Opening Day in Cincinnati is essentially a holiday. Businesses give employees the day off, there's a parade through downtown and even though this wasn't a traditional Opening Day, check out the crowd in the streets hours before the home opener Tuesday:
And yet, hours before the aforementioned home opener, a member of the family that owns the Reds cast a shadow over everything.
The principle owner and chairman of the Reds is Bob Castellini. His son, Phil, is the president and chief operating officer, who runs business and ballpark operations.
Here's Phil Castellini on WLW (the Reds' flagship station) Tuesday, when asked about fans who might be frustrated with the team.
For those who can't listen, I'll transcribe here:
Well, where you gonna go? Let's start there. I mean, sell the team to who? I mean, that's the other thing, I mean, you wanna have this debate? If you wanna look at what would you have this team do 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 sitting here polishing any trophies in the office right now. And, that's what we're here to do. But, the bottom line is I do think we've had to shift the discipline, we've tried a lot of things that didn't work. They came this close to working and didn't, nobody's gotta tell me they didn't work. So, I think we've learned from those things. Trust me, [general manager] Nick [Krall] is a guy on a mission.
It's difficult to know where to even start. Actually, wait, no it's not.
This man was asked about what he would say to fans who are frustrated with the lack of on-field success and before he said "compete more" he said, "profitable" and "make more money."
You know, those are the two main pillars every fan wants from their team, right? Profitability and for the owners to make more money! Then, so long as the owners are taken care of, then we get to hope for our favorite team to win.
Sarcasm aside, let's reiterate the biggest takeaway here: An owner of a team was asked what he wanted to say to fans who are frustrated, and the message he wanted to convey to fans was that he wishes he could make more money. And for seemingly no reason other than to be cruel, he threw in the whole "maybe we should move" nonsense that some owners like to dangle on occasion.
These are paying customers Castellini is speaking to, the overwhelming majority of whom have exponentially less financial clout than a family able to own and operate a Major League Baseball team. It's just unbelievably tone deaf.
The Castellini family bought the Reds in 2006. Since then, the Reds have had a losing record 10 times, a winning record four times, made the playoffs four times (one of those four was 2020's expanded playoffs) and have gone 0-4 in playoff series. They've gone 2-9 in playoff games. Asking the Castellini family about a frustrated fan base is beyond reasonable. It's the easy and obvious question.
Let's dig in on the "sell the team to who?" rhetorical, too, since he acted like there was no chance anyone else would lower themselves to owning the Reds.
There would absolutely be interested buyers. The Marlins were sold in 2017 for $1.2 billion. There's no question the Reds have more prestige and play in a market that would land more than the Marlins did. Even if you disagree with the sentiment, the Castellini family bought the club in 2006 for $270 million. Line up those figures, even allowing for inflation and asset appreciation. Are the Royals comparable to the Reds? Possibly. They were purchased in 2019 for $1.11 billion. For what it's worth, Forbes estimated the Reds' value in March at 1.19 billion.
I'm not sure the smugness needs to accompany the "sell the team to who" line, Mr. Castellini. And, again, he said it like anyone thinking the Reds could sell the team was ignorant. Isn't that just another jab at the fan base?
It wouldn't be too difficult to discuss the direction of the team, throw support behind general manager Nick Krall and even express hope for the future due to players like Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo. Instead, Castellini laughs it up from his ivory tower.
We can't expect perfect answers. Maybe he wasn't ready for such a question -- which would also be malpractice from someone in his position, by the way -- but, man, this feels like one of the worst possible answers he could have given.
Later that same day, Castellini issued the following statement via The Athletic's C. Trent Rosecrans: "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."