Re: Your rooting interest
Well I've never told this story on here, but I have no problem revealing it. I became a Reds fan in part due to Pete Rose's old vice: gambling. My family was visiting Las Vegas in the early part of the 00s and I decided this one-time Yankee fan growing up needed to get back into baseball. I did my homework and saw that the Reds were off to a decent start but were still considered extreme longshots by the bookmakers, so I told my dad the Reds should be our team and he placed the bet. About 10 minutes later during breakfast my dad didn't feel well, and when we got back up to the room my mom, a nurse, decided to call emergency medical services. And it was a good thing she died, because my dad had a heart attack. So that kind of ruined that Vegas vacation, but while my dad was in the hospital the Reds kept winning and it served as a good distraction for my teenage self. My dad ended up being okay and while the Reds faded as usual, I had become emotionally attached to them for life.
Onto your questions!:
* whether your rooting interest in the Reds is at all related to the character, effort, and personalities of the individuals who make up the roster
I definitely think so, though I sometimes wonder if I am guilty of simply rooting for the laundry. But anytime I see a list of PED suspensions and I don't see any Reds, I feel good inside.
* whether, and why, your attraction to the team has fluctuated over the seasons
I think it has, for a few different reasons. By my senior year of high school in 2008 I was out and about a lot more, and suddenly watching a consistently bad baseball team wasn't quite as important as my social life. I moved to North Carolina for college in June 2008 and so that second half of the season and the 2009 season before the Rolen trade just seem like kind of a blur as I was far more focused on my new surroundings and studies than on Kip Wells pitching. I would say though that since 2010 I have watched practically every game because I never want to take the winning for granted after years of irrelevance.
*whether your affinity for the club declined or picked up (if either) after Griffey and Dunn were traded
I think it stayed around the same, though there was a certain sense of relief in thinking "Well, now we can rebuild the outfield". Griffey was my absolute favorite player growing up, but after nearly a decade in Red it was an chronically unhappy marriage where both sides knew they'd be better off apart. And Dunn just never stood a chance against the tide of criticism, and took the brunt of fan's anger simply by being 6'6, 285 lbs and striking out.
* whether you believe that Jocketty’s penchant for bringing in players with evident character/leadership assets—Rolen, Cabrera, Ludwick, perhaps Gomes—has played a substantial role in the organization’s competitive upturn over the past few years.
I don't typically believe in the 'learning to win' narrative, but I think Rolen was a big part of the Reds turning their performance around. Of course, the improved pitching was the biggest element, but you could just see the lineup after July 31st, 2009, with Rolen in it played significantly better. I think it's more a credit to Jocketty that he avoids problem players despite the potential upside than that he signs good characters/leaders.
"Since I've been with the Reds in 1989, we've never had a farm system this loaded," Bowden said. "If we were the New York Yankees and had unlimited dollars, we could have traded for Colon, (Jeff) Weaver, Rolen, (Cliff) Floyd, (Kenny) Rogers and Finley and gotten them all -- and still held onto our top five prospects. That's an amazing statement."