* 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;
Not in any conscious way. I grew up in Kettering and then moved to Cincinnati. As my username might suggest, grew up on the Big Red Machine. They were tremendous players of course, the team was very successful, and they were the 'home' team. Who else would I be a fan of? I loved playing baseball and the Big Red Machine peaked when I was 12 and 13 years old. I was doomed to be a Reds fan forever. On top of that, all the big names, were HUGE personalities. I have no idea how to disentangle Rose, Bench, Morgan, Perez, and Sparky's personalities from their skills. That no doubt contributes to my deep memories/nostalgia for those teams (that and being 12 and 13 at the time). Having said that, Concepcion and Foster were actually my favorite players. Concepcion perhaps because I was a SS as a kid. In fact, if it weren't for that other kid in town, Barry something or other, I'd have played SS for the Reds when I grew up!
* whether, and why, your attraction to the team has fluctuated over the seasons;
As luck would have it, I went off to college to be distracted by other things at the same time the Reds became historically bad in the early 1980s. they were easy to ignore then. i casually followed them in those pre-internet days, and built a few excellent memories. I actually lived within walking distance of Wrigley Field when Rose was about to catch Ty Cobb in 1985. I didn't think he would try to catch Cobb on the road, so I watched on TV in horror as he tied the record and actually came to bat again! I kept trying to figure out if I could get inside Wrigley before he batted again or would I miss it altogether in transit. I watched that last at bat on TV in mild agony *fearing* he would get a hit, knowing I would always regret not being at a game I could have walked to if I'd thought he'd actually try to break Cobb's record away from home...In grad school I recall seeing on the late news one night that due to a long rain delay the reds were still playing in Cincinnati and that Tom Browning was throwing a perfect game. I was able to get WLW on the radio and through the static caught the last inning or so on the radio...The Ray Knight/Eric Davis brawl in 1986 (I've written about that night in another thread)...Eric Davis' home run off Dave Stewart in the 1990 World Series...I moved back to Cincinnati in 1999 and saw lots of great games in that almost pennant drive....
* whether your affinity for the club declined or picked up (if either) after Griffey and Dunn were traded;
Declined for a while. Especially when Dunn left. They were both disappointing figures and to me have always represented unrealistic expectations and misunderstanding by the fans. They were generally the best, second best or third best players on their teams. Yet THEY got the blame for management's incompetence. They played on mediocre teams, but that was NOT because of them. Those teams were bad because most of their 25 man rosters were bad.
Griffey's injuries and time made it so he had to retire/be traded. Sad but inevitable. Dunn didn't really fit a national league team very well, but I always liked watching him. I still do; he is one of the few guys I have followed closely after he left. I understand why you don't want 8 of him (or even 4!) because that would be a softball team. But come on, he was fun to watch because he might do something utterly amazing. One of my all-time favorite memories was taking my son (about 7 or 8 at the time) to the game where Dunn hit a ball pretty much into the Ohio River. I have no idea if they won that game and I don't really care. That was fun. You need some characters, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench, Dave Concepcion, George Foster, Pedro Borbon, Dave Parker, Eric Davis, Rob Dibble, Adam Dunn, and Aroldis Chapman are some of the more notable Reds that have made the game more entertaining to me in stylistic ways.
I've watched, attended, and listened to literally thousands of Reds games in my life. I love stats, learned basic math figuring out batting averages etc when I was a little kid. Learned about advanced stats when I played some fantasy baseball in the late 90s. It was truly enlightening. (I learned so much I dominated a league where the grand prize was throwing out the first pitch at a Reds game! No lie, I've got pictures. I threw a strike, too
...Talk about learning to love advanced stats!) I completely understand what they are doing (it isn't that different from the training for my 'real' job) and had I known about it when I was younger, I'd have probably tried to make a career out of it. BUT, when you watch so much baseball, some of it has to appeal to you in the way it did when you were a kid playing or watching it. It is still kind of amazing to me to see Dunn hit a ball 500+ feet, Chapman throw one 103 MPH or see the kind of double play Brandon Phillips and Cozart pulled off against the D'Backs the other night. Its a game, its fun. I'm not sure how you measure that.
* 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 really wish I knew. I understand why the sabermetrics guys think intangibles don't matter. Baseball is largely a series of independent match ups between hitters and pitchers, so you wonder how much leadership or other outside influences can affect things. OTOH, the Reds got noticeably better when Rolen showed up. Maybe coincidence, but it was NOT mostly due to his skill on the field (although he was pretty good in stretches); so it was either good timing or something less measurable. I will confess that I was surprised by the value he seemed to have added to the team.
If you will forgive me a lapse into a kind of economics-style argument, I suspect there is a kind of 'equilibrium' in which every team selects guys for their ability to be 'clutch,' be good leaders, etc. This happens because all their lives, they've seen in little league, high school etc that some guys fall short on those dimensions and fail. The guys who keep moving up seem to be good at those things. By the time you get to the top in MLB, most everyone passes the 'intangibles' test. When you do the kinds of test sabermetricians use, there is very little cross-sectional variation along these dimensions, so you can't relate them to on field success. That doesn't mean they don't matter, just that no one is foolish enough to try to field players without those attributes, so you can't see what happens when they aren't present. I have less than no evidence for this specific proposition; however, my point is that it is definitely possible for something to 'matter' but not be detectable by the kinds of statistical tests sabermetricians favor.
If anyone would prefer to discuss this through private messaging, that’s fine. The more personal your remarks, the better. Thanks.
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