In advance of the 2020 MLB playoffs, which would see the Reds enter the postseason for the first time in seven seasons, first baseman Joey Votto issued a statement all but designed to assure maximum exposure through traditional and social media.
“I think we’re an f—ing nightmare,” Votto said.
Though many believed this to be a bold declaration, he only was stating the obvious. Because the Reds are a sports team representing the city of Cincinnati. Those who grew up there, lived there or chose to adopt its teams through some bizarre sense of masochism understood how this flirtation with glory would end: in horrific, grotesque, heartbreaking fashion.
It is the only way.
Cincinnati is afflicted in pretty much everything it plays. There has been no major national championship in the city since the Reds won the World Series in 1990, and before that one must travel all the way back to 1976.
Consider how much has gone wrong, and how it has gone wrong, over the past quarter-century.
September-October 1999: The Reds were 95-63 after defeating the Astros in the first of a two-game series near the close of the National League season and held a one-game lead in the Central Division. They then lost their next three games, including two against fifth-place Milwaukee, and fell into a tie with the Mets for the wild card. In Game 163 at Cinergy Field (nee Riverfront Stadium), Cincinnati fell behind New York 2-0 in the first inning and lost, 5-zip.
March 2000: With the Bearcats ranked No. 1 in college basketball, national Player of the Year Kenyon Martin collided with an opponent while setting a simple down screen early in a conference tournament game against Saint Louis. His leg twisted oddly; he was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with a fractured tibia. Without him, UC lost in the NCAA Tournament second round.
January 2006: Having won the AFC North with an 11-5 record, the Bengals played host to their first playoff game in 15 years — since, indeed, 1990 — against the rival Steelers. On the Bengals’ second offensive play, quarterback Carson Palmer dropped into the pocket and found receiver Chris Henry deep downfield for a 66-yard gain. As he released the pass, however, Steelers defensive end Kimo von Oelhoffen — a former Bengal, naturally — hit him low and the result was a torn ACL for Palmer. Playing with backup John Kitna, the Bengals fell 31-17 to the eventual Super Bowl champs.
December 2006: With a chance to earn a playoff berth on Christmas Eve, the Bengals rallied from seven points down to score the tying touchdown with less than a minute left. One catch: For it to be the tying TD, the Bengals had to kick the extra point. The snap was wide, the ball never got placed and the Bengals lost, 24-23. The Bengals missed the playoff party. (Just to ice it, kicker Shayne Graham missed a 39-yarder the following week that would have beaten the Steelers with eight seconds left in regulation and the Bengals allowed a 67-yard touchdown pass on the third play of OT).
December 2009: After completing an undefeated regular season and winning the Big East by winning one of the best college football games of the century, 45-44 over Pitt, the Cincinnati Bearcats discovered a small opening that could put them into the BCS Championship game. If Texas were to lose to Nebraska in the Big 12 title game, it almost certainly would have been UC vs. Alabama for the national title.
Texas trailed, 12-10, inside the final two minutes. The Longhorns faced a 3rd-and-13 situation from the NU 29 with eight seconds left. UT All-American Colt McCoy rolled out and tried to throw away the ball over the sideline. The stadium clock rolled to :00 and the Huskers (and presumably Bearcats at home) celebrated. However, the replay showed that there still was a second left, and the Longhorns kicked a game-winning, 46-yard field goal.
To make this a genuine Cincy calamity, coach Brian Kelly left the Bearcats to take the Notre Dame job before they played their bowl game.
October 2012: Eight pitches into the opening game of the National League Division Series, Reds ace Johnny Cueto walked off the mound in apparent pain and was visited by his trainer and manager. He did not pitch again that season, and the Reds lost the series in five games — after three straight losses at home — to eventual World Series champ San Francisco.
January 2016: The Bengals made their fifth consecutive NFL playoff appearance (but had lost their first game in the previous four). They trailed the Steelers 15-0 when linebacker Vontaze Burfict slammed Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger with a sack and Roethlisberger left with an injured shoulder. With Pittsburgh’s offense suddenly inert, the Bengals rallied with two touchdowns and a field goal to take a 16-15 lead. Roethlisberger re-entered for one last, desperate rally. When he overthrew Antonio Brown near midfield with 22 seconds left, a Cincinnati victory seemed secure, but as the ball bounced down the field Burfict slammed into Brown’s helmet and was called for a personal foul. Cornerback Adam Jones then was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, and the 30 yards in penalties gave Pittsburgh’s Chris Boswell a 35-yard chip shot to win it. Which he made.
