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Tough day for Cincy kids

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on October 11, 2010 – 11:00 am

One day you’re a kid living and dying with every one of Luis Tiant’s 163 head snaps, glove gyrations, soft serves, and mustachioed missiles in Game Four on The River as he willed the Red Sox back into the ’75 World Series against the big, bad Red Machine.

Then the next thing you know, your kid is pulling a triple double.

A 10-hour drive to watch the Buckeyes on Saturday in Columbus. Then a 1 p.m. Sunday kickoff to grind through the latest Bengals soap opera. A 5 p.m. stopover amid the red-and-orange sherbet swirl of Fountain Square to eat chili with his sister and take it all in before the speed walk to fantasyland and Great American Ball Park’s first playoff game.

The kid who once looked like Don Zimmer as a baby when he wore a tiny Red Sox hat now has his first job in the city were Zimmer fled the Bostonians who called him “gerbil.” And as you drive him to the airport in the pitch black of an October morning so he can get back to The Apple in time for work, it finally hits you after 20 years.

You may be from New England, but your kids are Cincinnati. And that means Three-Ways and crackers stream through their veins and a box of Chad Ochocincos is on top of her refrigerator in her college apartment and even the non-sports kid looks up from her theater notes to study Joey Votto’s MVP stage presence in the box.

And the kid who once looked like Don Zimmer but now worships at the altar of Mike Zimmer folds the front page of The Cincinnati Enquirer and sticks it in his bag.

“Got to hang it on the wall,” he says.

One day you’ve got posters of Yaz and Havlicek, and Orr on your wall and the next day you walk into a room hanging with Jeff Blake, Barry Larkin, Deion Sanders. This is a kid who played games of 1994 Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball before every college exam.

This is the kid you took to a Larkin autograph signing around that MVP 30-30 season. After a half-hour wait the kid and the dad were up front and Larkin and the dad started to talk since he was only a few years removed from covering the Reds.

“You should have just come up sooner. You didn’t have to wait,” he said.

“If I waited for Yaz for an hour after ‘67,” you said, “he can wait for you.”  

“Old school,” the kid always says now. “1995. I love the old AFC Central with the Oilers and Jacksonville. Now that was a division.”

He gets home at 12:30 a.m. the voice ripped raw by the arms of Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman and Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels. The plane is in five hours but sleep is as elusive as Mike Williams. He pulls out a box of Sizzling Wok from the fridge, attacks it with a fork, and still can’t get a handle on the day. He is wearing a Mr. Reds T-shirt after changing from his Bengals ’08 training camp “Play Fast” T-shirt.

“I yelled on every third down on defense and every 0-2 count,” he says. “The only time I yelled when we had the ball was when Carson had us at the 1 going in. Nobody cared then. We were all standing.”

He shakes his head. The boos Palmer got when he hit his 20,000th career passing yard. This is where you know he grew up in Cincinnati. Polite. Mannerly. In Boston, he would have joined in proudly, like the guy sitting behind me 40 years ago at Fenway who yelled sing-song, “Hey Yaz, your pants are dirty,” after he slid into third.

“How can they boo him?” he asks. “Don’t they realize what he’s meant to this franchise? Don’t they remember Klingler? I mean, I know he hasn’t played great this year, but look at the drops. Look at the pressure. I hope it wasn’t a majority. I mean, I clapped. There were a lot of people clapping.”

His only team that won were the beloved Bucks in one of those nolo contenderes.

“I love college football,” he says. “It’s still so unfair. It’s nice to go to a game and know your team is going to win. You just don’t know by how much.”

But there was that 21-14 lead gone in a blink and the mounting frustration of two-out base runners.

“And we didn’t run Ced,” he says.

Fountain Square, he says, was unbelievable.

“Reds fans, Bengals fans. Everybody in orange and red,” he says. “We had some chili and they had the Dallas game up on the screen. Awesome.”

