Let us discuss giving up, but not in the way you’d like to give up right now.
My biggest issue with the current state of the Reds rather spectacular slow-motion collapse is the obnoxious way it cuts in on my ability to mock Cleveland, a city I hate because I have been strictly told to do so for no apparent reason. Throughout my Bengals-infested childhood, it was emphasized unto me by all local media that Those Guys were Bad Guys without really explaining why. I mean, I can’t imagine Cleveland a nice place to live—it’s probably somewhat like Cincinnati, only even colder, and flat, and in possession of a deserting team that’s not only bad, but insultingly bad—but it can’t be quite as bad as, say, Detroit, which is likely even more similar to Cleveland, only in Michigan, at which point I just feel more pity than hatred.
The roots of the Cincinnati-Cleveland rivalry, I am told, began with the Cleveland Browns firing Paul Brown, who then founded the Bengals in Cincinnati, and decades of staring at each other across the same NFL division exacerbated it all. But we’re now at the point where the Browns are something like 0 for the decade and even the Bengals managed seven more wins than they did last season. Bernie Kosar has declared bankruptcy and was forced to such degradations as appearing on The Drew Carey Show. It’s not even fun anymore.
Both city’s baseball franchises tried to cram some rivalry into the Reds and Indians via the Ohio Cup, but since the prize looks like this, I’d say the Reds have chosen the correct strategy of mostly avoiding having to house it. And as Indians fans are currently enjoying this mythical entity known as “winning playoff games” from time to time, we are the photo negative of all the football misery.
We can release Cleveland from the grips of our hatred with grace and dignity because we may well have equalized the mutual destruction both fan bases have endured. In fact, I’d say Queen City even comes out ahead, because although the Reds are bad, they’re not Browns bad; our catastrophic baseball squad has already won more games than the last two seasons of Browns wins combined. Not even the specter of a Marvin Lewis contract extension can overshadow a fan-generated perfect season parade in the streets of one’s hometown.
Oh wait. Basketball. I just made it all the way to the bottom of this page without even remembering Cleveland has a team, and I guess it’s good (?) and we don’t. I suppose that changes the equation a bit. If it does at all, it still rests the matter in Cincinnati’s favor, in the sense that we don’t have to endure basketball 11.5 months out of the year.
Matters of loyalty are on my mind because Josh The Pilot and I are in the process of house hunting, and the Venn diagram of habitable houses we can afford and habitable houses in locations where we won’t be murdered are two completely separate circles. It’s to the point where we are looking across the river in Kentucky, which feels all kinds of weird and wrong, and I like Kentucky. The closest I can come to explaining my discomfort is “I wouldn’t be living in Ohio” even though Ohio also contains Cleveland. And although one of the reasons we’re looking in NKY is that if offers quite nice views of Ohio, this all has the air of “I’m breaking up with you because you’re just too good for me.” You see the raging illogic.
Is it time, then, to release Cleveland to its own misery? Shall we go forth in peace?
Proud aunt Mary Beth Ellis is a freelance writer and college teacher who lives in Cincinnati, OH. Her home site, BlondeChampagne.com, has existed in at least some form since 2003, and Mary Beth has been a regular columnist with one publication or another from the age of 16. Her first book, Drink to the Lasses, was published in 2006. She currently teaches college, runs personal wine tastings, gives literary readings, and stares into the middle distance.