Discover more from The Riverfront by Chad Dotson
Can the Reds follow FC Cincinnati's lead?
The brightest spot in another disappointing Cincy sports year should give fans some hope
In some ways, we’re in the midst of another typical disappointing sports year for Cincinnati fans. The Reds were a lot of fun for long stretches of the 2023 campaign, but as often happens here, they fell just short, two games away from a playoff berth. Close enough to break your heart. You’ve seen that movie before.
The Bengals? After a dismal 27-3 loss to the Titans, Cincinnati sits at 1-3 and in the cellar of the AFC North. Sure, they started slowly last season before winning ten games in a row on their way to the AFC title game. But excitement for this year’s Bengals is fading quickly thanks to Joe Burrow’s calf injury and an offense that has scored fewer points through four games than any team in the conference.
University of Cincinnati football has lost three in a row and the Big 12 schedule ahead of them offers few easy opportunities to improve on that record. With Luke Fickell having defected to Wisconsin and 32 players gone from last year’s roster, coach Scott Satterfield has some work to do if the Bearcats want to extend their five-year Bowl streak.
Xavier hasn’t won a football game all season long!
But then there’s FC Cincinnati. I remember the first time I saw FCC playing as a United Soccer League club at Nippert Stadium. That was a revelation. I mean, I love soccer; I got up at 7:30am today to watch Tottenham Hotspur play Luton Town. I adore Premier League footy. But I had always had trouble getting into Major League Soccer. I dabbled for a while with the Columbus Crew, but it never really stuck.
And then I went to a minor league soccer game at a college football stadium, and I fell in love. We like to think of Cincinnati as a baseball town, but the passion I saw for FCC that day was glorious. Fast forward to the current day and FC Cincinnati has clinched the MLS Supporters’ Shield, awarded to the team who amasses the most points over the season. FCC has 65 points through 32 games (with two more to come). Is playoff glory ahead?
It has been a remarkable turnaround. Just two years ago, FCC were the worst team in MLS, with only 20 points over a full season. Last year saw them make real progress, qualifying for the playoffs after a campaign in which they improved to 49 points. In 2023, they are now among the favorites to win the MLS Cup.
Can the Reds engineer a similar three-season story? Look at the parallels:
2022: Rock-bottom! 100 losses for only the second time in franchise history.
2023: Progress! An 82-80 record, narrowly missing the playoffs.
For the Reds to take the final step and become legitimate championship contenders, it’ll take some work by management this off-season. It’ll be interesting to see what the front office does over the next four months. I won’t hold my breath waiting for the Reds to actually be aggressive in improving the club, but they have an incredible opportunity in front of them.
If Nick Krall, Phil Castellini, and company want to see how much fun a real contender can be here in Cincinnati, they should head over to TQL Stadium in the coming weeks. There’s no reason Great American Ball Park shouldn’t be filled with similarly energetic crowds next year.
This week at Cincinnati Magazine: Reds fans turn their focus to the front office
Think back, if you will, to mid-January. It was a simpler time. The Bengals were making another run to the conference championship. Cincinnati’s baseball nine were recovering from a 100-loss season, and Reds President Phil Castellini—in the latest instance of sticking his foot squarely in his mouth—made a presentation that named the Reds one of the big league clubs on a list of “Teams out of contention by Opening Day.”
Fast forward to April. General Manager Nick Krall had steadfastly refused to improve the pitching staff in the off-season, resulting in an Opening Day roster with only three legitimate big league hurlers. Then, in a turn of events that surprised no one, the Reds started the season 7-15, culminating in a four-game sweep at the hands of the Pirates that saw Cincinnati score just six runs. Was another 100-loss season on the horizon?
If you had told literally anyone outside the Cincinnati clubhouse at that precise moment that the Reds would be in playoff contention until the next-to-last game of the season, you would have been looked upon as an inveterate dreamer with a tenuous grasp on reality. But baseball is a weird sport. Read the rest of this week’s Reds column over at Cincinnati Magazine.
What’s Chad Watching?
Okay, this long list isn’t quite as ridiculous as it seems. There are two competing themes in the movies I’ve watched in recent days. First, it’s October, and the lovely Mrs. Dotson and I have decided to watch as many spooky movies as we can fit in. Secondly, Wes Anderson is a genius and Netflix dropped four shorts from Anderson within the last week.
Let’s talk about horror. Until I saw Barbarian last year, I didn’t know I liked horror movies. Something has changed. Now I can’t get enough of them. “Barbarian” zigged and zagged and surprised me at every turn. Watched it again this week and it was still great. Highly recommended.
Also watched Talk To Me, a film I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to catch in theaters. It was worth the wait. Four stars out of five.
And then there was Wes…
Wes Anderson may not be the best director working today. Martin Scorsese is still killing it, and his latest (Killers of the Flower Moon) will be in theaters this month. Quentin Tarantino is brilliant, and has never delivered a picture that I didn’t like. There are plenty of others for whom I’ll purchase a ticket any time they have a new film in theaters:
Paul Thomas Anderson (certified genius, as well),
Damien Chazelle (I’ve never been disappointed with one of his movies),
The Coen Brothers (I’m the Dude, so that’s what you call me),
Steven Spielberg (his latest was #2 on my list of the best movies of last year),
Christopher Nolan (overrated, but his movies are usually fun).
No, Wes Anderson may not be the best director alive. But he’s unquestionably my favorite. And when Netflix released four Anderson short films this week, I was ready. All four are great. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar was the best of the bunch. But all are highly recommended.
I also rewatched Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited this week, mostly because I’ll be traveling to India in the coming weeks.