Cincinnati had zero representation in any form of playoffs in 2023, but the Tri-State just enjoyed one of our best sports weekends in months.

That is because the following teams were no longer in the playoffs, either:

  • Pittsburgh
  • Cleveland
  • Philadelphia
  • The Chiefs won, but they had to be really really cold while doing it, so we did receive some compensation.

Great Handfuls

I personally bounced into Tuesday morning a fulfilled and satisfied woman. To end the season defeating Cleveland was good; to end the season watching Cleveland lose by great handfuls to another team that has never seen a Super Bowl was excellent.

This isn’t very Christian of me, I know, but given the Lions’ entrance into the playoffs, the Cincinnati Reds have now become the team in all of the major league sports with the longest drought of playoff wins. (Next in line? The Dolphins.) I had to take what I could get.

The Dubious Honor

Such a dubious honor surprised me, I suppose because I count wild card games as a playoff, and two of those in under a decade (2020 and 2013) seems a reasonable output. This last season felt like a playoff run, even though we sat down with the rest of the early winterers, but then again I am conditioned to set the bar low. As long as there’s a reason to scoreboard-watch past April, I am content.

In a secret, shameful corner of my heart, I don’t experience a desperate need to see the Reds advance for the first time since the Berlin Wall fell. I’m happy to continue to digest the 1990 World Series, if I’m honest, an emotional boa constrictor who can feed off the satisfaction of defeating the Pirates for the pennant and then sweeping the A’s for the rest of my natural life.

Cheering Interests

However, I recognize that a generation or two has never experienced an NLCS, and there truly is no Fountain Square happiness like a championship Fountain Square happiness. But in the meantime, all we have is low expectations and schadenfreude.

I feel guilty because I don’t feel more guilty over the enjoying sight of sad, saaaaaaaaaaad Eagles fans watching their season collapse directly in their painted faces. I shouldn’t feel that way because I’ve wiped those tears. I shouldn’t like seeing any human being unhappy, unless it’s Taylor Swift and all those cameras trained on her suite are still around to broadcast it.

Pack Animals

Playoffs are a zero-sum game; we must protect our own cheering interests. But what about when we aren’t in the picture at all? We’re programmed to pick sides even when our identity isn’t on the line; we’re pack animals, and forming judgment even when judgment isn’t called for helps stave off social pandemonium. Thus we are primed to enjoy the fall of the mighty, to watch the Yankees tumble just for existing.

But I’m frankly tired of hearing about the Eagles, and seeing Pittsburgh and Cleveland dragged down to our level was most satisfying. Between our rumble-mates the Pirates and our upstanding refusal to forgive the Steelers for the whole Carson Palmer incident (he was never the same!), we’re not going to be happy until those bridge-color copiers are as miserable as we are. It’s all we have.

(Cleveland, we’re genetically required to dislike, and despite all their losing, we don’t want them feeling above themselves. Gotta keep ’em in line so we don’t have to put them in line later on. )

The Odds

Even given the joy explosion that was the 2023 Reds, Vegas is giving them odds of 4000-1 to win it all. But last year, that number was 20,000-1. We’ll take it.

We’ll push it, actually. The Reds are projected to win more games than the Pirates and the Guardians, but just above us are the Cardinals (spit) and the Cubs (also spit, just because.)

Let’s go for it. I can’t wait to feel happy because my team is doing well, not because everybody else isn’t. Somebody else needs to take up the drought baton.

26 Responses

  1. Jim Walker

    How can the Lions being in the post season OK when they are from that state up north, wear blue jerseys (although of a much more appealing shade), and you spent time around TBDBITL? 😉

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I’m not thrilled, I’ll tell you that. But mostly I feel sorry for those fans because they are living in Detroit and know no joy.

      • Jim Walker

        I see your point; and, I suspect there is no shortage of baseball fans who feel the same about SW Ohio.

    • Daytonnati

      I’m with you, Jim. It was a feel-good story until they interviewed Aiden Hutchinson after the game, then it all came back. The sports Gods, if they are fair, can only grant one championship per fanbase a year.

      The fact that CJ Stroud took out the Browns added an extra helping of schadenfreude for me as well 🙂

      Signed – Bitter Reds, Bengals, Buckeye fan …

      • Jim Walker

        If the NFL was fair, Justin Fields or CJ would be playing for the Browns instead of where they are and I might actually watch an NFL game for the 1st time in at least 2 decades. 😉

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        Speaking of press conferences, my favorite moment of the Eagles loss was after the game, when the SC host said, “Well, we’re waiting to hear from the Eagles… ANY Eagle…” Noooooooobody gettin up in front of that mic after that!

  2. LDS

    I haven’t liked Detroit since Barry’s last TD run. As for the Reds? Well, I remember the last three World Series and would like to see another, but I can’t say I’m as young as I once was, nor as patient.

  3. greenmtred

    My rooting interest is tiered: when the team I’m actually rooting for isn’t in it, I tend pull for the team that was closest to being one of the original ones unless they both are, in which case I usually pull for the underdog. Overriding much of it is a general preference for northern teams away from either coast (exceptions: Celtics are my favorite NBA team because I, too, am Celtic, and I’ll reluctantly favor the Sox because we kicked their butts, they aren’t the Yankees, and my oldest daughter likes them). Like LDS, I’m not as young as I once was–of course, nobody is–and I’d love to see the Reds win the WS again. But I’ll be pretty happy with good, exciting baseball. It’s really hard to win the WS and requires a fair bit of luck.

