I started to type this post up at least three times last night. Each time, I got too pissed, slammed my laptop closed, and poured another whiskey. Eventually, I gave up and figured it would be easier after I slept things off. It isn't.
The fact is, Cincinnati sports are cursed. From college teams, all the way up to the pros...every organization in Cincinnati is cursed. I'm not sure what this city has done to piss off the sports gods so much. The only thing I can think of is that instead of erecting a golden calf for them, Cincy fans gave the sports gods the double middle fingers and hit them with a golden shower. And for their insubordination, they are sentenced to have their hearts ripped out season after season, in every single sport.
So I decided to rank just how cursed each team is in the Queen City.
Honorable Mention #1 - Cincinnati Cyclones
Most people forget the Cyclones even exist in this city, which is why they are the least cursed. Without a ton of people talking about them and watching games, the Cyclones have been free to fly under the radar in the Queen City and win two Kelly Cups.
But, unfortunately for the Cyclones team, they are a hockey team...and a minor league one at that. So they could win every championship and the majority of people in this city wouldn't really notice.
But as long as they keep doing dollar beer nights, people will keep going. But beware, Cyclones, as soon as people start to notice you, you'll never win again.
#5 - FC Cincinnati
FC Cincinnati SHOULD be the team that everyone in this city is excited about. They are a minor league team looking to make the jump to the MLS. They are setting attendance records. And, to be frank, it's fun to hang out and drink beers at their games.
Last year, FCC had a great run in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, reaching the semi-finals and beating a few MLS teams along the way. It felt like an audition for the MLS, and that FC Cincinnati made a big impact. But that's pretty much the only good thing about last season. FCC lost in the first round of the USL playoffs for the second year in a row (the only two years the team has been in existence).
Now, we can overlook the two playoff losses since it's the first two years of the team. That's forgivable. But what really helps this team earn the ranking of a cursed Cincinnati sports team is the absolute clusterfuck that FCC is going through right now trying to get their stadium deal in place.
Part of the requirement to move to the MLS is to have a soccer-specific stadium. FCC had three sites in mind, none of which sound overly appealing to fans. They are battling with city council and residents, setting deadlines on decisions, and having entire areas of the city saying, "thanks, but no thanks." As rough as this is, it may be great for FCC. They might have to put the stadium across the river in Newport, Kentucky. It's possible that the brown flowing mess we call the Ohio River that separates the states may be enough to kill any curse that has fallen on the city of Cincinnati. But the name may be enough to do them in. They should probably change it to FC Newport just to hedge their bets.
#4 - Xavier Musketeers
You can say it's biased to have Xavier this low on this list, and you might be right. But the fact that Xavier plays over their heads every so often gives them a slight pass here. Last year, the team shouldn't have seen the second weekend of the tournament. Instead, they made it to the Elite 8.
But when the lights are on, and the expectations are high, Xavier is known to have shit roll right down their legs. It's becoming a trend that if Xavier has a team that's worth a damn, they'll get beat early in the tournament. Two years ago, Xavier reached a #2 seed for the first time and were bounced in the second round by a last-second Wisconsin dagger. This year, the team hits a #1 seed for the first time ever, got as high as #3 in the AP rankings this season, and ended up blowing a 12 point lead to Florida State for another early exit.
Xavier can't seem to break through the Elite Eight. And every time they have a team that SHOULD do it, their fans are left pissed off after a second round exit. There is no way to know what to expect from Xavier from year to year, having done everything from failing to qualify, to losing in the First Four, to losing in the Elite Eight...and everywhere in between since the 2009-2010 season. They have seen more success than UC, heading to the Sweet Sixteen four times since Chris Mack took over in 2009-2010, and making it out of that round once. But for the most part, Xavier seems like a team that just can't get over the hump.
#3 - Cincinnati Reds
The Reds are a team that seem to have missed their window. Between 2010 and 2013 (excluding their shitty 2011 season), the Reds had the pitching, they had the offense, they should have broken through. But they didn't. The Cincinnati Curse hit hard, and slammed that window shut as quickly as it opened.