March 2016: In the American Athletic Conference Tournament quarterfinals against Connecticut, Cincinnati Bearcats guard Chris Johnson had just made a 3-pointer from the left wing to break a tie with .8 seconds left in a third overtime period. Somehow, in what little time was left, UConn’s Jalen Adams threw in a 75-foot shot to tie the game. And UConn won in the fourth overtime.
March 2016 (again): That Bearcats team still earned an NCAA Tournament bid and was seeded into an 8/9 game against Saint Joseph’s. Holding a one-point lead in the closing seconds of their NCAA Tournament game, the Bearcats got caught on a bad defensive switch and allowed Isaiah Miles an open 3-pointer to put the Hawks up by two. Cincinnati’s Troy Caupain advanced the ball, drew a double-team and slipped a pass across the lane to center Octavius Ellis. He rose to dunk the ball and scored — and was struck on the top of the head by a defender as he attempted to dunk — but as he threw the ball through the rim his right hand was still attached while the red light to signal the end of the game illuminated.
March 2016 (yet again): The No. 2 seed Xavier Musketeers held a 59-51 lead on No. 7 seed Wisconsin with 5:17 remaining but scored only four more points the rest of the way, giving up the ball twice on turnovers and making only 2 of 6 from the field. After Badgers guard Bronson Koenig made a 3-pointer to tie the game with 13 seconds left, XU still had the ball with a chance to take a final shot to either win the game or allow it to go into overtime.
Freshman guard Edmond Sumner made his move with more than five seconds left, and as he approached the right side of the lane he contacted UW’s Zak Showalter. As he was being struck, Showalter gambled that accentuating his fall — potentially leaving open Sumner to shoot in the game winner — was likely to draw a charge call on Xavier. It did. Wisconsin inbounded the ball, rushed it to midcourt, called time with two seconds left, then inbounded to Koenig, who spun into the right corner guarded perfectly by XU’s Remy Abell. No matter. This is Cincinnati sports. Of course Koenig’s 3-pointer fell directly through the net.
March 2018: This was among the hardest to believe, and figures to be among the most difficult to get past. With the NCAA South Region bracket beckoning with the exits of No. 1 seed Virginia, No. 3 seed Tennessee and No. 4 seed Arizona, the No. 2 seed Cincinnati Bearcats controlled the first 30 minutes of their game against Nevada to such an extent that they led by 22 points with 11:34 to play. They got a stop after that, had a chance to stretch it even further or at least waste a bunch of time, but sophomore Jarron Cumberland curiously opted to shoot a 22-foot 3-pointer with 17 seconds on the shot clock. That did not fall. It felt like maybe an omen.
It got ugly from there. Cincinnati scored just eight points in the time that remained. Nevada scored 32, including Josh Hall’s fortunate follow — ultimately the game-winner — when the Bearcats failed to clear a defensive rebound. They still had nine seconds left, but guard Cane Broome did not manage to get off a shot at the rim.
It became the second-biggest collapse in NCAA Tournament history.
Hours later, on the same court at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, No. 1 West Region seed Xavier held a four-point lead over No. 9 seed Florida State inside the final four minutes. The Musketeers were outscored 11-2 in the time that remained and were eliminated, 75-70.
September 2020. The Reds won their final five series of the regular season went 12-4 in their final 16 games and were in position to start presumptive Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer in their opening game of a three-game playoff series against the Braves. That seemed promising.
Ah, but that is not how it works.
Bauer pitched not like a Cy Young Award winner, but like Cy Young himself. He lasted two outs into the eighth and struck out 12 batters, allowing only two hits and no walks.
He left with the score 0-0. The Reds were on their way to becoming the first team in MLB postseason history to record at least 11 hits and be shut out. They lost in the 13th inning, on an RBI single to center (with a base open) by presumptive National League MVP Freddie Freeman.
The Reds took the field the following day and showed that offensive impotence was no fluke, this time managing just two hits but blowing a bases-loaded opportunity in the second inning. The Braves put them out of their misery with two eighth-inning home runs and won, 5-0 — making the Reds the first team ever to lose a playoff series without scoring a run.
Through two days, the Reds left 17 runners on base.
A freaking nightmare, indeed.
There have been so many.
Source: Read Full Article