I recognize that taste . . . it's very familiar . . . Ah yes, it's the aftertaste of dashed hope after another local sports team almost did something remarkable.
Like an oblivious teenager longing for reciprocal love, I give my all to my Cincinnati teams only to find myself crying into my pillow late at night. You think I'd be wiser after thirty-six years, but the leanings of my prepubescent heart always trumps acquired knowledge. I keep coming back for more and, thus, I'm constantly left with this taste of almost in my mouth—a full-bodied flavor of disappointment with just a hint of regret.
But I'm forever loyal to these teams; I just can't quit them.
It's in my DNA: I was born between Reds World Championships in the 1970s. And in my formative years, Cincinnati teams had a great run: between 1988 and 1991, the Reds won a World Series, the Bengals went to the Super Bowl, and UC basketball went to a Final Four. I remember jumping for joy when Todd Benzinger caught that foul ball in Oakland in 1990, but if that happened today, I might take off work for a week. This isn't New York: sports championships don't come by here very often. They're to be cherished and loved like your children (or at least like a nephew you see every couple of months).
Since those glory years, Cincinnati fans have been subjected to regular servings of almost: Bearcat basketball in the mid-1990's, the Reds in 1999 and 2010, Bearcat football in 2009, and the Bengals in 2005, 2009, and this year. You'd think just one of those teams could've won it all.
But despite all the pain, I persevere. I love this city and, by default, civic pride demands that I love our teams. Someday, in my lifetime, one of these teams will win it all. It will be epic. And all these years of almost will be instantly forgotten.
And it could always be worse: we could live in Cleveland.