Just another reminder about tomorrow night's Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee public hearing regarding bike and pedestrian access across the soon-to-be-way-different I-75 corridor.
Cincinnati is generally regarded as a crappy place to ride bikes (see my recent CityBeat cover story "No One Rides for Free"), save for our lovely park trails and a couple of East Side commuter routes. An impressive downtown bike facility is planned for The Banks, but consideration for bike commuters along the I-75 corridor will be important for people to even get to it on two-wheelers.
Mayor Mark Mallory says there is no room for debate over whether or not Cincinnatians should keep supporting the Bengals. He's going to hang out before Sunday's game against Pittsburgh and grill food and act like he's one of us. The concept got Mr. Mayor laughed at by reporters at his weekly news conference yesterday. And what's worse, it wasn't even sports reporters who were laughing at him — it was the regular city dork reporters!
It's pretty bad when a team is 0-6 and its fans are again selling their tickets for below market value like it's 2001 and Akili Smith is the starting quarterback. The Bengals' brief brush with respectability is long gone now, as evidenced by the very small amount of football knowledge one must have in order to make the following positive assumption: The Bengals fucking suck.
It's really quite hilarious how badly the organization has messed up an opportunity to draft quality linemen around their talented skill players who led the team to its only playoff appearance in the last 15 years. But this is a discussion (or a joke) for another day. Why should we even bother?
That's why it's nice for Mayor Mallory to step in and give us something else to laugh about. On Sunday Paul Brown Stadium will be at lest half-filled with Pittsburgh fans, and it's because their organization, team and city is better than ours. Mallory showing up to tailgate is just another embarrassing footnote in the story of Cincinnati sports history.
I'm sorry to do it, but I must quote a good friend whose self-hate reached an all-time high after the Bengals missed numerous kicks that would have sent them to the playoffs during the final week of 2006: "We're all just a bunch of fucking losers."
Good work Mallory. Now you're included.
Last week I was sitting in a smokey Portland bar, chatting nonchalantly with friends about current events when I looked up at a TV screen and saw that the Dodgers were beating the Cubs for the second straight night. The Cubs led the National League in wins this year and were on the brink of falling behind two games to none in a best-of-five series.
"That ain't good," I thought to myself. "Them daggone Cubbies gonna lose already."
Then a girl my friend dates showed up and made a weird hand gesture, which prompted my friend to lay down on the dirty floor for about two seconds. I still don't know what that was about, but it only temporarily distracted me from the unfortunate reality of baseball's Divisional Series. I thought that if MLB is going to start drawing brackets and letting mediocre teams into the playoffs, then it may as well be the NCAA tournament, and the Dodgers can be Butler.
Six PBR pints later (seriously, it wasn't a good night) I had forgotten all about the Cubs or the 84-win team that was probably going to reach the NLCS. There was pool to be played and spicy hot dogs to eat and heartburn to deal with. But then I returned home a few days later and read my favorite alt-weekly sports columinst Bill Peterson, who said this about the situation: "Exactly 40 years ago, in 1968, the St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers embarked on the last World Series between the regular season champions from the National and American leagues. MLB was set to divide its leagues and embark on playoffs the next year. Purists objected that excellence would be punished. The purists were right. Back then, you didn’t get to the World Series without a club that proved it through time. Now a club can go to the World Series if it’s just a little better than average."
I nodded my head to Peterson's words. "Yeah, man. The wild card is such a gimmick and I hate when they have cheerleaders on the dugouts too."
But then Peterson made a really good point about today's playoff format actually giving small market teams a chance to win the whole thing: "With expanded playoffs, it doesn't matter if the Yankees pay $200 million for players because during the week that counts the $200 million club might not be as good as the $80 million club down the street. The expanded playoffs are a lifeline for clubs like the Reds, who will never be able to afford the most expensive talent. If they can just cobble together enough victories to reach the playoffs, they're in the lottery."
So, back when the league offered a relative degree of competitive balance (before those God damn labor unions started greedy ass free agency), the regular season determined who the most deserving teams were. But now the free market has determined that the Yankees, Mets, Cubs, Dodgers, Phillies and Angels are the best teams, we need a new playoff format.
If this is the only way to make the league fair again, then the playoffs should be expanded even further. Let 16 teams in and spend a month playing four rounds of seven-game series. Then crappy teams like the Reds can make the playoffs once in a while and maybe even win a series. It would only be mildly more risky for the teams that actually deserve to be here, and it would be really exciting for the baseball fans that never get to see their teams in the playoffs. Even if they have to go in as a No. 10 seed, it would still be worth watching.