He is smiling, thinking about Benson nearly walking in for the two-point conversion that gave the Bengals the 21-14 lead with 12:12 until the Reds game.

“You know what I was thinking?” he asks. “I’m thinking, ‘This must be what it is like for Steelers fans every week. We’re just going to run the clock out. It’s fun not having to be desperately throwing down the field to tie it or win it.’ I was actually thinking that. We can just run it out.”

The Steelers are always a looming presence for him. When he went to his first game as a little man back in the days this was Pittsburgh’s ninth home game, he was dressed head to toe Bengals on a cold day. Right down to his gloves. An adult, yes, a grown man, you are told, a Steelers fan, mocked him throughout the first half until he went to the Pro Shop at halftime, came back with Bengals gloves, and set a match to them while the kid watched.

“I love the way Ced runs,” he says, staring into the Sizzling Wok carton.

The plane is getting close. Great day. Tough day. Save the ticket stubs and the paper. Take a bye and hope someone can beat the Phils. Make plans to watch the Falcons game at the bar in The Apple where the Bengals are on every screen and Cincinnati chili is on the menu.

“I still think,” he says, “we can go 5-1 in the division. And get a couple of more somewhere.”

Then you are alone, driving through the pitch blackness of an October morning on The River, much like the one El Tiante tamed the Reds with his soul as much as his stuff.

You wonder where all the time went.

And you hope you don’t end up with a grandkid that looks like Don Zimmer but wears Yankees and Jets hats.

You are where you grew up.


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Posted in Hobson's Choice | 16 Comments »


16 Responses to “Tough day for Cincy kids”

  1. By 2ndboot on Oct 11, 2010 | Reply

    There will always be a new day and a new reason to cheer.
    I’m astonished at the level of poor sportsmanship in fans this year especially this early in the season. partly I understand the frustration because I am frustrated too, but to write them off already is just ridiculous,
    One thing i know for sure is no team ever won because their fans booed or whined them on to victory.
    We don’t have whine leaders on the sidelines, but you would certainly think that was the case.
    Oh well. I’ll stay behind my team no matter what. I have no other options because crying and whining is NOT an option for me.
    WHO DEY!

  2. By 2ndboot on Oct 11, 2010 | Reply

    They’ll right this ship and maybe leave the scampering rats on the shore..

  3. By quntumleap on Oct 11, 2010 | Reply

    Geoff,

    I am about ready to cancel my very expensive club seats after the Bengals debacle this week. This team has no discipline. The coaching staff has no club, Mike Brown, GM has no clue and I am tired of spending a lot of money to see supposed “professionals” play like high school kids. TO and Ocho need to go, Bob B needed to go three years ago. This team doesn’t have an owner who is passionate about winning and the head coach is a “deer in the headlights” joke(Can you say Dave Shula, Bruce Coslett, Dick Lebeau!). I hate Rex Ryan but I would love to have him as our coach. Or slobbering, spitting Bill Cowher. This team is going nowhere and will continue to go nowhere. If I didn’t hate the Steelers so much I would become a Pittsburgh fan. Why can’t the Brown family sell this franchise and become very wealthy and do what Carl Lindner did and give the franchise to someone who has some passion about winning. Not renewing next year, no matter what. I figure I can get good seats the week of the game on Stubhub, Ebay or the scalpers. The Bengals will never win a Super Bowl as long as the Brown family is in control.

    Since 1988 I have wasted so much money. If I would have invested it my retirement income would be significantly higher. No more. I am done.

