Cincinnati Reds Drew Nearly 2.5 Million Fans to Great American Ball Park in 2014


Sep 27, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; A general view of a sign for the 2015 All Star Game at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

We humans are, at heart, a hopeful and optimistic bunch.  If you need evidence of that, look no further than the Cincinnati Reds’ home attendance for 2014:  according to Steve Watkins at the Cincinnati Business Courier, the Reds pulled in 2,476,664 unwitting souls to Great American Ball Park even as the team marched toward obscurity on the field.

One reason that the Reds were able to draw so many fans despite their poor season (76-86) is that they made the playoffs just a year ago and have been successful in that regard over the last five seasons or so.   Winning almost always yields some residual goodwill, and the Reds were the beneficiaries of that phenomenon in 2014.

Of course, there were some positive developments on the field this season.    The starting rotation was unexpectedly strong and kept hope alive when the offense sputtered out of the gate.   Johnny Cueto flirted with Cy Young contention for much of the summer, and the chance to see Aroldis Chapman singe some atmosphere with his fastball is always a crowd gatherer.  

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Off the mound, rookie center fielder was heavily hyped and struggled out of the gate, but torrid stretches in the middle of the season made him another box office draw.  He may yet win the National League Rookie of the Year award, and once he completely figures out base-running in the big leagues, Rickey Henderson’s single-season stolen base record may be in jeopardy.

I’m loathe to admit it, but the major reason that the Reds filled GABP to such an extent is probably because the team’s brass refused to take a definitive stand on import personnel decisions.  Joey Votto should have been shut down early, but doing so would have taken away a glimmer of hope.

Alfredo Simon should have been yanked from the rotation in August, but then the Reds would have been admitting that their season was crumbling.

Ryan Ludwick should have been traded or released, and a replacement sought for him.

Brandon Phillips probably should  have been shelved for the season after his thumb injury.

More young players should have been brought to the Bigs in August and September.

There are any number of moves that should have been made, from the perspective of looking out for the baseball future of this franchise, but almost all of them would have been a clear signal that management had given up on 2014.

Instead, they kept us hanging on until the bitter end, and we ate it up.   Good on them.