Reds’ Castellini: ‘Are you with us, or aren’t you?’

I’ve been saying since around 2009 that this 2012 season would be an ‘all-in’ season for the Cincinnati Reds. For the first time that we’ve seen now, one of the local media members in the Queen City has penned the same sentiment.

Paul Daugherty has long been one of our favorites–we think he’s incredibly underrated. He had the chance to talk to Reds majority owner Bob Castellini about the idea that the Reds are all in for the 2012 season.

Daugherty even went as far to say that ‘this is the most important baseball season in Cincinnati in 22 years’ before comments from the owner arrived. We all know what happened 22 years ago.

“The Reds are all in every year,” Castellini said. “This is nothing new.”

But there are some points that Daugherty points out that let us know this is indeed a crucial year. Every man on the roster aside from Joey Votto has something to prove. From Dusty Baker to Brandon Phillips, Bronson Arroyo, Scott Rolen, Drew Stubbs, Aroldis Chapman, Homer Bailey, and Chris Heisey are all mentioned as those who have a lot at stake for their personal careers this upcoming season.

Castellini had more to say.

“It’s a challenge. OK, fans, we’ll pay it back. Are you going to support us, or aren’t you? We have to get these fans into the ballpark, through winning and a good fan experience. I think we do a good job with the fan experience part of it.”

“Forget hope,” said Castellini. We have to get their excitement.”

It has to be more than bobbleheads, fireworks and happy hours. That’s entertainment. Baseball is passion. Castellini always has believed the Reds to be more than just a night out. He sees the franchise being able to replicate what St. Louis has done, on a smaller scale. But only if winning sustains. Winning sustains when attendance follows suit.

“Not just Cincinnati,” Castellini said. “Dayton, Columbus, Charleston, West Virginia, Indianapolis. We need to get them back.”

I had aspirations of attending more than the 7 or 8 Reds games I went to last season. Things didn’t go as planned, and by late-summer I had other ways I wanted to spend my money and didn’t beg my wife as hard as I normally would have for two hour weekend trips.

The Reds need to win on the field if they want to draw at the gate. They need to deliver success this season if they want to achieve relevancy. Making the playoffs and getting swept isn’t how you create customer loyalty in this business.

Don’t let Castellini fool you. Coy as he may appear, he knows about the window for this team to achieve big things. And the biggest baseball summer in Cincinnati for over the past two decades is on the way. Hopefully I make my goal of 20 games attended this season. If not, we’ll know who is at fault.