    John

  4. By kschoenfel01 on Oct 11, 2010 | Reply

    Im sorry 2nd but I’ve been a bengals game my entire life and the one thing frustrating about being a fan is that the entire coaching staff never makes any changes. The NFL is all about changing and trying different sets adapting to your opponent’s strengths/weaknesses, and utilizing that analysis to catch your opponent off guard with clever play calls. Example: Playing the Jets 2 weeks in a row and not adjusting to our opponents. The bengals franchise is beginning to scout/draft players but these players are not worth the pay if we do not use them appropriately. I am so sick of being able to predict which play Bratowski is going to call next as a fan. If I can predict play calls from my T.V. I’m pretty sure the opponent’s coaches can. I love the bengals but having the talent we have and not producing against less talented teams is upsetting. We also need to take more chances downfield and let other teams know we are still a dangerous team instead of throwing 7 yard routes and running the ball all day even though I know that may open up the run game. At least while I watch Brett Favre suck in this Monday night game he still whips the ball around and wants to win more than anything. Carson needs to loosen up and enjoy the game more like he used to and the coaches need to allow him to air the ball out.

  5. By cincymaniac on Oct 12, 2010 | Reply

    when are we going to talk about the play calling not just at the end of the game but just about the whole season

  6. By 2ndboot on Oct 12, 2010 | Reply

    So quit, cancel your tickets and all that.. That’ll show em. It boils down now to, DO YOU DESERVE a winning team? Evidently not.
    if you don’t stick with your team in tough times then you don’t deserve them when they win.
    Cry and whine if you must, but this time last year i didn’t expect much and the wins were sweet.. Nothing much has really changed so don’t go.. Less noise and less lousy fans the way i see it.
    I could care less sif they sell out because I live 1000 miles away anyway and I’m not about to abandon them.
    Maybe this is a good thing.. The poor sports will leave and that’ll perhaps leave better fans who just love our team no matter what.
    I guarantee Mike Brown won’t leave for your benefits. He’s stuck through thick and thin and has never given up and i won’t either.
    FINE! GO AWAY! Didn’t want fans like you anyway..

  7. By kschoenfel01 on Oct 12, 2010 | Reply

    I’m still a fan man, just pointing out things that I can see as a fan that obviously need change and have not (something is wrong with that). A great change they made was Zimmer being hired on defense. Now, we need changes on offense goodbye Brat! WHO DEY! And yes I do deserve a winning team because I have been a fan through the thick and thin. The thing that is frustrating is that I feel that this is our last real chance to win the Super Bowl with the talent we have. It’s just dissapointing that’s all!

  8. By looking4sb1 on Oct 12, 2010 | Reply

    As a fan, i agree that the level of inconsistency does become VERY frustrating. But I’m not about to stop watching. But as a fan, I want to voice my displeasure so that the Brown family doesn’t feel that settling with mediocrity is enough.

    Looking back, I feel that my greatest displeasure is listening to Carson explain away the mistakes that have been made these last few preseasons as “Well, mistakes are just a part of preseason. Our timing will be back by week one.” In my eyes, his timing with the offense has never been back by week one. I think it’s time for Carson to step up his leadership role by stressing the importance of being perfect in practice and in each preseason. He should never give the explanation that things will EVENTUALLY start to gel. Make it happen, now. Practice harder. Stay longer. Don’t leave practice until you get it right.

  9. By coachwine on Oct 13, 2010 | Reply

    All I want to say is that’s it’s a disgrace that there would be enough people in the stands to be heard over the crowd when it was announced that Carson reached his passing milestone. I was disgusted with this team–coaches, players Sunday, but booing Carson when the announcement was made is a disgrace. You may be a paying fan–so what — you’re trash as a human being.

    I was there to see Kenny Anderson booed before Turk Schonert took his place in the Seattle game and led the team back from a three score deficit. The next week Kenny began the process of leading the team to the Super Bowl. I don’t see that happening this season, but if Brat doesn’t mess it up (always a big if) this offense will get untracked.

  10. By 2ndboot on Oct 14, 2010 | Reply

    The only disgrace I see are fans acting like spoiled children when everything doesn’t go their way. The team knows they lost. The coaches know they lost, but fans acting like spoiled moronic brats isn’t going to help them win and sure isn’t going to encourage them to do better. I’m to the point where i hope over half of you DO leave and root for someone else. When they finally start winning again you can all be on the outside looking in, but lucky for you they’ll welcome you back with open arms undeserving as you might be.
    They’ve lost 3 games which HARDLY is grounds for abandoning this team.
    That’s my story and I’m sticking with it. The Bengals are MY TEAM come hell or high water.

