readers forum, sports

Revisiting the Thirteenth Voreblog Readers Forum: The Agony of Defeat, Continued.




You may recall (though there is no compelling reason why you should) that we once had a Readers Forum on the topic of sports fan misery.

In a comment on said forum, Matt Masterson contended that there is no more accursed creature on earth than a Cincinnati Bengals fan.

Now, proving his point, Matt has requested that this topic be revisited in the following fashion:

“I believe based on 3 stats I can prove the Bengals are the most pathetic of all the pathetic franchises. I say you open it up to all readers. Give them a chance to post the three stats that best prove the pathetic nature of their favorite pathetic sports franchise.”

Because this exercise could possibly prove to be in some way cathartic for Matt and his fellow “Who Dey” sufferers (Paul Daugherty devoted an entire column to them in yesterday’s Enquirer), and because Mr. Andrew Cashmere recently lamented that we have not had ourselves a good Readers Forum in a while, we will indulge them by opening it up and inviting you to participate.

I (Ben) maintain that the most miserable sports fans are those like myself who root for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Wait! some might say. The Pirates have been world champs before! Shouldn’t that alone disqualify them from this misery fest?

And here’s where I’ll invoke the “in my lifetime” rule to this forum. The Pirates have been world champs in my lifetime, but I was two when it happened (1979). That doesn’t count.

My formative years were spent knowing nothing but defeat, spare a three year run as NL East champs (1990-1992) that ended in a soul-crushing loss (Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS in Atlanta) which was a defining moment of my difficult teenage existence.

But Mr. Masterson wants stats, so I’ll give him stats.

1. Since that Game 7 loss, the Pirates have never had a winning season. That’s eighteen consecutive losing seasons.

2. That’s the longest streak not just in MLB history but in all of professional sports.

3. Matt will tell you that the Bengals have the worst winning percentage of any sports team over the past two decades — even worse than the Pirates. This may be true. But Pittsburgh has lost 1,530 games since Sid Bream slid past Mike LaValliere. I just spent the past fifteen minutes researching that statistic. That’s pretty pathetic all by itself.

Matt et al. — the floor is yours.

But first, a gallery of losers:


“I lost, and I still have bad b.o.!”


“Why did they make this bar exactly five feet ten inches tall??”


“We’re losers AND Bruce Pearl is our coach!”


“I thought British Knights were still cool!”


“Uh, Timmy, your Pinewood Derby car is a block of Gouda cheese.”


“It’s complicated, Lena.”


Life isn’t fair, Becky.


23 thoughts on “Revisiting the Thirteenth Voreblog Readers Forum: The Agony of Defeat, Continued.

  1. This is going to be the lamest Readers Forum ever.

    The only thing I have to say about the Cincinnati Bengals is that they are responsible for giving me the nickname “Pampers.” The Bengals played in the World Series (or whatever) when I was in third grade. Our class was supposed to wear something orange and black on the Friday before the game. Because I would never own any actual Bengals gear, I instead wore an orange and black shirt that said “Pampers” on it because my dad worked for P&G. Lo and behold, I was stuck with that nickname through the rest of grade school. This partly explains why all professional sports that are not soccer are stupid.

  2. But see, here’s the thing about the Pittsburgh Pirates: they’re in a city with (and even share the colors of) the Steelers and Penguins. Cincinnati has… the Reds, who–granted–have won a World Series in our lifetimes and memories (though, not actually being a Reds fan or that into baseball in 1990, I forgot until I looked it up). But basically, the Reds are crap too, winning the NL central this year notwithstanding, because that’s the thing about Cincinnati teams that make them worse: they’ll give you glimmers of hope.

    Take the Bengals (actually, take Mike Brown–please!): last year, they gave us hope when they swept the division, only to get pasted by the Jets in back-to-back weeks. That, of course, was after Marvin Lewis raised us from the abyss to… mediocrity. Which included one play-off appearance that was basically over on the second play of the game.

    See? That’s how they get you! The Browns have never been to a Super Bowl. The Bengals have been twice. And lost twice. To the 49ers.

    The Pirates? You know what you’re going to get, no bait and switches involved. BTW, I know I’ve said it before, but PNC Park really is the nicest minor league ball park in the country.

    But anyway, while I refuse to supply stats (football is not a game of stats the way that baseball is), my vote is for the Bengals.

  3. Ha! Great job on the photo captions.

    No one ever expects the Pirates to be good. The Bengals meanwhile deftly and fully defy any predictions of success year after year. I get quite a kick out of it. How can the pirates break your heart when you never expect them to win anything?

    Also, did I mention that Bengals fans are obnoxious? Your friend Matt not included because he seems to be a nice guy.

    Ben- How about some preseason prediction v. actual finish stats for both teams? You know, since you got nothing else to do.

