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My family moved to Cincinnati from the west coast in 1985. We had only been in the San Francisco Bay area for a little over a year and a half, and that was still close enough to the 1981 Super Bowl loss to the 49ers to sway our alliances. My dad having grown up in Indiana, was a Bears fan, and from what I remember, his dad was a Packers fan, but my dad took to the Bengals quite well. His company had season tickets, and by the time I was an appropriate age to go to a game (I was 10 in 1992) The Bengals had fallen into an abysmal state.

The 1989 Bengals Super Bowl was a wonderful first memory for me… and no, it had nothing to do with football, as I don’t believe I watched a second of the game as a 7 year old. We had gone to one of my parents friend’s house, and they had a Nintendo Entertainment System, and it was the first time I had ever seen Super Mario Brothers. I played that little plumber till his overalls fell off. I was hooked. By Easter 4 months later I was the proud owner one myself after I swindled my sister out of her birthday money (I repented later… much later.)

Anyway, back t the season tickets… My dad’s company would give them away to sweeten a business deal, but by ’92, you were essentially insulting your business partners to hand them a wad of Bengals tickets. Being the hero that my dad is, and not wanting anything to ever go to waste, he would frequently put in requests for the tickets and take me to a game.

I remember seeing some pretty great games, my favorite though was a game against the Steelers. The Steelers would regularly sweep us without a problem, but one this fateful day, we were playing them pretty tough. It was getting late in the 4th quarter and we found ourselves down by 5. The offense had us just outside of the red zone and the down marker had a big 4 on it. The coach was wondering what to do. The gamble would be to go for the long TD and see if we could get the win, but winning wasn’t really the Bengals style, so Doug Pelfrey came out onto the field to kick the field goal. Nailed it! Unfortunately, that still put us down by 2 with under a minute left. As a young fan, not really sure of how football worked outside of touchdowns and field goals, I was pretty sure that the time game was over.

The kickoff team lined up, looking a bit heavy to one side, and that is when I witnessed my first onside kick! Pelfrey hit the ball just right and put it into the pocket where the Bengals could get it in good field position. The clock was winding down, not just about under 10 seconds. The Bengals were able to scramble there and get one play off across the 40 yard line of the opponent’s end of the field. Doug ran back onto the field for the 3rd time in the last 30 seconds and got the snap off just in time to kick what had to be a 50+ yard field goal to win the game on a buzzer beater to send the arch-rival Steelers back up the river with a big upset.

Those were the types of small things that would make a season, even if it was the only home win of the season, to be there made it feel like you had just won the Super Bowl. That is what it was like to grow up a Bengals fan.

Hey everyone,

Sorry I was away and that quite frankly, I dropped the ball just about as much as our beloved Reds did.

I guess I have some explaining to do…

April was not just a rough month for me as a fan, but as as a man. My grandmother passed away at the end of the month and it took my focus off the blog. I tried getting back into the swing of things but every time I sat down to write, I would just think about her and what I would want to say about her. My mother grew up loving baseball and there are so many stories about my grandmother, like the time she threw away all of my mom’s baseball cards because she kept leaving them out on the floor <countless late 50’s and early 60’s treasures lost for eternity>, etc.

I thought I had my head cleared after I spent some time writing down an unpublished reflection about her, but once summer hit, I was in a daze. My wife and I had to do a couple gut checks and between having a difficult time at work getting what I needed to pay the bills, not having enough space in our apartment that we were already over paying for, and in general just having a feeling that it was time to move on, we did just that. We spent the summer getting everything lined up, interviewing for jobs, and praying through the transition with family and friends. We ultimately packed our bags and moved back to Cincinnati over Labor Day.

We are still trying to figure out the living situation and job thing, but life has been good. My kids got a chance to go to their first baseball game and we had a lot of fun! Aspen ate everything that was made of sugar and was probably the most excited fan there!

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Aspen even warmed up to Grandpa after he bought <her> a whole bag of carmel popcorn!

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But with baseball season over now, and the Bengals at 3-1 as of this posting, I do have to say that it is time to get back down to business. Hence the face lift. Now that I live back here in Cincinnati, while Cory is still out in Long Island for the time being, we will be covering the Bengals and the Reds from two different perspectives.

I should have a pre game prediction post and a post game wrap up post this weekend, so look forward to it and GO BENGALS!

 

Check out the outtakes… We have some cute kids!

I tried. Honestly people, i tried. When I moved to New York I tried to at least embrace the local sports teams for the sake of connecting with the locals.

I got dragged to Shae and old yankee a handful of times, tried to engross myself in the excitement of the Met’s 2006 playoff run, but that let down to the Cardinals was too familiar for me to handle. But as the Apostle Paul reminded me that during his missionary journeys “He became like a Greek to win the Greeks”, I decided that it was ultimately better to swallow my pride and to just give it my full effort and see how it goes.

In 2007, the Mets were just as hot. In 1st place in the NL east and almost a guarantee for the playoffs with a 7 game lead in september right? WRONG. They messed with the wrong fan, and few people know this, but I am responsible for the historic choke of ’07 <You’re welcome Philadelphia>.

