Where do I even begin with this one? The title basically says it all and if you’re a Cincinnati sports fan like myself, then seriously, where do we begin? I guess I’ll start with some basic information for you all.
I’m 25 years old, placing me in the glory days of the nineties, 1994. Born and raised outside of Cincy in Hamilton, Ohio. I love all the local teams, Reds, Bengals and Bearcats included. I missed out on all the fun, the Big Red Machine and the 1990 Reds team, the 1980’s Bengals and even the Bob Huggins’ led Bearcats basketball teams.
You could say it’s a classic case of me being born at the wrong place, at the wrong time. And before all you older cats tell me I’m still young, that’s beside the point. I may have a lot of time ahead of me and I may not, no one truly knows. Anyways, enough talk of mortality. I missed out on those great teams and the only memories I have of them are my parent’s/ family’s stories and any other older person I know that was around to witness those teams. At this point, I’m sick of the stories and I want to be able to tell and write my own.
Now, the Reds just finished a sixth-consecutive losing season and are once again watching from home in October. Just another season of me not caring about late-season baseball. As for the Bengals? Well, they’re currently 0-6 and looking at a real possibility of going winless this season. The Bengals are the new Browns basically.
Who’s angry? I am, and you should be too.
If it sounds like I’m bitter and pissed off, it’s because I am. I am pissed that the people that raised me got to see the heyday of the local teams. I am pissed hearing all of the glory stories my entire life. I am pissed how the Reds still hang their hats on championship teams from over forty years ago and another 29 years ago, and how they continue to milk those teams for ticket sales without putting a winning product out today. You know what I mean, Johnny Bench or Joe Morgan Bobblehead nights, or 1975/76 and 1990 reunion nights at GABP. I’m sick and tired of it all.
I’m also pissed that the Bengals are mired in an ownership of carelessness with no end in sight. It was only just four years ago when the Bengals started off 8-0 and a deep playoff run looked to be possible. A lot changes in four years when Mike Brown is still the guy calling shots and does absolutely nothing to improve his team during that stretch.
But do you know what really gets under my skin? The one thing that makes my blood boil? The righteous Cincinnati fans that act like you are a “fake” or “fairweather” fan for wanting and demanding more out of your teams. That’s what really makes me mad. You all know who you are, the same fans that actually got to witness those teams I mentioned and know what it’s like to watch a winner.
Maybe it’s time for you all to look at yourselves in the mirror and realize that you were lucky to even experience those teams and that maybe, just maybe, that your perspectives on our teams are different than mine (and many others) based off the vastly different experiences/ circumstances you witnessed compared to us younger fans. Just a thought. But yes, let’s just blindly continue to support the decisions that the owners/ management of our losing franchises keep making – it’s worked really well for us over the last couple decades right?
The smoking gun(s)
In my lifetime, I’ve seen the Reds make the playoffs literally only three times in 25 years, not counting the 1995 season because I was one year old and obviously can’t remember that. That’s 12% of my life. A measly and lowly 12%. And when they have made the playoffs? Don’t get me started. The Roy Halladay no-no. The 2012 epic collapse. And the 2013 “Cueeeeeeto” game against the Pirates.
Somehow, the Bengals who have never even won a championship (unlike the Reds) have offered me more success. They’ve made the playoffs seven times in my 25 years, slightly better at 28%. But when they have made the playoffs? Again, don’t get me started. They haven’t won one single game of those seven contests. Zero for seven. Carson Palmer’s knee. The Jets and Texans. The Chargers. Then, the 2015 season when it all finally came together until Andy Dalton broke his thumb, the 2015 Wild Card debacle against the dreaded Steelers.
The 2012 Reds series and the 2015 Bengals-Steelers game still to this day burn a hole in my heart that I have not recovered from, and probably won’t recover from until one of these teams (if ever, honestly) breakthrough and win it all. It really is some kind of sick and twisted joke that somehow every time we do have a team that is good enough to do just that, they find a way to fall flat on their face and continually embarrass the entire city.
Then there is the UC Bearcats. They’ve offered me the most joy and excitement of my three teams without as much disappointment, but low and behold, the disappointment is still there. Remember the 2018 NCAA Tournament game against Nevada? You know, the one where we blew a 22 point lead, in something like ten minutes to lose the game under arguably Mick Cronin’s most talented team he ever had? Yeah, I don’t like to remember it either. I’ve seen the ‘Cats make it to one Sweet 16, and that’s the farthest I ever remember them making it. I’m not old enough to remember the early nineties Final Four teams, or the Kenyon Martin-led Bearcats of the early 2000s.
Constant early bounces from the tournament echos my existence as a Bearcat basketball fan. At least I got to watch the 2008 and 2009 Bearcats football teams shock the world and become a powerhouse in the Big East before that conference fell apart in football, leaving the Bearcats in purgatory in the AAC.
But seriously, weren’t those Bearcat teams fun to watch? Tony Pike dialing it up to Mardy Gilyard and Kenbrell Thompkins. And I’ll never forget the 2009 “Big East Championship Game” where Cincinnati looked dead against Pitt, before roaring back in the second half and taking the lead late on a Pike to Thompkins miracle TD. That’s probably my ultimate memory as a Cincy sports fan. But even still, 2008 and 2009 saw zero BCS Bowl Game victories, and added more disappointments for me to always remember.
Maybe I just need a break
If I’m being honest with you all and myself, it’s not just those games that have me down. It is the entirety of it all. Not just the playoff disappointments, but all the losing that preceded and followed it all. The losing and the seemingly unwillingness to improve. The Reds and Bengals have both fallen off a cliff since the earlier parts of this decade, and to be honest again, the future looks more bleak everyday.
So tell me again Reds and Bengals homers, do I sound like a “fake” or “fairweather” fan to you? I can assure you I’m not. I know more about these teams than the average fan and my room is decked out in Reds, Bengals and Bearcats gear and decor everywhere you look. The best Christmas gift I ever received was a Carson Palmer jersey in 2007, still hanging in my room. Simply put, my patience is running thin. The two decades of futility, disappointments and underachievements that I’ve witnessed have taken its toll on me.
It surely can’t last forever, you would think anyways. It took the Chicago Cubs 108 years to win another World Series. Some professional sports teams have never even been to/ won a title, so yeah, maybe we could go the rest of our lives not seeing anything brought to the city of Cincinnati. With the future of the Bengals looking uncertain with the current stadium lease expiring in 2026 and the fanbase slowly turning against it, then it may be all up to the Reds to bring us joy once again.
Until then? I’ll keep rooting for my teams, because, well, who the hell else am I going to root for? The Yankees? The Steelers? Ohio State? You expect those teams to win so what’s the fun in that? When the Reds finally win another World Series or the Bengals bring the Lombardi Trophy home (LOL), it will only be that much sweeter for us fans who endured so much to finally see it. I’m not getting my hopes up, though.