- Eamonn Brennan, ESPN Staff Writer
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When you win a national title, you get to do lots of fun stuff -- ribbon-cutting celebrations, baby-signing sessions, the works. One of the tried and true post-championship honors is the first pitch. Kentucky coach and reigning national champion John Calipari got his crack at such an honor last week, and the result was about what you'd expect from an athletic guy like Coach Cal.
What you probably wouldn't have expected: An outpouring of anger from Cincinnati Reds fans over the team's decision to honor Calipari and the Wildcats. From the Lexington Herald-Leader's John Clay:
Owner Robert Castellini thought he was doing a good marketing deed by honoring the Kentucky basketball national championship before Tuesday night's game. [...] And yet, Lance McAlister, host of WLW's Sportstalk, reports most of his Monday night show was occupied by callers complaining about the Reds honoring the Big Blue.
"Non-stop calls for 90 minutes," McAlister said Tuesday morning. "One caller said he'd refuse diamond seats if offered. It was stunning. And yet hilarious. I said it was the single dumbest debate I'd ever heard from Cincinnati fans."
In response, some UK fans have vowed not to frequent GABP, despite the fact that it is the Reds, not their fans, honoring Cal and the Cats.
If anything, that just goes to show the wide range of fans that live in and around the Cincinnati area. If you're not from the area, you wouldn't think of Cincinnati as a Kentucky town, so to speak, but Lexington is just an hour and 40 minutes from Cincinnati, and Clay reports there are "10,800 UK alums in Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky." So it makes sense why the Cincinnati Reds owner would want to honor the national champion from just down the highway. It also makes sense -- given that the Reds serve as the de facto team of interest for many people from Southern Indiana, Louisville, as well as the surrounding Ohio area -- that there would be a wide range of callers less than pleased about the honor.
As John writes, no good deed goes unpunished. And apparently no Calipari public appearance comes without its fair share of polarization. Nothing new there.