Author Archives: Russ Wight
The Reds have once again proven that the “small market” label used by many sports teams is nothing more than an excuse.
In 2012, fans were preparing for the worst, fearing that two of their stars would skip town for a long-term contract and bag o’ cash. Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto were outgrowing Cincinnati and the small-town Reds. Could the Reds possibly scrape up the money to sign one of them? After Votto agreed to the biggest contract in club history, Phillips signed a six-year deal for big money.
The Reds have inked Homer Bailey to a six-year, $105 million contract. The 27-year old has developed into the pitcher that the club and fans have been waiting on. I really like this deal. Bailey has his moments, but he is a workhorse with immense talent.
In case you haven’t heard, the Super Bowl is this Sunday. Talking heads from across the country have flocked to New York and set up camp on what is know as “radio row”. Turn on just about any nationally syndicated sports radio show this week and you will hear some version of the following…
- Host recaps guests from earlier in the week
- Host says the exact time that the next “big” guest will be on the air
- Host will recite every impressive statistic that the guest ever compiled and verify what a good guy the guest is
- The guest will not be there on time, allowing the host to fill a few minutes before repeating every statistic and accolade that was mentioned 2 minutes before
- The guest is introduced, which includes the customary exchange of pleasantries (“Bro” and “My Man” are always popular choices)
- 3 basic topics – Discuss guest’s playing career, how guest would fare in today’s NFL and, finally, the guest will pitch their new, revolutionary product
That’s pretty much it. We have one more day. Tomorrow will be more of the same along everyone’s prediction for the big game.
It may sound like I am making fun of the process. Maybe I am? However, Monday will mark the beginning of the absolute worst time of the year – the dark period between the end of the football season and Spring Training.
The sadness/bitterness/anger that has swept across the Bengals fanbase this week is not showing any signs of letting up. On the team’s official Facebook page, a question was posted asking fans to list their favorite memory of the 2013 season.
Here are a few…
- When Gruden accepted the Redskins job
- When they fired Marvin Lewis! Oh wait…
- That one time Andy Dalton didn’t throw 3 interceptions a game
- When the Chargers embarrassed us at home, nullified the entire season
- Getting let down yet once again in the playoffs, I love it!!
- When Marvin Lewis was fired. Oh, that’s right that was only a pleasant dream.
- When we were teased with a contender.
- Still waiting on it…the firing of Marvin Lewis.
- Watching us choke in the playoffs again
- When Dalton triumphed over pressure and adversity. Oh wait, that didn’t happen.
- This is too soon. I am still mourning.
- Well it sure wasn’t the playoff game I went to.
Read it for yourself. It goes on and on and on…
As Cincinnati returns to the playoffs this weekend, I decided to take a trip down memory lane. The last time the Bengals won a playoff game was January 6, 1991 against the Houston Oilers. It was also the first Bengals game I ever attended.
My family had been to Riverfront Stadium many times to see the Cincinnati Reds. It was really weird to see the field transformed into a football field. The lower level of seats, or “blue seats”, had been shifted around to make the playing area more suitable for football. At the time, I had no idea those sections of seats could even move. The white paint on the Astroturf had changed from baselines to yard lines. Dad and I made our way to the upper deck or “red seats”. We were right under the scoreboard, just a few rows from the very top.
I learned very quickly that the atmosphere for a football game was quite different than baseball. The intensity and excitement was incredible! I can remember a guy sitting near us screaming, “Holman! Holman!” as Tight End Rodney Holman raced down the sideline. Quarterback Boomer Esiason complied with the fan’s wishes and connected with his tight end for a big gain and the rout was on. The Bengals jumped out to a 34-0 lead in the third quarter en route to a 41-14 victory. Esiason, running backs Ickey Woods and Eric Ball each rushed for a touchdown. Kicker Jim Breech kicked two field goals. Running Back Harold Green and Tight End/Wide Receiver Eric Kattus each caught a touchdown pass from Esiason.
The Bengals ended up losing the following week against the Raiders, but the experience I had caused me to frequent Riverfront Stadium a lot more after the baseball season ended.
