How Cincy Works: The Sports Fan’s Lament

This is how Cincy fails
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For our June 2015 issue, we explore (and try to explain) the ins and outs of the Queen City.

This city has a rich athletic history: The 1869 Red Stockings were the first professional ballclub. Oscar Robertson is one of the greatest basketball players of all time. The Big Red Machine is arguably the greatest baseball team ever assembled. The Bengals redefined NFL offense in the 1980s. And yet for the past quarter century, Cincinnati sports teams have sucked, which makes rooting for them pretty sucky too. There’s been little to cheer since the Reds wire-to-wire World Series victory in 1990. In fact, no city home to at least two major sports franchises has gone longer without advancing in the playoffs than the Queen City—a streak that will reach 20 years this October. (As much as we’d love to re-live the days of the Ickey Shuffle or the Big Red Machine, that era is very clearly behind us.) Even the few, fleeting bright spots have all ended in heartbreak. In 2000, the top-ranked UC Bearcats lost player-of-the-year Kenyon Martin to a broken leg in the conference tournament. Ken Griffey Jr. spent eight fruitless, injury-riddled seasons with the Redlegs. In 2005, quarterback Carson Palmer blew out his knee in the first Bengals playoff game in 15 years. The Reds blew a 2–0 series lead (at home) in the 2012 NL Division Series. And, you know, Andy Dalton! Since that 1990 World Series, the city has built two new stadiums along a revitalized riverfront, bookending a now-bustling strip of bars and restaurants—and far too often, they’re full of disappointed fans drinking away their sorrows. But hey, at least we’re not Cleveland.

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