How frustrated are Cincinnati Reds fans this season? Frustrated enough to buck up thousands of dollars for a billboard demanding a change in ownership.
A new billboard on I-75 near Evendale features the hashtag #SellTheTeamBob, the refrain that Reds fans on social media have been using to urge team owner Bob Castellini to unload Cincinnati's biggest baseball asset.
In a movement led by Reds fan community The Riverfront — founded by longtime sportswriter Chad Dotson — Cincinnatians raised more than $4,000 to rent the billboard and share their frustrations with Castellini and the Reds' front office. With the Reds losing big contributors and Castellini saying he wants to concentrate on younger players, fans are anxious about 2022 turning into another "rebuilding season" rather than a legitimate push for playoff glory (During the COVID-shortened 2020 season, the Reds made it to the Wild Card playoffs but lost the first round to the Atlanta Braves without scoring at all. Before that, Cincinnati hadn't been to the postseason since 2013).
Pre-season predictions from experts put the Reds fourth in the National League Central division, with just a 1% chance of winning the World series.
In a recent interview, Castellini insisted that winning was still paramount in 2022.
"It is simply untrue that our resolve to win has waned in any way. I really want our fans to hear that directly from me," Castellini said on March 24.
The billboard on I-75 features the #SellTheTeamBob hashtag plus icons for Apple Podcasts, Spotify and YouTube, all on a white background. A March 25 video on The Riverfront's YouTube channel shows Dotson discussing a t-shirt sale and GoFundMe campaign that would bankroll the billboard.
But coordinating the project wasn't completely smooth, it seems. In the video, Dotson tells his podcast teammates that one billboard rental company said "they didn't want to make the Reds mad" before The Riverfront found the right company.
Sell the team, Bob!— The Riverfront: A Cincinnati Reds Family (@riverfrontcincy) March 13, 2022
Proceeds from the sale of this t-shirt will go towards putting this message on a billboard in Cincinnati. https://t.co/lbmhVDVPS0
Nate Dotson replies that the billboard campaign would run for four weeks. "There are some rumors that it may or may not be on Mr. Castellini's daily commute, assuming he commutes daily. But we think it's just a really cool opportunity to finally get this message across, or at the very least, make it abundantly clear to everybody that this is how Cincinnati feels," he says.
On his personal Twitter account on April 7, Chad Dotson agreed with another user that fans are angry about Castellini and the front office, not the Reds players themselves. "We should distinguish between ownership and the players on the field. Love the Reds," Dotson said.
CityBeat has reached out to both Dotson and the Reds for comment.
This is exactly the correct take. We should distinguish between ownership and the players on the field.— Chad Dotson (@dotsonc) April 8, 2022
Love the Reds. https://t.co/opQ5iS9Oxj
The Cincinnati Reds beat the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves on the road 6-3 on April 7, opening day for the 2022 MLB season. The team will continue the series in Atlanta before returning to Cincinnati for the home opener against intrastate rivals the Cleveland Guardians on April 12 at Great American Ball Park; first pitch will be at 4:10 p.m.
Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow will throw out the first pitch, with coach Zac Taylor and wide receiver Ja'marr Chase joining the on-field festivities. The game will be preceded by Cincinnati's iconic Findlay Market Opening Day Parade, for which Reds lifer Barry Larkin will serve as grand marshal. A number of bars, restaurants and communities are hosting additional pre-game activities, and GABP is ready with new menu items for hungry fans.
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