Is this a picture of hope for the Cincinnati Bengals?
Albert Einstein once said that insanity can be defined as doing the same thing, over and over again, whilst expecting different results. Here in Cincinnati, we have become well-acquainted with this proverb and tend to practice it on a yearly basis. If you were to walk in to Head First on third street, a well-known Cincinnati sports bar, you would hear something like: "Well, at least we won the last few games of the season! That gives us momentum going into next season!" "We'll get 'em next year!" "This is an important off-season for the Bengals; they have to spend some money if they want to win!" Cincinnati sports fans are in the unenviable position of being life-long, die-hard fans who are forced to follow historically awful sports teams, who, after every year, insist that "next year is our year!"
Forbes.com has recently released a top 10 list of cities in which the most miserable sports fans live and Cincinnati ended up as the No. 10 worst city for sports fans to live. When it comes to the Cincinnati Bengals and Reds, success is not a term that comes to mind when reviewing the recent history of each team. The Reds are the more prolific sports team in Cincinnati with five World Championships, but the last of those came in 1990 and they have only made the playoffs twice in the last 22 years (1995 and 2010). The Bengals have made two Superbowl appearances but lost both of them to a Joe Montana-led 49ers. The Bengals have had three playoff appearances in the last 6 years but they have not won a playoff game since 1990. Even though the Bengals have made more playoff appearances than the Reds over the last 22 years, the Bengals had a stretch of 14 seasons where they did not have a winning record and seven of those seasons they were unable to win more than 4 games.
Although this is a wretched history for a city's sports teams, the last 6 years have left Cincinnati sports fans with some hope. The Reds won the Central division in 2010 and have made a lot of moves this off-season which could give them a chance at winning the division again and making a run in the playoffs. As noted above, the Bengals have three playoff appearances in the last 6 years and are going into one of the most anticipated off-seasons in the history of the organization. If the Bengals can fill some of their roster holes and make upgrades at a few positions, there is a good chance that they could win their first playoff game in 22 years next year.
Only time will tell if Einstein's definition of insanity is correct but, as fans, our duty is not to worry about the past but to be excited about two young, developing, very talented teams and to cheer our Bengals and Reds on to victory!
At the very minimum, if the city's past is too much for you to overcome and you are still pessimistic about the Reds and Bengals 2012 campaigns, take comfort in this: at least Cincinnati is not as bad as Cleveland.