I’ve been in North Carolina for a week. I know there were ways to watch the Bengals Sunday if I really wanted to. I actually thought they would win the game. But I chose to spend a cloudless day with my wife and let the Bengals do their thing without me. Same with Reds. I’m keeping track of Suarez and his epic homer chase of a Reds record, as well as Aquino’ s exploits, our pitching, Votto’s resurgence (Big surprise- you can hit with power and consistency if you swing at pitches, and swing at them with your hands down by the knob of the bat. Sheeesh).
Anyway, besides paying some attention to my teams from afar, there really is no reason to care deeply about them at this point in their seasons. They aren’t gonna win anything. Worse, it’s not hard to imagine the unthinkable, that for the rest of my lifetime it probably WON’T matter, and living without them dominating my life wouldn’t be that big of a deal. What would change this thinking? Surprisingly, not that much. Of course, it’s easy to spend an owner’s money, but Reds and Bengals management both stubbornly refuse to do what it takes to make their teams relevant again.
Mike Brown might remember the first player his dad took in the Bengals initial draft was center Bob Johnson. I don’t think Johnson was ever the best center in the league, but his pick illustrated how important the offensive line was to Paul Brown. During PB’ s reign here, fans were frustrated that the Bengals didn’t do more, spend more, to get over the top and win a championship. There were many disappointments, especially when Brown didn’t hire Bill Walsh. But the Bengals of his era won enough to stay relevant most of the time and exciting a good part of the time. The 2019 Bengals have one glaring weakness that is keeping them irrelevant – the offensive line. It’s too late to rehash the stupid decisions letting Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler go. The move this past off-season was to find two or three guys to solidify the line, provide blocking for Joe Mixon and protection for Andy Dalton. It’s possible with a better offensive line the Bengals win both of their close games. 2-1 instead of 0-3 looks pretty relevant, especially in the AFC North this year. The Bengals decided to just leave their offensive line a smoking ruin going into this season. “Hey, we got Billy Price and Andre Smith! What could go wrong?” They also have a lineman who’s been in concussion protocol for a month now.
That must’ve been some concussion.
The line is not the Bengals only problem but it’s a problem that could be fixed relatively cheap. Instead they broke camp with a team that everyone knew couldn’t win. No wonder Zac Taylor is already freaking out. He probably knows how close his team is to winning at least a few games. Next year he’ll be pleading with ownership (a Brown) to bring in better players and he’ll get the same answer Sam Wyche got, “My way or the highway Sammy my boy! I’m planning to win 350 and lose 450 again over the next 20 years. Don’t let the door hit you….” It pains me to revisit that awful time in Bengals history. Firing Sam would have been the stupidest managerial decision in Cincinnati history, but Brown trumped himself soon after by hiring Dave Shula. “What was next”, fans wondered? A blind placekicker?Around this same time Marge was dumping Lou Piniella, one of the best managers the Reds ever had. All this led to more pain than a 20 year kidney stone for Cincinnati sports fans. From the looks of things a lot of fans have already jettisoned the Reds and Bengals from their everyday lives. Most kids my son’s age never cared. What if the Bengals or Reds finally win something and no one was there to see it?