Red’s offensive breakdown in the playoffs suggests the curse of being a Cincinnati sports fan could never give way
In the run-up to the 2020 MLB playoffs, which saw the Reds re-entering the postseason for the first time in seven seasons, first baseman Joey Votto made a statement that was anything but aimed at maximum notoriety through traditional and social Media to ensure.
“I think we are a big nightmare,” said Votto.
Although many believed this was a bold explanation, he only said the obvious. Because the Reds are a sports team that represents the city of Cincinnati. Those who grew up there, lived there, or decided to adopt their teams through a bizarre sense of masochism understood how that flirtation with fame would end: in a terrible, grotesque, heartbreaking way.
It’s the only way.
MORE: Any MLB team’s worst postseason memory, revamped
Cincinnati is affected by pretty much everything it plays. There hasn’t been a major national championship in town since the Reds won the World Series in 1990, and before that you have to travel back to 1976.
Think about how much went wrong and how much went wrong in the last quarter century.
September-October 1999: The Reds were 95-63 after beating the Astros in the first of a two-game series towards the end of the National League season, and were one game ahead in the Central Division. They then lost their next three games, including two against the fifth Milwaukee, and fell for the wild card with the Mets. In Game 163 at Cinergy Field (nee Riverfront Stadium), Cincinnati fell 2-0 in the first inning behind New York and lost with 5 zips.
March 2000: With the Bearcats in first place in college basketball, national player of the year Kenyon Martin collided with an opponent while turning down a simple screen at the start of a conference tournament game against Saint Louis. His leg twisted strangely; He was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with a broken tibia. Without him, UC lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
January 2006: After winning AFC North by an 11-5 record, the Bengals hosted their first playoff game in 15 years – since 1990 – against rivals Steelers. In the Bengals’ second offensive game, quarterback Carson Palmer fell into his pocket and found receiver Chris Henry deep in the field for a 66-yard gain. When he released the pass, Steeler’s defensive end Kimo von Oelhoffen – a former Bengal, of course – hit him deeply and the result was a torn ACL for Palmer. The Bengals played with backup John Kitna and fell between 31 and 17 against the eventual Super Bowl champions.
December 2006: With a chance to secure a spot in the playoffs on Christmas Eve, the Bengals rallied from seven points down to score the all-important touchdown in less than a minute. One catch: In order for it to be the binding TD, the Bengals had to kick the extra point. The snap was long, the ball was never placed and the Bengals lost 24-23. The Bengals missed the playoff party. (Just to freeze it up, kicker Shayne Graham missed a 39-yarder the following week that would have beaten the Steelers by eight seconds, and the Bengals allowed a 67-yard touchdown pass for OT’s third game).
December 2009: After the Cincinnati Bearcats completed an unbeaten regular season and won the Big East with one of the best college football games of the century (45-44) against Pitt, they discovered a small opening that could include them in the BCS championship game. If Texas lost to Nebraska in the Big 12 title game, it would almost certainly have been UC versus Alabama for the national title.
Texas followed in the last two minutes with 12:10. The Longhorns faced a situation of 3rd and 13th of NU 29 with eight seconds ahead. UT All-American Colt McCoy rolled over and tried to throw the ball over the sideline. The stadium clock rolled up: 00 and the Huskers (and probably Bearcats at home) celebrated. However, the replay showed there was a second left and the Longhorns kicked a game-winning 46-yard field goal.
To make this a real Cincy calamity, trainer Brian Kelly left the Bearcats to take the Notre Dame job before playing their bowl game.
BENDER: Where are Reds and Indians going after the playoff nightmare?
October 2012: Eight places in the opening game of the National League Division Series, Reds ace Johnny Cueto went off the hill in obvious pain and was attended by his coach and manager. This season he was no longer at the start, and the Reds lost the series in five games – after three defeats in a row at home – against eventual world champions of the series, San Francisco.
January 2016: The Bengals competed in the NFL playoffs for the fifth time in a row (but had lost their first game in their last four games). They followed the Steelers 15-0 when linebacker Vontaze Burfict hit Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger with a sack and Roethlisberger left with an injured shoulder. After Pittsburgh’s offensive suddenly became sluggish, the Bengals rallied with two touchdowns and a field goal to take a 16-15 lead. Roethlisberger came back for one last, desperate rally. Crashing Antonio Brown near midfield with a 22-second lead, Cincinnati seemed certain to win, but when the ball bounced across the field, Burfict slammed Brown’s helmet and was prompted for a personal foul. Cornerback Adam Jones was then flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, and the 30 yards on penalties gave Pittsburgh’s Chris Boswell a 35-yard chip shot to win it. What he has done.
