Reds radio announcer Marty Brennaman is one of the legends in the industry and has earned his place in the Baseball Hall of Fame. He's been the voice of the Reds since the days of the Big Red Machine in the mid 70s. In recent years, Brennaman has used the leeway that comes with a Hall of Fame career to speak his mind and editorialize a bit more. There are his humorous rants against Cubs fans, but there are also the unfortunate comments when he called Marshall's president "queer" for seeming to value softball over baseball.
Marty's latest episode of outspoknenness turned his attention to his own fans though for booing Kentucky basketball head coach John Calipari when he threw out the first pitch last week at Great American Ballpark. He not only blasted Reds fans for dissing Coach Cal, but also Kentucky fans for not showing up to support their coach. That about covers all the bases, doesn't it? Here's the quotes from Kentucky.com...
"We're a regional franchise," Brennaman said later in a telephone conversation later in the week, "and Kentucky is a very important part of that region. I said, 'You people ought to be ashamed of yourselves.' "
"That's just stupid," Brennaman said. "For people to get upset over it, it's the most ludicrous thing that I've ever heard of."
"All I hear about is Big Blue Nation, and Big Blue this and Big Blue that," he said in recalling his on-air comments. "I said, I'm frankly surprised and disappointed at the number of Kentucky fans who showed up at the ballpark tonight knowing (Calipari) and his staff and the trophy were all going to be here.
"I guess you're Big Blue fans as long as you don't have to go into your pocket and buy a ticket."
Ouch. I realize you gain some capital with fans when you've been an admired figure in the same place for more than a generation. I can't imagine many other announcers getting away with calling their own fans "stupid" and saying they should be "ashamed" of themselves. While we're at it, local columnist Paul Daugherty also called out the fans in attendance for booing:
"For people to react the way they did is typical of Cincinnati," Daugherty said. "It shows a lack of grace on our part. What is so bad about at least being quiet while Kentucky is being honored for a pretty nice feat?"
Cincinnati is in an interesting position. Brennaman is right that the Reds are something of a regional franchise with fans across the tri-state (OH, KY, IN) area. If you listen to 700 WLW, you're likely to hear Kentucky basketball being talked about alongside Cincinnati and Xavier. However, I've never recalled seeing a sign outside Great American Ballpark that says, "You MUST cheer every sports representative within a 100 mile radius." Nowhere does it say Cincinnati Reds fans have to support Kentucky basketball or Kentucky basketball fans have to show up to Reds games to watch their head coach takes part in a meaningless ceremony. And let's be real, John Calipari is not exactly John Wooden in terms of respect and likability.
It just seems to be a needless controversy about nothing. From a sports perspective, Cincinnati has enough issues going on without having to worry about their announcers, fans, and columnists turning on each other.