  11. By mwindle1973 on Oct 15, 2010 | Reply

    How did some of these people ever make it through 14 straight non-winning seasons.The fact remains is we are one of only a handful of teams fielding enough talent on the roster to actually make a deep playoff run. Teams struggle sometimes. It happens. We could also get it together at some point. It’s not a pipe dream.

    In the meantime, for all those too overwhelmed, talk to a Lions fan!

  12. By mwindle1973 on Oct 15, 2010 | Reply

    I see we worked out Adalius Thomas. Do we really need help on the outside? It has been suggested that we could be looking at him as a MLB on the blogs. I just don’t see it. First he hasn’t played the middle has he? Second he doesn’t know the defense. How long would it take for him to be ready to take over the middle and call the plays?

    I’ll give you this though. Dhani Jones has struggled this season. He’s making bad decisions and is out of position. He’s always been a touch slow and undersized. He can’t afford to be out of position. That’s his game is a mental game. He makes plays by knowing where the ball is going and getting there first.

    I also noticed him struggling late in the season last year. The 2 Jets games being the biggest examples.

    Not quite sure what the problem is. But I wish they’d get it worked out. The problems are all over. It’s not fair to blame it all on the offense. The D has been average, and the STs has benn lackluster at times. We certainly miss some of the utility LBs and safeties we cut. You would think someone would step up by now.

  13. By mwindle1973 on Oct 15, 2010 | Reply

    Well now I see why we need help on the outside. Antwan’s suspension is BS. I don’t think I need to say anything about it. Except the NFL just gave the NFLPA another good piece of evidence to turn the public against the NFL when the lockout comes. There are some things that need changed.

    As far as Thomas, if they think there is any chance he can help us then we should sign him. It’s an uncapped year and we can cut him at will, no strings attached.

    Word is when he tried out earlier for a couple of teams that he was out of shape, lacking focus, and a possible locker room cancer. But he wasn’t fit for what New England wanted him to do. I think Zim and Marv would simply use him to pass rush. Standing up and down. He’s reported some 15 lbs lighter now than in his former tryouts. We could use a quality DE, LB, Hybrid, whatever we want him for.

  14. By mistermc76 on Oct 17, 2010 | Reply

    A couple of comments.

    1. To be a fan does not mean a fan does not complain or want change.
    2. To be a fan does not mean that a team does not need to make changes.

    Don’t let the talk of fans, to want a better team, make you think that these fans have no loyalty.

    Think of your favorite food. If that food was not good the last time you bought it would you never buy again or would you complain?

    A fan complains and still buys the next time.

    A non-fan never buys again and buys something else.

    Fun fact:
    Bob Bratkowski
    In 2001, Bratkowski was offered the job of offensive coordinator with the Cincinnati Bengals, a position he still holds today.

    Dave Shula was hired in 1992 as head coached.

    Think of how many coaches were fired because of a bad offense.

    Yes, Bob Bratkowski, belongs to the Bengals worst decade ever. I would like to leave him there.

    Unfortunately the Browns have a long standing friendship with Brat and that won’t happen.

    Friendship is the only thing keeping him here in Cincinnati, not because of good coaching.

  15. By mistermc76 on Oct 17, 2010 | Reply

    Unfortunately the Bengals, will lose season ticket holders because of the friendship with Brat.

  16. By mistermc76 on Oct 17, 2010 | Reply

    Season ticket holder does not equal fan. A season ticket holder can be a fan but that is not always true. I know plenty of Pittsburgh fans that have Cincinnati season tickets so they can go to the Pittsburgh game, here in Cincinnati. The other games they either sell or just come to watch some football.

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