Losantiville is Loserville no more. With the Reds’ Game 1 victory in the National League Division Series in San Francisco, Cincinnati’s long drought of postseason failure came to an end.
The 5-2 victory over the Giants came exactly 17 years to the day after the last time Cincinnati could call itself a playoff winner — Oct. 6, 1995, when the Reds finished a sweep of the Dodgers in the National League Division Series, during the first year of the wild card in baseball. David Wells, who now serves as a studio analyst for TBS during the playoffs, got the win for the Reds, while current Reds radio color analyst Jeff Brantley pitched the ninth inning of a 10-1 rout of Hideo Nomo and the Dodgers in front of 53,276 fans at Riverfront Stadium.
Since then, the Reds have played 2,764 games — seven in the postseason and another one-game playoff (in 1999). The Bengals have played 340 games, including four playoff losses since their last playoff win, a 10-7 victory over the Houston Oilers on January 6, 1991.
So what’s happened since Oct. 6, 1995? Besides the city’s losing streak growing up, getting surly and going through that awkward phase, it’s also battled acne, gotten its driver’s license, sneaked some cigs and asked a creepy old guy to buy beer for it.
Oh, and the city and the teams have seen their fair share of change, as well. Both teams have had a new stadium. The Reds have had eight different managers (Davey Johnson, Ray Knight, Jack McKeon, Bob Boone, Dave Miley, Jerry Narron, Pete Mackanin and Dusty Baker) and 12 Opening Day starters (Pete Shourek, John Smiley, Mike Remlinger, Brett Tomko, Pete Harnisch, Joey Hamilton, Jimmy Haynes, Corey Lidle, Paul Wilson, Aaron Harang, Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto).
The Bengals have had four different head coaches (Mike Shula, Bruce Coslet, Dick LeBeau and Marvin Lewis) and 10 starting quarterbacks (Jeff Blake, Boomer Eiason, Neil O’Donnell, Akili Smith, Scott Mitchell, Jon Kitna, Gus Frerotte, Carson Palmer, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Andy Dalton).
We’ve also seen Palmer hurt on the first play of the 2005 playoffs against the Steelers, and to add insult to injury, Pittsburgh went on to win the Super Bowl in a year the Bengals dominated the AFC North.
And while not a pro sports moment, we also saw Kenyon Martin break his leg in the Conference USA Tournament, dashing the team’s hopes for an NCAA basketball title in 2000.
There was a time not too long ago when people jokingly asked which would come first — a Reds playoff appearance or a Bengals’ playoff appearance.
The answer: We were aiming too low. Both made the playoffs in recent years, but early exits took the wind out of the city’s sails.
The most impressive thing about this run by the Reds is that it appears this team is built for the long haul. The pitching staff is young and talented, the core offensive players are signed long-term and if the fans continue to come in the numbers they did this season, Bob Castellini could also hand his credit card over to Walt Jocketty to fill out the roster.
No matter what happens the rest of the way this October, a hex has been broken, the fifth-longest drought of a city without an NFL/MLB playoff win in history has been snapped, and for now we can just look at Kansas City (18 years and counting) and offer our condolences, while puffing out our chests and enjoying this newfangled winning thing.
Thinking Out Loud
Prized prospect Billy Hamilton will play center field in the Arizona Fall League this month. Hamilton has played shortstop since the team drafted him, but with Zack Cozart and Brandon Phillips seemingly entrenched in the middle of the diamond for years to come, the team’s top prospect had to go somewhere else to play. With Drew Stubbs’ struggles, center is as good of place as any, especially with his exceptional speed. ... Good news for UC football, as the Bearcats entered the Associated Press poll at No. 21 after their victory over Miami University. With UC ranked, the Big East now has three ranked teams — No. 18 Louisville, No. 20 Rutgers and the Bearcats. It’s still early, but it should be noted the Big East now has more teams ranked in the Top 25 than either the Big Ten or the ACC. Also ranked is Boise State, which joins the Big East next season. ... Xavier was picked to finish ninth in the Atlantic 10 men’s basketball preseason poll — and that might be optimistic. For those keeping score at home, there are 16 teams in the A-10 this year. ... There was good news at XU recently, though, as Mike Bobinski reportedly will not leave for Boston College, as had been speculated in Boston.