I have no idea how many Bengals games I have attended. I’ve even made road trips to Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Detroit. My family and I are able to make it to Paul Brown Stadium at least once a year. However, I will never forget the excitement of my first Bengals game. Hopefully, the fans lucky enough to be in the seats on Sunday will be able to experience a playoff victory too. It’s been long enough.
Fans of the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns can always share one thing – hatred for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Ladies and gentlemen, why I hate the Baltimore Ravens…
Joe Flacco. His name reminds me of Shane Falco, the quarterback of the Washington Sentinels in The Replacements. The Sentinels’ head coach was played by Gene Hackman, who played Norman Dale in Hoosiers. He would have never won that state championship without Jimmy Chitwood.
History. I will admit that I didn’t exactly lose any sleep when the Browns packed up and moved to Baltimore. However, Art Modell flipping the bird (pun intended) at one of the league’s most loyal fan bases was an absolute tragedy. I was at the last game in Cleveland Stadium and it was really sad.
Team Name. Ravens? I can’t help but think of Raven-Seymone, who played Olivia on The Cosby Show 20 years ago. The problem is I remember her being on the show, which shows how old I am getting.
Logo and Colors. I always think something is wrong with my television when I see the red blocks on their logo at midfield. Purple and black were the same colors as my college baseball team and I always thought they were stupid. Besides, watching a man dressed in Barney colors flapping his arms like a bird after making a tackle is just disturbing.
The Bengals continued their home field domination today with a 42-14 destruction of the Minnesota Vikings. Couple that with the Patriots beating the Ravens and the Bengals are AFC North Champions!
Andy Dalton had a big day, completing 27 of 38 passes for 366 yards and four touchdowns. He now has 31 touchdown passes for the season, one shy of Carson Palmer’s single-season club record. Dalton is also just the fourth quarterback in NFL history to take his team to the playoffs in his first three seasons.
It has been a fun season in Cincinnati, but there is unfinished business. A division title means nothing with another one-and-done in the playoffs. The Bengals have surpassed the “happy to be here” phase and the players know it. This team is capable of more, a lot more.
With a win against the Ravens next Sunday, the Bengals will lock themselves in as the #2 seed and, hopefully, begin a run to the Super Bowl!
The Reds have announced report dates for Spring Training. Pitchers and catchers will report to Goodyear, Arizona on February 14 and will be followed by position players on February 19. There is also schedule, ticket and travel information on reds.com.
The group that heads to Goodyear in February will look a lot different than the one that finished last year in Cincinnati. Most notably, Billy Hamilton will enter camp as the centerfielder. He will replace Shin-Soo Choo, who agreed to a 7-year deal with the Texas Rangers.
Regardless of what changes may take place in the next month or so, Spring Training is always an exciting time. So, if you want to get me a Christmas present, how about speeding up the calendar?
The Cincinnati Reds made a move, albeit a small one, signing Chien-Ming Wang to a minor league deal. Wang will be invited to Spring Training. If Wang can show he still has what it takes and makes the club, he will be surely be embraced by Reds fans as one of their own. A strong spring would make this Wang move seem rather large.
A team can never have enough pitching depth, so I hope Reds fans get their Wang and hold on to him. There may be a period of acclimation for people to familiarize themselves with this Wang, not to confused with Vera Wang, Alexander Wang or Wang Chung. You can always check Google for Wang information, pictures or even video. Please remember to protect yourselves and examine your Wang results before clicking. One should avoid messing around with an unknown or strange Wang.
The Reds’ Wang last performed at the highest level in July of 2013. He will need to show that he is able to return to that level without any performance enhancing drugs, which he has never used to my knowledge. Exercises will be encouraged. I would assume that many pitchers swim to strengthen their bodies. However, I am not sure which strokes the Reds’ Wang is familiar with.
He won’t get to work with Dusty Baker, but I think that is a positive thing. A Dusty-Wang combination wouldn’t have benefitted anyone. Wang will get time to work with bullpen coach, Mack Jenkins, who loves working with his pitchers. I am sure Mack will be all over his Wang early in the spring.
What do you think? Will we get to see the Reds’ Wang with a ball in 2014?