The Making of a Reds Fan: A Learning Experience

When my protege first moved in, one of the first conversations we had was about the concept of .500. For baseball fans, there is no easier statistic to keep track of, but for newcomers to the game, apparently it’s like explaining brain surgery.

Tina: “When a team has won and lost the same number of games, they’re at .500. It’s a percentage. A winning season is when you win more games than you lose, staying above the 50% mark. The Reds right now have won 34 games and lost 33 games – they’re one game over .500, meaning that they’ve won one more game than they’ve lost.”

Jen: “33 games seems like a lot to lose though.”

Tina: “Yeah, but they play 162 games a season. They lose a lot of games because they play a lot of games. For example, the Big Red Machine – I’ll explain that more later – was the greatest baseball team to ever exist. They finished the 1975 season winning 108 games and losing 54. 54 games is not a lot of games to lose in a baseball season.”

Jen: “But…54 games seems like a lot to lose.”

Tina: “No. It’s not. They play a lot of games in a season.”

Then, I gave up.

Our excursion to buy Jen’s first Reds gear went infinitely better than trying to explain .500. We went to Dick’s Sporting Goods, and while I was in the market for some new Reds gear myself (I nabbed a #27 Rolen, a #47 Cueto, and an adorable white v-neck with “Reds” scrawled across the chest), my first mission was finding Jen a good, basic Reds tee to wear to games. I suggested a basic Red #19 Votto shirt, but Jen is always the fashionista. She chose a throwback “Big Red Machine” shirt and a black hat with the red C.

Jen sporting her new gear!

It’s one thing to dress like a Reds fan, but it’s another thing entirely to religiously watch and analyze games, understand the history, and, of course, learn all the players.

To my delighted surprise, I returned home from work one night to find that Jen and Mama Redlegs had watched the game, and Mama taught Jen a thing or two. As Jen told me all the new things she learned (like what an RBI is), she began explaining Aroldis Chapman.

Mom: “Tell Tina all the things you learned!”

Jen: “Chapman. He pitches for the Reds and he holds the record for the fastest pitch. He got sent to the minors because he couldn’t hit the side of a barn, but he looked good tonight. He’s defective.”

After a good chuckle and an explanation that he “defected” from Cuba, and while he was defective for a while, we hope he’ll pitch better this time around, I congratulated Jen on all the things she learned.

Aroldis Chapman Pitcher Aroldis Chapman #54 of the Cincinnati Reds speaks with the media during a press conference at the Cincinnati Reds Development Complex on February 22, 2010 in Goodyear, Arizona.

Aroldis Chapman: The Defective Cuban

And yesterday, I took Jen to Great American Ballpark for the first time ever! We went to the Vote Reds Lunch, and I think she enjoyed seeing the secret areas of the ballpark. I got her to vote a ton for the Reds to get to the All-Star Game, and we snapped this lovely photo of ourselves in the Fox Sports Ohio Champions Club:

Jen still has a lot to learn about the Reds, and she still has to attend her first Reds game, which will be so totally exciting.  But, I will say that she’s doing a great job so far and I can’t wait to teach her everything I can about the greatest baseball team to ever exist.

As always, GO REDS!

1 Comment

Great post. It can be frustrating teaching someone about baseball, but it is also fun. There’s no better feeling than telling the stories you’ve told seven million times before to a new audience. You get to flex your expertise and be the teacher. And we were all on the other end at some time in our lives. We learned from our fathers and friends. We learned about batting averages, ERA, WHIP, and what constitutes a ground-rule double. We were made aware of those subtle things casual fans miss like the defensive shift, the sound of a broken bat, and the difference between a run versus an earned run.
Very well written and entertaining blog. Hopefully you’ll give mine a try…

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