"There's what's-his-name, honey."
"The guy I'm paying $3 million a year to sit on his butt."
"Yeah. Three million, sweetheart. For crying out loud." Rijo, the 1990 World Series MVP, who actually is making $6.15 million this season, hasn't pitched for the Reds since July 18, 1995, because of a serious elbow injury.
"It's kind of a circus atmosphere, but you do your job," says Larkin, the 1995 National League MVP "The only thing I don't like is when the dog takes a crap at shortstop, because I might have to dive into that s—-."
Even though Cincinnati won the 1990 World Series and was the NL Central champion last year, anybody in baseball will tell you privately that the Reds are leaking oil three lanes wide. They routinely lose their best scouts to better-paying clubs. Attendance is down for the second straight year. In the playoffs last year there were more than 12,000 unsold seats for one game at Riverfront and more than 8,000 for another. For some reason, aside from Bowden, who is considered one of the best young executives in the game, top-notch baseball minds aren't inclined to come to work in an office chilled to 55° for substantially less than what other teams are paying, bringing their own tissues to the office and wondering who else is listening to their phone messages.
The Reds don't often bid for high-priced free agents, which is fine with Schott, who prefers to bring in players from her farm teams. But Cincinnati's minor league system is unraveling. Baseball America recently listed the top 100 teenage prospects, and no one in the Reds' organization was listed in the top 50. No problem. One day recently Schott returned from seeing a thrilling trapeze act and had a great idea. "We need to start checking that circus for ballplayers," she reportedly told a member of her staff. "There are some real athletes there."
Another of her ideas is to have a woman playing on her team. "I've got my scouts looking for a great girl," Schott says. "Wouldn't that be something? Her coming in and striking all these boys out, honey?"
Incredibly, the county plans to build new stadiums for both the Reds and the NFL Bengals, and town leaders are petrified about the influence Schott might have over the new ballpark. Pay toilets? Bugging devices in every showerhead? A dog run in left center? "I just wish she'd get out," says one source high in the Reds' ownership structure. "We all wish she'd get out. She's a despicable person."