  4. Guys. GUYS. GUYS! GUYS!!?!?!?!

    How is this even a debate?

    You want stats? All I need is one 4-digit number:

    None of you will ever have it worse than a Cubs fan. Ever. Ever. Ever. Ever.

  5. I should also add that losing Ron Santo before winning a title was absolutely heartbreaking. That dude suffered for decades, physically and emotionally, and all he wanted was a title. Never got it. Tears were shed.

  6. I’ve addressed the “other Pittsburgh sports teams” thing before:

    I do not care about the Penguins.

    I loathe the Steelers.

    It is cold comfort to me that these two teams have won championships.

    Sure, I know what I’m getting on opening day with the Pirates. But I tasted — or almost tasted — sweet victory in 1992, when the Buccos nearly went to the Series. And every year since, their ineptness has only driven home how crushing that defeat was.

    John — Yes, PNC is a pretty sweet minor league ballpark.

    Mike — I’ll work on those preseason/actual finish splits for you. I’ve got some conference calls this week, so I’ll be able to knock those out in no time.

    Matthew — Condolences on Ron Santo. I raise my glass to him.

    Matt — I’m still waiting for you to chime in here. You must be studying film of the loss yesterday and jabbing hot pokers into your eye sockets.

    A question for you and your Bengals ilk: How long will it take for you to realize that maybe Marvin Lewis is not a good coach? I’m amazed he gets a pass year after year.

  7. Okay…google “cleveland sports futility”

    do you know how many results are returned? 105,000. Including a link to the wikipedia article on “sports related curses”

    Sorry, Cubs fans…I know your baseball curse sucks, but at least you have the Bears and the Blackhawks to brag about. Not ONE of Cleveland’s major sports franchises has won a championship since WWII. The Drive, The 1997 World Series, LeBron James….it just goes on and on.

  8. Ben- I still don’t understand how you became a Pirates fan and not a Steelers fan. It defies logic. Alas, I feel bad that I can’t identify with you fan’s of losing teams. So, Ben, I’ll make you the same offer I’ve made Matt- I’m happy to take your son’s under my wing and teach them the ways of cheering for a winning team. I simply need the go ahead and a black and gold gift box will be in the mail. It will also require some fall weekend visits to see Aunt Emily so I can school them in the ways of properly waiving the Terrible Towel.

  9. After much research, soul searching and angry punches to my emotional gut here are the 3 stats that I believe best exemplify the Bengals historic futility:

    1. 19 – That is the number of years since the Bengals last won a playoff game. So in the rare (twice) instances they have some sort of success it ends in a brutal first round playoff loss (see 2005 Carson Plamer knee injury for a good example).

    2. 6 – the number of times since 1991 the Bengals have lost their first SIX games of the season. No other NFL teams has more than 2. Along those same lines the Bengals have more than TRIPLE the number of 4+ game losing streaks of any other NFL franchise in that time period.

    3. $458,000,000 – the amount of money that Hamilton County tax payers have shelled out to build Paul Brown Stadium. In addition, Mike Brown and the Bengals get to keep every dime the stadium makes AND get to charge the city and county should they want to use the stadium for things like High School football. So not only is there an emotional toll that the Bengals have taken on the fans but there is a very real monitary toll that the Bengals have taken. You think the tax payers wouldn’t like to have some of that 458 Million back right now? NO other franchise has a stadium deal as good as the Bengals.

    * Since Ben tried the old tactic of pre-empting my argument regarding Mike Brown’s winning percentage I thought I would at least provide you the number for your consideration. Mike Brown has a 35% winning percentage since taking over. That is BY FAR the worst of any professional sports owner.

    ** For the record my son is 0 for his lifetime in Bengals wins and there is no real hope that he will see his first Bengals win before his 1st B-day. SAD.

    *** I have to both acknowledge and counter the Cubs argument. Without question Cubs fans are the LONGEST suffering fans, but are most certainly not the MOST suffering fans. They have experienced some level of success (i.e. division titles, even the occasional NLCS title). Also, Cubs fans have Wrigley field and the drunken happiness of Cubness to push them through the tough times. The Bengals have to sit in the stadium they paid for and watch an absolutely miserable franchise lose game after game.

    Thank you.

    1. Haha. Yes. All of those NLCS titles are sustaining Cubs fans, for realz. 1938 is DEFINITELY my fav, but ’45 is up there!!!!! LOLOL.

  10. And this today from P-Doc in the Cincy Enquirer:

    “You dropped your tickets almost assuredly because you were tired of devoting time and money to The Men (WS). They want you back, naturally. They go to great lengths to win back your love. They spare no expense. Come back, we’ll send you a voucher for a million bucks/a new Cadillac/a week on Bali.

    No, wait.

    We’ll send you a voucher for a year of free gasoline/a new washing machine/a condo for a week on Bora Bora.

