EndScore Interview: Redleg Nation's Chad Dotson
EndScore recently had the great privelege to interview Redleg Nation‘s Chad Dotson, a passionate Cincinnati Reds fan who shows his Reds love through one of the best baseball blogs on the internet. He shared his thoughts on his blog, the current Reds team, and what he thinks of the new Reds ownership.
EndScore: Can you tell me about Redleg Nation (RN) - how it started, when, etc.?
Chad: Sure. A couple of years ago, I began to think I’d enjoy writing about the Reds on a regular basis. I’m a lifelong fan of the team, and I enjoyed the Reds blogs that were out there, but I felt that there was a place for another, different type of Reds blog. So I went about designing the page and getting things set up.
Meanwhile, I made the decision to seek out different contributors. I’m a member of a Cincinnati Reds listserv, and there were several members of that listserv that I thought would make excellent contributors to the blog. So I decided to make it a group blog, invited a few others to join in, and it took off from there. We’ve had a blast with it.
EndScore: So how many bloggers are there on RN?
Chad: We have six bloggers, and each person has their own area of expertise, so to speak. This season, we’re trying to focus more on the Reds minor league system, and having five other contributors makes it easier to follow everything. Our talented group of contributors are Bill Lack (who is the founder of the Reds listserv), Chris Garber, Matt Malott, Chris Wilson, and Tom Diesman.
EndScore: So how successful has the blog been?
Chad: We’re very pleased with the development of the blog. During our first year of operation, RN was named a Finalist for Best Sports Blog in the Weblog Awards. That was a nice surprise, and a confirmation of the hard work we’ve done. Redleg Nation has also earned a bit of a niche in that we have several exclusive features you won’t see on other baseball or Reds-related blogs. For example, we have an organizational depth chart that is updated almost daily. We have a salary chart that lists what players on the Reds roster are being paid, and how much they are owed in future years. We have put together “Draft Trackers” to track the progress of Reds draft picks. Plus, we’re constantly seeking out original interviews, such as our recent interviews with Reds #1 draft pick Jay Bruce and Reds GM Wayne Krivsky.
EndScore: Wow… impressive, how did you get those interviews? I ask because I know with a lot of blogs they are viewed as not “real” media and therefore do not have much access to the club officially. Does RN have media credentials with the team?
Chad: We don’t currently have media credentials with the Reds, though I have a feeling that the new ownership and management will change that eventually. Mr. Krivsky, the GM, was very gracious about granting us an interview, and he actually seemed enthusiastic about online media.
EndScore: That’s refreshing to hear, for obvious reasons on both our parts.
Chad: It is refreshing, and certainly a change in the way the Reds do business. I’d like to also note that we do, however, have media credentials with the Dayton Dragons, the Reds Class A affiliate. They have been fantastic about allowing Bill access to the team (he’s a season ticket-holder, and lives near Dayton). I plan to request credentials for the AA Chattanooga Lookouts later this summer when I take a trip to watch them play.
EndScore: I wish more MLB teams would give access to the better team blogs out there as I know that a lot of people put their all in doing these blogs and the really good ones deserve at least a chance to be “real” media and get access to games and the players. Good luck in getting the credentials.
Chad: That would be nice. We didn’t get into this in order to get access, and our feelings won’t be hurt if we don’t get it. We’re just having a great time with what we’re doing.
EndScore: So, are you surprised by the Reds’ start to the season? Which player has been the most pleasant surprise?
Chad: Well, if I said I wasn’t surprised by the strong start, I’d be lying. It’s been a lot of fun to be a Reds fan so far this season. The most pleasant surprise has probably been Scott Hatteberg, of all people. He’s off to a nice start, and has replaced Sean Casey very well. Of course, Bronson Arroyo has been incredible, and he was named Redleg Nation Player of the Month for April (we also give out minor league hitter and pitcher of the month awards).
EndScore: Very cool.
Chad: However, to be honest, the most pleasant surprise has been the team’s management. After years of bumbling mismanagement from this franchise, new owner Bob Castellini and Krivsky have come in and been a breath of fresh air. When Krivsky sent Tony Womack to the trash heap, I knew we had a GM that had a clue, at least.
EndScore: (Laughing) Yeah, what was up with Womack on the team… yikes!
