Let me tell you about the hardest job in sports today.
To do it, you have to be creative, patient, tolerant, non-judgmental, incurably optimistic and well-versed in historical sports calamity.
Your voice can betray no emotions. You can’t sigh or chuckle Incredibly or burst out laughing at the awful-ness of it all. If you can’t keep yourself from banging your head off the nearest wall, you better be discrete about it.
There might be a million synonyms for “lousy”but you can’t use any of them.
You don’t get hazardous duty pay, you can’t list “mental fatigue” when filing a health insurance claim. You need to take it one game at a time, even if one game seems like 1,000 re-runs of I Married Dora.
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Nothing changes but the scenery, and even then, all the Marriotts look the same.
You are a broadcaster for the Cincinnati Reds. Heaven help ya.
Tommy Thrall didn’t recall what the score was. It was late in the Reds-Brewers game Wednesday night, another lopsided L, about as compelling as a nap. Thrall had it 18-0, Brewers, 16-0 Brewers then finally and correctly, 18-3 Brewers. At least I think that’s how he had it. I was nodding off myself.
This isn’t to besmirch Tommy. Just the opposite. I listen most nights and I’m amazed at how Thrall, Jeff Brantley and Chris Welsh can keep the broadcasts worthy of our ears. Not only does The Club lose every night, it loses in the same fashion. How does anyone make this listenable?
It’s like handing cat chow to one of Jeff Ruby’s chefs and telling him to make a Steak Burrow.
Announcers generally are paid by the ballclub or have to be approved by the ballclub. That makes them beholden to the ballclub. The days of having broadcasters like Marty Brennaman are over. So if you’re Thrall, you’re in the position of trying to entertain without being overly critical. And unlike a writer, you’re working without a net.
I could no more write a Reds column every day between now and October than I could fly a rocket ship to Mars.
I have no idea how these guys do this. I have calls in to ask them.
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How do you make it more interesting than reading the back of a cereal box?
What’s the predominant emotion in the booth? Anger, pity, frustration, homicide? All of the above?
What’s more fun, calling a Reds game or falling off a ladder?
Writing opinion gives me some leeway. When the Bengals were losing weekly for 12 years straight, I could get a little cheeky. One Sunday in about 1995, I raked leaves for a woman in Hyde Park, rather than cover the football game. A few years later, I did a poll after 12 games, asking readers for permission to stop covering the team. I offered to spend my energies on college basketball, high school football playoffs and finding a cure for cancer.
Readers said they didn’t care where I went, as long as it was away.
I showed up with John Popovich on Sports of All Sorts, wearing a bag on my head. Early in the 2000s, I embraced the bank of TVs along the back wall of the press dining area. They showed every other NFL game played at that time. I wrote a column during a Bengals home game at PBS about 49ers-Cowboys, while the Bengals were getting pounded by Pittsburgh right outside the glass window in front of my seat. The Monday after Gary Reasons flipped Dave Shula’s ballcap during a freaking game, I arrived at Shula’s presser wearing my ballcap backwards.
I did a column during a Bye Week about how the Bengals picked up their first W of the year. Against Bye.
And so on. We laugh to keep from crying.
I know covering sports for a living is a veritable box of chocolates. But covering this particular team in this year presents a unique challenge that, in its way, is every particular bit as dreadful as picking up highway trash while wearing an orange jumpsuit. Its own special confinement.
Now, then . . .
.LOSE AGAIN, THEY DID. . . We are reaching the point where the anger is spent, the disgust is gone, the apathy is approaching (it’s not yet arrived, you still rip ’em after every game), all replaced by a profound sadness.
Baseball is personal here. The game might not be what it once was, but it remains a stitch in the fabric of who we are around here. This isn’t Pittsburgh, with its Steelers brawn and its valley of great quarterbacks. (Namath, Montana, Marino, Jim Kelly.) It’s not New York’s basketball playgrounds. It’s Cincinnati, where baseball helps define us. it was once a source of great pride.
Not to say it can’t be again, but it doesn’t look good in the near term, and my crystal ball is in the shop.
Every loss whittles down our pride a little more. Every futility player the Reds wheel into town makes the already painful truth more painful. There isn’t much to work with here.
soon enough, we’ll avoid the hurt by trying to ignore it. That’s the worst. Reversing apathy in a sport already lacking new enthusiasm is akin to a magic trick.
So, we’re sad. The Reds have taken a chunk of summer from us, and it’s only May.
AND NOW, YOU REALLY NEED A SHOT O’ FUN . . .
Hey Michelle! is at your service.
This was a hard weekend to narrow down! So much fun stuff
Salsa on the Square ~ OK now this just screams warm weather and fun! Starting Thursday May 5th (Cinco De Mayo) is Salsa dancing on Fountain Square with live music now until September. It’s so fun… you have to give it a try.
With so many concert venues nearby you can catch live music just about every night! Friday, May 6th is one of my faves – Leon Bridges. He’s such a soulful musician and truly a crowd pleaser. Catch him at the Andrew J Brady/Icon indoor venue.
Asian Food Fest ~ May 7th 11am-10pm & 8th 11am-8pm on Court St. You’ll get your fill of so many amazing Asain dishes and there is non-stop dance and live music entertainment. So, go celebrate the year of the Tiger and Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
Just when you think the weekend fun is over… Monday fun is here ~ CIncy Chefs Cook for Ukraine is putting on Pierogi for Peace May 9th 6-9 at the cook new OTR Stillhouse. Over 40 different chefs have made their signature pierogi. Enjoy, beer, wine, live music and more. Tickets available on cincychefs.com
Imbiber Dave says at least the beer was cold.
We aren’t going to talk about the team that typically occupies the field at Great American Ballpark. Here at Imbibe Central, we work hard to focus on the positives.
Seems that the stadium experience staff has been very busy. The View Level (400) could lovingly be described at one time as appointed with Spartan accommodations. It reminded me a lot of Riverfront, home of the single ice cream stand.
Well the sparse offerings are no more. Not only are most of the Field Level brands like LaRosa’s now represented, but the beer selection is vastly improved. I grabbed a MadTree Rounding Third immediately upon entering to survive making it that far with two small humans in tow, but was delighted to find a Moerlein Smithy Helles Lager at their dedicated brewery stand upstairs.
In addition to the Fioptics viewing area in left field, there is now a right field family zone, complete with playground, jungle gym and batting cages.
Along with an amazing river view, this turned out to be a cool spot to check out in a situation where the baseball is slightly below average, and you could afford to burn a few calories in between popcorn, peanutsand pizza.
Toughest decision of the night was Graeter’s or helmet soft serve with sprinkles. Serious question, they serve nachos in full size helmets now, what’s wrong with a gallon of Black Raspberry Chip slung in one of those bad boys?
TUNE O’ THE DAY. . . Sad song to fit my ball-loving mood.
Look like nothin’s gonna change
Everything still remains the same.