    No, wait.

    Have this box of popcorn.

    You give us $480, minimum, for eight games. We give you a box of popcorn.

    You give us faith, hope and charity. We give you popcorn. Not, you know, unlimited popcorn, with as much butter as you want.

    One box.

    “For a limited time.”

    I’m surprised the phones didnt crash at PBS.

    Erstwhile ticket holder, on the phone for hours, slamming redial, hoping beyond hope to get his free box of popcorn.

    Sobbing silently, deep into the night, when he finally gets through and is told all the vouchers are gone. Pondering the afterlife, wondering how he can possibly go on.”

  11. Nice.

    I agree with Ben on Marvin Lewis. Also, when will Bengals fans realize that Carson Palmer is not a great quarterback? Seriously. They’ve propped him up in the same realm as Manning, Brady, et al when he simply isn’t an elite quarterback. I’d take Matt Cassel over him any day.

    I gotta agree with what appears to be the consensus re: Cubs fans. You guys are the happiest losers in sports. I was at the Bengals/Saints game and, believe me, they weren’t happy.

  12. I am glad you asked about Lewis and Palmer. Here is where I stand on both as the voice of the Bengals fan on this blog:

    1. Lewis – Bengals fans have a hard time being too hard on the guy because for a little while he did the unthinkable… he unbengalized the Bengals. For a brief period they weren’t the Bungles. 2005 goes down as one of the greatest sports seasons of my life which is pretty sad considering how it ended. Lewis changed the culture for a little while and let us see what is possible. But then like everyone else before him he became bengalized. I don’t even blame him. You can only fight the fight for so long until you get beaten down. It’s a little bit like working for the Federal Gov’t in that way. As a fan I will be sad to see Lewis go for what he tried to do but in the end his clock management, inability to make adjustments, the constant penalties…etc give me no reason to support him further. I appreciate what he did but it is time to go.

    2. Palmer – This is an even harder one for me. Carson was the golden boy. His 2005 season was something no Bengals fan had ever seen, including the glory years of Norman Julius Esiason. He was the #1 pick that was actually going to work out. He was erasing the memories of Kijana, Big Daddy, David Klingler, and Akili to name a few. Then it was all taken from us by the villain Kimo. For the last two years I have been in denial regarding Carson because to admit his mortality meant a return to the old days. We had whiffed on yet another player… and worse yet we have to find another QB. It is, in a word, devastating. To this day I still tell myself that he is not done. That he is just a beaten and battered man having to deal with a poor O-line and two WR’s who berate him in the huddle each and every play. You can see it in his eyes… he is completely defeated. It is truly sad. Only the Bengals could ruin a guy with that kind of ability. Carson Palmer epitomizes everything that makes being a Bengals fan so freaking awful.

  13. Let’s be honest: 80% of Cubs fans are not real Cubs fans. They’re there to get drunk in the bleachers and not give a Conway Twitty if they win or lose.

    But that other 20%? People like me? There is ZERO joy in being a loser.

    Also, a large portion of those fans are also not from Chicago, also like me. When you’re born in Kentucky, a place with zero pro teams, you have to adopt franchises. So the Bulls, Bears, White Sox, and Blackhawks titles mean nothing to me. It’s nothing but the Cubs. Hell, I don’t even have Wrigley. I’ve only been there twice in 30 years. Until the Bengals have been around for over a century, maybe then you can start complaining.

    Cleveland, you’re a close second.

  14. Matt, as a fellow Bengals fan, you speak my mind pretty well. My take on Lewis is only slightly different: I don’t think he’s a very good coach. What he did was bring some ideas from outside the franchise (i.e. from an actual, functional football team) about how a team should work, and with that he brought some credibility because of his success as a DC in Baltimore, so free agents wanted to come play for him. However, he’s a terrible game manager, his approach with stars like Chad has been questionable at best, and then on top of that Mike Brown more or less goes out of his way to neuter a coach (which is one form of bengalization). I do appreciate that he brought an air of respectability, however temporary, to the Bengals. We need a coach to take the team to the next level, but the problem is that Mike Brown probably won’t give enough power into a coach’s hand to either attract the caliber of coach we need or to allow such a coach to be effective if we got him.

    On Palmer, you speak my mind perfectly. I, too, cannot quite bring myself to write him off, even though the evidence seems more or less overwhelming. Again, I blame Mike Brown first and foremost: we went from having a very good O-line to a very bad one. Look at Peyton Manning: he looks like crap too behind a bad offensive line. Carson has better receivers… or does he? TO and Chad have a lot of talent, but I suspect that they freelance too much.

    Perhaps what we really need here are awards for worst franchise in particular sports as well as the worst city (yes, I’m looking at you, Cleveland).

