It looked, as I crossed the river from Kentucky into Ohio, as if the outside lights of Paul Brown Stadium* were strobing. As the car whipped past post after post of the I75 bridge, the stadium sent bright flashes across the state line and back into the city.

This was the Night of the Miracle of the Five Offensive Linemen, and at 1 AM on Monday, the city slept cradling the knowledge that not only did we need to continue to process the knowledge that we had somehow produced the AFC champions, we were now in a position to do so again, and without several decades in between. “This cannot last,” we firmly remind ourselves, and I so yell into the endless stream of bakery ads offering orange iced cookies, “Then enjoy it!”

The interior of the stadium was uncommonly bright; above me, the Great American building was (without a hint of irony) bathed in orange, as were the P&G towers, the Coliseum, Fifth Third Bank, and the Convention Center letters. But these oranges were pale in comparison, and quickly absorbed by the black of the sky.

The stadium was different. It was remarkably, utterly different. Every flood light and security LED in the place was blazing, and even during games I’d never seen it like this. What was the difference? 

As the car bent to the east, I was at last able to glimpse inside the stadium. There was my answer: The light came from within.  

Every single pixel of every single scoreboard was burning full orange. No words or logos, just orange. A single person looking on the Jumbotron from the seats could have kept an ophthalmologist in business for years and years. There was no possible way to achieve such an effect from outside.

Someone in that organization was thinking. Someone was using what the team had at hand. Someone wanted the effect to pour out into space. As a result, all three Mars rovers were probably thrown off course. 

I glanced inside Great American Ball Park as I trundled past; the Reds had tweeted good luck wishes to the Bengals, then concentrated on a pared-back Winter Caravan featuring a painfully anemic lineup, a birthday shoutout to 59-year-old Rob Dibble, and congratulations to a newly elected Hall of Famer who played for the Reds for exactly three years over a decade ago. Everything happening had already happened. 

The ball park’s night lights were on, but dimmed to normal off-season levels. The red neon signs on the outside walls were bright. But inside, it was dark, and deathly quiet. 

*Don’t. Just don’t.

23 Responses

  1. Daytonnati

    “Everything happening had already happened” is Gertrude Stein/ Samuel Beckett-worthy! 🙂

    Very well done, MB.

  2. Bred

    I agree that is a classic sentence, and perfectly on point. Good on you!
    I live in Texas and would not have seen the beautiful site displayed in the photo, so thank you for sharing. If it is your photo, you could make some money selling it. I know I’d buy one as it would look nice hanging on my wall. Thanks for sharing.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I’m happy to send you the original jpeg if you pass along a place for me to send it. Just a snap on my phone from a moving car 🙂

  3. Mark Moore

    “As a result, all three Mars rovers were probably thrown off course.”

    Love, love, LOVE that line!

    I watched more NFL game time than I have in pretty much forever (other than to track the commercials during the Super Bowl). I’ll admit to being a bandwagon fan again this season. Here’s to marching into KC and putting the full press on a hobbled Mahomes while Joe Football does his thing.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      We’ll see. They haven’t been the Cardiac Cats this year (at least so far) but I think we have all learned the hard way to be wary…

  4. Daytonnati

    I have to admit that there is a “lightness” in the air here these days. Nothing unites a community like a winning team. Especially a community that has longed for one for so long. I hope the Castellinis are taking note.

    • Mark Moore

      Just remember what Red told Andy about hope. It’s a dangerous thing.

      But I’m with you, though I doubt BobPhil atre paying attention.

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        BobPhil are sacrificing goats nightly to a #9 jersey in the hopes this continues to take the pressure off the hometown baseball team.

    • TR

      I’m sure the Castellinis would also like to have a winning team but the question is would they be willing to spend the money that Mike and his daughter have spent to get the winning team.

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        Ohhhhhhhhhhh, I think we all know the answer to that. The attitude of most Bengals fans was “Pay the man,” and lo, two playoff seasons in a row.

      • AMDG

        Although Mike & his daughter have the advantage of working in a much better NFL model where all the teams have shared TV $$$ with a salary cap and salary floor. So every team is on an equal footing with expenditures.

        But in baseball, market size and an owner’s personal finances directly affect their self-imposed salary expenditures.

        Small market owners who aren’t billionaires have a built in excuse not to spend.

      • Doug Gray

        Can you cite your sources on the small market owners aren’t billionaires? Teams like the Reds may not have an actual billionaire, but there are like two dozen people in the ownership group and that’s a whole lot of really rich people….

      • AMDG

        Hi Doug,

        From what i’ve seen, Bob Castellini has a net worth of $400M

        As the CEO of the majority ownership group, I know he is not a billionaire. But I can’t speak for the many other smaller stakeholders.

      • Doug Gray

        Which is the point. There are like 19 people and/or Corportations listed as “investors” in the media guide under ownership. Bob Castellini owns like 15% of the team. If his net worth is $400M, what about the other 85% of ownership? They aren’t worth a combined $600M? Harry Fath is listed on line FOUR of the “investors”. In the last four years he’s literally donated $150M. Just difficult to not see how all of those people aren’t worth over a billion dollars. (Not to mention the Lindner family still has a stake in the team….)

      • BK

        I think the point is that MLB’s model is demonstrably inferior to those of other American pro sports. Every time you argue that the Red’s ownership needs to cut personal checks to prop up payroll you are reinforcing that point.

      • Frankie Tomatoes

        Aren’t the Kansas City Chiefs playing in their 5th straight AFC title game? Isn’t that following a run that saw the Steelers, Colts, and Patriots play in the AFC title game for something around 20 straight years?

        The NBA has had how many mini dynasties over the last two decades? Going back to 1999 the Lakers have played in 8 finals, the Spurs have played in 6, the Warriors in 6 (and that’s 6 of the last 8), Miami has played in 6, Cleveland has played in 5. Seems like there’s a lot of dominance from a few teams in the other sports as well.

      • BK

        @Frankie, in the NFL and NBA, market size is not driving winners and losers. The Chiefs are on a great run, and they play in one of the smallest markets in the NFL. What drives success in the NFL and NBA is drafting elite players (requires some luck) and strong front offices that can build a solid team around their franchise players. There are no examples of large market teams outmuscling the smaller market teams for free agents like we see every year in MLB.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      It’s fun! It’s just fun and unifying, which is something I think we all badly need.

  5. Big Bob's Burner

    Funny how Phil is going around throwing his PowerPoint pity party at the same time Joe Burrow is delivering life long memories. The Castellinis deserve every bit of this kharma. Keep it coming FC Cincy.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      The memories part is the most important! I remember so much about the 90 WS/89 SB. The lack of these for Cincinnati kids is the worst part of the drought.

  6. LDS

    Don’t the Bengals play in the same small market as the Reds? “Everything happening had already happened” is indeed a classic and what comes to mind every time I see one of the Reds’ official tweets, somebody’s birthday, somebody died (RIP Mr. Perfect), some former player signed elsewhere, some “has been” or “never was” has been signed to a minor league contract and invited to spring training. Kansas City will be tough, but here’s hoping.