Baseball Is Life: Crying in the Living Room

It isn’t my voice in this column, but those of my fellow citizens of I-275, including your Cincinnati Reds.

Because what happened this weekend wasn’t the breaking of a 31-year playoff win streak. It was a total shift of responsibility half a mile upriver. The entire sports world is now looking with raised eyebrows at the stadium not shaped like a football: Well?

It’s interesting to view how the Reds media machine deals with the accomplishment of the now non-punchline Bengals. It wasn’t politic to ignore the situation, especially as the two exchange charming Opening Day greetings, and, from time to time, futile playoff good wishes.

So Saturday saw the following presentation of kind regards (in case an updated link now shows the Reds logo returned to its traditionally colored C, the C is Bengalsfied here):

The next tweet was this:

Because the optimum PR move here is to remind everyone that the last time the Reds hoisted a Commissioner’s Trophy, people were smoking inside… on airplanes… just inches from other human beings.

What was next in the Twitter timeline? Surely the Reds would have something congratulatory to say after the final whistle?

nope:

We’re going to pretend this never happened.

Well, not really. It’s not the responsibility of the Reds to put the Bengals in perspective. It is, however, the responsibility of the Reds to put themselves in perspective.

But some thought the Bengals didn’t necessarily handle this any better:

This, of course, references the much-shared fact that until this weekend, a text had never, ever been sent regarding a Bengals playoff victory. Bengals winning stopped in 1991; texting began in 1992. Does this tweet cleverly acknowledge the obvious or lean into three decades of self-sabotage?

But the bigger question here is: What have the Bengals done that the Reds have not?

Is it Zac Taylor?

Is it Joe Burrow?

Is it both? Is it the combination of them, plus other pieces? Total dumb oval shaped luck? something else?

How did this happen, and how do the Reds duplicate this on a baseball level?

It was an odd situation for me, who was so throughly and emotionally involved in that most recent, text-free win. In the years since, my last spark of caring about the Bengals was made to gutter by an endless string of embarrassing player arrests, then smothered by the 2016 Pittsburgh debacle, then extinguished entirely by the NFL as an institution and the NCAA as its de facto minor league.

Yet, as I sat with my husband, who wanted to know what the Ickey Shuffle was as the actual Ickey shuffled, and I heard the crowd scream so loudly the Raiders were forced to huddle against the sound, I remembered how this felt. It rumbled from 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 this to happen.

I wasn’t the only one unloading online:

there was a lot of crying in living rooms:

And outside the stadium:

But this one is my favorite:

This one is my favorite because it is the soul-center of the tears: It’s a dad and his boys (or boys and freshly minted girl, depending on who’s crying in the background) experiencing the moment together. I had that too. I wasn’t much older than these little guys when I collected the memory of sitting on the couch with my big sister and our daddy as he yelled “Go Ickey!” at the TV, and despite the fact that one of his last sentences on this planet in 2010 was “Same old Bengals,” it is part of me always. I hope these little Cincinnatians do as well.

These are the very definition of first-world problems. Those are nice living rooms we’re all crying in. Some videos were from well-stocked bars; others from Germany, Vegas, and college dorm rooms. There are bigger challenges than the inability to add championship sweatshirts to the closet pile for 3 decades.

But why did we put up with the gaps? Aren’t the Bengals embarrassed by this outpouring? That it took this long?

Are the Reds? If so, what are they doing about it?

And how much longer will we wait?

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