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Craig Fehrman


Which Side Were We On in the Civil War? It’s Complicated.

Looking back from the cool vantage point of the 21st century, the battle lines of the Civil War seem clearly delineated: North vs. South, with Cincinnati proudly on the banks of the winning side. But a new book by U.C. professor Christopher Phillips lifts the veil of history to reveal a city divided by its allegiances more than we might care to remember.

Donald Ray Pollock’s Dark New Thriller is a Good Dose of Southern (Ohio) Gothic

Set in 1917, the novel follows three brothers in the nowhere-near-Reconstructed South who decide to steal and murder their way to a better life.

Bottom of the Order

It’s generally assumed that the Reds will struggle this season, but is there a plan in place to turn things around soon?

The Enigma of Mr. 105

In which we ponder the sometimes crazy, occasionally confounding, reliably complicated life of Aroldis Chapman, the fastest pitcher on earth.

Chris Mack’s Favorite Reds Memory

Baseball is about memories. Every kid remembers his or her first time in the stands for a real big league game. We remember the winning hits, the career milestones, the World Series victories. The Reds boast a history longer and richer with success than most, giving locals plenty to look back on. In this series, prominent Cincinnatians tell us about their own favorite Reds memories. First up is Xavier men’s basketball coach—and Cincinnati native—Chris Mack, who shares his memory of two Reds-Phillies games at Riverfront Stadium during the late ’80s. For more on Mack, check out the magazine’s profile from the March issue.

A Little Pick-Me-Up After a Lost Series

Reds fans, a reminder: It’s still early. That means it’s awfully early to get worked up about losing two out of three to the Cardinals (especially after salvaging the final game in walk-off fashion). But it’s also awfully early to have this many grievances against Dusty Baker. We've explored his tenuous position before, and, so far, the Reds' skipper hasn't done himself any favors: sending Todd Frazier to AAA, keeping Aroldis Chapman in the bullpen, leaving Bronson Arroyo in long enough to turn a good start into a sour one.

What’s in Dusty Baker’s future?

With Opening Day closing in, we’re doing a few short posts on the major storylines that will likely dominate your conversations about the Reds this season. You can find the previous installment, about Devin Mesoraco, here.

It appears we can add a few names to the list of people who are skeptical about Dusty Baker. In addition to pretty much every Reds fan ever, Bob Castellini and Walt Jocketty seem uneasy about the Reds' skipper. At the very least, they're waiting to commit longterm: Baker's contract expires at the end of the year, and his lameduck status—and how that status will affect his managing—remains one of this season's defining questions.

Before we get to Baker's shortcomings, though, we should note what he's good at. I'd say the biggest positive is that he's a "player's manager." This is one of those hoary cliches that is easy to ignore and impossible to prove. Still, there's something to it. A couple years ago, this magazine interviewed Joey Votto and asked him why Baker was a good guy to play for:

Mack in Your Face

Cincinnati knows Chris Mack as an award-winning coach with local roots. But to really know Mack—to understand him—it helps to start with McAuley High School, circa 1993. Because before Mack became the celebrated (and well-compensated) coach  of the Xavier University men’s basketball team, he coached at that small all-girls school in College Hill. Before he stalked the sidelines of the $46 million Cintas Center, he  led the McAuley Mohawks junior varsity in a gym with no air-conditioning and a ceiling so low full-court passes made both teams nervous. Before he became one of those hot prospects bigger schools lust after—just like Xavier ex-pats Thad Matta and Sean Miller—he hustled straight from his job at Home City Ice to McAuley’s cramped locker room. (No AC there, either.)

A Major League Mistake

Early this summer, on one of those sweltering Cincinnati afternoons, Mike Brown walked into a meeting. The Bengals owner, along with a troupe of lawyers and staff, needed to review the new agreement that would finally bring some stability to Hamilton County’s beleaguered stadium fund. Every year that fund, and the half-cent sales tax that sustained it, paid off a little more of the Bengals’ Paul Brown Stadium and the Reds’ Great American Ball Park. But the fund paid for a lot more besides, and after years of patches and accounting tricks, the county was now staring at an annual shortfall of around $30 million.

That’s the Ticket

If everyone loves a winner, well, from May 13 to May 19, the Cincinnati Reds gave fans every reason to come to a game. The team won five of seven at Great American Ball Park, swept the St. Louis Cardinals, slid briefly into first place, and became the talk of the baseball world. On ESPN, Tony Kornheiser marveled at the emerging rivalry betwe