Chad: That’s the question I asked myself every day, regarding Womack. I’m glad he’s gone.
EndScore: Yeah, besides, you had to find Ryan Freel a place to play. Too bad he’s been on a bad streak lately. I’m sure he’ll turn it around.
Chad: Freel has been in a bit of a slump, but he remains a very valuable asset to this team. He gets on base at a good clip, and he wreaks havoc on the basepaths. Plus, he’s improving as a fielder and he can play almost every position. At Redleg Nation, we’re big fans of Ryan Freel.
EndScore: Getting back to bad streaks, the Reds have lost three in a row and something like four of their last 10. Do you think there’s any immediacy to turn this around before a deep slide happens?
Chad: What’s been most interesting about this recent slide is the fact that the offense is to blame. That gives me hope that the Reds might be able to turn it around. The Reds offense was the best in the NL last year, and they remain very powerful. I have no doubt that they will rebound and return to scoring runs. The pitching, however, has been terrible over the last year or so. Yet, during this losing streak, the starters have done very well. If the starting pitching holds up, and the offense returns to form (as I expect they will), I see no reason why the Reds can’t remain competitive. I wouldn’t start printing playoff tickets yet, but as Reds fans, we’re just glad we aren’t trying to dig out of last place.
EndScore: So, what’s do you think will happen with the closer sitaution. It seems that Todd Coffey has now inherited the role of “closer of the future,” which was once Ryan Wagner’s. Do you really think that David Weathers is the guy to close? Can he really keep going for the whole season?
Chad: The short answer on Weathers is “no.” He’s alright as a setup guy, or a middle reliever. He has no business being the closer, even if it’s by default.
Todd Coffey, on the other hand, has a great future. I know putting a young guy in the closer’s role so soon might be dangerous, but he’s clearly the most effective reliever in the Reds pen. He deserves the shot.
Of course, having Coffey in a setup role has meant that manager Jerry Narron, playing things by the book, will bring in Coffey in the 7th or 8th, in key situations. So Coffey is actually pitching in more high-stress situations now than he probably would if he were closer. And he’s been lights-out.
EndScore: I agree with you there. Is there anything else you wanted to say about RN or the Reds before I get to THE FIVE ENDSCORE QUESTIONS TO END ALL INTERVIEWS.
Chad: Just that I really appreciate the other contributors at Redleg Nation. They’re great writers, and passionate Reds fans. We’ve really been amazed at the support RN has been given, and pleased that our daily game threads have become the place to be to discuss Reds games. It’s been a fun ride, and I expect we’ll be having more fun in the future. Now bring on the FIVE QUESTIONS.
EndScore: First one seems like a no-brainer, but who is your favorite team?
Chad: Cincinnati Reds. Though I’m a graduate of the University of Virginia, and I follow their teams very closely, as well.
EndScore: Which player (any sport) do you like to watch play?
Chad: My favorite player, in any sport, is Adam Dunn, without question. He’s going to be a big star.
EndScore: Fifty homer potential every year.
Chad: He’s just fun to watch with a bat in his hand.
EndScore: What is the hardest thing to do in sports?
Chad: The hardest thing to do in sports has to be hitting a baseball. Although, if you watched me play golf, you might think that hitting a golf ball is the hardest thing, since I don’t do it very well.
EndScore: (Laughing) What is your favorite sports term or quote?
Chad: I have a couple. First, I love to hear Marty Brennaman, the Reds announcer, end a game with “...and this one belongs to the Reds.” Also, just about anything Adam Dunn says is hilarious - he seems like a funny guy.
But in the end, one of my favorites is from Pete Rose. Rose isn’t my favorite player, but I love this one: “I’d walk through hell in a gasoline suit to play baseball.” That’s the type of attitude that Cincinnati baseball fans love, and it’s why people like Chris Sabo and Ryan Freel are popular in the Queen City.
EndScore: Okay, last question. When you die and go to sports heaven and the sports god says that you can play any sport with anyone (team or player), whom would it be and why?
Chad: I’d like to be a relief pitcher with the Big Red Machine of the mid-seventies. Being in a battery with Johnny Bench (my favorite player from my childhood), with great players like Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, Rose, George Foster, and Dave Concepcion behind me...yep, that would be heaven.
EndScore: Chad, thanks a lot for your time.
Chad: Happy to do it.