Tuesday, October 7, 1997
Reds need to forget about Bengals


BY PAUL DAUGHERTY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Sharonville would be better. The Sharonville Reds. Lots of highways in Sharonville. Convenient to Cincinnati, Dayton and Bristol's Show Club. It has to be Sharonville.

Unless it's Newport. The Newport Reds. The Greater Northern Kentucky Cincinnati Reds, hosted by Newport. Give the Ohio side of the river a shot at some glassy restaurants with a view. Newport is the place.

Unless it's Bellevue. I like Bellevue. From there, I could hit two of my favorite places at the same time: the ballpark and The Party Source.

The Reds are pondering "alternate sites" for their palace of the future. They think Hamilton County's offer to spend some $200 million of our money on a Reds stadium - which, as we have learned, is sort of a floating estimate - is insulting, degrading and laughable. And, of course, unfair.

(By the way, isn't it odd the team that had to be on the river suddenly considers Sharonville a port city?)

The Reds think they have leverage enough to force the county into greater giveaways, the way the Bengals did. This is like the naked emperor threatening not to wear Bill Blass' fall collection. But what the hey.

Show a little gratitude

If the Reds want to try to muscle the county, swell. Put me down for Bellevue.

Just get this thing done. Because frankly, the way they're going now, by the time this deal is made and this ballpark is built, no one is going to give a damn.

The Reds leak goodwill, drop by drop. They think they're fighting a war of survival, and maybe they are. But no one wants to hear it. This is what we want to hear from the Cincinnati Reds:

"Thank you for the free stadium. Put it where you like. Hopefully, it will encourage the kind of economic development you've envisioned."

What really hangs the Reds up, what kills them, what has confounded a deal ad nauseam, is their wish for a lease comparable to the Bengals. Freud would call it Bengal Envy. The Reds need to get over it.

The county didn't negotiate with the Bengals so much as fall on bended knee and kiss the team's foot. Those hoping for re-election will not make that mistake again.

The last time I talked to Bob Bedinghaus was Aug. 14, when he said, "If the Reds want to talk about a deal that's competitive with a football agreement, we're likely to still be here a year from now."

Get down to business

I feel sorry for the Reds. They are a small market club in a sport that rewards big spenders. Three of baseball's Final Four - the Braves, the Marlins and the Orioles - are among the top five in salaries. The thought of living through an immediate future of Reds down-sizing is depressing.

But the fact that Major League Baseball can't get its act together long enough to agree on a salary cap or serious revenue sharing or anything else is not Hamilton County's problem.

The Bengals got what they got because they would have left the city if they didn't. Football teams are allowed freer movement than baseball teams. That's just how it is. Extortion is a dirty business. In the NFL, it works.

If the Reds want equal treatment with the Bengals, they should buy some shoulder pads and apply for an NFL expansion team. Cleveland has a vacancy.

Failing that, they should just get on with it.

The Reds suggesting they will "explore alternate sites" is sad and pathetic and wins them no sympathy. Breaking off talks with the county won't work. Like it or not, the two are joined at the hip pocket. They're stuck with each other.

No other town or group of towns has the economic muscle to help the Reds. Ultimately, they must deal with Hamilton County.

Which makes all this dancing and rhetoric pointless and dull. Now then. Go back to the table. Sit down. Behave like adults. Be realistic. Understand your limitations. Know who has the leverage. Stop carping about the Bengals.

Shut up and play ball. So to speak. Do it now.

REDS MAY SHOP AROUND TRISTATE FOR STADIUM
LEASE INTERPRETATION AT ISSUE
NEWPORT NOT BITING; PLENTY OF OTHERS WOULD
IF REDS KEEN ON KY., IT"S BEING KEPT QUIET
REDS LEAVING? AGAIN? SORRY, I DOZED OFF Laura Pulfer column
PREVIOUS STADIUM STORIES
REDS PAGE
DAUGHERTY ARCHIVE

Enquirer columnist Paul Daugherty welcomes your comments at 768-8454.