In the day after my beloved Cincinnati Reds imploded, giving up 7 runs in the bottom of the 9th inning to fall out of first place, I see what is in store for me this season...
I'm sure alot of you can relate to things of this nature, unless you're the classic team flopper.
Over the past 2 decades (with the exception of my Florida Gators and Puttsburgh Penquins) I have been maybe the most tortured sports fan in this great country. In a way, I guess it serves me right. As a young boy, when I was figuring out the sports world, rooting for certain teams, etc,
the teams I became fans of were all winners. I wasn't the only young lad to root for the likes of Dan Marino, Pete Rose, and John Stockton, but now eras pass, ownerships change, and the entire landscape of sports is adjusted, including the futures of storied franchises.
I would imagine it was about 1982, around the age of 5, relatives of mine from South Florida would speak of Don Shula and the Miami Dolphins at family gatherings. I'll be honest, their bright colors and my lifelong pattern of going against the norm (Steelers fans where I come from) were my biggest reasons for following them. In the years to come, I followed my Dolphins and the uber exciting Dan Marino though years of playoff failures. Even making trips to Buffalo in back to back years with my Old Man, only to see shootout losses at the expense of the K-Gun. I've seen regime change after regime change. Coach after coach (Nick Saban can catch the clap and his hands can contract arthritis so he can't relieve himself for all I care). QB after QB failed me. In 2001 we went 11-5, had the number 1 defense in football...the next year we trade for RB Ricky Williams who rushed for 1800+ yds and 16 TDs, we have the #3 defense in the NFL...and we go 9-7? How does this happen Coach Wannstadt? Seriously?
Then you have the trading of a "washed up" Wes Welker, the decision to sign Duante Culpepper over Drew Brees, the Run Ricky Run saga, and so on and so forth.
I have yet to see my team win an NFL Chamionship. This year could be different. We have a big big big Defense (Parcells philosophy), a good young QB, 2 great backs and a game changing WR...I won't be getting my hopes up though.
1984...while playing Little League in the small community of Mingo Jct ,which I excelled at as a youngster, I played for the Reds. Now as many kids of that era, I wore my Reds cap everywhere. To school, to the pool (yes I swam on gamedays...sorry Coach Frieling), and so on and so forth. They were my team. As luck would have it, my Mom was a big Reds fan. I guess living in the 70's and if you were from Ohio it was easy. So I listened the stories of Pete Rose (a HALL of FAMER!!!!! Get over it commish), Joe Morgan and Dave Conception. Not to take anything away from my Dad's Yankees stories, I still say Mickey Mantle was the most talented player to ever put on spikes, but our rival in Little League was the Yankees. I couldn't be a Yankees fan. It just wasn't an option. We actually followed Pete Rose to a few stadiums looking to get #4192 (it happens after we had to return home of course). Later on I witnessed some success, my beloved Charlie Hustle banned from the sport I loved, a few 2nd place finishes...then The 1990 World Series.
Ahhhh yes, a four game sweep of the heavily favored Oakland Athletics. The Bash Brothers and Tony LaRussa were swept by a bunch average players and a very injured, although courageous, Eric Davis. It was awesome. Just awesome...and the fact we beat the local favorite Pirates made it sweeter. I wore my Reds hat to school all year.
Following that the Reds had some success. An NLCS appearance, a couple division titles etc. In 1999, we lost a one game playoff with the eventual NL Champs the NY Mets. We had a good season, 90+ wins...and that off season we signed Cincinnati Arch Bishop Moeller HS grad, AL MVP Ken Griffey Jr. Wow, the excitment. I honestly didn't think we would lose a game....
We've had one winning season since. 1
This year could be different. We have a young, talented and hungry ball club off to a good start (last night was tough though). I won't be getting my hopes up though.
Basketball. It took me a little while to really get into hoops. My family and friends rooted for either the Celtics, Bulls or Cavs. I watched all of them. Larry was outstanding, Michael was, well Michael, but when I saw an undersized John Stockton, a hulking figure in Karl Malone and a mountain city embracing and supporting them like no other, and when I saw them take the Lakeshow or Showtime 7 games in the Western Conference finals...I was hooked.
After that...9 years of 50+ wins and early playoff exits. Then Jordan retires. Opening the door for everybody else. Well, the Rockets beat us in the Conference Finals in back-to-back seasons on their way to NBA Chamionships. Then...we beat em. A 3 pointer as time expires to get us to the NBA Finals. To play...the Bulls and Michael. Dammit.
We get back the following year with the best record in the league and home court. Again, we play the Bulls and Michael. Same results.
Since then we have had limited success. Playoff runs here and there with a young team, but nothing really gets me too excited.
Now I will say, we have the best PG in the league, a solid core and a lottery pick (thanks Isaiah), and an outstanding coach...but again I have yet to see my team win an NBA Championship.
Maybe next year will be different?
This ramble was brought about by my Reds totally collapsing yesterday, but has been brewing for quite some time. I'm sure that most all of you can relate in some way, shape or form to what I'm speaking of and we are forced to ask ourselves...what makes us follow this thing they call sport?
It's because the hope of raising that trophy on National TV will be a part of our life and something we can share with our kids, nieces, nephews and friends that will make that moment live forever.