  15. Olivia — Did you see this article from the week before LeBron returned to Cleveland? It’s long, but very good. The gist: Cleveland is Harvey Pekar, not LeBron James. And LeBron leaving was not so much his cardinal sin as the way he left. I’m curious what a diehard Cleveland sports fan thinks of his conclusions about Cleveland’s blue collar, beleaguered mindset. (I’m not specifically giving you this assignment, I’m just saying I’m curious. To an outsider, what he says seems pretty persuasive.)

    Matt — Did you like how I preempted your winning percentage stat there? (I keep up on my I’m a disgruntled Hamilton County taxpayer, after all.) Regardless, I must say that you’ve made a compelling case for the utter futility of the Bengals. Cincinnati’s first game after Erin and I moved here was that fateful playoff game against the Steelers in 2006. You could hear the entire city groan when Palmer went down.

    Embo — Never, ever will Sam get near a Terrible Towel, unless it’s to wipe his ass. Also, I’m sure there are other Steeler-hating Pirates fans out there. Admittedly, I don’t know a single one. But I have to think there are others. I will give your generous offer some serious thought before likely turning it down (but not because visiting Aunt Emily wouldn’t be fun, only because she tends to ramble on about the Immaculate Reception, Myron Cope, Bubby Brister, etc.).

    Mike and Matthew — Let’s see a good ol’ fashioned backyard brawl between two Kentucky natives! Matthew, you have no idea what Mike REALLY thinks about Cubs fans. It’s too obscene to print. And Mike, Matthew thinks you’re a girl for reading The Memory Keeper’s Daughter.

    John — I think your point about Marvin Lewis bringing in outside competence/respectability is exactly right. I’m amazed how enamored this town is of him. When things were going well, he was Vince Lombardi. When they’re not, it’s Mike Brown’s fault. Lewis never seems to get the blame. But a team that gets penalized as much as the Bengals clearly has some coaching issues. (So does a team that gets arrested as much as the Bengals.)

    I am rather certain there are no Clippers fans who read Voreblog, but I think they’re the closest comparable franchise to the Bengals. They have a cheap owner (who heckles his own players, no less) who’s more concerned about the bottom line than winning. He won’t pay for talent. He doesn’t care what people think. And everyone agrees he’s a jerk. The Clippers and Bengals are both the laughingstocks of their respective leagues. Let’s find a way to get these two teams to play. Or at least conduct a sociological experiment where we got all of the Clippers and Bengals fans into a bar with an unlimited supply of Schlitz. That would be fantastic.

  16. I’m with SheVore on this one: pretty lame-o Readers Forum. Off the top of my head here are some topics that are less depressing than the current one, but just as pointless:

    * Describe your hairiest mole!
    * Who has the weirdest / most socially awkward / most emotionally stunted relative? Go!
    * Why aren’t you living out your dreams? What decisions did you make that hold you back from being happy / successful? Discuss!
    * What happened to Cheri Oteri’s face?
    * Talk at length about a time you forgot to apply deodorant / antiperspirant! (Bonus points: Before an important school function / dance / date with the girl/boy/leprechaun of your dreams!)

    1. Will do!

      1) It’s on my back, near my right shoulder blade. It’s hairy, all right!
      2) I do! Uncle Gene wets himself every time the phone rings. Weird, I know!
      3) I stopped playing Little League because Coach Stout yelled too much and then I retreated into a shell and avoided confrontation and never took risks or tried new things. That’s been my life since I was nine.
      4) Pass.
      5) Just today! It was bad! And I had a big meeting and I couldn’t seal the deal because my pit stains made the client vomit on the big contract she was about to sign that would have made me millions!

      This is a MUCH better Readers Forum!

  17. I’ve tried to work up the effort to discuss the sports heartbreak, but I can’t. The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference. I went through my period of hating the Bengals, but now I’m just indifferent. I don’t care. I’m not trying to be dramatic, but I’m seriously thinking about giving up football for a while. The Bengals aren’t fun and I’m too old to pick up another team. I spent most Sunday afternoons this season watching The West Wing on DVD and didn’t miss the Bengals at all.

    One the other hand, I am delighted by the Jay Bruce extension and if Joey Votto signs a long-term contract, I may need to change my pants. I love the Reds because even when they were crappy, I always thought management was at least trying.

    In response to Scott G.:
    1. I have a mole on my left bicep that I have to shave every so often.
    2. Everyone of my cousin’s stories sounds like this: “Uhhh…me and my best friend got drunk…uhh.”
    3. I duped a respected university into giving me a graduate degree. I am living the dream.
    4. I don’t know.
    5. I forgot to wear deodorant on a junior high ski trip. I remember catching occasional wiffs of BO coming up out of my collar and being terrified that someone would notice. I decided not to go to the party afterwards, which was a missed opportunity because apparently everyone played spin-the-bottle.

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