Unless under extreme circumstances such as attaining the occasional Super Bowl, we don’t welcome New Things very well here in Cincinnati. The tinsel Christmas decorations in downtown Cheviot are exactly the same ones from my childhood and for all I know date back to the first actual Christmas.

This is why, when the Reds rocketed to a first-place start despite expectations of –well, exactly the nightmare we saw on Opening Day—we didn’t trust it at all.  We still don’t. “I’m frightened,” I typed on Facebook over a screenshotted tweet celebrating the fact that the Reds had the best record in all of baseball. (“You are an amateur,” a Cleveland reader commented.) The team chalked up a two-game losing streak over Easter weekend, losing its first series of the season, and the general attitude on social media is that of immense relief: “These are the Reds I thought I knew.”

Winning is rare in these parts, and it’s uncomfortable. Images of the Reds sitting alone atop the Central Division, at one point 1.5 games over the reigning World Series champion Cubs, are not to be trusted. We regard such a thing warily, circling it from a distance. This top-most position will surely lose its balance and fall upon our heads. It will tumble at any moment. It will hurt us.

We’re also accustomed to bitter and instantaneous disappointment. I forget which season it was, as recent Reds history is one giant green blur of bullpen pitchers watching baseballs sail over their heads, but recently they clawed their way to first place just before the All Star break, went home, and proceeded to completely disintegrate over the next 81 games, as though the 96 hours off the field gave them time to reflect upon their proper position somewhere in the Paleolithic ooze of the division.

This is also why riots did not erupt just outside of Mason, Ohio when Kings Island opened this weekend to the giant hype of a new roller coaster, Mystic Timbers.  Much was made of Mystic Timbers and some sort of shed at the end of the ride, which in turn housed some sort of super-amazing secret. This went on for a solid year:  #WhatsInTheShed accompanied much of Kings Island’s social media, and roller coaster enthusiasts from across the world mused long and deeply over the matter. (The next sentence, by the way, spoils what is in fact in the stupid shed, but if you’re a Cincinnatian, you already know:  Disillusionment, anticlimax, and contemplation on the universal emptiness of life.)

And then, when a local television station broadcast what was in the shed, it revealed itself to be… video clips of bats and the central chorus of “Maneater.”  Yes:  What was in the shed was Hall and Oates and a 16-year-old telling you to get off the ride because it was the another person’s turn to sit in butt sweat en route to inevitable disenchantment.

If this is what happens to us at our amusement parks—places literally designed to make people happy—then I beg of you to kindly excuse our timid cheering, our population of four guys and a beer vendor in the park on a rainy Easter Sunday. We’re used to butt sweat, false starts, and chipping frost off the windshield at 5:30 AM.

We’re not at all used to this.

But we could learn, and we’re not exactly ready to leave this ride just yet.

9 Responses

  1. Scott Carter

    Yes it is true, there are many of us “older” folk who remember proud winning tradition in Cincinnati, and then the damage done to the farm system, by Schott, Linder and Company. Remember as well that not only did they ransack the farm system, but they decimated the scouting department and caching system. This is why it has taken so long to rebuild. The good news is not so much in better minor leaguers now but in the fact that the new management has been rebuilding the infrastructure. There is hope that the “shed ” will provide joy and not disappointment.

    • Geoff

      Why do ppl seem to forget that this team made the playoffs 3 out of 4 years just four years ago? Ppl act like the Reds haven’t been good since 1990.

      • TR

        Reds and Bengals = get to playoffs and lose.

      • Big56dog

        they haven’t been good since 1995, when they last one a play off series.
        2010 was okay season, got no hit in game 1, blew a lead in game 2, shut out in game 3- followed up with a losing season in 2011. 2012 was a great season but blew a 2-0 lead, had a decent 2013 but lost last 6 games to get eliminated. Outside of 2 decent months in 2014 it has been pretty dismal thinking 3 or 4 years from being competitive.

      • GeorgeFoster

        No, the worst thing about the 2010 playoffs was that the Reds should have escaped Philly with the series even at 1-1. A strong defensive team suddenly forgot how to make basic plays, coughing up a 4-0 lead.

        The phantom Utley run was beyond belief – a non-HBP to take first, to second base on a bad call FC play where Utley was actually out, then he scored on an error but failed to touch 3B. I still don’t understand why the Reds didn’t throw to 3B before the next pitch.

  2. Jim Walker

    Maybe the portion of the Ohio river which flows past Cincinnati should be renamed the River Woebegone?

  3. Mary Beth Ellis

    I’ll take that and run with it 🙂