So i was approached by my friend Ben about going to a Met’s game on September 26, 2007. The Mets were playing the Nationals and at the time their roster was essentially the 2004 Reds, so i was game for that. One of our Young Life committee members had 4 tickets he wasn’t going to use and he asked us to take some of the junior high kids that were part of the “wyldlife” group (young life’s middle school outreach) to the game. Ben put the word out and and two of the kids Chris and Devin were super excited to go. They told us that they were the “Biggest Mets Fans of All Time”…

*Don’t ever tell Brian McGee that your the biggest fan of all time of something, because he will hold you to it.

As a midwesterner, going to the circus that is Shae Stadium, my brain jumped to this scene from Seinfeld:

But… I’m not really the one to be conservative… Especially when it comes to hanging out with “The Biggest Mets Fans of All Time”. The face was not enough… It had to be the full body.

igocrazyagainAs an art major in college, i would put my skills and school supplies to use on a regular basis for our basketball games as part of the University of Dayton’s mens basketball fan section “The Red Scare”, so this called for similar circumstances. We wanted to make this a night these kids would never forget.

DSC02260We pick the kids up, trash bags and gallon of orange paint in the back bed of my pickup truck. When we get to the stadium we hop out and begin the painting process, getting a few looks and laughs by those passing by. Since there were 4 of us, it was a no brainer to spell out the team’s signature cheer “M-E-T-S”. Then we put our shirts back on to get through security and started looking for our seats.

I by default started heading up to the nosebleeds before i asked Ben for the tickets. That’s when my eyes almost bugged out of my head… We were on the 1st base line, 11th row, box seats, valued at over $100 per seat… Man were the people around us going to be pissed…

We played it cool, were respectable, the Mets got up early 5-0 in the 3rd and the place was electric… That’s when the fan cam started scanning the crowd… And as an attention starved adult in his mid 20’s, i took the leadership opportunity to remove my shirt, quickly followed by the others as we stood up, swirling our shirts over our heads and leading the M-E-T-S cheer. The crowd went nuts, they loved it, the cameras love it, we were a hit. Then the 4th inning came. People caught wind of where we were sitting and now everyone and their mother wanted to come down and get their picture taken with us. This really began to irritate the people around us who had paid so much money to watch the game only to have such a circus going on around them. Security caught wind of this and sent down the Junior Varsity squad to politely ask us to consider relocating to the upper deck “with the rest of our type”…

STUNNED…. Did he really just say that… SERIOUSLY?

Well, instead of letting my pride get the best of me, we decided to head up to the nosebleeds and see if we could meet some other super fans.

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Well… not really, just these clowns… We gave it an inning… Won the Bubba Burger Fans of the game, but were growing board by the pitch and wanted our seats back. The thirst for attention got the best of us. We wanted that jumbotron again, and this game was getting close. We got back down to our seats, and were met with a round of applause. The fans were excited to have the “Greatest Mets Fans of All Time” back.

It lasted an inning. This time it wan’t the JV squad, but the varsity goones. It was the 7th inning now and the head security honcho came down and said that we needed to pipe down and put our shirts on. Try telling that to 2 7th graders and see how long it lasts before they rebel. The Mets were starting to falter a bit, and we knew we needed to get the crowd back into it, so we stood back up, shirts off and were going nuts. Within a minute, the goones were all over us. I got grabbed on the shoulder and was told to follow the security guard and not to ask questions. I immediately wanted to know what was the problem, I didn’t realize that being a fan was against the law. You could hear a chorus of Boo’s from METS fans as they lost their fans, as by this point, we were more entertaining than the game. In my last stand, I boldly let out a furious boast of “YOU WILL NEVER WIN A GAME IF YOU CONTINUE TO TREAT YOUR FANS LIKE THIS!” With all of the boldness of that man with his goat probably did. We were rushed down a hallway, led to a gate, and thrown out of the game, accused of being a drunk and a bunch of hooligans. <neither was true>. While we were at the game, the camera girl came around and took our picture of us at the game. I thought to myself later that week… Hmmmm, i wonder if they posted this on their site…. Well, not only was it on their site, but they had also used the image to publicize their end of the season ticket sales stating “Come out to Shae and Cheer on the Mets!” I was outraged… Where was the subtitle “And get tossed out like a piece of garbage!” Grrrrrrrr. At least I had the curse, and I hoped they seriously never did win a game again…

They didn’t… They lost 12 of the next 17 games, losing their 7 game lead, and failed to make the playoffs on the last day. Nothing brought me more joy than watching that happen. I absolutely believed it. I really cursed the Mets. I had the control now and I wasn’t letting go. I held onto this vendetta for quite sometime. I guess it wasn’t really until the Reds made their return to the playoffs in 2010 that I lost interest in hating the Mets. But that was also the year that I married a Mets fan… which brought my hatred back full fledge!

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<after being kicked out, we went all over Long Beach taking pictures of how awesome we were>

Well anyway, Rounding Third and Heading for Home, This one Belongs to the Fans!

My dad and brother-in-law made it down to Great American Ballpark for Opening Day and had a great afternoon taking in all the festivities. Cincinnati is so rich in tradition for Opening Day. As the first city to host a professional baseball team, Cincinnati has a deep fondness for their team and the tradition. Enjoy some of the photographs:

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