I have been a curse to my favorite teams. This is my only explanation for 21 years of ineptitude. The two teams closest to my heart, the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Browns, have combined for only 2 division titles and one Wild Card berth in my lifetime. One of those division titles occurred when I was 4 years old.
The last time either of my teams won a championship was 1990, when the Reds swept the “Bash Brother” A’s. My hometown team looked poised to repeat through half of the 1991 season, until they dropped 14 of 16 games in late July. I was born August 2 of that year.
It didn’t get better. My formative years were choked full of bad baseball and football. Ohio State won a championship and LeBron’s Cavaliers reached the Finals, but their success always left me feeling empty. I had hopped on the bandwagon for them. Those weren’t the teams I lived and died for.
This summer was my first away from home. And while I couldn’t watch from the stands at Great American, FSN Ohio got the job done. Through the first half of the summer, I was enjoying the Reds slight lead over the Cardinals in the NL Central. That was, until Joey Votto had arthroscopic surgery.
“This is it,” I told myself. “There goes the only offensive weapon they have. Season over.”
That 7-6 victory began the most exciting 3 weeks I have ever experienced as a sports fan. 17 games. 2 losses. Every game was like a chapter in a storybook, each with a new hero. Drew Stubbs, Scott Rolen, Wilson Valdez, Ryan Ludwick. All of them had been written off at some point as old, inept, and washed up. All of them had their defining moment at some point during the streak.
The streak was bittersweet, as I didn’t have the chance to experience it at home. The last time I wasn’t “in town” for the summer, the Reds won the World Series. Maybe I have found a way to reverse my curse.