Pro Sports in Cincinnati—Now a Legacy of Losing

RG YohoCorrespondent ISeptember 24, 2008

Before the new baseball stadium, Great American Ballpark was built in Cincinnati, the owners of the Cincinnati Reds told us that they would put a winning baseball team on the field with its completion. Once again, another baseball season is almost over and Reds fans are still waiting for a team to post a winning record since the first paying customer parked his fanny in Great American Ballpark!

As a guy old enough to remember the Big Red Machine from the early to mid 70s, I am not so naïve to think that the Reds will ever again field a team with that nearly-invincible level of talent! I do, however, think it is possible for the Reds to put a team on the field that is the equivalent of the Reds team that won the 1990 World Series.

Moreover, I am not even asking for a World Series competitor. At this point, I would be more than satisfied with a team that would end the season with ONE more victory than they had losses! That would be a great improvement, something that I think most Reds fans would be delighted to see.

I know! I know! I am sure that someone will tell me all about the fact that Cincinnati is a small media market and cannot financially compete with the teams in the New York or Los Angeles areas in payroll. Yet I must point out that the Cincinnati market has not drastically changed in comparison to those other cities since a champagne-soaked Johnny Bench lifted a World Series trophy in 1976 or Barry Larkin lifted one in 1990.

Those World Series teams were forced to compete with the Los Angeles Dodgers on a yearly basis. They not only competed with them; they often beat them. And there is no legitimate reason why that still can’t happen today.

I think it is a tragedy what has happened to pro sports in Cincinnati. The proud citizens of Cincinnati and the fans who support them certainly deserve better. Moreover, I think the citizens of that great city have every reason to be incensed, not only at the Reds, but also at the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals, increasingly referred to as the Bungals.

Sadly, one of the greatest sports towns in America has been reduced to a nationwide joke.

Both of the owners of these beloved losers came to the citizens of the Cincinnati area and asked for tax incentives to build their football and baseball stadiums with their plush, high-priced luxury boxes. In addition, the owners held them hostage with threats that they might have to go elsewhere unless their demands were met for the taxpayers to pony up. And pony up they did!

And what have they been given for it?

The losses continue. The product on the field is at best, mediocre. An entire city still has to be ashamed of the record of its football and baseball teams. In addition, it now costs more money—in taxes and ticket prices—to support this growing legacy of losing!

Not only do those teams not win; they don’t compete. And increasingly, it looks as though the players on the field no longer care. And like the disaster that is happening in America’s banking industry, it also appears the ownership of the Reds and Bengals are clueless to resolve these problems.

The loyal fans of Cincinnati have tasted victory in the past and they certainly deserve to once again see an exciting and competitive product placed on the field. If the owners cannot make these improvements happen with the extra dollars they have demanded, then perhaps it is time for them to sell their interests to someone locally who will!