Last Thursday, LeBron James decided to leave the Midwest for the sunshine in Miami, and with that, changed the entire landscape of professional sports in Ohio.
The Cavaliers, or more importantly James, had become the heart of the professional state. They had reached the 2007 Finals, had the best regular season record two straight seasons and the best player in the respective sport.
For Cincinnati, basketball has not been as relevant since the days of Oscar Robertson and the Cincinnati Royals. Therefore, I write this view not from a basketball perspective, but a whole "sport-state" perspective.
The state currently has seven professional sports teams that include:
Cincinnati Bengals, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Cavaliers, Columbus Blue Jackets and the Columbus Crew (MLS).
With LeBron now gone from the picture, there are truly only two franchises that can currently take claim at this time to being the Kings of Ohio: the Cincinnati Reds and the Cleveland Browns.
An argument could be made for the Cincinnati Bengals, but their past season of success, a divisional title is not enough force to make up for their lean history of success.
Now, for those of you who want to argue for Ohio State, this is only an argument at the professional level, so Ohio State Football is not valid within these walls of argument. That is for a collegiate debate.
In this article, I will speak on the strength of reason the Cincinnati Reds should be considered the Kings of Ohio.
Right now as we lay at the All-Star break, the Reds lead the Central Division (49-41) by a game over the perennial division champ St. Loius Cardinals. The trio of Scott Rolen, Brandon Phillips, and National League home run leader (22) Joey Votto have all helped in creating the division lead. The Reds look as strong as they have since the 1995 Playoff season where they battled the Braves. That is just a jumping point to start off the discussion.
The Reds are the last team in the state of Ohio to win a pro championship. Cleveland has been high and dry, but the Reds were able to take home the title in a suprise at the time by dismantling the Oakland Athletics in the 1990 World Series.
If I mention the name Chris Sabo, I'm sure it will put a smile on a few faces who have forgotten him. There is always Barry Larkin, Eric Davis, the mean bullpen trio which included Norm Charlton and the dominant Jose Rijo. They brought luster to a team which had not seen it in the 80's. However, the 70's were not so bad for the Red Stockings either.
These were times when the roster included players such as: Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, George Foster, Dave Concepcion, Gary Nolan and the original Ken Griffey—a finely tuned bunch who won back-to-back titles in 1975 and 1976.
The titles are what people remember, and unfortunately, it has been two decades since they last took home the title, but the history remains. The fact that they have been around since 1882 (or 1869 depending on which Red Stockings team you recognize), shows the immense amount of time they have been able to hold a place in professional sports.
They have the Hall of Fame players such as Pete Rose, and the moments such as his all-time hits mark set in Cincinnati. You could make an all-time Reds roster that could compete with any other one in the league. They might not beat the Yankees all-time or Dodgers all-time team, but they would sure give them one tough game or tough series.
The Reds have an illustrious past to go from and a bright future ahead of them as we watch this season unfold and those to come. If the young men can continue to develop and the minor league players can continue to grow into productive players at the professional ranks, this could be a championship caliber team.
Just the thing worth noting in a team to be considered the Kings of Ohio.