    • Daytonnati

      This past World Series, both teams were Wild Cards, so yes, luck seems to be rewarded in MLB over consistency.

  4. Mark Moore

    I ceased any tangible interest in the Not-For-Long league years ago. So football for me stopped on January 8th. Still, it will be interesting to see how the Kansas City State Farm Mahomes-Kelce-Swifts to when they have to battle bitter cold AND 20 feet of snow. Side note, The Weather Channel kept showing those wretched Steeler fans pushing through thigh-high snow to get to their seats. Apparently not all of the stadium got cleared … 😀

    I wait for those 4K to 1 odds with gleeful pre-season anticipation. I’m just ready for baseball to get rolling.

    Love all the imagery as usual, MBE. It made me smile which is about all I could ask on this chilly (but very sunny) day here in NC.

  5. Melvin

    “, but given the Lions’ entrance into the playoffs, the Cincinnati Reds have now become the team in all of the major league sports with the longest drought of playoff wins.”

    Yeah I know. I posted an article on this yesterday on another thread: and some wander why Reds fans are so impatient with the ownership and manager. lol

  6. Rednat

    MBE, I Enjoy reading your write ups. I feel you are the only author on this site that ackowledges that;
    1. The Reds are bad
    2.The Reds have been bad for a loooong long time.
    3. There is is something wrong with MLB that allows teams like the Reds to be SO BAD FOR SO LONG!

    Your articles keep me sane! There is at least one person on this earth that sees what I see!. Keep up the good work!!

    • Oldtimer

      The Reds were bad from 1945 to 1960 except 1956.

      The Reds had best W-L record in NL from 1956 through 1981.

      • Rednat

        I was born in 1949. I remember the teams in the 50’s vaguely.
        The 1980s was the worst decade as a fan in the last century that I recall and we finished the decade 3 games under .500.
        Since 2000 the reds are 1784-2002. 218 games under .500. Yes , i think there is something wrong

      • Old Big Ed

        What has been “wrong,” Rednat, is that the Reds for about 40 years were owned by people who did not understand the business of baseball, and certainly did not understand how that business has evolved over that period.

        Marge Schott was a car dealer’s wife and PR disaster who knew very little about the game or the player development side of the business. Carl Lindner was a placeholder owner who bought the team out of what he claimed to be civic duty. He was not involved in the operation of the team and just wanted the business to break even.

        The Castillini-Williams group was better, and fairly quickly built the Votto-Bruce-Phillips-Cueto team that was good for 3-4 years. They, however, listened too much to Walt Jocketty and failed to emphasize amateur scouting and minor-league development. There was nothing in the pipeline when the Votto-Cueto era had run its course, and by about 2014, it became apparent that baseball was evolving quickly into a younger man’s game.

        Finally, over the last 4-5 years, under Dick Williams and Nick Krall, the Reds’ ownership has come to understand that the Reds can only be competitive over the long run by drafting well, finding prospects in Latin American, developing the talent that it has signed, and keeping a young, athletic team.

        The Dodgers, etc. have a money advantage over the Reds, but it is not insurmountable. Whining about money is a waste of management time. Life isn’t fair. So work harder, which is what Reds management is now doing. Meanwhile, the Dodgers spent $900 million on two oft-injured arms and a DH. It’s the Ironclad Rule — he who has tons of money will inevitably waste it.

      • Oldtimer

        The Reds were contenders in 1980 and had best record in MLB in 1981. Lousy in 1982 and mediocre in 1983 and 1984. Second place in 1985-86-87-88. Good the first half of 1989 but not so good second half of 1989.

        What planet were you on in 1980s? #14 broke Ty Cobb hit record in 1985. Reds signed FA Dave Parker in 1983. Tony Perez returned 1984-85-86. Barry Larkin, Eric Davis, Tom Browning, Johnny Franco.

        Reds were 3rd in 1956 but nowhere close the rest of 1950s.

      • Oldtimer

        Reds were 4 games over .500 in 1980s. Reds were WAY under .500 in 1950s.

      • Oldtimer

        OBE. Walt Jocketty built the Oakland As minor leagues in 1980s. Those players made three straight WS in 1989-91-92.

        Walt Jocketty built teams that won 1 WS and 7 division titles in STL. He built teams that won 2 division titles in CIN. The only two since 1995. He ranks among the Top 10 GMs of his era. He won GM of the year 3 times.

        SMH. Just SMH.

      • Oldtimer

        Correction 1988-89-90. No edit function on RLN.

      • Tom Diesman

        Old Big Ed was right on the mark above in regards to Walt Jocketty. He inherited a good farm system that Dan O’Brien started in the early 2000s and left it poor shape after his mediocre run with the Reds where he produced about the same as Jim Bowden.

      • Jedi Joey

        Old Big Ed nailed it! Well written, Sir.

  7. jazzmanbbfan

    I guess if you are just talking baseball and American football, you are correct about zero playoff representation. But, FC Cincinnati had a great season, won the Supporter’s Shield for best record in all of MLS and got to the semifinals of the MSL Cup. And, they had the league MVP, Coach of the Year, Defender of the Year, and had the goal of the year and save of the year.

  8. Amarillo

    The Berlin Wall came down in 1989 and the Reds won the World Series in 1990. My Dad happened to be in Berlin on business that day and took a chunk of it as a souvenir.

    • greenmtred

      So we have our answer: find a wall to tear down. Quickly.