March 2016: In the quarterfinals of the American Athletic Conference Tournament against Connecticut, Cincinnati Bearcats security guard Kevin Johnson had just made a 3-pointer from the left wing to break a 0.8-second tie in a third overtime. Somehow, UConn’s Jalen Adams threw a 75-foot shot in the remaining time to tie the game. And UConn won in the fourth extension.
March 2016 (again): The Bearcats team was still receiving an NCAA tournament offer and was put in an 8/9 game against Saint Joseph’s. The Bearcats had a one-point lead in the final seconds of their NCAA tournament play and were caught by a poor defensive switch. They allowed Isaiah Miles an open 3-pointer to add two to the Hawks. Cincinnati’s Troy Caupain advanced the ball, drew a doubles team, and slid a pass across the track to center Octavius Ellis. He rose to dip the ball and hit – and was hit on the top of the head by a defender trying to dive – but when he threw the ball through the edge, his right hand was still attached during that illuminated red light signaling the end of the game.
March 2016 (again): The # 2 Xavier Musketeers had a 59:51 advantage over # 7 Wisconsin 5:17, but scored just four points the rest of the way, gave up twice on turnovers, and only made 2 of 6 out of the field. After Badgers guardian Bronson Koenig made a 3-pointer to tie the game by 13 seconds, XU still had a chance to take one final shot to either win the game or go into overtime.
Freshman security guard Edmond Sumner made his move more than five seconds ahead and as he approached the right side of the lane he contacted UW’s Zak Showalter. When he was beaten, Showalter bet that stressing his fall – possibly leaving Sumner open to shoot the game winner – would likely spark an indictment against Xavier. It did. Wisconsin threw in the ball, crashed it into midfield, called two seconds before the end of the time, and then met Koenig, who turned in the right corner and was perfectly guarded by Remy Abell of XU. No matter. This is Cincinnati Sport. Of course, Koenig’s 3-hand fell straight through the net.
March 2018: This was one of the hardest to believe and the numbers that were the hardest to overcome. With the NCAA South Region bracket waving the Virginia No. 1, Tennessee No. 3, and Arizona No. 4 exits, the Cincinnati No. 2 Bearcats controlled the first 30 minutes of their game against Nevada to such an extent that they did led by 22 points with 11:34 to play. After that, they paused, had a chance to stretch it even further, or at least waste a ton of time, but by the sophomore year Jarron Cumberland curiously decided to shoot down a 22-foot-3 hand with 17 seconds on the shot clock. That didn’t fall. It felt like an omen.
From there it got ugly. Cincinnati only scored eight points in the remaining time. Nevada scored 32 points, including Josh Hall’s lucky entourage – ultimately the winner of the game – when the Bearcats failed to make a defensive rebound. They had nine seconds left, but security guard Cane Broome failed to get a shot in the rim.
It became the second largest collapse in the history of the NCAA tournament.
Hours later, in the same square at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, West Region number 1, Xavier, had a four point lead over the number 9 state of Florida in the last four minutes. The Musketeers were 11 in the remaining time: 2 beaten and eliminated at 75:70.
September 2020. The Reds won their last five regular season series 12-4 in their last 16 games and were able to start alleged Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer in their opening game of a playoff series with three games against the Braves. That seemed promising.
Ah, but that’s not how it works.
Bauer wasn’t like a Cy Young Award winner, but like Cy Young himself. He took two outs to eighth and knocked out 12 batters, which allowed for only two hits and no walks.
He went 0-0 with the score. The Reds were on their way to becoming the first team in MLB postseason history to score at least 11 hits and be disfellowshipped. They lost in the 13th inning on an RBI single against Center (with an open base) by alleged MVP Freddie Freeman from the National League.
The Reds took the field the following day, showing that offensive impotence was no accident. This time they only managed two hits, but missed an opportunity with many bases in the second inning. The Braves got them out of their misery with two home runs in the eighth inning and won 5-0. This makes the Reds the first team to ever lose a playoff series without scoring a run.
Within two days, the Reds left 17 runners on the base.
A bloody nightmare.
There were so many.