It’s not my voice in this column, it’s that of my fellow citizens of I-275, including your Cincinnati Reds.
Because what happened this weekend wasn’t the end of a 31-year playoff winning streak. It was a total shift of responsibility half a mile upriver. The entire sports world is now looking at the stadium, which is not shaped like a football, with raised eyebrows: Well?
It’s interesting to see how the Reds media machine has dealt with the Bengals’ achievement, who now have no punch line. It wasn’t politics to ignore the situation, especially since the two exchange charming opening-day greetings and vain playoff good wishes from time to time.
So Saturday’s presentation was sincerely (if an updated link now shows that the Reds logo has its traditional colored C back, the C here is Bengalsfied):
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) January 15, 2022
The next tweet was this:
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) January 15, 2022
Because the best PR move here is to remind everyone that the last time the Reds hoisted a commissioner’s trophy, the Reds were smoking indoors…on planes…just inches away other people.
What was next in the Twitter timeline? Surely the Reds would have something to congratulate after the final whistle?
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) January 16, 2022
We’re going to fake it never happened.
Not really. It’s not the Reds’ responsibility to put the Bengals in perspective. However, it is the responsibility of the Reds to turn themselves in himself in perspective.
But some thought the Bengalis didn’t necessarily handle it any better:
SEND THIS TEXT.
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) January 16, 2022
This, of course, relates to the much-shared fact that, up until this weekend, there had never been a text message about a Bengals playoff win. The Bengals’ victory ended in 1991; Texting began in 1992. Does this tweet cleverly confirm the obvious, or does it hark back to three decades of self-sabotage?
But the bigger question here is: What did the Bengalis do that the Reds didn’t?
Is it Zac Taylor?
Is it Joe Burrow?
Is it both? Is it the combination of them and other parts? Totally Stupid Oval Happiness? Something else?
How did that happen, and how are the Reds copying it at the baseball level?
It was a strange situation for me to be so intensely and emotionally involved in this recent no-text win. In the years since, my last spark of concern for the Bengals has been snuffed out by an endless string of embarrassing player arrests, then smothered by the 2016 Pittsburgh debacle, and eventually completely wiped out by the NFL as an institution and the NCAA as a de facto minor league.
But as I sat with my husband, who wanted to know what the Ickey Shuffle was when the actual Ickey was shuffling, and I heard the crowd screaming so loud the raiders were forced to cower against the noise, I remembered, how that felt. It rumbled a long, long time ago, and I took a nap in the third quarter, but I recognized the echo. The people in the stadium were willing for this to happen.
— Mary Beth Ellis (@Mary_Beth_Ellis) January 15, 2022
I wasn’t the only one unloading online:
I need videos of fans crying or going crazy. I’m in their living rooms, bars or at the game? #Whey
— Willie Anderson (@BigWillie7179) January 16, 2022
There was a lot Crying in living rooms:
I broke down when I FaceTimed my kid in college. In 2015 I carried him to bed, tucked him in and apologized for making him do it. But I told him it would happen one day. pic.twitter.com/Bbsw53VNLu
— Devin Sirkus (@devinsirkus) January 16, 2022
— Aaron Bacot (@doubleAron77) January 16, 2022
And outside the stadium:
My buddy and I exit the game pic.twitter.com/si600BxNI2
— Michael (@enmymike) January 16, 2022
But this one is my favorite:
My wife caught this from me and my boys — she knew the result because she saw the ESPN app that predated our stream pic.twitter.com/EF8n5dhYaX
— Tiger Cannon (@tiger_cannon) January 16, 2022
This one is my favorite because it’s the soul center of tears: it’s a dad and his boys (or boys and new girl, depending on who’s crying in the background) sharing the moment. I had that too. I wasn’t much older than those little fellas when I remembered sitting on the couch with my big sister and our dad yelling “Go Ickey!” on TV, and although one of his last phrases on this planet was “Same old Bengals” in 2010, it’s always a part of me. I hope these little Cincinnatians do too.
These are the actual definitions of first world problems. These are beautiful living rooms where we all cry. Some videos are from well-stocked bars; others from Germany, Vegas and dormitories. There are bigger challenges than the inability to add championship sweatshirts to the closet stack for 3 decades.
But why did we put up with the gaps? Are the Bengalis not embarrassed by this outpouring? That it took so long?
Are the reds? If so, what are they doing about it?
And how long will we wait?