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The Elly De La Cruz Effect

On April 18th, Elly De La Cruz was a few days away from being activated off the minor league Injured List, and starting his season in Triple-A Louisville. At the same time, the Cincinnati Reds were breaking a franchise record. On the night of the 18th, while hosting the first of a three game series against the league’s best Tampa Bay Rays, Great American Ballpark saw history. Most of the time, when referring to records, we think of them in a positive manner. This couldn’t be farther from it that evening. A paid attendance of just 7,375 was the smallest crowd in the history of the ballpark since opening back in 2003. 

Fast forward a little less than two months later, and the vibe around the city has completely flipped. 24,323 just filled into the stadium on a Thursday day game. The entire three-game series vs the Los Angeles Dodgers brought in just under 66,000. Mind you, this is a Reds team who is currently under .500. Fans knew the type of hype Cruz brought. Not only Reds fans, but fans all across baseball were eagerly waiting to see him in a big league uniform. Elly has called his style of play “electric”. Just how electric was Cincinnati this week?

Elly De La Cruz Has Brought Life To Reds Fans 

Before the game even started Tuesday night, the buzz outside the ballpark could be felt. The team shop had already started selling Elly De La Cruz jerseys, and people were pouring into the street wearing them. Something just felt different. 

Before the first pitch was thrown, and the players came onto the field for their final warm ups, a loud eruption bounced off the downtown skyscrapers as the 6’6” rookie shortstop bounced out of the dugout wearing the famous 44 on his back. You look up the term “must watch” and Elly De La Cruz just might be the definition. If he isn’t, give it time and he will be. With every time Elly stepped towards home plate from the on-deck circle, loud chants of “Elly! Elly! Elly!” filled the air inside the ballpark. The fans that night made sure they were in their seats when he was up to bat. If they weren’t they stopped what they were doing to watch. 

There have been a handful of powerful moments inside Great American Ballpark. From the 2012 Division Series, Homer Bailey’s second no hitter, Todd Frazier’s home run derby win in 2015, to Jay Bruce’s walk off home run on “Clinchmas” in 2010. A 21-year-olds major league debut now ranks up there with them.

The Future Of The Reds Has Arrived

If this is just the beginning to Elly De La Cruz’s career, what more can we expect? Fans in Cincinnati over the past few years have seen the team down the street achieve success when ownership builds a winning team. The Cincinnati Bengals rise to fame is a perfect model for the Reds. Build from within, get a taste of what winning can bring, and go all in for it for years to come. Elly is the type of player you can build around. Now can the Reds do it? 

It’s hard to imagine a player who has three career games under his belt can hold that much value to a fanbase that has struggled for years. Elly De La Cruz shouldn’t have to be looked at as a savior for this team, but can be a player to fill that position perfectly. It was shown how much excitement the fans had for his presence on the team. And as Reds fans, we need that excitement. This team looks so much different than it did on Opening Day. Elly isn’t the only rookie to debut for the Reds this year. He is joining others like Matt McLain, Andrew Abbott, and Brandon Williamson. The future is here for the Cincinnati Reds. 

Tuesday night’s debut reminded me of one thing. There can still be hope for Reds fans. That hope was felt among everyone in the stadium. A new beginning, new chapter, new leaf, anyway you describe it, everyone felt the same. 


Photo Credit- Kareem Elgazzar- USA TODAY Sports

Players Mentioned- Elly De La Cruz, Homer Bailey, Todd Frazier, Jay Bruce, Matt McLain, Andrew Abbott, Brandon Williamson


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