reds-fans-usatsi.png
USATSI

The toast of Major League Baseball at the moment is the Cincinnati Reds. They've won 12 straight games and sit in first place. The only winning streaks in franchise history that were longer came in 1919 and the 1800s. They also had 12-gamers in 1939 and 1957. Basically, I'm very confident we couldn't find a Reds fan who has ever witnessed a longer winning streak by their favorite team. For the few who remember the 1957 streak fondly, it's but a distant memory. 

Even the die-hard fans from the 1970s Big Red Machine never saw a 12-game winning streak! 

And there's my jumping off point to mention my absolute favorite part of this streak: The fans. 

Reds fans have had a rough last couple seasons, arguably more, and heading into 2023 they had the right to be among the most disgruntled fan bases in all of baseball behind the A's, obviously. Recent events have totally rejuvenated the "Baseball Town" in the Cincy fan base. 

Let's check out the contrast in two months with a series of highlights. Here's a TJ Friedl walk-off single against the first-place Rangers on April 24. 

That was the ninth inning (not extras) and the time of game was only two hours and 36 minutes, meaning there wasn't a big reason for the crowd to empty out or anything. Watch the highlight again and zero in on the crowd shots in the background. There was hardly anyone there. 

Now let's focus on Friday night. Watch the crowd shots after Elly De La Cruz's triple (OK, definitely watch Elly, too, but you can watch this multiple times). 

How about on the Joey Votto three-run homer that gave the Reds the lead for the first time? Again, watch the crowd and witness the unbridled joy. 

I'm such a sucker for this. Most of my favorite postseason moments, for example, are huge hits by the home team so I can watch the crowd going bonkers. It's wildly fun. The players are amazing -- I just made an All-Fun team one day ago -- but there is no product without the paying customers keeping this league afloat and there's really nothing like seeing a sea of paying customers losing their minds in happiness. 

For my money, it's even better when it's an up-and-coming contender and especially an unexpected one. With the latter point, that's why there were hardly any Reds fans in the first video above. No, it isn't because they are "bad" fans or whatever negative label some haters might want to slap on this situation. It's because there was nothing to show up for.

I'll generally go to bat for fan bases anyway, but I feel especially strongly about Reds fans this season. 

Remember what 2022 brought them? It all started when the owner's son, and current club president, essentially taunted the fans about how they had no other choice in favorite teams ("where you gonna go?"). It was on what was supposed to be a celebratory Opening Day and couldn't have possible been more tone deaf. Then the team started the season 3-22 and finished with 100 losses. That was the first Reds' 100-loss season since 1982 and only the second in franchise history. Think about that one for a second. The Reds are the oldest professional baseball team and 2022 started with ownership jabbing at the fans and ended with one of the worst on-field performances in the club's history. 

Of course there were hardly any fans willing to spend their money on the product in April 2023. Who could possibly blame them? 

Something special has happened in the ensuing months, though. Remember that Friedl walk-off above? If we start with that game, the Reds have gone 34-20. Only the Braves and Giants have better records in all of baseball in that span and both are only 1/2 game better than the Reds. 

The fans are noticing, coming out in droves, and are a pleasure to watch. Great American Ball Park had a sellout 43,086 in attendance Friday night. That April 24 game had a reported attendance of 8,810 and it looked a lot more sparse than that. The fans Friday created an atmosphere that brought out superlatives like "electric" and "rocking." Rightfully so! It was all that and more. 

The Reds have two more games against the mighty Braves this weekend and the crowd will be amazing for both games. In all likelihood, the winning streak will end one of these next two days. Even if it doesn't, it won't last much longer. Teams just don't win that many baseball games in a row. The streak ending doesn't mean the team would become less relevant. The Reds are clearly a player this season. 

They will continue to be a hot ticket and are must-watch TV for those who aren't able to make the ballpark. It's a team packed with fun, thanks to the likes of De La Cruz, Votto, Jonathan India, Matt McLain, Jake Fraley, Friedl and now, thankfully, a rocking crowd in Great American Ball Park. 

Like I said, I'm a sucker for the fans. As much as I love De La Cruz and Votto, the best part of this run has been the rejuvenation of the love affair between Cincinnati and its Reds.