starts the baseball season.
Steve: Reds fans are probably more in tune with their team’s place in the history of the game than many other teams; how important is that sense of continuity as a source of pride for them?
Cam: As baseball has changed, I think fandom has changed. Cincinnati, of course, still clings to the firsts and bests and traditions and championships proudly, but I do sense that as we get farther and farther away from those teams of destiny, like the Big Red Machine and the 1990 team, that a new generation of fans sees the Reds experience quite differently. That is why the Reds Hall of Fame is so important. It is a place to not only celebrate those great teams and players, but it educates folks on some of the moments that don’t get talked about as often. The legacies and legends live on.
Steve: What’s the current relationship like between the ball club and the local media – do you think the team is well-covered or has it been better/worse in previous years? And how important do you think it is for a good relationship between the hometown press and the team, compared to national outlets – and especially online upstart publications?
Cam: I think Cincinnati is like any other “small market” city when it comes to the media. I’m not sure if it is better or worse, but I do think it is very different. Players and teams don’t need to rely on the press for exposure per se. They create their own “brand” through social media. I will say however that I believe cities like Cincinnati have an advantage being that writers and players can develop relationships easier than larger markets. And even with social media, you need that hometown context that national outlets just can’t provide.
Steve: Finally, how would you estimate the sense of optimism about the team this year, opposed to recent seasons?
Cam: I think up until the lockout, optimism was high. There was a sense that with just a few more pieces and the re-signing of a few free agents, this team would be in the hunt. But things went sideways quickly. And unfortunately, that is the nature of baseball today. I think team-building is long gone. It’s now season-building. But that being said, this is a baseball town. And if the team wins, the seats will fill up. This city wants to root for a team that shows it wants to win. All you have to do is look at what their neighbors the Bengals did last season.
You can follow Cam on Twitter here, and we’ll check back in with him for a longer conversation later in the season.
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