This is prime time to be a Cincinnatian, and not because it is too cold for there to be any more race riots or because we realize Jerry Springer is no longer our mayor. No, it is because Cincinnatians are die-hard sports fans, and we all recognize this year to be the one our teams go all the way.
I’ll start with the University of Cincinnati Bearcats. This is a team you might recognize from “Cops: The NCAA.” Rape, assault, DUI, possession of more weed than Cheech and Snoop Dogg combined. Or my personal favorite: punching a police horse. Come on now. Hitting a cop is messed up, but at least he’s human. Did the horse talk about his mom? Was the horse wearing the wrong color silks? And what do you do if you’re that cop and someone punches your horse? This is a situation for which the Police Academy can’t possibly train you well enough.
Let’s not even talk about academic records. The Bearcat basketball program has not graduated a single player in something like six years. They don’t even hold Senior Night anymore.
It’s been a while since UC has done well in the postseason. This is a team that has about as much staying power in crunch-time as a 15-year-old virgin. But, if UC doesn’t make it to the Sweet Sixteen, I’m taking a sniper rifle onto the roof of West and threatening wildly until the NCAA ousts all the major conference teams, leaving only Cincinnati and teams whose names include the words “Technical and Community” or “Barber College.” They’d lose to Des Moines Beauty and Cosmetic.
Cincinnati sports fans are reasonable, though. We know that the Bearcats will win it all, but if that somehow doesn’t happen (injury, illness, nuclear accident), the Reds will win the Series. We know because we have Ken Griffey, Jr. and the usual lineup of guys who hit the cover off the ball in AA. We count on our powerful lineup, since Reds pitchers are easier targets than three-legged deer.
Cincinnati is a town in which the words “pitchers and catchers report” are pretty meaningless. The pitchers reporting are typically whichever hot dog vendors feel like throwing some innings that day.
But damn, them boys can hit. Forget that Barry Larkin is 37, that Junior hasn’t hit the ball or smiled since joining the Reds and that no one else on the entire team has played at a higher level than Danny Almonte before this year. It will happen.
And if it doesn’t (another nuclear accident, Ebola outbreak, team-wide existential crisis), the Bengals have it all wrapped up. It all started last season, when they beat the Ravens and the Patriots, the winners of the last two Super Bowls, plus the seemingly indestructible Pittsburgh Steelers.
(Side note: I was at that game, and it was the greatest game I’ve attended. Since I’ve been able to write cursive, no Cincinnati team has won anything. The Steelers game was so big, I thought we’d burn down the city in celebration… and that game put their record at 5-10. To put this into perspective, the next best sporting event I’ve attended was on my twelfth birthday. I went to an IHL Cincinnati Cyclones game with so many fights there were blood stains on the ice. Which proves the old adage, “If your team can’t win, you can at least hope for blood-stained ice.” Ain’t that the truth.)
On top of those wins, I’ll give you two words: Drew Bledsoe. Admittedly, Bob Kraft loves that Bledsoe has said he won’t accept trades to any “undesirables.”Â This does not bode well for Cincinnati: hell, the Bengals might as well be renamed the Cincinnati Undesirables. This is a team that Trent Dilfer turned down for a chance to compete for a starting job. The only snub more embarrassing is that Elvis “three step drop in 8.6 seconds” Grbac has said no to Cincy – twice! I think he’s considering NFL Europe instead. Hit me with a frying pan; hit me with a frying pan, please. To top it all off, the Bengals signed former OSU coach John Cooper to work as a scout. How many times did you beat Michigan, John? Never? How many big bowls did you go to? Zero? At least he didn’t punch an opposing player in the neck; take solace in the small moral victories.
So perhaps this isn’t “prime time to be a Cincinnatian.” But it’s getting to the point where if one of my teams doesn’t win soon I’ll collapse into the fetal position and weep until security finds me and calls my parents.
Which of course will be to no avail, since they’re Cincinnatians.