I hope you all enjoyed following the Reds Caravan this year.  For me personally, it’s an amazing experience that keeps getting bigger and better.  I’m very fortunate to travel each year on one of the three motorcoaches with my dear friends Ryan Rizzo, Bob Miller, Chris Welsh, Lee MayBrandon Phillips, Tucker Barnhart and yes, “Mercury” Marty Brennaman.  After seven years with the same core group, it actually feels like we are part of an extended family.  Lee’s  absence this year made things seem a bit incomplete despite a solid substitute performance by our buddy Todd Benzinger.   (Lee had Reds Fantasy Camp obligations during this year’s Caravan).

If you’re a frequent follower of Better Off Red, you know we have self-appointed ourselves as the “Rock Stars.”  The truth is, our perceived self-importance is a contrived act designed to generate banter between our other two “rival” groups.   It makes an otherwise long four days on the road a little more fun.  Trust me when I say the “Rock Stars” are completely aware of how ridiculous we are.  I think our pals on the other two tours would agree with that “ridiculous” part.  Hopefully our absurd antics aren’t taken too seriously.

The Caravan doesn’t exist without the heavy lifting done by our support staff and advance team.  They are the people behind the scenes who don’t get to watch movies on the bus or nap when they feel a bit road weary.  Nope, they’re the ones doing most of the work and it would be silly to pretend otherwise.  For our tour it was Patrick McGrath, Matt Cherry, Shannon Senger, Kristen Meyers, Katie Busching, Mark Harlow and the one and only Nick “Gapper” St. Pierre.  Each of the thee tours have these groups and they are the folks directly responsible for making the Reds Caravan the best in the biz.

Something I couldn’t help but notice during this year’s Caravan stops was the enormity of the crowds.  All of our public “fan” stops were attended by so many Reds supporters that, at times, it became overwhelming.  This is great for the organization.  However, the enormous crowds do sometimes create issues.  Our Caravan stops (and travels) are precisely timed, rigidly scheduled and strictly maintained.   Thus, when the group is scheduled to depart a certain venue at a specific time, there’s no wiggle room or flexibility.  This means there are some folks that don’t get a chance to get autographs or meet members of the traveling group.  Obviously, it’s in the Reds’ best interest to accommodate all of the fans, but logistically, sometimes it’s just not possible.

Believe me when I say we really try to do our best to make everyone happy; this is evident by keeping the Caravan a free event (many other teams charge admission and for autographs) and especially evident when @DatDudeBP leaves the table to walk the autograph line to sign for everyone that may not otherwise make it through in time.  That’s called taking the extra step to making the fan’s experience a positive one and it’s also called “Brandon doing his thing.”

Speaking of Dat Dude, he is easily the most accommodating star player I’ve ever been around.  Is he flashy?  Sure.  Is he a hot dog? Absolutely.  Has he ever lost the idea of how important our fans are?  Not one iota.  Instead, he is a PR dream.  Brandon usually has a smile on his face and he’s always respectful and grateful for the support he receives from his adoring fans.  He’s a great player, sure, but it’s his “fan-friendliness” that puts him on my short-list of favorite players.  To site an example: when we were at the Lima Mall for the huge Caravan stop, Brandon took a breather from walking the line to sit down and chat with long-time Reds fan and World War II Veteran Frank Clark, who traveled from Bluffton, OH to support the club.  It wasn’t scripted, it wasn’t contrived, it was simply Brandon doing his thing.


My buddies and colleagues on the other two Caravan tours checked in with similar stories and reported similar large crowds.  It all makes me proud to be part of this event and especially proud to be a member of this organization.

Thank you to everyone who traveled this year to a Caravan stop or followed along online.  We appreciate it very much!

After four days on the road, I am happy to be back home.  But I know it won’t be long until I start looking forward to the next Caravan tour.  In the meantime, we have some baseball to play and a championship to win.  I’m beyond excited about the 2013 season.

Expect good news

(2013 Reds Caravan: Northern Tour)



This was my first year attending any of the caravan stops. I made it to Louisville and Lexington. It was outstanding! I loved every minute of it, and had a blast!

We attend the caravan every year, usually the northern tour. Brandon Phillips is our favorite, although we enjoyed Gapper’s run-in with the chairs in Parkersburg. 🙂

Jamie, Just want to say another fine job of reporting on the caravan!! You guys not only have the awesome experience of the caravan, but of experiencing it with your close friends as well. Congratulations again. Mama Riz

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