As the Bengals prepare for a huge AFC match against the New England Patriots this weekend, the Reds consumed the attention of the everyday sports fan in Cincinnati on Friday. Three days after a (depressing) 6-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Reds decided to part ways with manager Dusty Baker.
When Baker arrived in Cincinnati, he struck a connection with Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis.
"Prior to Dusty even being here, you look at him as a coach, manager, who's been so successful with his style," Lewis said via ESPN.com. "Then having an opportunity to meet him once he was here and to talk with him at times, his style is very similar to a football coach's style. He's very fundamental and that's what's important to him. The guy's going about it and doing it the right way, and that's the way he sees things."
As Coley Harvey with ESPN notes, Lewis and Baker traveled similar paths, taking a struggling franchise and making them postseason contenders. Unfortunately the Reds were unable advance out of the first round, much like the Bengals and their three trips to the postseason in the past four years.
Not only have both called Cincinnati home the past six years, but they share unique coaching paths. When the two took over the Bengals and Reds, respectively, they were charged with reinventing a pair of franchises that had just come off a string of losing seasons. In Lewis' case, the Bengals had losing marks in the six years before he arrived. The Reds had seven straight sub-.500 seasons before Baker took them over.
On the other hand, there's clear differences too.
While Bob Castellini and the Reds front office reacted to losing in the first round by parting ways with Baker, the Brown family has developed closer ties with Marvin Lewis, due to the culture shift that the head coach applied following the 2010 season.
Per Dan Wetzel's Culture Change article published earlier this year.
Following a disastrous four-win season in 2010, many Cincinnati Bengals fans wanted owner Mike Brown to fire coach Marvin Lewis. Nothing personal, Lewis is a terrific guy, but after eight seasons, you can't go 4-12, let alone when you're 60-67 overall. The trend line was obvious.
At the same time, plenty of Marvin Lewis' friends in football were calling him and telling him he needed to get out of Cincinnati. The franchise was lousy – too many bad apples on the roster, too much terrible history for it to be a coincidence. The script was written. He'd get another chance to do it right somewhere else.
Owner and coach had a meeting. They decided rather than separate, they'd reunite and apply the lessons they've learned in creating a losing team. And together, they'd change. Everything.
Like Baker, Lewis has rebuilt his team multiple times and each iteration has qualified for the postseason. However Brown, unlike Castellini, plays a chord that's more status quo rather than igniting a fire to find ways out of the first round.
So don't expect the Bengals to follow the Reds lead if Lewis, who is signed through 2014, fails to qualify for the postseason this year or is unable to advance out of the first round. It wouldn't be within Brown's character.