Since their 1990 World Series win, the team has made the playoffs four times and only made it past the first round once. After sweeping LA in the NLDS in 1995, the Reds were then promptly swept by the Braves in the NLCS. Since that time, they've never gotten past the first round, having been swept by the Phillies in 2010 in the NLDS, including getting no-hit in Game One of the series. Then they jumped out to a 2-0 lead over the Giants in 2012 and only had to win one of the next three at home to move on to the NLCS. But it was an even year, and they were playing San Francisco, so they proceeded to lose three straight and exit the playoffs. Their last playoff appearance was a loss in the Wild Card play-in game to division-rival Pittsburgh in 2013. What have you done for me lately, Reds? Well, they came in 4th in the NL Central, and are currently riding a three-year streak where they have come in dead-last in the division.
The worst part? It doesn't seem like they'll be better any time soon. They have young pitching that could be good. And an offense that can put up some runs if they are consistent. But we know how this one goes...and they won't. So I look forward to the Reds building things up, making the playoffs again, and then promptly getting bounced.
#2 - Cincinnati Bearcats
For the purposes of this post, I'm going to focus just on UC basketball. If I were to bring up their football team, UC fans will be quick to point out that, had Brian Kelly stayed instead of bolting for Notre Dame, UC would have finished their undefeated season by beating Florida. They wouldn't have done that. But we'll just ignore that for now to avoid the nasty comments.
UC is a program with huge name recognition, a long history of doing good things, the city's team...and they disappoint every year. I can't think of another team that blows it as much as the Bearcats do. It doesn't matter how great their team is, how favorable the match-ups, UC just can't get out of the first weekend of the tournament.
This year, things were shaping up great for the Bearcats. UC won their regular season and tournament championships, and were starting to click at the right time...earning a #2 seed in the tournament. As the tournament went on, the roadmap seemed even better for UC, with the #1, #3, and #4 seeds in their region all losing. All that UC had to do was get past UK in the Elite Eight and UC would be back on top in the city of Cincinnati. Instead, they blew a 22 point lead to Nevada with 10 minutes to go in the game, and ended up doing what UC does.
Over the last 20 years, UC has seen the Sweet Sixteen twice...and they lost both times they got there. They've earned one #1 seed, and three #2 seeds, and lost in the second round in all of those appearances. Nine times in that twenty year time frame, UC either failed to make the tournament or lost in the first round.
UC gets put higher on this list because every year they are supposed to make a run. And every year, they don't.
#1 - Cincinnati Bengals
And that brings us to the ultimate choke artists in the city of Cincinnati. No team has ripped out fans' hearts more often and in worse ways than the Bengals. Why are they the most cursed among all of the cursed teams in Cincinnati?
They've never won a Super Bowl, and haven't even sniffed it since losing to the Niners in 1988. Since that appearance, the Bengals have only won one Wild Card game (1990), before losing in the Divisional Round. They've blown it in seven Wild Card games since 1990. SEVEN. That includes in 2015, when the Bengals tied the record for the best record in franchise history, only to lose the game to the Steelers in one of the worst ways I've ever seen: with 1:36 to go, Jeremy Hill fumbled the ball while the Bengals were running out the clock. This opened the door for Ben Roethlisberger to come back into the game and lead the Steelers down the field. Only needing to get into FG range, Roethlisberger threw over the middle to Antonio Brown who was nearly decapitated by Vontaze Burfict, drawing a 15 yard penalty. Steelers coach Joey Porter came out onto the field and was able to taunt Adam Jones enough to draw a second 15 yard penalty. Those 30 yards put the Steelers into FG range, and set up the game-winning Chris Boswell field goal.
The Bengals haven't made the playoffs since, going 6-9-1 and 7-9. But have no fear! Marvin Lewis was signed to a two-year deal...and these last two years are PROBABLY his years.
There is no city on earth with worse luck than the city of Cincinnati. Save your breath, Cuckland. Lebron has taken you out of the conversation.
You can try to change my mind in the Craft Brewed Sports Facebook Group, or in the comments below. But I'm telling you, your city is nowhere near as cursed as the city of Cincinnati.