Joey Votto made his triumphant return to the Cincinnati Reds‘ lineup in the team’s second game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, if you were around the Queen City, you heard very little rejoicing from fans. Considering Votto is the best hitter on the roster and the team’s $225 million man, it is kind of startling to see the lack of excitement surrounding his return.
Additionally, news came out that pitcher Mat Latos could possibly be returning to the Reds’ rotation within the week. Yet, like Votto, the news was met with a collective whimper among fans and media. It isn’t that often that a team is able to insert an MVP and Cy Young-caliber pitcher to their roster in June. Such a transaction (even though it isn’t a trade) would normally be met with fanfare and jubilee.
Remember when Votto returned to the Reds in 2012 after being injured? Reds fans rejoiced and were filled with optimism. Yet, for 2014, there is no fanfare or optimism. The response has been completely lackluster.
Perhaps such a reaction is indicative of the season so far for the Reds — lackluster. There haven’t been ‘statement victories’ or ‘game-changing performances’ to give the fans something to rally behind. Likewise for the team, the monotony of winning two games and losing three has to be a difficult obstacle to overcome mentally.
Or, maybe it has to do with the recent history Cincinnati fans have been accustomed to seeing regarding the injuries of their stars. Whether it is Votto seemingly never being the same after his 2012 injury, or Ryan Ludwick never recovering from his 2013 shoulder injury, the fans have very little trust in the Reds when it comes to their handling of injuries.
It could also have to do with the diminished amount of good faith fans are willing to give to the Reds these days. Since 2010, Reds fans have accepted the front office’s public beliefs of seeing the roster as “just a player or two away” from winning a championship. Fans have supported the team throughout the process, as noted by the yearly increases of attendance numbers.
However, following embarrassing playoff performances over the last two years combined with a poor start to 2014, fan patience is starting to wear thin.
For Cincinnati, the excitement surrounding the return of Votto and Latos is unfortunately indicative of the 2014 season in its present form. While there is hope in the heart of fans that these returns will start an unprecedented run, their mind (and past history) tells them otherwise.